If the persistent rains gave way just ahead of qualifying on Saturday, on Sunday it was the other way round as the skies opened just when the Moto GP riders lined up on the grid for the final race of the season.
What was to be a homecoming party for Marc Marquez ended up in tears as the recently-crowned five-time champion crashed out of the race on lap seven running in the third position and hunting down rival Andrea Dovizioso.
In the end, Andrea Dovizioso showed why he is one of the best in wet conditions as he won a popular victory after the race was stopped on lap 15 due to treacherous conditions and restarted 20 minutes later.
Alex Rins finished second while Pol Espargaró, who had a fall, recovered to take his maiden podium on a day when some of the top riders crashed out.
Repsol Honda won the team’s championship to help Honda seal a triple crown after having won the rider’s and manufacturer’s championship as well.
Earlier, pole-sitter Maverick Vinales of Yamaha lost his lead on the opening lap to Suzuki’s Rins staring second with Ducati’s Dovizioso too passing the pole-sitter on the second lap.
Marquez traded positions with Spain’s Pol Espargaró for fourth and fifth as they got past Vinales before the world champion passed his compatriot on lap four to move into third.
Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi in the other factory Yamaha made a stunning start moving from 16 to 10th on the opening lap and kept moving up the order even as his team-mate Vinales was struggling.
On lap seven, Espargaró crashed from fourth, rejoining in 11th and within seconds Marquez lost control and was thrown off his bike with his machine cartwheeling into the gravel trap.
At the top, Rins was under control leading the race before Dovizioso made a move on lap 14 to take the lead and dragged Rossi along in his trail as the Italian moved past Rins to take second.
Rossi briefly took the lead of the race before running wide allowing Dovizioso to reclaim the lead when the race was red-flagged due on lap 15.
The race was restarted for 14 laps with the grid made up based on the running order at the end of lap 13 that had Rins in the lead ahead of Dovizioso and Rossi.
Rins aced the restart and led away before Dovizioso attacked at the start of the second lap and took the lead of the race into turn one.
Rossi too upped his pace and made it past Rins at the halfway stage. However, the seven-time champion made a mistake in his pursuit for a win and crashed out on lap 10 at turn 12 to slip down the order.
In the end, Dovizioso rounded up the season in the way he started in Qatar exactly eight months ago in March, with a fine win.
(The writer is in Valencia at the invitation of Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Private Limited)
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