2018 MotoGP season comes to a dramatic end, Dovizioso wins 'two-part' rain soaked race
Andrea Dovizioso has won what turned out to be the most thrilling race of the 2018 season. He was followed by Alex Rins who rode his factory Suzuki home to ring in second place. Finishing third was an ecstatic Pol Espargaro, riding a factory KTM, scoring his maiden podium finish in the premier class. The race in fact proved to be more than a fitting finale to the 2018 season, which has been one of the most exciting seasons in recent times. Rains played spoilsport more or less throughout the weekend except for the qualifying sessions on Saturday which was the only time the riders had a chance to go out on slicks.
Andrea Dovizioso won the most challenging, rain-soaked race of 2018 at Valencia, ending the season on the top step of the podium
Incessant rains on Sunday meant that the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP races were all run on a wet track, with some rain throughout. Moto3 and Moto2 races were eventful to say the least with several riders crashing out, but both races were run from start to finish. The MotoGP race had to be red flagged after 14 laps as the rains got heavier and track conditions got treacherous. Pole sitter Maverick Vinales was unable to hold onto his lead as Rins took the holeshot and was quick to surge ahead. Vinales was soon also passed by Dovizioso rather easily.
Valentino Rossi who started the race in 16th place was quick to move up and was in 7th in no time even as the rain intensified. Dani Pedrosa, racing his last MotoGP race, started 9th on the grid and made up a few places as well, moving up to 5th a few laps later. Riders seemed to be crashing out one after the other, most getting thrown off their bikes in high sides. Andrea Iannone and Vinales crashed out a few laps later, while 2018 champion Marc Marquez had a massive high side too and hurt his shoulder once again, though he was ok. Prior to that Marquez was passed by Pol Espargaro who was off to a good start from sixth on the grid.
Alex Rins managed to pass Maverick Vinales early into the race and stayed in the lead for a while, before being passed by Andrea Dovizioso
Pol's brother Aleix wasn't as lucky though and crashed out on his factory Aprilia, followed by the Alma Pramac Racing Ducati of Australian rider Jack Miller. Franco Morbidelli was out soon too, while running in fifth place, his best run in MotoGP yet. Even as the rain pounded down, Rossi and Dovizioso both caught up with Rins and passed him rather easily when he ran wide at turn 11. Taking the lead, Dovizioso raised his hand after crossing the start line on lap 14 following which the race was red flagged. As the riders had covered less than three-quarters of the total race distance, the race was scheduled for a restart at 3pm, local time, with the pitlane being opened for 60 seconds for the 16 riders who were classified at the time of the first race session being red flagged.
Rins started on pole, followed by Dovizioso in second and Rossi in third, while Pedrosa started fourth. Dovizioso was quick to pass Rins again in the second lap. Rossi's Yamaha seemed to have some trouble catching the duo in front of him but eventually he did pass Rins, while Espargaro trailed the three of them with Pedrosa hot on heels. Intriguingly, the rains had stopped when the race was restarted there was lots of water on track, especially at the apexes when the safety car was out on track prior to the restart. But barely minutes after the restart the rain was back, with dark clouds looming large over the circuit. Rossi tried a little too hard to catch race leader Dovizioso and crashed out in the process with just a couple of laps to go. Rossi did rejoin but had no chance at the podium. By the end of the race Dovizioso had pulled a solid, four second lead over second placed Rins, while Espargaro moved up to P3, bringing the silverware home in third. Ducati's wild card entrant Michele Pirro finished fourth, while Pedrosa finished a credible fifth behind him, his team applauding him as he came back into pits, one last time.
Dani Pedrosa ended the last race of his MotoGP career in fifth place riding cautiously enough to not make mistake on a soaking wet track, in heavy rain
Below are the final results of the race:
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team)
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki ECSTAR)
3. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
4. Michele Pirro (Ducati Team)
5. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team)
6. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu)
7. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
8. Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
9. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda Castrol)
10. Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
11. Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
12. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team)
13. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
14. Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team)
15. Jordi Torres (Reale Avintia Racing)