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Bridgestone moments: The last dance

Lorenzo claims last MotoGP World Championship on Bridgestone tyres

Many of us remember the epic battle on El Circuito Ricardo Tormo, back in November of 2015. The one that would settle it all between two Movistar Yamaha teammates. The conclusion of an overwhelming season in MotoGP. And an end to Bridgestone’s tenure as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP. And definitely one to remember…

During the last five races of the season, Valentino Rossi was ahead of his teammate by a fine margin. A margin that had narrowed down as the season went on. Of the 23-point lead Rossi had after the race in San Marino, only 7 points remained before going head-to-head in Valencia. To worsen things for the Italian, he had to start from the absolute back of the grid – due to a grid penalty following a collision with Marc Marquez during the Malaysian Grand Prix – while Lorenzo scored another pole position. Not an ideal starting position for Rossi in the title-deciding final round, by any means…

Motorcycle with Bridgestone tyres

An exciting motorcycle race

As the engines roared and the lights went out, Lorenzo led into the first corner, with the two Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa ànd Andrea Iannone on the Ducati in hot pursuit. From the rear of the pack, Rossi bolted towards the middle of the grid, making up seven (!) places off the line. By the time he hit the first corner, he was in 16th position. A fantastic start, but not where The Doctor was planning on staying. No sir. While the four at the front were getting away and opened a gap, Rossi tried to pick up every rider in front of him. By the end of the third lap, he miraculously moved into 10th place.

At the same time, it all went south for Iannone: he lost the front, crashed and was out. While Rossi was gifted a ninth place, Lorenzo maintained a scorching pace. Keeping Marquez at bay, and even dropping Pedrosa millisecond by millisecond. Meanwhile, the gap towards the rest of the pack had grown to 3.5 seconds. As well as the human metronome was riding up front, Valentino Rossi was performing miracles in his chase. By the 12th lap, he had moved up to fifth place, after disposing of Smith, both Espargaro’s, Petrucci, and Dovizioso. Incredible stuff.

Only a miracle would do

But as inconceivable as the racing was from VR46, the gap towards the podium remained a solid 11 seconds – and Rossi was lapping 0,3 seconds slower than the three in front of him. At the same time Rossi, in fourth, needed Lorenzo to finish third if he was to become champion. Only Marquez or Pedrosa were in a position to stop Lorenzo from winning his fifth World Championship now. Only a miracle would do. And it nearly did.

Because during the final eight laps, Pedrosa gained momentum and closed in on the two battling for the win in front of him. He reduced the gap to nearly nothing, allowing him to make a move on his teammate in the second-to-last lap of the race. But Marquez was having none of it and reclaimed his silver spot instantly. While the proverbial dogs were fighting for a bone, the third one – Lorenzo – managed to sneak away, opening the gap to almost 0.4 before starting the last lap.

Motorcycle on Circuit Ricardo Tormo

Despite Marquez throwing everything at him on the last lap, Lorenzo kept his cool and went on to take the race win by 0.263 seconds from Marquez. A hard-fought victory with an epic battle going on in the background. Everything a race fanatic could wish for, and a dreamed farewell for the Official Tyre Supplier. Bridgestone was the MotoGP controlled tyre supplier since 2009. In 2014 Bridgestone announced their withdrawal of the end of 2015. There could not have been a more epic battle to celebrate those 7 years.

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