The helicopter shot from above the starting grid set up the story: Jorge Lorenzo was on pole, while his teammate and only championship rival Valentino Rossi was in last place. For either man to win the 2015 title, he would have to beat the other.
Lorenzo set not only the fastest qualifying time to achieve his pole position for today’s final round of the 2015 season, but smashed the lap record too. In what he called “the lap of his career”, the 28 year old used his trademark butter smooth riding style to decimate the previous circuit record set by Marquez last year. It not placed him in command for the the start of today’s race, but was a harbinger of things to come.
Rossi, for his part, reverted to type, looking more relaxed and almost jovial in the preamble. There was nothing to do but take risks and push as hard as possible to try and reach the front runners in a bid for the world championship he characterized as “desperate”.
From the green lights, there was red mist in his eyes. By the first corner, Rossi had moved up seven places. By the end of lap 4, he was 9th out of 22. Mounted aboard what has consistently been the best motorcycle of the 2015 season and armed with the most MotoGP experience of anyone in history, this in an of itself was not shocking. But the aggression was surprising. The opening laps of any motorcycle race are a free for all melee, where physical contact is frequent and serious damage can occur. Rossi passed strong mid-fielders like brothers Aleix and Pol Espargaro, and Andrea Iannone under heavy breaking, often with millimeters of margin to spare.
Meanwhile at the front, Lorenzo, Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had stormed off in that order, with Lorenzo commanding every lap with characteristic perfection. Like so many times before, Lorenzo peeled off lap after lap within a few tenths of a second of each other, demonstrating the consistency that has paid off for him so often before. Marquez got close, particularly in the final five laps, but never made an attempt to get past.
By mid race, Rossi was in a strong fourth, and pulling ahead of the rest, but the gap between himself and the leading trio was nearly 12 seconds, an almost insurmountable amount of ground to make up. Rossi’s world championship hopes depended on Repsol Honda riders Marquez and Pedrosa getting past Lorenzo.
Pedrosa overtook his teammate twice for second place in those final few laps, but Marquez retaliated immediately. The result of this skirmish was that Lorenzo pulled a half second ahead in the final two laps making his victory almost assured. Lorenzo crossed the line to complete a perfect weekend, and to win his third MotoGP world championship, his fifth at grand prix motorcycle racing level.
|1||25||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||156.7||45’59.364|
|2||20||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||156.7||+0.263|
|3||16||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||156.7||+0.654|
|4||13||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||155.6||+19.789|
|5||11||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||155.2||+26.004|
|6||10||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||155.1||+28.835|
|7||9||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||155.1||+28.886|
|8||8||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||154.8||+34.222|
|9||7||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||154.7||+35.924|
|10||6||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Octo Pramac Racing||Ducati||154.5||+39.579|
|11||5||25||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||154.5||+39.746|
|12||4||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||154.1||+47.053|
|13||3||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Octo Pramac Racing||Ducati||153.7||+54.081|
|14||2||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||153.6||+56.646|
|15||1||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||153.5||+57.278|
|16||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||153.5||+57.363|
|17||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Aspar MotoGP Team||Honda||153.4||+58.742|
|18||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||153.4||+59.086|
|19||76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||153.1||+1’04.339|
|20||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||153.1||+1’04.413|
|21||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||LCR Honda||Honda||153.1||+1’05.212|
|22||13||Anthony WEST||AUS||AB Motoracing||Honda||151.9||+1’27.281|