World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) completed his title-winning season in the best way possible, winning the Valencia Grand Prix in dominant style. Honda's top MotoGP riders had a tougher day at the 2010 finale, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V), Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) finishing fifth, sixth and seventh.
During the later stages of the race the Dovizioso/Simoncelli was the main attraction as the pair continued from where they left off at Estoril last Sunday, swapping positions time and again as they fought for superiority around this tight, sinuous track that makes overtaking so difficult. Finally Dovizioso prevailed, just as he had done at Estoril, though once again rookie Simoncelli impressed with his determination. Simoncelli finished the race ruing his decision to run the harder compound Bridgestone rear; he believes he could have been faster with the softer option.
Also in the mix with Dovizioso and Simoncelli was Ben Spies (Yamaha), who got the better of both the Italians to secure fourth place during the final four laps. Dovizioso did everything he could to come back at the American but didn't quite have enough grip left to mount a counter attack.
Pedrosa, still suffering from the broken left collarbone he sustained at last month's Japanese GP, was the surprise of the opening laps, rocketing through from the third row of the grid into second place. The Spaniard pressured leader Casey Stoner (Ducati) during the first third of the 30 lap race, in the process setting the fastest lap, but then his shoulder injury began to take its toll. Unable to use full force when braking into turns, Pedrosa slipped down the order as several riders managed to pass him on the brakes. The former 125 and 250 World Champion rated today's race as one of the toughest of his life. The heroic effort was worthwhile, it secured him second place in the World Championship.
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) spent much of the race among a group of five or six riders contesting eighth place. Hector Barbera (Ducati) won that particular battle, the Spaniard followed across the line by Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) and de Puniet. The French Honda rider had hopes of a better result but believes that he and his crew had been too conservative in their work on tyre life and traction control settings, so he didn't have the corner speed to break out of the group.
Today's race ended de Puniet's five-year relationship with the LCR squad -- three seasons in MotoGP and two in 250 GPs. Valencia also marked the end of Melandri's Grand Prix career. The Italian was 15-years-old when he started full-time GPs in 1998. Next year he will switch to the World Superbike Championship.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) had a difficult ride to 14th place. During the early stages of the race the Japanese struggled to find the feeling he needed to push to his limits, and although he rode a good pace during the mid-stages, his lap times tailed off again in the later stages.
Czech Moto2 rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing, FTR) won a thrilling first Grand Prix victory today, coming out on top of a frantic last-lap skirmish that involved the four leading riders. The final race of the inaugural Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship was ultra-close throughout with the top six covered by just one second at half distance and the first four finishers separated by just seven tenths at the flag.
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) led from the start, building a 1.5 second lead, until hard-charging Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) came through to challenge for the lead in the closing stages. Local hero Simon had fought back from ninth on the first lap. The Italian and the Spaniard traded passes on numerous occasions, with Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) and Abraham right behind them, looking for an opening.
On the final lap Elias tried to go under Simon, ran in too hot and tagged the rear of Iannone's bike. Elias ran off the track and crashed while Iannone was forced wide, allowing Abraham to take the lead for the first time. Abraham's first success at GP level brings his career in the intermediate class to a perfect end -- on Tuesday he will commence winter testing for his first MotoGP season in 2011.
Despite that last-lap collision, Iannone managed to hang onto second place, with Simon crossing the line in third spot. Less than six tenths of a second covered the three podium finishers. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki) finished fourth, less than two tenths behind Simon. Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter) was fifth, a further three seconds back.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP, Suter) had also been in the leading pack earlier in the race, but both crashed out, without injury. Elias remounted to finish 30th
Abraham is the ninth different winner in this year's inaugural 17 round Moto2 World Championship.
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) finished the final 125 race of the season in 12th place. Not only was Valencia the last race of the year, it was also the last race of all for Schrotter's crew chief Sepp Schlogl. The multi-world-title-winning German, who has been actively involved in racing for 40 years, was given Schrotter's bike as his retirement present.
The 125 World Championship was the only title to be decided today, and the last crown of the year went to Spanish teenager Marc Marquez (Derbi) who finished the race in fourth. Today's race winner was Briton Bradley Smith (Aprilia).
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 5th
"We have done a good job here at Valencia and we can be happy that we were the first Honda rider home today. Our pace wasn't enough to compete for the win so we can't be totally satisfied of course, but overall we've had a positive end to the season. I was missing some speed in the middle of the corners today which is an area to work on in future, as is improving the stability under braking. I'm disappointed I couldn't re-pass Spies, but my tyres were very worn by the end and I couldn't fight in the last laps because the grip was dropping off quite a lot and it was difficult to maintain the pace from the first part of the race. Anyway it was a good battle with Simoncelli again and I hope there will be more like this next year -- it shows that pocket bikes was a good training ground! Overall we have to be satisfied with the job done by Honda, the team and myself throughout the year and I'd like to thank all those involved. The package has improved a lot and, whereas last year we were struggling, this year I've been consistently faster. We still have some fine tuning to do for next year - and that can start here in the test on Tuesday."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 6th
"I was hoping for a better result than this to be honest but I am still satisfied because I gave it my best shot. I struggled a little bit to set the same lap times as yesterday and stay with the front guys. I was losing the rear in a few places and maybe with the conditions today we should have gone with the soft tyre. Even though it had less grip yesterday I felt more confident with the hard so we stuck with it because I thought it would help me stay consistent to the end of the race, but it was sliding around a lot. In any case I kept going and I am happy with my performance."
