Marc Marquez came out swinging with his fists up in the air fighting for the right to say he is a x6 World Champion and he accomplished this goal in style. #Big6 is the word everyone is seeing across social media as Marquez celebrated with red streamers, burn outs and is fan club decked out in his merchandise. It was a nail biting race when Marquez almost crashed and a glimmer of hope sent shockwaves through the Ducati garage, however, it was not enough to seal the deal. “We gave it everything” are the words expressed by Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso who unfortunately crashed out in the final race after making a small error which was so costly.
Marquez: “I’m living a dream. ‘Six Titles’ are big words. The truth is that I’m incredibly happy because we worked so much this year, and today the race was incredibly tense and exciting—a bit ‘Marquez Style.’ I made a mistake, but I also made my best save of the year. From that moment on, I just tried to finish the race in a good position. I’m sorry that Andrea didn’t finish the race, as he deserved to do so. He had an incredible season and I would have liked to have him on the podium with me today. The key to the year has been our mentality. In our world it’s very important to remain positive and motivated during the difficult moments. Some things happened to us at the beginning of the season but when we found the way to sort things out, everything went better.” It is true that Marquez at the start of the season was not happy with the bike or the direction the team was going in and then things changed. He became a force to be reckoned with and the strength of his team rock solid. Marquez is sometimes considered a freak of nature and at 24 years of age, who knows how many more records he is going to overtake. Valentino Rossi will be watching him closely because the threat of surpassing his title legacy is clearer than ever. Think of it as three titles before they are equal!
The race was not shy of controversy with Jorge Lorenzo receiving at least five messages on his dashboard stating, ‘Suggested Mapping 8’ and a message on his pit board with -1 and arrow pointing down with Dovizioso’s name the rider they were referring to. As we know now from Sepang and Valencia, the translation is team orders. It was an intense couple of laps as the Ducati garage looked nervous and were trying their best to communicate with Lorenzo and Dovizioso about the strategy. Some people will say this caused a lack of concentration, others disagree with team orders altogether, some feel as though Lorenzo was at fault and others think DesmoDovi just did not have the pace to charge for the top step. With that said, it appears that Dovizioso was not held up by Lorenzo and the goal by his Spanish teammate was to help tow Dovi and then allow him to utilise the slipstream to get passed Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco if they were close enough. This did not end up being the case as JL99 appeared to have better pace. It is clear now that Ducati were suggesting not enforcing. If you watch the laps closely both riders were on the limit and trying absolutely anything to stay with the front pack just in case Marquez put his bike in to the kitty litter. This never happened and as a result by pushing and exceeding the limit, both Ducati riders crashed within a couple of corners of one another.
Dovizioso: “I tried everything and I think that we have to be pleased with this weekend. We weren’t as quick as Marquez but we fought to the very end. I pushed hard right from the first lap, I didn’t make any mistakes and I put myself in the right position but unfortunately, I didn’t have many cards to play. At the start I thought I could pass Jorge but there were some points where I was losing and others were I was gaining: in the end staying behind him helped me ride in a smoother way, so it was positive he was in front of me. We were all at the limit, even Marc who managed to save himself once again from a crash, and I want to congratulate him because also this year he managed to make the difference. At any rate I’m very happy with this season and I want to thank all the guys in the team, Ducati and all those who gave their support because our season has been over the top, full of satisfaction.”
Lorenzo: “No one wants to finish the season with a crash, but apart from this retirement, I think that we must be happy with how we finished the championship, because both in Malaysia and here at Valencia we fought for the podium and this is the way we must begin next year. I pushed hard for the whole race to try and catch the leading group and towards the end I had to take a lot of risks: the front was turning in, especially in the right-handers, and in the end I lost control and couldn’t avoid crashing. Half-way through the race, when Andrea was following me closely, I analyzed the situation and I thought that it was better to try and give him a tow to reach the leading group. If we had caught Zarco and Pedrosa I would certainly have let him past. But I want to offer him my congratulations because this year he has had a really fantastic season.”
We have to say in summarising the series that Dovi is just a nice guy who has worked hard over the years to showcase his abilities on board a motorcycle. The fact that Ducati won six races with him this year and podiums throughout with both riders is stellar. We remember interviewing Dovizioso a couple of years ago and he said that he was not popular in Italy and no one would really focus on him as Valentino Rossi was the primary Italian athlete. Right now, Dovi has skyrocketed in success and the support for him throughout the world is really nice to see. He is masterclass on-board that Ducati machine and 110,220 fans witnessed that in Valencia as the title race came to a close. Tears of joy for one rider and tears of sadness yet happiness for the other. In reflecting upon 2017, it was a season of highs, lows, clean racing and new riders making their mark like Johann Zarco. In addition, it was a season where Ducati finally surpassed expectation and gained a ticket to the premiere club at the top where only the best charge for a title. As the testing gets underway in Valencia we will see riders change teams, chassis tested, tyres and more pushed to the limit as 2018 begins within a click!