Apart from those incredible and very loud fireworks, the event I really enjoyed in Valencia was always the photocall on the grid for the new World Champions. I would look out of the media conference room window before the final conference of the season to see the new World Champions standing on the saddle of their Championship winning machines as the cameras flashed and clicked. This year was a unique occasion for Fabio Quartararo, Remy Gardner, and Pedro Acosta. For the first time in 15 years all three of them were crowned World Champions for the very first time. It is only the ninth time in the 73-year history Grand Prix racing this has happened.
The fact that Quartararo is the first French premier class World Champion, Remy Gardner is only the second father and son to win a World title and Acosta is the second youngster ever 125cc/Moto3™ World Champion is special enough in itself, but first-time winners make it even more unique
The last time this happened was in 2006. Nicky Hayden clinched the MotoGP™ title at the final round in Valencia after a season-long battle with Valentino Rossi. Jorge Lorenzo won the first of his World titles in the 250cc class while fellow Spaniard Alvaro Bautista was the 125cc World Champion. Six years earlier it happened again with Kenny Roberts Junior MotoGP™ Champion, Olivier Jacque 250cc and Roberto Locatelli 125cc Champions, respectively. It turned out to be the only World titles in any class for the three of them.
New Champions in the nineties were more common. In 1990 Wayne Rainey won the first of his three 500cc titles while John Kocinski, who went on to win the World Superbike title was crowned 250cc Champion and Loris Capirossi the youngest ever 125cc Champion. Three years later in 1993 Kevin Schwantz clinched his one and only 500cc title while Tetsuya Harada and Dirk Raudies followed suit in the 250 and 125cc classes. A year later Australian Mick Doohan won the first of his 500cc titles for Honda. Max Biaggi won the first of his 250cc crowns with Kasuto Sakata successful in the 125cc class.
In the 1980s, no season produced new World Champions in every class but 1978 was a significant year. Kenny Roberts arrived from the States and blew Europe apart winning the first of his three successive 500cc titles. South African Kork Ballington won both the 250 and 350cc World titles for Kawasaki. Eugenio Lazzarini was crowned 125cc World Champion while the rider who the Valencia circuit is named after, Ricardo Tormo won the first of his two 80 cc World titles.
Seventeen years earlier in 1961 Rhodesian Gary Hocking brought MV Augusta both the 350 and 500cc titles. Mike Hailwood won the first of his nine World Championships in the 250cc class with Honda’s first-ever Grand Prix winner Australian Tom Phillis crowned 125cc World Champion.
Of course, it happened in the first year of Grand Prix racing in 1949 when Les Graham, Freddie Frith, Bruno Ruffo and Nello Pagani were crowned the first-ever World Champions, but since then it has only happened eight times including Valencia this Sunday
Just to emphasise what a special season we have witnessed Quartararo is the first rider to win a first premier class title without having won a title in one of the smaller classes since Casey Stoner brought Ducati success in 2007.
When will this all happen again? Times are changing fast and long may it continue.