The brilliant Australian track is a rider favourite. It has long been considered one of the jewels on the current calendar. Its series of long, flowing curves, taken in third and fourth gear are spread across 2.7 miles of glorious, undulating tarmac. Its proximity to the Bass Straight means it gives Mugello a run for its money in terms of the most spectacular setting of the year.
The reason it’s 11 and not 12, however, is one rider remaining sidelined through injury: Niki Tuuli, the early season pacesetter. He’ll be replaced at Ajo MotoE by 2017 WorldSSP Champion Lucas Mahias, so that will be an interesting adaptation to watch. The Frenchman dives straight it with limited track time, but adaptation has been different up and down the grid.
The rookie on a roll was, is and likely will be someone else though: Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Race day at Sepang was tougher than Saturday, but he’d broken the lap record a handful of times by the time the lights went out – and outfoxed Marquez’ Q2 tactics. He’s got one more chance to win a race, and plenty more on the line: he’s just ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as we arrive, and that would be something for the CV in a debut year. Valencia hasn’t always proven the best track for ‘The Doctor’ either, so could it swing the Frenchman’s way?
Despite a truly dominant mid-part of the season for Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), the pressure was starting to build for the points leader on the flyaways, and the two men coming in hot were Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). But the number 73 kept cool in the searing heat of Sepang to take a tenth podium of the year and become a two-time World Champion, so now it’s about the fight for second – and the final win of the year.
The fight for Rookie of the Year is still on too, and it’s frequently been a fight in the top ten, top five or even for the podium. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) is on the verge of taking the title, however, with the Italian 24 points clear of nearest rival Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia). For Vietti to lose it then, Ogura would have to win – and the Italian would have to all-but fail to score. And if they’re equal? Then it would come down to the Japanese rider having taken a second place this season and Vietti “only” thirds, but that says one thing clearly at least: they’re both frontrunners and ones to watch.
2019 FIM CEV Repsol
Round Eight – Valencia
Jeremy Alcoba has been crowned champion of the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship in the best way possible, winning the first of the two races at Valencia, with Carlos Tatay claiming the second win.
Aussie Billy Van Eerde, meanwhile, ended a tough season in the class with two solid finishes. The Aussie was outside the top 20 but in a group battle in Race 1, and in Race 2 was knocking on the door to some points.
Just 0.115 separated him from fifteenth, with the number 29 forced to settle for P16 – but in a deep field, that’s a solid showing for the youngster after his swift rise from the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup.
In the Moto2 European Championship, Edgar Pons also said goodbye to the FIM CEV Repsol with a victory.
In the European Talent Cup, Iván Ortolá finished the season as he began in Estoril, with a win, while Joel Kelso raced to his strongest result of the season in fifth, claiming nine championship points and moving up to 17th in the overall standings.
Moto3 Junior World Championship
Jeremy Alcoba didnt waste his first chance at the title, beating José Julián García – who took his first podium of the season – and Aleix Viu in the opening race.
It was an exciting race, with a leading group of up to 15 riders. A number of riders shared the lead, such as Daniel Holgado, Ryusei Yamanaka and Carlos Tatay, among others.
With two laps to go, a touch between Daniel Holgado and David Salvador left them out of options for a podium place, and allowed Aleix Viu to make the most of a great comeback, paving the way for José Julián García to take third after a race spent as part of the leading group. Jeremy Alcoba received the Repsol free fuel cheque as a result.
Aussie Billy Van Eerde finished Race 1 in 28th, having claimed 20th and 15th in the two qualifying sessions.
In the second FIM Moto3 race Carlos Tatay took another victory, his fourth of the season. Barry Baltus joined him on the podium, along with Adrián Fernández, achieving his first podium in the category.
Once again Davide Pizzoli started poorly from pole, losing so many positions that in an effort to make up lost ground he went down on the fifth lap along with Julián Giral.
Ahead, Carlos Tatay pulled clear followed by a large group led by Barry Baltus. Aleix Viu, David Salvador and José Julián García were involved in a multiple fall which decimated the chasing group. In the end, Carlos Tatay won alone, followed by Barry Baltus and Adrián Fernández. Carlos Tatay received the Repsol free fuel cheque.
Billy Van Eerde improved on his Race 1 placing to claim 16th in Race 2, just missing out on the points.
Billy Van Eerde
“2019 season is now finished. Thank you to the whole Junior Talent Team squad for this amazing year! It was a very difficult year for me but you have supported me throughout all, I’m thankful for this opportunity and will come back next year stronger than before!”
The final classification of the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship saw Jeremy Alcoba as champion, Carlos Tatay runner-up and Xavier Artigas in third.
Moto3 Junior World Championship Results
Iván Ortolá closed the season in the ETC as he began: by winning. The Ángel Nieto Junior Team rider took his third win of the season in a thrilling race that was not decided until the last lap. Fermín Aldeguer (Mugen Race Junior Team), Lorenzo Fellon (ZF GP School), Marcos Ruda (Cuna de Campeones), Diego Moreira (Talent Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), Adrián Cruces (Talent Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), David Alonso (Ángel Nieto Junior Team), José Antonio Rueda (Talent Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), Roberto García (MRE Talent) and Joel D. Kelso (Leopard Impala Junior) formed the group of riders in with a chance of the podium.
Iker Lecuona: “To have this opportunity in my home Grand Prix is a proud moment for me. We must enjoy this beautiful experience, but above all learn as much as possible for the future. All this would not have been possible without the help and encouragement of Hervé Poncharal, as well as Eitan Butbul and the American Racing Team amazing crew, they helped me to grow as a rider and as a person. I also want to wish the best possible recovery to Oliveira, who will be my teammate next season. I will give my best in Valencia as I always do”.
Roles were reversed in a thrilling race two. Held over 10 laps, trastevere73 got the holeshot and led from the front while AndrewZh and the impressive rookie Wimp (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) gave chase close behind. The leading two soon broke clear, however and produced a grandstand finale, with the Ducati Team rider passing his rival before the final turn on the last lap. Not to be outdone, trastevere73 showed all his class to let the brakes off, and outmanoeuvre his rival to win his first race in this year’s Global Series and put himself back in the championship hunt.
– AND his manager gave him the fright of his life before telling him he’ll be a MotoGP™ rider in 2018: “I was preparing for 2018 to be more competitive in Moto2™. But I got a call from Razlan, the CEO of Sepang Circuit while I was cycling up a mountain, I took my phone but I wasn’t focussing on that, was just in case of emergency. So the phone was ringing many times so eventually I told my trainer Alex to stop, I thought there was a problem! I took the call and Razlan said ‘we have two news for you, which do you want to hear first?’ I said ‘bad news first….’ and he told me I wouldn’t race in Moto2™ in 2018. So I said, ‘WHAT?! Where will I go? Asian championship??’ He tried to play with me a while… I was already starting to feel down, so I asked him what the good news was. That’s when he told me I would ride in MotoGP™ for Tech3 Yamaha. I couldn’t believe it!”