It is highly unlikely that it would have changed the championship outcome, but there was plenty of post-race debate about whether Jorge Lorenzo was right to ignore team orders in Sunday's Valencia MotoGP.

The Spaniard spent almost the entire race in fourth place, just in front of Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who needed to win to have any chance of snatching the title from Honda's Marc Marquez.

Just as at Sepang, Ducati sent the 'Mapping 8' dashboard message to Lorenzo, code for the team order. After multiple requests, and if any doubt remained as to its meaning, the team then resorted to holding out 'Dovizioso -1 ' pitboard messages (with a downward arrow) for Lorenzo. All to no avail.

The Spaniard said he was aware of the messages, but felt he was faster than Dovizioso and could tow him up to the leading trio. Lorenzo insisted he would have let Dovizioso by if the Italian had a chance of winning, or if Marquez fell.

That nearly happened at on lap 23 of 30, when Marquez saved a monster scare with his elbow, running off track and dropping from first to fifth. But the glimmer of hope for Dovizioso was soon extinguished when he fell a lap later, not long after Lorenzo had crashed. Both said they had been on the limit.

But the fact that Lorenzo had decided to overrule so many instructions, while Dovizioso sat on his rear wheel for lap-after-lap, didn't look good for rider or team.

Despite apparent 'what is he doing?' exchanges between team members caught on camera during the race, Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said the messages to Lorenzo were not so much a team order, as a team suggestion.

"This is what we suggest to the rider based on what we can see from the pit box. And the rider knows [more] because he can see the other riders. So in this case, I think if you also speak to Dovi, and he will tell you he thought that at the beginning he was faster in a few corners and slower in other corners, but at a certain point, [following Lorenzo's] clean lines was helping Dovi to ride in a very relaxed way.

"So he said, 'it helped me up to a point to catch Pedrosa', and then he said, 'unfortunately we were both at the limit'. Jorge said, 'if he had seen that Márquez had a problem or once we catch the leading group, then I would let him [Dovizioso] pass. But we needed first to catch the leading group and try to be first and second, and then see what happens'.

"So I think honestly, you can never really judge perfectly from what you see on TV. And if a rider knows that he has the pace to close the gap to the front, and other riders following him are gaining an advantage from following some clean lines, I think it's fine.

"We're not upset. We would be upset if Marc crashed and Lorenzo wins, and Dovi is second. But this is not the case.

"As I said, sometimes you judge by what you see. But the rider is on the bike, he knows if he can push, if he has some margin, if is able to close the gap to the front and help his team-mate.

"So the best answer is what Dovi said - and he said it because he thinks it - that in the end he is not upset at all, just he was able to actually relax a little bit [behind Lorenzo] without having to push so much."

The alternative view being expressed in the paddock was that, especially given his reputed wages and the fact it was only for fourth place, Lorenzo should have done as the team had asked and at least given Dovizioso the chance to ride in clear air for a lap or two. If the Italian then didn't have the pace to catch the leaders, few would have begrudged Lorenzo for re-passing him.

Ciabatti admitted the continuous attempts to try and make Lorenzo give way were because Ducati thought Dovizioso was faster: "In our opinion, in some areas, [Lorenzo] was slowing Dovi down."

However, Dovizioso's own comments after the race meant the team had changed their mind.

"If [he was being held up], Dovi would come into the garage and be quite upset, but he's not. So I think we must really give credit to professional riders that they know what they are doing.

"I think it worked fine until they both crashed, because they were closing the gap on the first two. But anyway, seeing that Marc was able to save that almost crash, he would finish fifth-fourth, and it would be unfortunately pointless for us.

"The only way [to win the title] is if Marquez would crash. When he went into the gravel, there was a high chance of him not being able to pick up the bike and start again. But in the end it didn't happen, and we have not so much to regret."

The Ducati team went straight over to congratulate Honda after the race.

"Honestly, Márquez deserves his title, because he rode a fantastic season, and I think being able to come to the last round, still fighting with Márquez and Honda, is an achievement.

"Obviously I can't say we're totally happy, we regret Brno, we regret Phillip Island, we regret the crash in Argentina, where we had no fault. If we came here in a better position, and Phillip Island, and we had the eleven points we lost in Argentina, it would be different story. You have maybe only five, six points to gain. You can use a different strategy, and Márquez would have more pressure and so on, but this is racing.

"But then he blew the engine in Silverstone, so you know, and if that didn't happen maybe he would be on the podium there."

Dovizioso - who like Marquez won six races this season - ultimately lost the title by 37 points, but his runner-up finish in the standings is the best for a Ducati rider since Casey Stoner's title victory in 2007.

Triple MotoGP champion Lorenzo was seventh in the world championship and without a win in his debut Ducati season.


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