Jorge Lorenzo had an unlucky end to the 2014 season.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi secured a superb second place under difficult conditions during the 2014 season finale, the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.
Starting from pole in what began as a dry race, Rossi took off as soon as the lights dimmed and arrived at the first corner in second place behind compatriot Andrea Iannone. Followed closely by Marc Marquez, the nine-time World Champion was quick to find a strong pace, but as soon as the first lap was finished white flags were waving, signaling rain and allowing riders to come into the pits to change bikes.
Rossi didn’t let the changeable conditions slow him down and set a fastest lap of 1’32.437 on lap five. As things closed up at the front, fans were thoroughly entertained with a heated battle between Rossi, Marquez and Iannone.
For me it’s a great achievement to take the pole position and to finish in second place, especially because this race was very difficult and the conditions were very dangerous.
Sparks were flying from Rossi’s bike on lap 12 as Dani Pedrosa started to get into the mix. Six laps later rain threatened again, allowing the Doctor to reel in Marquez. Rossi kept his head down, but as the track dried again he came just short and finished in a deserved second place, 3.516 seconds behind the front man.
Teammate Lorenzo had an unlucky end to the 2014 season. Starting from fourth on the grid, he soon got caught up in a fight with rival Pedrosa. The Movistar Yamaha rider looked to be the stronger of the two until drops of rain began to fall and he took a few laps to get a feel for the situation, falling back to seventh.
Like in Aragon, instead of finishing in fifth, sixth or seventh position, I prefer to take risks, but today we didn’t have the luck we had there.
As the track started to dry Lorenzo regained confidence and rose to fifth, having retaken Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso by lap nine. Four laps later the Spaniard arrived at the back of Iannone’s bike and won a hard battle with him before continuing his hunt for Pedrosa in third, until rain once again disrupted the race. Lorenzo struggled to get the bike stopped in the uncertain conditions and dropped down the order.
He decided to come into the pits on lap 20 to switch to his wet bike and rejoined the race in 14th place. Unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off. He dropped back to 21st and was forced to retire with five laps remaining as the conditions remained dry.
With second place Rossi gains 20 championship points, securing second in the championship, with 295 points total. Lorenzo finished third in the championship as his points total remained 263.
Tomorrow Rossi and Lorenzo will be back aboard the M1 on the Valencia circuit for the first test sessions in preparation for next year’s season.
Valentino Rossi (2nd / +3.516 / 30 laps): “I’m happy, because I finished this very positive season for me and my team with a great race and a good result here in Valencia. For me it’s a great achievement to take the pole position and to finish in second place, especially because this race was very difficult and the conditions were very dangerous. I tried to stay concentrated and not to make a mistake. It’s a bit of a shame that I started to suffer a little bit on the right side of the tyre, because I wasn’t so far from Marc, but it still has been a good season.
We got second in the championship, a lot of podiums and two victories. Now, we have to work to be even better next year. My bad luck is called Marc Marquez, because without him I can win the championship and a lot of races. He did a fantastic job and won a lot of races. It’s a great pleasure to fight with him, but we are not so far and we never give up and try to come closer. Especially on Tuesday, but also tomorrow we will start working for next season.
I am very close to 300 points, but Marquez won a lot more races than me, so me and my team need to improve the Yamaha to try and stay closer during the whole season. The test is important because we have a lot of new stuff to test for next year, so it will be interesting.”
Jorge Lorenzo (DNF / - / 24 laps): “In Aragon I decided to come into the pits and it was a good decision, but here it was not raining enough for the rear tyre to work well. I was losing a lot of time as the slicks were dropping because of the water. The other riders were more confident. They weren’t scared to make a mistake, so they were faster and I kept losing time.
Like in Aragon, instead of finishing in fifth, sixth or seventh position, I prefer to take risks, but today we didn’t have the luck we had there. I entered the pits and I was losing time every lap. I was five or six seconds slower than the others and eventually I decided to stop. We made a mistake and we have to learn from all the mistakes that we made this season to be stronger and more clever next year.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “This has been one of the fastest seasons from my experience in MotoGP. We had a really positive year, though we missed out on the championship we had really good results and 24 podiums, many of them with both our riders standing together. In general our results were excellent and we deserved to finish at least second and third in the championship. We responded very well from the second half of the season and we were able to close the gap and show that the performance of the bike is very good.
I really appreciate the effort that everybody in the team put in to keep pushing and never give up, that’s been really important. Today it was a difficult race, the conditions weren’t easy at all. Valentino proved again that he is still one of the most competitive riders in the world. Unfortunately it was a bittersweet end to the season with Jorge’s result. He wanted to take a gamble. It worked in Aragon, but here unfortunately it didn’t.
I want to thank everybody again who made this good season possible, every team member and Yamaha employee and also the fans for their fantastic support. Congratulations to Marc for his title, we’ll be back to fight for it next year! Tomorrow it’s already the start of 2015 for us and we’ll start working on the new season.”
Espargaro scores non-factory glory in Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro charged to an expertly undertaken sixth place to finish his debut season in the MotoGP class in superb form at Valencia. The 23 year old commenced the 30 lap sprint from the rear of the second row with drops of rain falling as soon as the race began. Espargaro undertook a solid start before being pushed back to 8th at the close of the first lap, yet he powered on as the rain still fell, albeit intermittently.
