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Morbidelli crowned 2018 Rookie of the Year

Italian crashed in Valencia but maintained points advantage over Syahrin to cap off a solid opening premier class campaign

Despite crashing out of P5, Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) secured the 2018 MotoGP™ Rookie of the Year title at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana after rival Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crossed the line in P10.

2018 Valencia Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race

This meant the Italian took the rookie honours by four points over the Malaysian rider, having come into the final weekend with a ten-point buffer. And during the race, Morbidelli looked set to claim a season-best result in the sodden Valencia conditions, but crashed out at Turn 8 before the red flags were shown.

“I got a good start in the race, I was quite competitive in fifth, then lots of rain came and, unfortunately, I crashed,” began Morbidelli, who was unable to restart the race due to not being classified on lap 13. A nervous wait to see where Syahrin finished then followed: “I watched the race to see where Syharin was going to finish, and finally he finished 10th, so we won the rookies championship. It’s a good feeling after a difficult year. We managed to win something, which is always good and was the aim of this year. I thank everybody; all the team, Honda, everybody, and face a new adventure.”  

Morbidelli: "I need to be the first rookie in every race"

It’s been a very solid opening MotoGP™ campaign for the 2017 Moto2™ World Champion, but it hasn’t been easy. A metacarpal injury sustained at the Dutch GP led to Morbidelli missing the Assen and Sachsenring races, making his Rookie of the Year win all the more impressive. And in the 16 races he’s competed in this season, the 23-year-old has finished inside the points in 13 of them – two inside the top ten, with a best of P8 coming in Australia.

Overall, a very good year for the number 21 rider, who also progressed into Q2 twice. But how does Morbidelli describe his maiden MotoGP™ season? “I feel that I grew up a lot and learned a lot since last year. We’ve struggled a lot but we’ve improved also, and I’ve learned a lot. I feel a much wiser and experienced person in just one year. I hope to take all this experience and gain some more in the years to come.”

And now, a ‘Spec A’ Yamaha machine awaits him in the new Petronas Yamaha SRT garage for 2019. The plan? “The plan now is to try to adapt to the (new) bike, to understand how it works, how the crew works and being as fast as possible without making silly mistakes. Gain experience on the new bike, with the new team, and be fast, of course.”

Morbidelli to ride on a 2019 Yamaha

Morbidelli will be on the bike as soon as Tuesday and Wednesday this week (20th and 21st November) at the Official Valencia Test. 

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