For the first time in a long time, the MotoGP circus heads to the final race of the year at Valencia with not one, but two championships still undecided (and if there hadn't been that first-lap incident in the Moto2 race at Motegi, it could even have been three). The title is still to be decided in both the MotoGP and Moto3 championships, and the possible mathematical permutations are having race fans and followers racking their brains trying to work out who needs to finish where for either Marc Marquez or Jorge Lorenzo to win the MotoGP title, or Luis Salom, Maverick Viñales or Alex Rins to lift the Moto3 crown.
To assist with this computation, we have drawn up two tables with all of the possible permutations, one for the MotoGP class, and one for the Moto3 class. Using the tables below, you can see all of the possibilities the two MotoGP men and three Moto3 riders have to win the title in their respective classes.
In the MotoGP class, Marc Marquez is the hot favorite to take the title, leading Jorge Lorenzo by 13 points. That is enough of a cushion for the Repsol Honda rookie to finish anywhere in the top 4 if he is to wrap up the title. Given that Marquez has only finished off the podium twice this year - once when he crashed at Mugello, washing out the front at Savelli, and once at Phillip Island, when he was black-flagged when his team left him out for one lap too many - the odds of Marquez not taking the title at Valencia are small.
Jorge Lorenzo will need help from at least three other riders if he is to be champion: first and foremost, he must win the race, something which, given his current form, he has a good chance of managing. However, he will need three other men to get between him and Marc Marquez, and that seems much more unlikely. Marquez' Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa has proven capable of beating Marquez regularly this year, and given both Honda's stated aversion to team orders (other than "whatever you do, don't take your teammate out"), and the open dislike there is between Pedrosa and Marquez, the senior member of the team is unlikely to go out of his way to help Marquez. If Dani Pedrosa can get on the podium, then he will surely try. He can always claim he was trying to beat Lorenzo, and take points off him that way.
Finding two other riders capable of getting between Lorenzo and Marquez will be difficult. Valentino Rossi has beaten Marquez twice, once at the first race in Qatar, and once at Assen, but has not shown the ability to match the pace of the youngster since then. Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista have all shown pace this year, though Crutchlow has only beaten Marquez once, at Le Mans, in Marc Marquez' first ever wet MotoGP race. The other two Honda men have not been able to finish ahead of the youngster, and so Lorenzo cannot count on them doing so at Valencia.
But Lorenzo is not completely without hope. The 2006 championship is still fresh in everyone's minds, when Valentino Rossi came into the final race at Valencia leading Nicky Hayden by 8 points, yet lost the title by crashing early on, remounting, but not making up enough places to prevent Nicky Hayden from taking the title, after having led it for much of the season. This has been the aim of Lorenzo and his team since after the summer break, when Marquez was racking up the points: try to take the title chase to Valencia, and hope that the pressure will get to the Honda rookie. The title is not over by a long way.
So to the table below. The permutations should be self-explanatory. The lower section of the table sets out where the two riders must finish relative to each other if one or the other is to be champion. The finishing positions have been calculated for both Marquez and Lorenzo. The bottom line is that Jorge Lorenzo has to finish in the top 4, and Marc Marquez has to just follow his tailpipe to bring it home. The same calculation for the Moto3 championship follows below the MotoGP table.
|Marc Marquez||Jorge Lorenzo|
|Marquez is champion if||Lorenzo is champion if|
|Marquez finishes||Lorenzo finishes||Lorenzo finishes||Marquez finishes|
|1st to 4th||Marquez is automatically champion||1st||5th or worse|
|5th-8th||2nd or worse||2nd||9th or worse|
|9th-12th||3rd or worse||3rd||13th or worse|
|13th-15th||4th or worse||4th||Marquez does not score|
|Scores no points||5th or worse|
The situation in the Moto3 title chase is a little more complicated, with the three front runners separated by just 5 points. Between them, Luis Salom, Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins have taken 39 of the 48 possible podium positions, and so the championship looks like being a simple winner-takes-all equation. If any of the top three wins the race, they win the championship. Though a Rins win with Salom second would put the two men both on equal points and an equal number of wins, the title would go to Rins as he would have scored more second places.
If none of the top three win, the mathematics gets a lot more complicated. Rins, as the rider with the fewest points, must finish ahead of both Salom and Viñales, and he must finish in the top 10. Viñales must finish above 13th, and can allow Rins to finish one or two places ahead of him, as long as they are both well down the field. Salom can afford not to score any points, as long as both Viñales and Rins are well outside the top 10. But the most likely scenario is that all three will take it to the line, and the title will be decided on finishing order. Looking back at last year, Viñales finished 8th, Salom 10th and Rins 16th. If that were to be repeated again this year, then Salom would be champion.
The table below shows the mathematics of the championship. The column for each rider shows what must happen if that rider is to be champion and he finishes in the position shown on the left hand side. So for example, if Salom were to finish in 5th, then he is champion if Viñales finishes in 4th or lower, and Salom finishes in 3rd or lower. Likewise for Rins, if he finishes 10th, then he will only be champion if Viñales finishes 13th or lower, and Salom does not score. To help with calculations, the points scoring system is shown at the bottom of the page.
|Luis Salom||Maverick Viñales||Alex Rins|
|Finishing Position||Is champion if:||Is champion if:||Is champion if:|
|2nd||Finishes ahead of Viñales & Rins||Finishes ahead of Salom & Rins||Viñales 3rd, Salom 4th|
|3rd||Viñales 4th & Rins 3rd||Finishes ahead of Salom & Rins||Viñales 4th, Salom 6th|
|4th||Viñales 5th & Rins 3rd||Salom 6th, Rins 5th||Viñales 6th, Salom 9th|
|5th||Viñales 4th & Rins 3rd||Salom 8th, Rins 4th||Viñales 8th, Salom 10th|
|6th||Viñales 5th, Rins 4th||Salom 9th, Rins 5th||Viñales 9th, Salom 12th|
|7th||Viñales 5th, Rins 4th||Salom 10th, Rins 5th||Viñales 10th, Salom 13th|
|8th||Viñales 6th, Rins 4th||Salom 11th, Rins 6th||Viñales 11th, Salom 14th|
|9th||Viñales 7th, Rins 5th||Salom 12th, Rins 7th||Viñales 12th, Salom 15th|
|10th||Viñales 8th, Rins 5th||Salom 13th, Rins 8th||Viñales 13th, Salom no score|
|11th||Viñales 9th, Rins 6th||Salom 14th, Rins 9th||Rins cannot be champion|
|12th||Viñales 10th, Rins 7th||Salom 15th, Rins 10th|
|13th||Viñales 11th, Rins 8th||Salom no score, Rins 11th|
|14th||Viñales 12th, Rins 9th||Viñales cannot be champion|
|15th||Viñales 13th, Rins 10th|
|No score||Viñales 14th, Rins 11th|
Grand Prix motorcycle racing points scoring system:
|Finishing position||Points scored|