The young Spanish rider had slipped back to 13th on lap four, but showed a fantastic display of determination to remain firm and try to move up the field. Espargaro pushed onwards and with two thirds of the race distance covered, he had ascended though the order in a consistent manner and back up to seventh with his sights directly set on the position in front.
I am still not very experienced riding in the slight wet conditions with the slick tyres but today I couldn't risk too much.
On the 25th lap the rookie had brilliantly closed the gap to his brother, Aleix Espargaro, in front and sped past to move into sixth one lap later before speeding across the finish line in this placement. His resolute and hard fought ride saw him brilliantly achieve his ambition of seizing sixth and the title of the leading satellite rider as well the rookie of the year in the 2014 World Championship standings.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Bradley Smith concluded his 2014 campaign with a ride to 14th after an unfortunate final round in Valencia. The British star started the race from seventh on the grid, but was shuffled down to eleventh place by the end of the first lap. However, Smith persisted with his efforts to jump back up the field in order to score a top result as he set into a fierce race pace.
By lap seven, the 23 year old rider had reached eighth position and continued to climb. Yet, with more spots of rain falling at the 4005 metre Ricardo Tormo circuit, Smith unluckily fell on lap 17, before re-joining to end the lap in 20th. Nevertheless, the young British rider proceeded forward and a final dash in the last laps saw Smith make up ground as well as six places to cross the line in 14th. The performance today marks a challenging yet resolute end to the 2014 season which sees him finish in eighth position in the world championship standings.
Pol Espargaro (6th / +37.884 / 30 laps): “I can't help but be slightly disappointed about our result today, even if this was not because of the placement itself yet, more about how things went. The second row was a solid position to start the race from and this morning with a full fuel load and used tyres I finished second in the warm up, so I think we were really prepared for the last race of the season. However, just like many other times this year, the rain came right at the start of the race and ruined our hopes.
I am still not very experienced riding in the slight wet conditions with the slick tyres but today I couldn't risk too much. I had Bradley and my brother close to me on the track, who I was fighting with for the sixth place in the championship, so I had to think about the end result as well as finishing the race without any mistakes.
However, I still ended my rookie year as the best non-factory rider, which had to be our aim, so I'm truly pleased with what we achieved. I want to say a huge thanks to the team for all their work as well as patience in teaching and supporting me this year. Tomorrow we'll kick off preparations for 2015 and I'm already excited to try our new parts.”
Bradley Smith (14th / +57.517 / 30 laps): “Overall, it was positive to be able to finish the race after falling, but today’s result didn’t reflect the true performance that we would have been able to achieve. The bike felt extremely well so firstly, a big thanks to my team for the work that they undertook and in all honesty, I am sure that I could have fought for fourth position. However, unfortunately at the beginning of the race I was pushed out wide by my teammate and then afterwards my fight with Aleix cost me further time so I lost the gap to the Ducati’s.
Yet, once I was able to get in front of my group, I could run a good pace and recovered some time on the riders in front of me. Then I made a mistake going into turn 8 when the track was slippery due to the rain and I locked the front tyre. When I tried to get back on track, I tried to use a shortcut but a marshal stopped me which made me lose further time so it would have been better to turn and come back sooner.
For sure, I will learn from this mistake and I am sorry to the team as we lost the seventh position, but I am still satisfied with the final placement in the standings. Furthermore, I hope to begin 2015 with a similar high to how we have performed in the second half of this season.”
Aleix Espargaro finish an extraordinary 2014 season 7th overall
The Valencia GP, last round of the season was the perfect place for the NGM Forward Racing team to celebrate the Open class title won by Aleix Espargaro with one race in advance. A success that crowned an amazing season that saw the Spaniard among the protagonist of the MotoGP class with one podium finish at Aragon and a pole position at Assen.
Today, in front of the Spanish crowd, Espargaro crossed the finish line once again as first open, conquering a well deserved seventh position, after an exciting battle with his brother Pol. With this result he secured the seventh position in the rider World Championship with 126 points. The NGM Forward Racing Team shared the same success, clinching seventh in the Team Classification with 151 points.
It was a difficult race for teammate Alex De Angelis, who closed the 2014 season with the 18th position. The rider from San Marino had a good start and was fighting to get some points, but when it started to rain he lost some confidence in the rear and couldn’t defend his position.
Aleix Espargaro (7th / +38.168 / 30 laps): “It was the final round of an incredible season together with the NGM Forward Racing Team. If I look back at this winter, we couldn’t have imagined to finish seventh in the championship on board of an open bike. We had a lot of satisfactions with the team: the first pole position, the first podium in MotoGP and 18 rounds were we have been protagonists, fighting with the front guys. I’d like to thank the “Forward family” for all their efforts, the support and the trust. The whole team has done an incredible job to give me a competitive bike. I’d like to thank Yamaha, my family and all the sponsors and partners for their support.”
Alex De Angelis (18th / +1'15.795 / 30 laps): “I would have loved to close my season with the NGM Forward Racing team in a different way, but in the last laps I struggled so much, that I couldn’t push more. I started well and I recovered positions, aiming at getting some points. Unfortunately, when it started to rain, I lost some confidence with the rear and I couldn’t keep my pace to defend my position. I’m sorry because my target was to finish the last round with some points to thank the team.”