IANNONE BLASTS TO PODIUM
Sensible ride sees ‘The Maniac’ bid farewell to Ducati with brilliant final performance
Andrea Iannone was able to round out the 2016 season with one of his best rides of the year as he beat close friend Valentino Rossi to the podium.
In a surprisingly sensible ride, the man they call ‘The Maniac’ used the strengths of his Desmosedici in a racelong duel with both Rossi and Marc Marquez as they grappled for the runner-up spot. Using the Ducati’s power, Iannone could blast past his adversaries down Valencia’s straight, but was also able to pull some aggressive moves to maintain position despite having struggled with cornering all weekend.
While Marquez was able to get away, Iannone beat Rossi fair and square to bid farewell to the Italian marque with just his fourth podium of the season.
“I am very happy with this last race because I fought hard from the beginning,” he said after the race. “I started very well, hit the first corner in second place and tried to follow Jorge but he had incredible pace.
“The feeling from the bike on Friday was very bad and I didn’t believe it would possible to improve that much, but we managed it. My team told me to believe in myself and believe in them as we wanted to finish the season the best we could, and we did!
“It was very difficult, but I fought 100% with Marc and Valentino. I put all I had into this race. From Friday I had a lot of difficulties cornering as, with the Ducati, it is very difficult for me to carry high corner speeds but on the other hand we have good acceleration and good stability under braking. This maybe makes it a bit easier for us to make passes.”
The result came in spite of the Italian still struggling with pain from breaking bones in his back in practice at Misano.
“I tried not to think of the pain in my back,” he explained. “I know I have pain but if I think about it I have less energy. I tried to overtake Vale but he kept coming back, but the bike helped me a lot as it was very good on the straight because of the power. For the first half of the race Vale had a better pace but I overtook him in every corner and we had a great, great battle.”
The podium rounds off a rollercoaster season for Iannone in a year that not only saw him achieve his first Motogp victory but create a barrage of controversy with a series of crashes and aggressive moves.
Rating his season ahead of moving to Suzuki for Tuesday’s test, Iannone
said: “I’d rank myself six out of ten, a bit like when I was at school! I made a lot of mistakes this year but I am also happy because we achieved the first victory and I always tried my best.”
Commending the Italian, Ducati’s Motogp head honcho Gigi Dall’igna added: “Andrea Iannone’s race was really great and exciting and his podium was, for sure, the best way to say goodbye to us.
“Andrea raced with his heart in his final outing with Ducati and I want to thank him because, in the four years we have been together, he has helped us to improve and arrive at our current level. I’d like to wish him all the best for his new adventure.”
Valentino Rossi said Iannone beat him fair and square despite a hard battle which saw the Italian duo bang fairings in Sunday’s race.
Rossi and Iannone went at it hammer and tongs as they tussled for second and then third place in the Motogp season finale, with a series of aggressive moves seen from both throughout the race.
It had looked as though Rossi may have dropped off his close friend’s pace, but a late surge saw him fight back in the closing stages.
Then Rossi lost the position for the final time in an incident that saw the nine-time world champion run wide on the penultimate lap.
“When you battle with Iannone it is not easy!” Rossi laughed. “You often have to cross yourself and pray! It was a hard fight but we never really touched. He was aggressive with me but I was very aggressive with him, we both played our cards and it was a fun battle which I enjoyed.
“I pushed a lot on the right hand side because that is where I was stronger but in the end I was in too much trouble.”
With Lorenzo long gone out front, the thrills came from Iannone’s battle with Rossi
It’s the end of the road for Iannone and Ducati but he’s gone out with a bang