Joan Mir wins first MotoGP championship; Franco Mobidelli captures Valencia GP

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CHESTE, Spain — Joan Mir won the MotoGP title for the first time with a seventh-place finish at the Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday.

Pole-sitter Franco Morbidelli won the race for his third victory of the season, but it was not enough to keep Mir from securing the title with one race to go. The season finale will take place in Portugal next week.

The 23-year-old Spanish rider with Suzuki started from 12th place on the grid and needed nothing more than a top-three finish to clinch the title. He also could have lifted the trophy by finishing ahead of the other contenders.

He won his first MotoGP race last weekend at the same Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia and earned seven podium finishes in 13 races. It was the first MotoGP championship for Suzuki in 20 years.

Mir entered Sunday’s race with a 37-point advantage over both Suzuki teammate Álex Rins and Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha. Morbidelli, Maverick Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso also had a mathematical chance to win the title.

This year’s title race was wide open after six-time champion Marc Márquez was sidelined because of a broken right arm. There have been nine different winners this season, with five first-time winners.

The MotoGP season was shortened and had its calendar severely altered because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mir moved up a place at the start on Sunday and gradually moved to the front. Quartararo, a three-time winner this year who started 11th on the grid, went wide early and dropped to the back of the pack, then crashed out of the race with less than 20 laps to go.

Johann Zarco, who started fourth on the grid, crashed early in the race.

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.