Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo is the 2015 MotoGP World Champion after claiming victory at Valencia. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa finished in second and third, respectively, while Lorenzo’s primary title rival and teammate, Valentino Rossi, mounted an impressive charge from the back of the grid to finish fourth.
Lorenzo shot off the line from pole position to the early lead, but all eyes were on Rossi as he rocketed through the pack from his position at the rear. Entering the first corner, Rossi had already moved past a number of riders and by the second lap had settled into 14th position. By the next lap the Doctor was up to 10th and when Ducati’s Andrea Iannone crashed out of the race while in fourth, Rossi bumped up to ninth.
Lorenzo set a scorching pace at the front however, logging a low 1’31 lap his second time around followed by what would be his fastest lap of the day on Lap 3. He would continue setting mid to high 1’31 laps through the first two-thirds of the race, a devastating consistency that only Marquez and Pedrosa were able to come close to matching, the three riders creating ever more space between themselves and the field.
Further back, Rossi was still slicing through the crowd, but his advance slowed somewhat as he came against some of the stronger satellite and factory riders. With 26 laps remaining Rossi trailed Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith for a period before passing. Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci proved a bit easier to pass, the Italian looking back and noticing Rossi on his tail then running the following corner wide, allowing both Rossi and Smith through.
With 23 to go, Rossi was up to seventh with Smith’s teammate, Pol Espargaro, just ahead. He was stalled again trying to pass the Tech 3 rider but an aggressive move with 21 to go saw Rossi advance to sixth. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro was ahead and didn’t give an inch, retaliating on Rossi when the Yamaha rider made his first attempt to pass. With 19 laps remaining, Rossi was able to get the move done and take fifth-place.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was next on Rossi’s list, and the following lap Rossi was able to advance to fourth. At this point however, Pedrosa, in third, was more than 10 seconds ahead of Rossi. Lorenzo and Marquez were a further second or so ahead of that. Rossi was incapable of matching the pace of the front runners, hovering in the low to mid 1’32-a-lap range while the front runners continued ticking off rotations a few tenths quicker. Rossi’s only hope was for Marquez and Pedrosa to mount a charge on Lorenzo and demote the Mallorcan to third.
And toward the end of the race, it appeared a real possibility. Marquez had stalked Lorenzo throughout the contest and with the Honda rider’s comments from earlier in the weekend about tire wear at the circuit and the importance of tire conservation it seemed as if the Honda rider had saved a little extra for the end. As the final lap approached, Marquez was right on the rear tire of Lorenzo and Pedrosa was gaining ground quick. While Marquez and Lorenzo hovered in the low 1’32 range during the latter stages, Pedrosa was still in the upper 1’31s. A thrilling end was surely in sight.
Pedrosa made a pass attempt on Marquez before Marquez could make a serious move on Lorenzo. Pedrosa ran it a bit wide on the exit of the turn however and Marquez was able to get back through. The brief back and forth was just enough for Lorenzo to grab a few tenths on Marquez, creating just enough space to keep the Honda rider at bay to the checkers. With that the title was decided.
Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa addressed journalists in the post-race press conference, each indicating that the race was particularly difficult due to tire wear and various handling issues. Marquez and Pedrosa struggled with the front during the early portion of the race and Lorenzo faced heavy rear wear after his initial push to build an advantage.
The question was raised by a number of journalists of whether Marquez and Pedrosa were perhaps holding back. One question arose from a statement Rossi is said to have made after the race which questioned why neither Honda rider made the pass on Lorenzo, suggesting some type of potential collusion. Marquez and Pedrosa dismissed this completely, citing again the early grip struggles and the time cost when Pedrosa made his pass attempt on Marquez in the latter stages. Each confirmed that they were at or above the limit and that each had given absolutely 100%.
Another interesting question came when Lorenzo was asked about his earlier statement in which he said this year’s title deserved to stay in Spain. His answer sums up his vision of the season and makes no attempt at playing nice with his teammate.
