2012 Valencia MotoGP Finale Preview - Last Chance To See

In an ideal world, championships are settled in a straight fight between the main contenders in the final race of the season. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from ideal - as the ever-dwindling stock of prototype machines on the grid testifies - and so the last race of the year can be a bit of a formality. In 2012, with the champions in all three classes securing their titles during the flyaways, there is not much more at stake at Valencia.

Except pride. And given that pride is what motivates a motorcycle racer above all else, that means that there is every reason to hope for a real treat at Valencia on Sunday. This is the last race of the season, the last chance to prove your worth, to silence your doubters, to settle those scores before the long winter begins. No need to be conservative here, no need to calculate the odds. You can take that chance, take a risk and crash out trying. At the last race of the season, you go all in, as Nicky Hayden's leathers proclaimed at Valencia in 2006, when it looked like he might miss out on his first ever MotoGP title.

And there is a lot of pride at stake. Jorge Lorenzo wrapped up the MotoGP title by finishing second at Phillip Island, but he has not won a race since Misano. What is worse, he has not won a race in which both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner finished since Mugello, nine races ago back in July. Lorenzo's championship has been near perfect, six wins, ten second places, his only failure a DNF caused when Alvaro Bautista took him out at Assen. There would be no shame in another second-place finish, nor even much shame in a third, but a win in Valencia would be the crowning achievement of his season. His seventh victory would put him ahead of both Pedrosa (six) and Stoner (five) in wins this season, an important statistic going into 2013.

But Lorenzo faces an unleashed Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda man having his best ever season in MotoGP. Pedrosa has finally had a season without major injury, and it has shown in his results. Pedrosa has won five of the last seven races, falling short only twice. Once through no fault of his own, demoted to the back of the grid at Misano due to a foul up by his team, and another time at Phillip Island, when in his eagerness to put some space between himself and Lorenzo, he got into the Honda Hairpin too deep, and lost the front over a piece of poor quality tarmac. A win at Valencia - a track he does exceedingly well at - would put him ahead of Lorenzo in the number of wins, and make him the moral victor in the 2012 championship. It will also serve to intimidate Lorenzo ahead of 2013, providing a useful psychological advantage going into the winter.

And then there is Casey Stoner. Despite an ankle injury that still leaves him limping, the Australian made good on his promise to win at Phillip Island two weeks ago. When tracks go left, Stoner can rest up his ankle, meaning he is not slowed by the injury. In his very last race, Stoner will want to go out on a high, making the point as graphically as possible that he is leaving the series because HE is unhappy with IT, not the other way around. Valencia, though, is a tougher proposition than Phillip Island: in Australia, there were few spots which required really hard braking, so Stoner was not forced to compensate for his ankle very much. At Valencia, that is not the case, with a number of places round the circuit where Stoner will be forced to bear more weight on his arms, draining him of energy. In pure number terms, a Stoner win would leave all three top men with six wins a piece, a fairly accurate reflection of just how finely balanced the 2012 MotoGP season has been throughout.

The fact that this is Casey Stoner's very last MotoGP race is reason enough to watch Valencia, though, whatever the outcome. Though the circuit may be, in the words of Stoner's arch enemy Valentino Rossi, 'a Mickey Mouse track' it still has a couple of spots worth savoring. Watching the Australian drift down the endless left-hander of Turn 14, up and over the crest and down towards the tight final turn, is one of the most visceral and jaw-dropping sights a race fan can see. That sight alone is worth the entrance fee.

Valencia also marks another final appearance, though this one is cause for great joy, rather than great sadness. The marriage of Ducati to Valentino Rossi turned out to be a tale of star-crossed lovers, rather than matrimonial bliss and glory, and Valencia sees the final chapter in their fruitless alliance. Ducati failed to turn the bike into something which Rossi could ride, Rossi failed to adapt his style - and perhaps more significantly, his mindset - to the Desmosedici, and crew chief Jeremy Burgess' bag of tricks, which served him so very faithfully at both Honda and Yamaha, turned out to be worthless with the Ducati. Nobody comes out of this affair smelling of anything but the dank reek of failure, and it is fitting that the alliance should come to an end at Valencia, a circuit at which Rossi has had little good fortune. Last season, his race lasted just a few hundred meters, the Italian finding himself taken out in the first corner by a chain reaction triggered by a coming together of Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista. On Tuesday, a new chapter begins, between two ex-lovers between whom the old flame never really went out. Whenever Valentino Rossi has referred to the Desmosedici over the past two seasons, he has always spoke of "the Ducati". From Tuesday, he can go back to calling his bike "my M1".

Ironically, the Valencia circuit may the best it has ever been for the Ducatis in 2012. The track has been resurfaced, and both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi have suffered most on bumpy tracks, the bumps unsettling the Ducati and making it difficult to both steer and get out of corners. Nice, smooth, freshly laid tarmac could be just what The Doctor ordered. A win is an impossibility, barring a downpour, but just being in sight of the leading group would count as progress for Ducati.

There is one title that remains to be settled at Valencia: that of the best CRT. Aspar teammates Aleix Espargaro and Randy De Puniet have battled over the spot as best CRT finisher all season long, even getting close to the factory prototypes by the end of the year. Espargaro currently leads De Puniet by eleven points, which should be good enough to clinch the spot as best CRT finisher. To prevent him, De Puniet would have to finish 5th while Esparagaro crashes out. Given that the best result of any CRT machine this season has been 8th, moving up among the really fast guys looks beyond the realms of the possible.

So there are many reasons to watch the races at Valencia, even though no titles are at stake. This is the last time to see the sublime beauty of Casey Stoner on a MotoGP bike; the last time to see the horror show that has been Valentino Rossi on the Ducati; the last chance to see Marc Marquez work his magic in Moto2 - the Spaniard will be moving up to MotoGP in 2013, where his speed or lack of it will reveal exactly how much of his current success was deserved, and how much down to alleged shenanigans by his crew. The last time to see Marquez go head-to-head with Pol Espargaro, which has provided one of the greatest junior class rivalries since Dani Pedrosa fought Casey Stoner back in 2005, or Loris Capirossi did battle with teammate Tetsuya Harada in 1998. Time may pass and memories fade, but there will be much to cherish come Sunday.

Round 18
2012

Comments

I wonder

If Yamaha plans to design a mechanism to launch Poor Ol' Ben out of his hospital bed just for old times' sake.

Total votes: 43

Masterful writing

David - you should give a master class in motorsports writing. This piece is an example why your readers and the industry respect and admire you so much. Thank you.

Total votes: 51

Fun

First, let me agree with the previous comment - another superb article, and with your permission David may cite it in our advertising for Valencia! :-)

Irrespective of the tournaments - and yes we wish Dani had held on to a final showdown - the thing that always makes Valencia a great event and a best seller is simple: fun!

A great viewing circuit, a place with amazing atmosphere (the only even I have seen the entire crowd perform "the wave"!), the best value for money of all Spanish events, and generally pretty decent weather (apart from today's drizzle!) if you want to escape the certain to be atrocious weather of Northern Europe... And following a certain-to-thrill race day, we get to preview the next season bikes and teams at the Tuesday MotoGP Test!

Valencia is one of Europe's hidden jewels, and the atmosphere in town on Saturday night is just an extension of the circuit's joys.

Really has it all.

(and for us, a real tell-tale is how hard staff have to work. Valencia always feels "easy" and not just because it is the last event of the season - phew!)

Enjoy the weekend, wherever you are!

Total votes: 35

wish i was there

well pole you made me almost wish i had a pasport and go over and join you there. but i do get to go to the finals here in the states to see drag racing and 2 of the 4 clases havent been decided yet! and they also have open pits and lots to do. ill see it on tv, then ill get to smell some nitro here.

Total votes: 26

A RETROSPECTIVE ON CASEY STONER’S CAREER...

Australia’s TV Channel 10 broadcast an excellent documentary covering the above, hosted by ex-works Suzuki & HRC GP Rider, Daryl Beattie & also Mick Doohan...

To view this 51 minute programme – go to “ www.mcnews.com.au “ & click on top left for “news” – scroll down approx. 12 x items to “Casey Stoner Final Lap”. If that’s all too hard – both “gpone.com” & several other sites also have live links to this ‘doco...

A couple of points for the “Haters”:- every single knowledgeable heavyweight in GP knew very well who Casey Stoner was – even before 2005/6 & were well aware of his sheer speed & potential. If you were one of many one-eyed casuals who never saw him coming – that was your problem. These “experts” ranged from Ramon Forcada (Stoner’s Crew Chief with LCR in 2006 & now Lorenzo’s @ Yamaha), Alberto Puig, Lucio Chechinello & even Carmelo Ezpeleta et al. Listen to what they say – it’s very different to the disinformation & propaganda of some – including those who were in thrall of VR in the motorcycle media hack pack!

Many shallow & vicious myths & fantasies are exposed here: As the programme shows, the relationship with Stoner & his crew being ultra-tight & even “family-like”- Stoner the younger brother. It talks about how Stoner withdrew for several Rounds when ill – in the interests of “safety for all” – NOT any “mystery” or anything else!

This ‘ Bio also includes the infamous incident @ Laguna Seca in 2008, where Rossi actually “cheated”, albeit accidentally - by riding & short-cutting off-track & then coming back on to foul Stoner’s line, forcing him to roll-off & pick-up. Anyone other than Rossi would have been punished – as so succinctly explained by Paolo Ciabatti, the Head of WSBK last year on GPOne.com. When Stoner tells Christian Gabbarini to “shut up – it was my mistake” – he refers to his own quite unassisted “off” shortly thereafter, whilst being rattled, angry & upset with one of the worst & dirtiest non-passes in GP history...

How many either “missed” or “forgot” that Stoner crashed his brains out on secondary or tertiary-level tyres in his early days – but still won 125 & 250cc GP’s & harried Dani Pedrosa all the way for the 250cc Title in 2005?

When he announced his retirement @ the French GP in May, he actually led Lorenzo by 1 Point & was still a great chance to repeat his 2007 & 2011 Titles, until he wrecked his ankle in the USA & missed 3 x Rounds. As his performances since @ Indianapolis, Motegi, Sepang & Phillip Island showed, along with riding for months with a 3 x piece scaphoid in 2008 – Casey Stoner is one tough little bastard!

Don’t bet against him ending with a bang @ Valencia. Enjoy. Cheers

Total votes: 70

Tough at the top..

"Don’t bet against him ending with a bang.."

Let's hope for his sake it doesn't resemble the warm-up lap 'bang' of three years ago.

Casey has taken himself out of contention through missed races and crashes in 4 out of the last 5 seasons, suggesting he hasn't the constitution. Some would say this is confirmed by the decision to turn his back on the sport at just 26.

Stoners team mate Pedrosa, without a title in seven years on a works RCV, has comprehensively beaten him this year on the same bike..never mind Jorge on the slower Yamaha.

Too much of Stoners career has been undermined by being rattled, upset & angry.

Many of his admirers like to draw comparison to Freddie Spencer. The analogy is a good one..Fast but ultimately flawed.

Total votes: 64

Well if that's the case

Well if that's the case and he still won two world championships, one after 3 seasons of being out of contention with lack of constitution...... I wonder, how did he suddenly get his constitution back again? He's not perfect, but your view is one end of the extreme in my opinion.

Total votes: 40

Rossi

Hey, never mind Stoner, Rossi is way much better story. Not for his results but for the lack of it. To put it mildly - he had two catastrophic seasons!

Rossi is currently on the 6th place in the championship, which is actualy one place better than last year. Such a shame! He had proven in the last two year that he was fast before because of the great bike and because there was no real competition!

Total votes: 39

The tide does turn...

... Once upon a time it was the Rossi fans who were idiots.

Total votes: 36

Alternate universe

"Stoners team mate Pedrosa, without a title in seven years on a works RCV, has comprehensively beaten him this year on the same bike..never mind Jorge on the slower Yamaha."

Comprehensively? Stoner has five wins, Pedrosa and Lorenzo have six apiece. If Stoner wins at Valencia that makes six wins to each of them.

Stoner also missed a number of races this year due to injury. How would his win tally look if he'd raced every race?

Comprehensive must mean something quite different in your world.

Total votes: 41

Rossi vs Stoner

Massively boring argument deleted.

Total votes: 32

The Final Lap...

Dorna have apparently removed it from Youtube. You need to watch it now in parts at tensports.com.au.

They're unbelievable, in my opinion. Sure, legally speaking they have every right to claim copyright, but they're claiming it and it's not even on their website for subscribers, and still available at another site for nothing. What is the point?

Total votes: 39

Dorna does a good job...

...of keeping MotoGP secret. Keep it up, fellas. Think of how much revenue you're saving by going after YouTubing Superfans.

Total votes: 42

Fully agreed, one of the most damaging Dorna policies

Utterly idiotic, and foot-shooting behaviour by Dorna. They're presumably spending money on having people search YouTube to *remove* some of the best advertisements for the sport. Perhaps they think they're protecting their motogp.com content, but your average joe isn't going to know about that, or even if they did, bother going there when they're browsing cool vids on Youtube. Whatever Dorna are gaining from this, they're losing many times over on the flip-side. :(

Amazingly misguided behaviour.

Total votes: 37

This user is used

David, is it true that Carmelo Ezpeleta is using you for the spec ECU story? Dennis Noyes had an interview with Honda's MotoGP boss, Shuhei Nakamoto, and it seems that Mr Nakamoto has mention you.

DN: Carmelo has said that he has never made the official proposal for the single ECU and rev limit but that…

SN: He has never made official proposal but he is using the journalists who make a story for us to react to…

DN: Diplomacy via journalists…

SN: Yeah, yeah. I don't say you, but many of the journalists just make these rumors.

http://moto-racing.speedtv.com/article/motogp-noyes-notebook-one-on-one-...

Total votes: 29

Journalists

Believe it or not, there are many hundreds of journalists working in the MotoGP paddock, writing in many languages about the sport. I rank among the least important of them. If Ezpeleta is using me, he is wasting his time. It would be like using a Swiss Army knife to break into Fort Knox.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, though.

Total votes: 44

Further comments deleted

Feel free to badmouth me elsewhere. I have not been manipulated or used. I decide what I want to write. This is my site. I write what I believe to be the truth, and I believe a spec ECU is better for MotoGP than the current situation. If you don't agree with that, there are lots of other sites you can read to get your dose of confirmation bias.

Some of those other journalists are representing a particular viewpoint too, funnily enough. And I'm just as sure that they are being manipulated by the MSMA as much as I am by Carmelo Ezpeleta. Which is not at all.

Total votes: 47

Indulge me for a second here,

Indulge me for a second here, please.

I remember reading that comment by Shuei (sp) and thinking, this is a guy who's been around the block and knows the media game. "Spinning" reporters and floating trial balloons via reporters is a time-honored tradition, and lots of people do it on every side of an issue. (Sadly, no one has ever tried to 'spin' me via the time-honored tradition of hooking me up with a supermodel ...)

I remember a tweet of yours, David, in which you expressed confusion that Carmelo was adamant in private that a spec ECU was a done deal, but he wouldn't just go ahead and impose it.

Shuei clearly thinks that Carmelo's private comments were specifically designed to sway opinion-makers and be reported publicly by others to generate public pressure on the MSMA and Honda, nothing more. But Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and others do the exact same thing on a regular basis (was Honda really ready to go to WSBK instead of MotoGP?).

Reporting that stuff doesn't mean anyone is being manipulated or fooled. It's just the way journalism works when the stakes are very, very high, it's neither right or wrong, and there is no way around it. You report what you know, or what you've been told.

This site is awesome, and David's commitment to journalistic standards and ethics are above criticism (see his column on the Rossi/Yamaha story misfire). If Carmelo or anyone else is trying to manipulate or sway David, it's a comment about the esteem in which this site and its editor are held - no one bothers trying to spin the person with zero credibility.

Anyway, this is meant to be complimentary. If I failed, go ahead and delete, no hard feelings.

Total votes: 29

There's no way to know who SN

There's no way to know who SN was talking about, or even if he was talking about specific people. Dennis Noyes has spoken about the spec ECU more than most (and in my opinion the solution to all MotoGP problems is giving him Ezpeleta's job).

Total votes: 36

The best for last

This last round Preview was a jewel of a piece! It really sang, all the way through.

I always enjoy Cletus' writing too in the comments, I wish I had a fraction of the knowledge that you guys have about bike racing. Certainly just reading here and occaisonally participating is a happy thing for me.

Motomatters shines cause of DE and the non-tolerance for trolls which bring down almost every other online motorcycle publication, trolls that are not allowed a place here. (and must be a fair amount of work to keep on top of.)

Thanks DE for all your efforts in 2012 - it is much appreciated, I bought a calendar but it's time I became a site supporter, something I will rectify shortly :)

Edit: GO CASEY.

(but Dani winning is cool with me too..)

Total votes: 38

Dani Pedrosa is a really nice guy

"... and so the last race of the year can be a bit of a formality ... Except pride." I used the same argument earlier tonight over dinner with friends. I'm hoping for a ripper on a tight circuit (as unpopular with the riders as it is).

I'm also tipping Dani Pedrosa for the win (FWTW on a Thursday evening before a race weekend) so he can say to Lorenzo, "Champion you may be, but I won more races this year... and next year... I'm coming for more!!!" . Go Dani!

TL;DR Pedrosa is all right. *Sits and waits for Dani haters to emerge*

Total votes: 31

Champions

We remember the champions, not who won the most races of a single year. Dani has proven again and again that he's missing something to become a MotoGP champion. Wouldn't be surprised if MM beats him in the total next year.

Total votes: 42

Great summary David.

You forgot to mention the minnow class that is Moto 3. Nevermind.
Cortese and Vinales will be out to go out on a high aswell. As most of 2012 has been, Moto 3 has been the best for sheer entertainment.

Total votes: 29

Some would say?

