Big News in the Worlds of MotoGP and NHRA
This past weekend heralded some big headlines in motorcycle racing. First, the “Marvelous Marquez Brothers” as we’ve dubbed them, made headlines twice, when both took the crowns in their respective classes in MotoGP. And then Repsol Honda announced that the Marc and Alex would race as teammates in the 2020 season, a first in MotoGP history. Also in that international race series, 5-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo rode his last race, having announced his retirement from road racing at the close of season this weekend at Valencia, Spain. In NHRA, Andrew Hines claimed his 6th NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing title, after a tough season and near disastrous mistake at the starting line of the final season race.
For the second time in their MotoGP race careers, the brothers of Marc and Alex Marquez sewed up their respective titles in the same season, Alex in Moto2 (a 2x world champ) and older brother Marc in MotoGP (his 8th world championship). Marc also took the coveted “Triple Crown” in MotoGP, claiming the Riders Championship the Thailand GP in October, the Constructors Crown at the Japanese GP, and the Team Championship for Repsol Honda at the Valencia GP over the weekend. In what has come to be called “the perfect season”, Marc finished the 2019 season with a win at Valencia, bringing his season wins to 12, and total points to 420. The next closest was Andrea Dovizioso with 269, for a bit of perspective. Both brothers had banner seasons, with Alex buttoning up the Moto2 division at the earlier Malaysia GP with 262 points. The brothers have now both claimed the championships in two different classes in the same year, twice (2014 previously), a first in the history of the race series.
Now, to top off all the news about the champion brothers, Repsol Honda announced Alex will join his brother Marc on the team in the Premier GP class for the 2020 season, also a first in MotoGP history. Repsol Honda revealed they signed Alex to a 1-year contract for the next season, astride the RC213V vacated by now retired Jorge Lorenzo.
Jorge Lorenzo raced his last professional race over the weekend, having previously announcing his plans to retire last week. The 5-time world champion had shared in a press conference last Thursday before the race weekend at Valencia, “I always thought there are four significant days in the career of a rider: Your first race, your first win, your first championship, and the day you retire… I’m here to tell you this day has arrived for me. I want to announce this will be my last race in MotoGP, and that at the end of this race I will retire from professional racing.” Citing the physical toll of his multiple injuries over the years, problems with the team bike all season, and general disappointment this year that led to a loss of motivation, the decorated multi-time champ decided to hang up the leathers and step away. MotoGP officials later announced that “The Spartan” as Lorenzo came to be nicknamed, will be inducted into the MotpGP Hall of Fame as a GP Legend at the Spanish GP in Jerez in 2020. Well-earned, by a true champ. We wish Jorge all the best in his future endeavors.
Also this past weekend, Andrew Hines nailed shut his clinch of the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title in Pomona, California, the sixth of his career. Hines entered the weekend the clear favorite to claim the title, leading by 114 points, then a red-light foul committed at the starting line found Hines put his title hopes in jeopardy. Only after each of the last remaining title challengers had been eliminated in the semi-finals did Hines breathe a sigh of relief, his title secure. “This is a day that will live in fear for me for I don’t know how long,” Hines quipped following the race, seeing how close the title came to slipping out of his grasp. His championship handed the Harley-Davidson Screaming Eagle/Vance & Hines team their 10th NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title, capping off another dominating season for team and rider.
So ended the 2019 MotoGP international road racing season abroad, and the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle season stateside. Both were thrilling seasons to follow, and both promise even more thrills in 2020. Road Dirt will bring you the action as we have opportunity, and all the great human interest stories found in these and other race series like MotoAmerica, Supercross, World SBK, and American Flat Track. We love racing, so we look forward to the coming year.