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 7th
"This was the one of the hardest races of my life and also one of the ones I can feel most proud of. Honestly I was not sure at all before the start that I could do 30 laps today, but I managed to do it and I'm very happy now, and also exhausted. I made a good start and to stay with Stoner in the early laps was amazing for me. I fought as hard as possible to maintain the pace for as long as I could and it was during this period that I set the fastest lap of the race. But of course my strength was ebbing away little by little and I was caught by the group behind me. From then on I just concentrated on staying on the bike and finishing the race -- I was counting down the laps. To finish second in the championship was not our goal at the beginning of the season of course, but only we know how hard it has been to keep second place after the crash in Japan . We will take our time to recover after this race and we can also have a useful test on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for next year."
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 10th
"Well... to start from the fourth row of the grid was a bit difficult for me but I immediately set my pace trying to catch the guys up there. In the last two days we worked mainly on traction control and our overall package was quite good. Maybe we have been too cautious working on engine mapping and rear tyre life so when I was stuck in the second group I had not enough speed in the corners and I was not able to overtake my competitors. Honestly I aimed to finish in the top six but this is racing and I am satisfied about my final position in the standing considering the bad accident I suffered in the middle of the season. I want to thank Lucio and the team for the five years together. We shared good and bad moments and this period was an important part of my career."
Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 13th
"I don't want to talk about the race. I would rather look to the future because I think we have seen today that the right choice right now for me is to end this story and start a new one. Having said that it has been a big part of my life and I am the person I am today partly because of MotoGP. I want to thank all the people who have stayed close to me and also those who have been against me because they have helped me to grow. Thanks to all the sponsors who have accompanied me over these years and to everybody who has worked with me, also my family and my fans, who I will see again next year in another championship."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 14th
"I want to thank my team and sponsors and all the people who helped me this year. It was a tough year and not easy. Also the last race was tough and difficult. In the end I could finish the race, but I am not satisfied with the way I did it. I almost always finished the races in the points and I had some good experience this year, my first in the MotoGP class, and I want to thank all the staff who were involved in it."
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing, FTR): winner
"I'm so happy with this win because it proves not only to the people but also to me that we can fight for victories and podium finishes. During the last few races, since I got my first podium in Japan, we have always been fighting up front, so I'm really happy with these results and especially for this victory. I was a little lucky at the end of race. Toni made a big mistake, but that's racing -- sometimes I get lucky, sometimes someone else gets lucky. The fight was very hard and I only got to taste first place at the very end, after spending much of the race either second, third or fourth. It's a great day for me and now I am very excited about getting started in MotoGP. I am really looking forward to Tuesday when I will have my first chance to really compare myself against the other riders on my Ducati."
Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up): 2nd
"The start went well and at the beginning I tried to push as hard a possible because I knew that after seven or eight laps the rear tyre would go away, and that's exactly what happed. The rear was sliding around and it was difficult to get traction through the corner exits. That's why Julian was able to catch me. We had a great battle, a great duel and it was very clean -- we didn't touch each other at all. It's a shame what happened with Toni on the last lap. I don't really know what really happened but it forced me wide and allowed Karel though; then I didn't have time to fight back. I really wanted second place in the championship, but we didn't quite make it. Thanks to my team, I will always remember this year, it's been my best season so far, so I was to say thanks to everyone who has helped me."
Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter): 3rd
"I'm very happy to get second place in the championship. I tried to win here because I won the 125 race here last year and that was a very special feeling in front of all the Spanish fans. Also, it would've been great to finish the season with my first Moto2 race, but anyway, to finish on the podium and get second in the championship is good, so I am very happy. It was a good race; I did my best to win, which makes me happy. My start was not perfect, at the end of the first lap I was only ninth. I took me many passes to get ahead of De Angelis and I thought maybe it's not possible to win. But then step by step better we passed other riders and finally I caught Andrea and I passed him. I had a very nice battle with him. Finally Toni attacked on the last lap and that was a disaster for my hopes of victory. But I'm happy anyway and very motivated for the 2011 championship."
Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team)
"This was a good end to the season and the weekend, which started in a difficult way. I am glad it ended that way. I could earn some more last points in the championship and was meeting my expectations of a 12th place today. I am happy about that. I was close to 11th place, but on the straight I had no chance and I could only catch up again with my braking, which I did. But in general I am really happy with the last race of the season."