"Casey has taken himself out of contention through missed races and crashes in 4 out of the last 5 seasons, suggesting he hasn't the constitution. Some would say this is confirmed by the decision to turn his back on the sport at just 26."

You mean YOU would say.

Unlike other riders in the paddock, I have never seen Stoner express a concern about records. The kid gets on the bike, wrings the hell out of it and wins races. Sometimes those races end up with a DNF, either to his fault or the fault of others. That's racing.

I find it interesting to see comments from the likes of you and others bag Stoner for his win or bin attitude, and then turn around and belittle others for bringing it safely home to maintain a championship lead.

Since when did giving it everything you have become such a bad thing? Simoncelli was praised for it, Stoner is casticated for it.

Stoner has achieved a majority of his results riding the most difficult prototype in the paddock. Instead of people giving him credit for it, the mass Rossi media has given him nothing but grief. You are constantly bashing Stoner for "turning his back" on the sport. You have that backwards. It is the mainstream media and the sport that has turned its back on him. This kids greatest sin was to beat the media crown jewel in Moto GP. And by doing so he has received nothing but greif for it.

I cannot say for certain if Stoner had won the last six championship seasons if he would be retiring or not. The sad fact is the sport is losing one of the most talented riders to swing a leg over a Moto GP machine, and the sport is lesser for it.

Total votes: 51

Correct

The reality is that he won 2 championships, you must be a brilliant rider to do this. But on the flipside, for who people are describing as the best rider ever... That's a really poor haul of trophies.

I fully salute him for what he achieved, but it should be kept in perspective.

Total votes: 33

So how many races and

So how many races and championships has Rossi won on the Ducati in the last two years? And that is the essence of matter. The equipment a rider has at his disposal has such a massive impact on his results. As indeed does the level of competition. Stoner spent four of his six years in MotoGP on a Ducati. He spent his first year on a satellite Honda with crap tires. For his entire career he has competed directly against Rossi, plus Pedrosa and Lorenzo. Yet Stoner's raw stats for his time in MotoGP are are still vastly superior to Rossi's in the same period. As Wayne Rainey has said about Rossi, the circumstances of a rider's career are hugely important. For example, I have no doubt that if it had been Stoner or Lorenzo who started in 500's in 2000 instead of Rossi, with the same equipment, their results would have been at least as good as Rossi. You cannot judge a rider's career in isolation from his equipment and the level of competition at the time.

Total votes: 31

I hope for a great show

...and I will be siding for Dani because this year he really won me over. The quality of your writing Mr Emmet did it long ago (praise is never enough in this case), but I disagree on the "moral champion" even if Dani wins, and so I hope, I would still consider Lorenzo a full deserving champion ... even morally :)

Since the CRT is at stake I hope they will give them a little bit more coverage.

Total votes: 31

A wonderfully suspenseful piece by David and some insightful

comments, as ever, from most fellow readers (if not all - conspiracy theorists, you know who you are). I'm going to miss all this when the season comes to an end. But it's going to be an amazing weekend's racing. Enjoy!

Total votes: 34

Perspective

First of all, I'm not knocking Rossi here, but using him as a comparison of someone who arguably is the same skill level as Stoner (I won't say that he has, but I'm a biased Stoner fan ;) ) and is also generally believed to be very commited to racing

So that aside, just to put Stoners off's in his Ducati years in perspective, Rossi has also had a number of offs on the Ducati, so to use Stoners crashes as a indictment against his commitment without applying the same criteria and judgement to Rossi smacks of bias. Personally I prefer to listen to/read comments from experts in the paddock (sorry, not journalists though) who have fairly consistantly stated that the Ducati is an unforgiving beast which suggests that the crash rate is more related to the bike itself then to the riders ability, or commitment.

As for number of championships, the fact that Lorenzo, Stoner and Rossi all have 2 championships each in the years that they have competed against each other suggests that they are very evenly matched, although I can't help but think that Lorenzo is probably a little better over a whole year with consitantly either wins, or 2nds (yes he lost to Rossi on equal machinery, but it was also his first year in MotoGP, and remember, Rossi didn't win the championship in his first season either), Stoner is better race by race, but tends to be around 3rd if he doesn't win and Rossi will probably average 2nd with both of them all on machinery that suits their styles. Pedrosa is more of a dark horse who historically doesn't have the consistancy to fight for a championship, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong next year (this year is an exception to his past performance, one race doesn't make a championship, the same as 1 season does not make a career).

My prediction for next year, Lorenzo, then Pedrosa or Rossi (I think Pedro will just pip him though) and Marquez in 4th, but more due to his start of the season, not his performance at the end

Total votes: 33

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