Jorge Lorenzo clinched his third MotoGP world championship after fending off Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to win Sunday’s Grand Prix of Valencia.
Lorenzo entered the final race of the season trailing Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi by seven points at the top of the riders’ standings after 17 races.
The Spaniard took pole position on Saturday, putting the two championship contenders at opposite ends of the grid thanks to Rossi’s penalty following his clash with Marquez in Sepang.
Lorenzo managed to retain his lead off the line ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa, while Rossi made a flying start from the back of the grid, rising up to 15th by the end of the first lap – a gain of 11 positions.
Going in search of his tenth world championship and seventh in the premier class, Rossi managed to scythe through the field in the laps that followed to run fourth on lap 13, leaving only Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa ahead.
The trio had gapped Rossi by over ten seconds by this point, leaving the Italian reliant on both Marquez and Pedrosa to pass Lorenzo if he were to win the championship.
Lorenzo appeared to have the title won as Pedrosa fell some two seconds back at one point. However, just as Marquez began to crawl all over the back of Lorenzo with seven laps to go, Pedrosa began to make inroads after saving his tires.
With just two laps to go, less than one second separated the top three, with Pedrosa pushing to pass Marquez for position. However, the outgoing champion was able to hold his teammate back, with their battle giving Lorenzo some relief at the front.
Following a classic and controversial season, Lorenzo crossed the line to win the race by just 0.2 seconds and clinch his fifth motorcycle world championship, his third in the premier class.
Marquez and Pedrosa followed the Yamaha rider across the line in second and third, while Rossi finished the race in a somewhat lonely fourth, leaving him just five points shy of the Spaniard in the final standings.
Pol Espargaro finished fifth ahead of Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith, while Andrea Dovizioso was the sole Ducati to take the checkered flag after Andrea Iannone crashed out early on. Aleix Espargaro finished eighth for Suzuki, beating Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci in ninth and tenth.
American rider Nicky Hayden ended his long MotoGP career with a 17th-place finish for Aspar.