Valencia GP: Dovizioso wins chaotic race, KTM scores first podium

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Valencia GP: Dovizioso wins chaotic race, KTM scores first podium
Valentin Khorounzhiy
By: Valentin Khorounzhiy
Nov 18, 2018, 2:37 PM

Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Dovizioso passed long-time leader Alex Rins twice – once before the 40-minute red-flag stoppage and once after – en route to his fourth win of the campaign.

Behind the race winner, a late crash for Valentino Rossi handed Pol Espargaro and KTM their first respective podiums in the premier class.

The track was wet but drying as riders set about their sighting laps out of the pits, but soon after they spread around the grid in preparation for the start the rain made its return, soaking the circuit once more.

The race began as scheduled, and surprise poleman Maverick Vinales didn't keep his lead for long at the start, slipping behind Rins and Dovizioso off the line, although he would re-pass the latter into Turn 2.

But the Yamaha man did not have the pace to stay in the fight and by the time Dovizioso retook the spot on the main straight a lap later, Rins was already two seconds clear.

He doubled his lead over Dovizioso in the next few laps, before the conditions took a turn for the worse and riders began to crash out en masse.

Danilo Petrucci, running fifth, was caught out by conditions and dropped out of his final race with Pramac, while his teammate Jack Miller had suffered his fifth crash of the weekend a few laps earlier.

Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro also hit the deck, as did KTM rider Espargaro, who had made a brilliant start and was fighting Marc Marquez for third when he went down.

But Marquez himself only lasted a few corners more, the champion suffering a highside through Turn 9, which was then followed by a similarly violent crash for Suzuki's Andrea Iannone.

A few laps later, by when both Vinales and Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli had crashed out of the top five, Rins was noticeably struggling – and he was swiftly reeled in by Dovizioso and a charging Rossi.

The Suzuki man ran wide, allowing both through, and after holding off an attack from Rossi and beginning the 15th lap of 27 in the lead, Dovizioso raised his hand, pleading for the race to be stopped.

The red flags followed moments later, and the order was rolled back to lap 13 for when the race resumed in more manageable conditions.

Rins held the lead off the line, but was passed by Dovizioso on the main straight the next time by, with the pair once more joined by Rossi as they pulled away from the pack.

But Rins could only keep with Dovizioso for a few laps, soon slipping behind Rossi, who couldn't live with the leader's pace either and crashed at Turn 12 with five laps left to run.

Dovizioso and Rins took the chequered flag 2.750s apart, while Espargaro and Pirro completed the top four, having remounted after their pre-red-flag crashes and scything their way through the pack after the restart.

Dani Pedrosa bowed out of MotoGP with a fifth-place finish, ahead of fellow Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami, 2018's top independent rider Johann Zarco and Espargaro's KTM teammate Bradley Smith, who had also crashed before the stoppage.

Hafizh Syahrin was ninth but couldn't overhaul Morbidelli to finish as the campaign's top rookie, while Cal Crutchlow's LCR stand-in Stefan Bradl made up the top 10.

Scott Redding finished his final planned MotoGP race in 11th ahead of a cautious Jorge Lorenzo and the damaged Yamaha of Rossi, while World Superbike-bound Alvaro Bautista – the only rider besides Rossi to crash in the second half – took 16th and last.

Race results

Cla # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 4 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 24'03.408  
2 42 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 24'06.158 2.750
3 44 Spain Pol Espargaro KTM 24'10.814 7.406
4 51 Italy Michele Pirro Ducati 24'12.055 8.647
5 26 Spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 24'16.759 13.351
6 30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 24'35.696 32.288
7 5 France Johann Zarco Yamaha 24'36.214 32.806
8 38 United Kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 24'36.519 33.111
9 6 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 24'39.784 36.376
10 55 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin Yamaha 24'40.606 37.198
11 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding Aprilia 24'47.734 44.326
12 99 Spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 24'49.554 46.146
13 46 Italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 24'56.217 52.809
14 17 Czech Republic Karel Abraham Ducati 25'14.036 1'10.628
15 81 Spain Jordi Torres Ducati 25'20.147 1'16.739
  19 Spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 12'19.932 7 Laps
  25 Spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha    
  9 Italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati    
  93 Spain Marc Marquez Honda    
  29 Italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki    
  41 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia    
  43 Australia Jack Miller Ducati    
  21 Italy Franco Morbidelli Honda    
  12 Switzerland Thomas Luthi Honda    
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About this article

Series MotoGP
Event Valencia GP
Sub-event Sunday race
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy