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Lorenzo closes out MotoGP season, Yamaha career with Valencia victory

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Jorge Lorenzo closed out the 2016 MotoGP season and his time with Yamaha by winning the Grand Prix of Valencia on Sunday.

Lorenzo made his MotoGP debut with Yamaha back in 2008, before going on to win three world championships and over 40 grands prix with the Japanese marque.

The Spaniard announced over the summer that he would be leaving Yamaha at the end of the 2016 season, switching to Ducati for 2017.

After seeing his bid for a fourth world title fall apart during the European leg of the season, allowing Honda’s Marc Marquez to clinch the crown with three races to spare, Lorenzo entered the final round of the year chasing a symbolic farewell victory.

Lorenzo scored his fourth pole position of the year on Saturday at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, and made a lightning getaway from the grid to retain his lead in the opening stages.

Marquez fell back to fourth, while outgoing Ducati rider Andrea Iannone made a rocket start to run second behind Lorenzo.

Lorenzo was able to forge a healthy lead as Iannone held back Valentino Rossi, Marquez and Maverick Vinales, all of whom were clamouring to make a pass but could not find a way through.

By the time Marquez had passed both Rossi and Iannone got through, Lorenzo was already well up the road, appearing to leave the race sewn up.

However, Marquez had other ideas. The Honda rider put the hammer down in pursuit of Lorenzo, who was struggling with excessive graining on his front tire, causing the gap to fall lap by lap.

Despite having his compatriot on his tail for much of the final lap, Lorenzo was able to round the final few corners with ease before claiming his fourth win of the season, signing off from his time with Yamaha in style.

Marquez followed home in second, while Iannone rounded out the podium after a thrilling fight with Rossi in the closing stages. Rossi was left to settle for P4, finishing ahead of 2017 Yamaha teammate Vinales.

Pol Espargaro ended up sixth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro, while Bradley Smith and Alvaro Bautista rounded out the top 10.

With the 2016 season now at a close, attention turns to the post-season test at Valencia next week that will see a number of riders, including Lorenzo, joining up with their new teams for the first time ahead of the 2017 campaign.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.