Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) rode to his 12th victory of 2019 at chilly, windswept Valencia today to conclude his best-ever Grand Prix season and complete the coveted triple crown for Honda.
At last month’s Thai Grand Prix Marquez won the MotoGP Riders World Championship, next time out in Japan Honda secured the MotoGP Constructors World Championship and today the Repsol Honda Team won the MotoGP Teams World Championship.
This is the third consecutive year that Honda has utterly dominated motorcycling’s fastest and most technical demanding race series with a remarkable triple-crown success.
And this triple crown is Honda’s second of 2019, following the triple crown of title victory in MotoGP as well as the MXGP World Championship with Tim Gajser and the Trial World Championship with Toni Bou.
Indeed Honda has been the dominant force since the advent of MotoGP’s four-stroke class in 2002, both with its riders and its range of superb machines: the RC211V, the RC212V and the current RC213V.
During those 18 MotoGP seasons Honda riders have won the MotoGP Riders World Championship ten times, Honda has taken the MotoGP Constructors World Championship on 12 occasions and the Repsol Honda Team has won the team prize ten times.
Today’s race wasn’t only memorable for Honda’s success, it will also be remembered as the last race for Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), who announced his retirement on Thursday, bringing to a close an illustrious career that included five World Championships and 68 Grand Prix victories. The 32-year-old Spaniard finished 13th, taking three points to help his team to the teams title. Fittingly for the rider who has raced with the number 99 for many years, today’s race was attended by 99,000 fans.
Marquez started the race from second place on the grid but didn’t get a great getaway and had to fight his way through from fifth place at the end of the first lap. From there the magical 26-year-old Spaniard began moving forward like only he knows how, passing Alex Rins, Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller to move into second place one lap later.
Then he started chasing down early leader Fabio Quartararo, who had started from pole position and was already seven tenths ahead after two laps. Marquez relentlessly closed the gap aboard his RC213V, until he was ready to attack on the eighth of 27 laps, having already set a new lap record on the fourth lap. He made a superb move on his young rival, squeezing inside at the Turn 11 right-hander. From there he immediately began to open a gap to deny Quartararo the chance to counter-attack.
By lap 18 Marquez was a second in front and from there he simply had to maintain that gap. But this wasn’t easy – the weather has been cold and windy all weekend here, causing numerous tumbles because riders have struggled to keep their tyres at optimum temperature. Even Marquez had fallen twice in practice.
This has been a remarkable season for a rider who had already made his mark on MotoGP history in previous campaigns. The winner of the 2010 125cc world title, the 2012 Moto2 crown and the 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 MotoGP championships had his greatest-ever season in 2019.
From the 19 races he scored 12 victories, six second places and one DNF, which adds up to 420 points, the highest points score in the Grand Prix history. He also achieved the biggest title-winning margin in 71 years of GP racing, ending the season 151 points ahead of runner-up Andrea Dovizioso.
His sixth MotoGP title in seven years is also the greatest title hit rate since Giacomo Agostini dominated the racing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During 2019 Marquez scored Honda’s 300th premier-class victory and helped the company to an historic 25th premier-class Constructors World Champion during the 60th anniversary season of Honda’s debut in the smaller categories of Grand Prix racing.
His 56th MotoGP victory took his total to 82 over all three classes (including 16 in Moto2 and ten in 125s) which puts him fourth overall in the all-time winners list, behind Agostini, Rossi and Angel Nieto. And he is third in the premier-class list, behind Rossi and Agostini.
Team-mates Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) and Johann Zarco (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) both fell victim to the treacherous conditions.
Crutchlow slid off at Turn One on lap 11, while holding ninth place. It wasn’t the season finale wanted by the 34-year-old Briton who has scored three podiums this year: third places in Qatar and Germany and a brilliant second behind Marquez in Australia.
Zarco, who was substituting for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V), slid off at Turn Six immediately after Danilo Petrucci on lap 14. While in the gravel trap Zarco was hit by the fallen bike of Iker Lecuona, who had crashed moments later. This sudden rash of crashes suggested that grip was momentarily reduced at the corner, either due to the wind and/or dust on the track.
Today’s racing completed MotoGP’s longest-ever season, with 19 races across all three classes. Preparation for the 20-race 2020 season commence on Tuesday with MotoGP testing here at Valencia and later in the week with Moto2 and Moto3 testing at Jerez. Next season starts in Qatar on March 8.