It looks unlikely that Jorge Lorenzo will record a high finish on his last MotoGP race, which Fabio Quartararo will start from the front.
Jorge Lorenzo is a four-time winner of the Valencia Grand Prix but, perhaps fittingly after a 2019 season to forget, he will start the last race of his career from towards the back.
The three-time MotoGP world champion has enjoyed a glittering career that has included Valencia triumphs in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016 among his 47 race wins.
But Lorenzo, the only man who has beaten Marc Marquez in a riders’ championship, announced his retirement this week after his move to Repsol Honda did not produce the desired results.
Lorenzo has struggled to adapt on his new bike and failed to achieve a top-10 finish at all either side of a four-race absence due to suffering a fractured vertebra in a crash.
A qualifying placing of 16th means Lorenzo, 32, will have to conjure up all his experience if he is to finish his career with a result of note, even though his difficult year will not take away from his past successes.
Pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo is joined on the front row by Lorenzo’s team-mate Marquez and Jack Miller for this one.
With the riders’ and manufacturers’ titles both having been settled, Repsol Honda are just two points behind Ducati in the team standings going into the final race, so any contribution Lorenzo can muster could still prove pivotal in that battle.
Lorenzo said: “It will certainly be an emotional race so I hope that I can enjoy it all and importantly help Honda as best I can.
“Maybe I could have been a little higher on the grid, but I think we can move forward and maintain a pace that is closer to the leaders than in the previous rounds.”
Jerez 2002 – Valencia 2019. With me In my first race and also in my last one. @chupachups_es deserves this beautiful special helmet for all the support through my career. Thanks for everything! pic.twitter.com/LoUPijru5v
— Jorge Lorenzo (@lorenzo99) November 15, 2019
Lorenzo’s struggles have been emphasised by the dominant form of Marquez, who has already wrapped up a sixth premier class title and finished in the top two for all but one race in 2019.
Marquez’s 395 points and 17 podiums this season are already MotoGP records, but he will want to end a poor – by his standards – record in Valencia with a victory to sail over the 400-mark for a tally that may never be beaten.
He has won on just one of his six appearances at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, with Andrea Dovizioso having triumphed last year. Dani Pedrosa (four) shares the Valencia wins record with Lorenzo.
“I’m very happy because I’m closer than what I expected,” Marquez said after qualifying.
“I expected to be further behind. In race pace, I’m okay, but Yamaha and especially Quartararo are very, very strong in one lap.”
SIX APPEAL FOR QUARTARARO
Quartararo claimed his sixth pole position, equalling Christian Sarron as the French rider with the most MotoGP poles – a significant accomplishment in his rookie season.
He has managed six podium finishes but a first race win still eludes him, and this is his final chance to strike before a 2020 campaign where he could kick on to become a championship contender on a factory-spec Yamaha.
Yesssss ! POLE POSITION pic.twitter.com/Cf73RdRmDX
— Fabio Quartararo (@FabioQ20) November 16, 2019
Elsewhere, Alex Rins was second to Dovizioso here last year and will start his 50th MotoGP race in eighth position.
Miller has finished the season strongly and poses a threat from third, one spot ahead of in-form Maverick Vinales, a two-time winner this year.
“All weekend we’ve been fast” – @jackmilleraus
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) November 16, 2019
Valentino Rossi, without a podium for 15 races, was “not very happy” to qualify on the fourth row.
He added: “Starting from 12th is difficult because here in Valencia it’s very difficult to overtake – it’s one of the most difficult tracks for that. My pace is not too bad but nothing fantastic, so it will be a hard race.”
MARQUEZ COULD JOIN MARQUEZ
Johann Zarco, riding for LCR Honda in the absence of Takaaki Nakagami, failed to reach Q2 and will start 13th.
He had been rumoured as a possible replacement for Lorenzo at Repsol Honda, but reports this weekend suggest Marquez’s brother, Moto2 champion Alex, is now in line for the move.
It means Zarco may end up returning to Moto2, with another of his rumoured MotoGP moves, to Avintia Racing, not proving appealing.
“For me, it would be a mistake to go there, it would be better to go back to Moto2,” the Frenchman told Motorsport. “If Marquez moves up, that means there is a spot with VDS.
“You need a balanced team that gives you the possibility to perform every weekend and Avintia doesn’t. I’m not criticising anyone, but I don’t want to make the same mistake as two years ago when I signed with KTM.”
“I was closer than what I expected” – @marcmarquez93
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) November 16, 2019
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
11. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM)
12. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2018: Andrea Dovizioso
2017: Dani Pedrosa (with Honda)
2016: Jorge Lorenzo (with Yamaha)
2015: Jorge Lorenzo (with Yamaha)
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 395
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 256 (-139)
3. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 201 (-194)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 194 (-201)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 176 (-219)
1. Ducati 432
2. Repsol Honda 430 (-2)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 367 (-65)
4. Petronas Yamaha 287 (-145)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 281 (-151)
A dry race with a gentle breeze and temperatures of around 15 degrees Celcius is expected on Sunday.