“I believe the world title not only deserved to stay in Spain but I think I clearly deserved this world title. If you see the statistics compared to our rival, we beat him in everything, in victories, in pole positions, in fast laps, in laps leading the race, in leading the practice. Only in the podium regularity they beat us.” He went on to comment also that if it weren’t for his early season struggles, he’d have likely arrived at Valencia with a healthy points lead over his rival. “Anyone not completely supporting one rider can see this.”
Later on, Rossi held a press conference of his own, which he opened with this statement:
“This is the finale of the championship that me personally, but I think a lot of people, didn’t want to see because it was a great season. I think this championship has the potential to become the best of the last years because the battle with Jorge can arrive at the last race. But unfortunately in the last three races something changed. Something nobody expected. For first me but also a lot of people. That Marc Marquez decided to protect Lorenzo to help him win the championship. So the problem started in Phillip Island and after become unfortunately worse and worse. We arrived in Malaysia where unfortunately we touched and Marquez crashed. I knew by Thursday I had to start last and I knew my championship was finished because I was sure Marquez would finish his work and protect Lorenzo also in the last race. I said this already Thursday and it happened exactly as I expected. Today the race was quite embarrassing. The last lap I think was quite bad for all the sport. I’m very sad for this finish. I was ready to lose the championship to Jorge because he’s always very fast on track, but in this way, for me, is not fair.”
HRC Executive Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto responded after all riders had spoken with this statement in a team press release:
“This is not the atmosphere we wanted to experience at the end of an unforgettable championship. We understand that it’s been a very difficult day for Valentino, after leading the championship for 17 races and losing by just five points in the final race must be very disappointing. However, on the other side we cannot accept the strong accusations he has directed against our rider and Honda in the past weeks and in today’s post race press conference. Together with the allegation he made after Phillip Island, there is no evidence to support these accusations, only the fact that Marc took five points away from Valentino’s competitor in the championship, Jorge.
“Today Valentino has alleged that Marc never attempted to pass Jorge, who has clearly had a very good pace all weekend which he demonstrated by taking a strong pole position in qualifying. Marc was struggling to stay behind him during the race and both him and Dani have done a great job to not lose too much distance to Jorge. Marc’s plan was to attack in the last lap, as we have seen many times in the past if the opportunity presents itself, he will try. Dani’s pace increased at the end of the race and he overtook Marc but ran wide and Marc was able to immediately pass him back, but this is racing.
“We are sorry that Valentino doesn’t believe this is the case, but we are certain both Marc and Dani were pushing 100% to achieve the best result for the Repsol Honda Team and all our partners as always. We cannot accept that these accusations continue to surface time after time, as this is the perception of one person – which we respect – but it is not the reality.
“Valentino is a great champion and clearly an intelligent individual so we truly hope that in time, once the dust settles, he can reevaluate what has happened and accept this was another great race from a wonderful season, and it’s a shame to spoil it. Marc and Dani have taken points away from both Valentino and Jorge this year, this is the nature of racing.”
Fallout from the final rounds of 2015 isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. Lorenzo ends with a five point advantage over Rossi in second. Marquez finishes the season in third-place overall with Pedrosa trailing in fourth and Iannone in fifth.
MotoGP Valencia Results 2015
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Honda)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
5. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha)
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
8. Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki)
9. Cal Crutchlow (Honda)
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
11. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki)
12. Michele Pirro (Ducati)
13. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati)
14. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia)
15. Scott Redding (Honda)
16. Hector Barbera (Ducati)
17. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
18. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia)
19. Loris Baz (Forward Yamaha)
20. Toni Elias (Forward Yamaha)
21. Jack Miller (Honda)
22. Anthony West (Honda)
MotoGP World Championship Points 2015
1. Jorge Lorenzo, 330
2. Valentino Rossi, 325
3. Marc Marquez, 242
4. Dani Pedrosa, 206
5. Andrea Iannone, 188
6. Bradley Smith, 181
7. Andrea Dovizioso, 162
8. Cal Crutchlow, 125
9. Pol Espargaro, 114
10. Danilo Petrucci, 113