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Marquez wins fourth MotoGP crown in tense Valencia finale

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Marc Marquez has been crowned MotoGP world champion for a fourth time after Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, moments after seeing his title rival almost fall.

Marquez stormed to pole position in Valencia for Honda despite crashing in qualifying on Saturday, and sat second through the opening stages after losing his advantage to Tech3 rider Johann Zarco.

Needing a victory to stand any chance of denying Marquez the title, Dovizioso made a good start from P9 on the grid to run fifth early on, closely following Ducati teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

Despite being given a ‘Mapping 8’ instruction by Ducati to let Dovizioso past, Lorenzo refused to move aside, leaving his Italian teammate to toil as the race passed half distance.

Both the race on-track and the championship battle took a couple of dramatic and, ultimately, decisive twists in the space of a few laps, with Marquez almost falling when trying to move into the lead.

Marquez ran deep at Turn 1 when trying to overtake Zarco, narrowly avoiding a fall by keeping himself on his bike using his elbow to prop himself up. The Spaniard fell back to P5, but remained in the race and on-track to win the title.

Dovizioso finally managed to pass Lorenzo when the Spaniard fell out of the race, only for the title contender to follow suit with an error moments later, sliding off into the gravel.

After getting back onto his bike, Dovizioso trundled back to the pits where he was applauded by the Ducati team, having come within touching distance of a famous title victory.

For Marquez, the success was his to lap up. After seeing Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa pass Zarco on the final lap for victory, Marquez crossed the line third standing with his arms aloft, celebrating his fourth MotoGP title and sixth world championship win.

All four of Marquez’s MotoGP title wins have come in the last five years, with his only defeat coming at the hands of Lorenzo in 2015.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.