The story of the 2019 season ended once again in Valencia, with a cool breeze but a warm farewell to both another year of fantastic racing and the one and only Jorge Lorenzo. In tune with the plotline of the season, it was Marc Marquez who stole the final show, denying his young contender to the throne a victory in his rookie season. The world champion made one final statement on track by wearing his golden title winning helmet on his way to taking the precious triple crown for the Honda squad. Fabio Quartararo gave it one last go at stopping the onslaught but ended up with another brilliant second place as the top rookie and top independent team rider. Jack Miller proved to be once again the fastest man on a Ducati with a fifth podium of the season.
The Australian’s Ducati machine was the usual winner of the holeshot contest at the start of the 27 laps, putting Miller in charge into turn one, although Quartararo retrieved the lead in the following turn. Marquez had made a sluggish start and had to fight back from sixth position but by lap two he was already trailing the two leaders, quickly disposing of Alex Rins, Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales. Quartararo was keen to make an escape at the front and stretched a seven tenths gap in the first couple of laps but with Marquez picking up the chase with all the heavyweights in tow, it was a difficult mission for the rookie.
With Marquez galloping towards Quartararo and getting glued to his tail by lap five, Miller dropped a second on the leaders and was fighting to keep Dovizioso, Rins and Franco Morbidelli away. Vinales was not too far back but not within striking distance of the men ahead and only a step ahead of Joan Mir and Valentino Rossi. Cal Crutchlow completed the provisional top ten, with Danilo Petrucci doing very much to contribute to the teams’ title tally early on.
Back at the front, Marquez was stalking his pray but letting it run loose until lap eight, when, unusually for the world champion’s trademark strategy, Marquez chose to take control well ahead of time. After a nice fairing cuddle at turn 11, Marquez was stretching a bit of a gap at the front, dropping Quartararo by half a second and leaving him dangerously close to the Ducati tandem of Miller and Dovizioso. Rins looked like the final man with podium aspirations, Morbidelli and Vinales not making any noise over a second down the road. Crutchlow left the top ten party with a crash on lap 12, promoting Petrucci into more generous point scoring positions. The Italian did not get much time to rejoice though, as he crashed out a handful of laps later at turn six.
The next few laps saw the top five men riding around about half a second of each other – close enough to hope but not to actually strike for a change of position. At the tail end of that group, Rins brought down the gap first but could not find a way around Dovizioso, who in turn was not getting any opportunities to attack Miller. However, Miller’s position was the only podium spot still undecided, Marquez starting the final half of the race one second ahead of Quartararo, who in turn was another second ahead of the third place battle between Miller, Dovizioso and Rins. Although the action was not that hot, nor was the surface of the track, which saw Morbidelli go down at turn four, as well as a scary moment when Iker Lecuona’s sliding KTM hit an already fallen Johann Zarco. The Frenchman was lucky to escape any injury after the unintended backflip at turn six, which was still carrying the signs of a Moto3 oil spill.
The final five laps started with the world champion a mile ahead, but Quartararo slowly found himself getting reeled in by Miller. The Pramac man was tempted by an even better end to his season but it was a few laps too late and the gap never came under seven tenths of a second.
The reigning world champion took the final checkered flag of the season in cruise control, denying Quartararo a victory in his stellar rookie season. Miller ended the year on a high and with a great third place audition for the benefit of Ducati, just as Dovizioso’s fourth place was losing them the teams’ title. Rins took fifth for Suzuki, with Vinales anonymous in sixth and with Mir, Rossi and the Espargaro brothers completing the top ten. Jorge Lorenzo planted the LorenzoLand flag for one final time at Valencia, after riding to a points-scoring finish in front of the adoring home crowd and enjoying the embrace of colleagues and rivals all the way into his garage.
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Aprilia||1 Lap|
|21||Franco MORBIDELLI||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||14 Laps|
|5||Johann ZARCO||Honda||14 Laps|
|27||Iker LECUONA||KTM||14 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||17 Laps|
|51||Michele PIRRO||Ducati||19 Laps|