Belfast Telegraph

Jorge Lorenzo beats Valentino Rossi to MotoGP championship as Eugene Laverty looks ahead

By Paul Lindsay

Eugene Laverty will certainly remember the last race of his debut season in MotoGP - possibly not for retiring his Open Class Honda on the 23rd lap, but for the bitter battle between eventual champion Jorge Lorenzo and his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.

The clash between Rossi and outgoing world champion Marc Marquez at the penultimate round in Malaysia will be remembered for destroying what was effectively the most exhilarating battle for the championship in over a decade.

Rossi's penalty for helping the Spaniard to an early dismount at Sepang was a back of the grid penalty at yesterday's race in Valencia, which certainly added plenty of final day drama and ramped up the ferocity of the Italy versus Spain rivalry.

Repsol Honda-mounted Marquez silently announced himself as Lorenzo's unofficial wingman after the Malaysian debacle, with Rossi's allies - everyone bar Marquez and Dani Pedrosa - all but allowing him to carve his way through the pack to fourth place.

Sadly for the Italian - dubbed the greatest of all time by his fans - it was too little too late, as Spain's finest, Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa, filled the podium positions, handing Lorenzo and his side of the Movistar Yamaha garage the 2015 title by just five points.

Laverty had little to celebrate personally. The 29-year-old Monaco-based Ulsterman will now look forward to the first test of 2016 - which takes place tomorrow - aboard the Aspar team's all-new Ducati machinery, before letting his hair down at his upcoming stag party later in the week.

One Ulsterman who was celebrating the Lorenzo victory was longstanding MotoGP mechanic Ian Gilpin, who had the enviable task of spinning the spanners on the Mallorcan's YZF-M1 Yamaha all year.

Lorenzo is now a triple MotoGP world champion but with nine-time world champion Rossi now in the twilight of his career, the Spaniard's main adversary at Valencia, Marquez, will undoubtedly become his biggest stumbling block in 2016 and beyond, as he chases MotoGP title number four.

It looks certain to be an intriguing quest.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph