Sunshine and blue skies coated qualification and the final MotoGP Sprint of the season around the flat and winding Circuito Ricardo Tormo, and the resurfaced asphalt staged a searing charge by Brad Binder as the South African scored 2nd place on his KTM RC16. Teammate Jack Miller finished 12th but shone in qualification for 4th on the grid.
- MotoGP 2023 comes to an end with the latest finale ever to a Grand Prix season and with a busy circuit in Valencia staging the 26th MotoGP at the track
- Brad Binder, 5th fastest in qualification, notched his seventh Sprint podium medal of the year with 2nd place and classifying less than two tenths of a second from a third victory
- Jack Miller recovered from a fast dismount on Friday to qualify 4th and ensure both RC16s enter the second row of the grid. He then fought back from an issue at the start to take 12th
- The chase for 2nd and 3rd in the 2023 Moto3 world championship goes down to the last with Deniz Öncü and Daniel Holgado launching from 3rd and 18th on the grid. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta will start his last Moto2 Grand Prix (and as the 2023 world champion) from 5th position
The Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, the traditional season-closing event for MotoGP, was tremendously lucky with the late autumn climate in eastern Spain as blue skies and warm sunshine helped raise the temperatures for practice on Friday and then the qualification run and final Sprint of the season on Saturday.
The confined, tight and curving 4km course had been resurfaced and was a grippy prospect for the riders and teams, contemplating the last Grand Prix of the season and also of a demanding triple header. On Friday Brad Binder and Jack Miller were immediately on pace; Binder was just one thousandth of a second from the seven year all-time lap record and ranked 6th. Miller had two falls but was still fast enough to make Q2 comfortably as less than half a second split the top ten.
The team then entered Q2 and were competitive from the outset. Binder held P1 and lapped consistently on the fringe of the old lap record. The South African looked to be heading for the first row until the final minutes when a sterling effort from Miller lifted the Aussie up to 3rd. When the ’00:00’ flashed up both KTMs were inside the top five and side-by-side on the second row.
The Sprint lasted for 13 laps and Binder lunged into contention for the win while Miller had a technical problem that affected his start and meant he had to cut from the rear of the pack all the way to his finishing position of 12th. Brad meanwhile caught and passed two riders to seize the lead briefly. He then shadowed Jorge Martin all the way to the flag through the last circulations; the gap was less than two tenths of a second at the finish.
MotoGP will rush around the circuit for 27 laps on Sunday afternoon at 15.00 (CEST).
Brad Binder, 5th in qualification, 2nd in the Sprint: “I had a really good race today. On the first lap I tried to be aggressive. I put my head down and got to the lead. I had a lot of moments out there and didn’t quite have enough to take the win but super-happy to be back on the podium.”
Jack Miller, 4th in qualification, 12th in the Sprint: “Qualifying pace was good and everything was going great until I engaged the front ride height device and then had a problem.. I was button-bashing to reset things and get ready but launch control was gone so I had to start ‘old school’ but with these bikes it’s really complicated and I just tried to keep it alive until I could hit second gear and then it was alright. At that point I’d gone from 4th to 21st in Turn 1. It won’t happen again tomorrow! I passed ten guys to come back. Just one of those days. I was obviously planning for a different race.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Emotional Saturday because of the crashes for Brad and Jack these days but qualifying was really good. Both in Q2 and on the second row. Unfortunately, Jack had an issue at the start and he tried to recover some positions but the start is crucial here in Valencia. Brad got away well and he managed the leading group. There were not enough laps for him to re-attack and get the lead back but it was very close. Happy with this Saturday and our last chance tomorrow.”
Results Qualifying MotoGP Grand Prix of Valencia
1. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Aprilia 1:28.931
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.092
3. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +0.213
4. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.230
5. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.240
Results MotoGP Sprint Grand Prix of Valencia
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 19:38.827
2. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.190
3. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +2.122
12. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +8.098
KTM GP Academy
Half of the Moto3 KTM GP Academy contingent still had aims of 2nd or 3rd position in the final world championship standings for 2023 so the high intensity continued for Red Bull KTM Tech3 Daniel Holgado and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü throughout the sessions in Valencia. After Q2 it was the Turk who marked the quicker lap-time and achieved 3rd position on the grid despite riding in some discomfort. A heavy fall on Friday dented his speed and confidence but did not dampen his enthusiasm. Valencia meant the end of the first Grand Prix seasons for rookies Jose Rueda and Filippo Farioli. The Spanish teenager will start the 20-lap race from 7th position – the third row – while the Italian ranked 14th after qualification. Holgado made it through to Q2 but a crash early in the session meant he did not register a lap-time and classified 18th.
Valencia represented the final outing for new world champion Pedro Acosta in the Moto2 class at the end of his second term in the category. The Grand Prix is also the last for the Spaniard in the Red Bull KTM Ajo team – the crew with which he has secured two titles in three years and has rocketed through the Moto3 and Moto2 division in his short GP career – before he takes his first steps into MotoGP with the first 2024 test on Tuesday at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Acosta was fastest on Friday and then 6th in Q2 and teammate Albert Arenas was not far away in 9th but just half a second adrift in the best lap-times. Moto2 will be disputed through 22 laps on Sunday.
Results Qualifying Moto3 Grand Prix of Valencia
1. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna 1:38.311
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.048
3. Deniz Öncü (TUR), Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.052
7. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.473
14. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.841
18. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 (NC)
Results Qualifying Moto2 Grand Prix of Valencia
1. Aron Canet (ESP) 1:33.314
2. Fermin Aldeguer (ESP) +0.174
3. Marcos Ramirez (ESP) +0.194
6. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.448
9. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.570