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November 09, 2013  |   By Paul Kelly

MotoGP: Grand Prix of Valenica Storylines

The 2013 MotoGP World Championship ends Nov. 8-10 with the Grand Prix of Valencia at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, with action in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.

It’s the final round of the 18-race World Championship, which included the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at three storylines for the Grand Prix of Valencia:

The Showdown: Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda leads Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing by 13 points entering the season finale Sunday, Nov. 10 at Valencia. Marquez, 20, only needs to finish fourth or better to become the youngest premier-class World Champion in history and the first rookie to win that title since American legend Kenny Roberts in 1978.

That task shouldn’t be too tough for Marquez. He has finished third or better in 15 of his 17 starts this season. His only non-podium results were a crash in June at the Grand Prix of Italy and a disqualification last month at the Australian Grand Prix.

But anything can happen. Lorenzo can look to this race in 2006 – the last time the MotoGP World Championship was decided at the last race of the year for inspiration.

Valentino Rossi led Nicky Hayden by eight points entering the Grand Prix of Valencia in 2006 after Hayden was wiped out of the preceding Grand Prix of Portugal by his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. But Rossi crashed early at Valencia and ended up finishing 13th, while Hayden came home safely in third to win his first world title.

Lorenzo has been molten during the stretch run, winning four of the last six races. Many observers, media and fans expect him to dictate the tempo of the season finale, so here are Marquez’s title-clinching permutations based on Lorenzo’s finish:

  • If Lorenzo wins, Marquez must finish fourth or better.
  • If Lorenzo finishes second, Marquez must finish eighth or better.
  • If Lorenzo finishes third, Marquez must finish 12th or better.
  • If Lorenzo finishes fourth, Marquez must finish 15th or better.
  • If Lorenzo finishes fifth or lower, the party can start immediately for Marquez.

Valencia is not one of the stronger tracks for Lorenzo or Marquez, both of whom only have one victory there uring their respective Grand Prix careers. Lorenzo won the MotoGP race in 2010, while Marquez won the Moto2 race last year after starting last on the grid due to a penalty for rough riding in practice.

The atmosphere should be electric, as Spaniards Marquez and Lorenzo will race for the title in front of a home crowd and millions on global television.

Tight Race In Moto3: The title race in Moto3 is even tighter than in MotoGP, as three Spanish riders will fight for the World Championship.

Luis Salom leads Maverick Vinales by just two points. Alex Rins is third, just five points behind Salom.

All three riders compete on KTM motorcycles, so there’s no technical advantage among them. Salom has seven victories this season, while Rins has six. Vinales has just two wins, but he also has finished on the podium in 14 of 16 races this season. His worst finish is fifth.

Any of the three title protagonists will win the World Championship by winning the race. If none of the three win the race, Salom and Vinales can earn the title with a second-place finish. Rins could only with a runner-up finish if Salom finished fourth or lower.

2014 Starts Monday: MotoGP has the shortest offseason in professional motorsport – approximately 18 hours – as the 2014 season gets unofficially underway with postseason testing Monday morning at Valencia.

Riders still under contract for the recently finished season almost always are allowed to test with any new teams with which they have signed for 2014. So American Nicky Hayden will leave Ducati after five seasons and make his debut with the privateer Aspar team aboard a “customer” Honda RCV1000R that he will race in 2014 and 2015.

The RCV1000R was just three-tenths of a second slower per lap than the factory RC213V Honda during testing last month of both bikes by two-time World Champion Casey Stoner. So Hayden hopes to climb closer to the Yamaha and Honda factory machines next season than the last few years aboard the recalcitrant Ducati factory bike.

British rider Cal Crutchlow is leaving a strong satellite bike at Tech 3 Yamaha for Hayden’s old Ducati on Monday. Don’t be surprised if Crutchlow’s eyes are opened wide about the task he faces along with teammate Andrea Dovizioso to hone the Ducati into a competitive machine.

Two World Champions – Valentino Rossi and Hayden – couldn’t do it over the last three seasons.

Another subplot to the testing will be how Rossi fares without longtime crew chief Jeremy Burgess. Rossi won all seven of his MotoGP World Championships with Burgess turning the wrenches, but Rossi fired Burgess this week – effective after the race Sunday – after a disappointing return season to Yamaha in which he won only once and will finish fourth in the standings.


RACE DETAILS:

Race:             Grand Prix of Valencia
Date:            Sunday, Nov. 10
Round:                Eighteenth of 18 races in 2013
Circuit:         Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, Cheste, Spain
Distance:         30 laps on 14-turn, 2.489-mile circuit
2012 Winner:        Dani Pedrosa, Honda
U.S. Riders:            Nicky Hayden, Owensboro, Ky., Ducati Team; Colin Edwards, Houston, NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
TV:                     MotoGP: 8 a.m. (ET), Sunday, Nov. 10, FOX Sports 1. Moto2: 4 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Nov. 10, FOX Sports 2. Moto3: 3 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Nov. 10, FOX Sports 2.
Web:            www.motogp.com
Twitter:        @MotoGP


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