In the cold Valencian morning, the occasional crash punctuated a mixed up timing sheet which featured a largely surprising Italian at the top. Andrea Iannone showcased Suzuki’s moustache fairing in all its glory at the top of the standings for the final few minutes of the session after fitting a brand new softer option tyre.
Deceptively sunny but cold is the usual welcome for the season finale and Valencia did not surprise from that point of view. What did surprise was a rare crash for world champion Joan Mir ten minutes into the morning session, ruining a pair of leathers into the gravel trap at turn ten. No harm, no foul, the Spaniard limped away, dusted himself off and probably rejoiced that the suit was already prepared for the gala.
In a sign of how difficult Yamaha's 2017 season has been, they have a busy testing schedule ahead of them in the next few weeks. After the traditional two-day test at Valencia, both the Movistar Yamaha and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team will be heading to Malaysia, for a private test at Sepang.
The testing schedule for Yamaha means that Michael van der Mark will not be taking part in the two-day test at Valencia. Yamaha need the resources from the Tech 3 team to assist Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi, and Johann Zarco get through their program. "They have so much to test here that they need my team to help prepare everything," Van der Mark told the media on Thursday.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin previewing the final round of the year at Valencia:
Repsol Honda Team arrives in Valencia for 2017 MotoGP Championship finale
On Monday Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa attended the presentation of the brand new Honda models at the EICMA Show in Milan, Italy. On the same occasion they took part in the Honda 2018 racing programme presentation together with fellow HRC riders from Dakar, MXGP and WTC teams, before heading to Valencia for the season finale.
Previews of the final round of the season from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
To Valencia for the Grand Final 2017
In his last race with the Leopard Racing team after the conquest of the 2017 World Champion title, Mallorca's talent – Joan Mir – will try to attack Valentino Rossi's record in Valencia. Livio Loi is determined to do his best and surpass Bulega, who is only 1 point ahead.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team issued the following press release with an update on Jonas Folger's condition:
Jonas Folger Making Progress
Monster Yamaha Tech3 is pleased to provide positive news for the fans and sponsors, regarding an update on Jonas Folger's condition.
Jonas Folger has been busy visiting specialists in the Munich area to diagnose the illness that sidelined him from the Japanese GP in October, and subsequent races in Australia and Malaysia, and also this weekend’s finale in Valencia.
The FIM has published the provisional list of entries for MotoGP in 2018. For the full background on the rider list, including details of bikes and contracts, see our story on the full rider list here.
The provisional rider line up for the Moto2 class has been published for the 2018 season. The class is as popular as ever, with 33 riders entered to race for the season. With the arrival of NTS, who will be racing in collaboration with the RW Racing team, there are now 6 manufacturers in the grid: KTM, Kalex, Suter, NTS, Tech 3, and Speed Up. Kalex still dominates, with 19 bikes, but KTM has stepped up its program to a total of 6 bikes, the others all fielding two riders apiece.
The provisional line up for the Moto3 class has been announced. The field is slightly reduced this year, to 28 entries, partly as a result of the withdrawal of Mahindra. Just two manufacturers remain, KTM and Honda. KTM will be fielding 15 bikes, Honda 13. As ever, Spanish and Italian riders dominate, with 7 Spaniards and 9 Italians on the grid, but there are a grand total of 11 nationalities starting next year, including on rider from Kazakhstan.
The provisional rider list appears below:
For the fourth time in twelve years, Valencia will play host to a MotoGP title showdown. On Sunday, Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez will slug it out for who gets to call themselves the 2017 MotoGP champion. If you want a detailed breakdown of who has to finish where to wrap up the championship, you can read our separate story here. But it boils down to two simple premises: If Andrea Dovizioso doesn't win the race, the title belongs to Márquez, but Márquez can put it out of reach of Dovizioso by finishing eleventh or better.
If you are staging a championship showdown, the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Cheste, near Valencia, is a fine venue to choose. Set in a natural bowl, the circuit owners have managed to snake 4km of asphalt into a confined space. The upside to that is that spectators can see just about every part of the track from whichever stand they sit in. The furthest point of the track is at most a kilometer away, no matter where you sit.
Cramming so much track into such a tight space has obvious consequences. There are a lot of tight corners in Valencia: of the fourteen turns the circuit has, three are first gear corners, six more are second gear corners, while half of them are tighter than 90°. The compact space into which the track is crammed, combined with the long front straight create a lot of complications for tire manufacturers.
Maverick Viñales started this season as MotoGP title favourite. But he’s not won a race since May. What went wrong?
It’s been a strange year for Maverick Viñales. He has lived his first season in the shadow of the sport’s brightest sun – Valentino Rossi – and has become a shadow of his former self.
Since Qatar his gait has changed entirely, so much so that he looks a different man. Back in March he was all relaxed smiles, now he looks worried, haunted, defeated.
And with good reason. Preseason was a dream: Viñales and his Yamaha YZR-M1 topped all three tests, then he comfortably won the first race in Qatar and ran away with round two in Argentina. “He was already world champion!” recalls Marc Marquez, who had amassed just one quarter of Viñales’ points haul after the first two races.
On Sunday, Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso will line up on the grid for the final MotoGP race of the 2017 season. At stake is the title of 2017 MotoGP champion. For Marc Márquez, it would be his fourth MotoGP title, making him the most successful Spanish rider in the premier class. For Andrea Dovizioso, it would be his first title, the one which is always most highly prized.
Dovizioso's challenge cannot be underestimated. He trails Marc Márquez by 21 points. His path to the championship is difficult, and relies heavily on things going wrong for others. Marc Márquez, on the other hand, faces a much easier task. The Repsol Honda rider has his destiny entirely in his own hands.
Michael van der Mark is to make a second appearance in MotoGP. The Dutchman is to step in once again to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team at Valencia.
Though the announcement is not yet official, the Dutchman revealed he would be riding at Valencia in a Dutch-language interview for the WorldSBK website, and published by the Dutch website Racesport.nl. Recorded after the final round of WorldSBK at Qatar on Saturday, Van der Mark says, "It's great to be riding in MotoGP again next week in Valencia. It's a shame Jonas [Folger] is still ill, but I'm deeply honored that Hervé [Poncharal] has asked me once again to replace him. It shows that I did my best in Sepang."
The final standings in the 2017 WorldSBK championship:
The final standings in the 2017 WorldSSP championship: