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.