Times at 2:15pm:
It has been a strange and intense year in MotoGP, so it seems fitting that we should end the year with such a strange and intense weekend. Three races defined by the weather, by crashes, and by riders holding their nerve and playing their cards right. And at the end, an explosion of emotion. Exactly as it should have been.
There were no titles on the line on Sunday – no serious titles, though the riders vying for Independent Rider and the teams chasing the Team Championship may choose to disagree – but the emotional release on Sunday was as great, or perhaps even greater, than if all three championships had been decided. We had records broken in Moto3, a new factory on the podium in MotoGP, and a farewell to old friends in all three classes, as riders move up, move over, or move on.
The weather figured prominently, as you might expect. Moto3 and Moto2 got off lightly, the rain falling gently and consistently, keeping the track wet, but never to a truly dangerous degree. That did not stop riders from falling off, of course, and dictating the outcome of both races. Those crashes – two races, two riders crashing out of the lead – were just as emotional as the riders who went on to win.
In with the new, out with the old
The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, has decided to change the qualifying system used for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes and adopt the same system used in MotoGP. From next year, the fastest 14 riders across all three free practice sessions will pass directly into Q2, the rest going into Q1. The four fastest riders from Q1 will then also go to Q2, meaning 18 riders will fight it out for the front 6 rows of the grid.
The changes are aimed at achieving two ends. Firstly, to homogenize the qualifying procedure across all three Grand Prix classes, and helping Moto2 and Moto3 riders prepare for MotoGP. Secondly, to improve the show in qualifying, and make it more attractive and exciting for viewers, as has happened in MotoGP.
Though both these aims are laudable, the new system may have an unintended negative consequence as well. At the moment, towing is mainly a problem during qualifying, as riders - especially in Moto3 - try to find a fast rider to follow in an attempt to improve their own qualifying position. It has created many dangerous situations during qualifying, with near misses as slower riders sit on the racing line while riders going full speed approach.
MotoGP standings after Valencia:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race in Valencia:
Moto2 standings after Valencia:
Results and summary of the Moto2 race in Valencia:
2019 Moto3 standings after the final round of the year at Valencia:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race in Valencia:
The most remarkable skill of truly great motorcycle racers is their ability to compartmentalize everything. Break down every situation, put each part into its own separate container, and not let one thing bleed into another. Private lives – often messy, sometimes chaotic – stay in the box marked private life, and don't cross over into racing. Pain stays in the section reserved for pain, and is not allowed to encroach in the part set aside for riding. Crashes are to be analyzed, understood, and then forgotten, but not to be allowed anywhere near the part of a racer's mind where they keep their fears. That is the theory, at least, and the better a rider can manage to live up to the theory, the greater their chances of success.
Marc Márquez gave a masterclass in the art of compartmentalization during qualifying at Valencia. The Repsol Honda rider went out on his first run in Q2, and on his first flying lap, lost the front going into Turn 4, the first right hander after a whole sequence of lefts. It looked like a harmless low side, of the sort which Márquez has so often, and which he usually escapes without harm. But whether it was due to the bars being wrenched out of his hands, or due to his arm being folded up awkwardly beneath him as he tumbled through the gravel, he managed to partially dislocate his weak left shoulder.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Valencia:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Valencia: