These just in from Phillip Island:
This is MotoGP™: Phillip Island delivers an instant classic as the title fight takes another twist
Rins wins one of the closest races of all time, Marquez takes his 100th premier class podium and Bagnaia secures third – taking the Championship lead as Quartararo crashes out
Sunday, 16 October 2022
The Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix made a lot of headlines and a bit of history. The history was the top seven riders finishing, incredibly, within a single second – 0.884, to be exact. It’s also the second closest top ten ever. The headlines? Where do we begin…
It’s Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who took an emotional win, the number 42 fighting at the front throughout and then fending off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) on the final lap. Marquez, who was forced to settle for second but got back on the box, secured his 100th premier class podium. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), meanwhile, took third, and with it a fair margin of Championship lead as some serious dramas unfolded behind.
The first saw former points leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) run on and face a fight back from outside the top twenty, and his drama wouldn’t end there but the next was for home hero Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team). Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) overcooked it and made contact with the Australian, sending both down and after both had made stellar starts. With that Miller is out of the Championship hunt, and the title fight got another shake up not long after.
Trying to come back through and at least into the points at the time, Quartararo then suddenly slid out of contention at the Southern Loop, lowsiding off into the gravel in another huge twist. That left an open goal for the contenders still battling it out, with Bagnaia on course to claim the lead… but by how much?
The first leaders were polesitter Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Marquez, before Rins and Bagnaia reeled them in. As the laps ticked down the overtakes kept coming, and the troops were forming for the podium fight: Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and teammate Luca Marini were arriving on the scene as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) started to fade, watching the chance to capitalise on Quartararo’s error get a little smaller.
The opposite was true of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) as the ‘Beast’ homed in on the fight at the front. As the final showdown started to commence, there were seven riders locked together: Bagnaia, Rins, Marquez, Bezzecchi, Marini, Martin and Bastianini. Who was going to take it?
Bagnaia led them onto the final lap but with ’20 out’ loud and clear on the pit board, the risk vs reward balance was something to consider. But not for Rins and Marquez. Marquez had passed Rins for second at the Southern Loop on the penultimate lap, but the Suzuki rider hit back straight away at Stoner Corner, and that was how they commenced Lap 27 of 27. Rins went a corner earlier this time with a move on Bagnaia for the lead, and Marquez followed to push Pecco down to third. Could the number 93 cook up one final attack?
In the end, Rins was unstoppable. The Suzuki rider kept the door closed to the line as Marquez hung in there looking for a way through, and right behind the focus shifted to Bezzecchi. Would the Italian, Ducati rider and VR46 Academy member launch a late attack on Bagnaia? He wouldn’t. Bagnaia held them off to secure another podium and homed in on Marquez in a big way on the drag to the line, just 0.224 off Rins’ by the flag.
Bezzechi’s fourth place secures him top Independent Team rider in the race and Rookie of the Year for 2022, as he was left to hold off Bastianini and did so – just. The ‘Beast’ was incredibly close by the flag, taking fifth ahead of Marini. Martin took seventh after leading early on from pole, and he creates the stat of the top seven within a second.
Next up came Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), who had a comeback on his hands after a tough start but made his way through to an impressive eighth. Aleix Espargaro, on a day that could have paid a few more dividends, faded to ninth place, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounding out the top ten after earlier having charged as far forward as seventh.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) took P11 ahead of a solid comeback for Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Cal Crutchlow (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™), after losing a few positions off the start, finished 13th and contributes a few more Constructors’ points, with rookie teammate Darryn Binder impressing just behind to take a couple of his own points. Speaking of rookies, home hero Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) scored on home turf too, taking P15.
After drama Down Under, it’s just a few days until the paddock heads to Sepang and the Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia. Bagnaia now leads by a sizeable 14 points ahead of Quartararo, having pulled off that amazing, record-breaking comeback in the standings. Aleix Espargaro is now 27 back and Bastianini is the last contender after Miller’s 0, with the Italian facing a 42-point deficit with two to go. The first of those is contested next weekend, so tune in for more at Sepang for Bagnaia’s first match point!
Pecco Bagnaia leads the MotoGP Championship standings as he finishes third at Phillip Island. Miller, involved in a crash, is forced to retire at the Australian GP
Pecco Bagnaia is the new MotoGP Championship leader. As he closed the Australian GP in third place, held this afternoon at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, the Ducati Lenovo Team rider succeeded in his comeback, accomplishing a feat never achieved in the top class. Bagnaia was 91 points behind after the German GP at Sachsenring, and now, after eight races, he is the new leader of the Championship with a 14-point lead over Quartararo.
As he was starting from third on the grid, Pecco took the lead of the race on lap 15 and remained there until the last lap, when Marquez and Rins passed him, the latter today’s GP winner. With today’s third place, Bagnaia brings to nine the number of podiums obtained this season. For Jack Miller, however, the home race had an unfortunate ending. Starting from eighth on the grid, the Australian rider had managed to climb back up to the group fighting third, but on lap nine, while sitting in fifth place, Alex Marquez bumped into his bike, and they both crashed. The accident left no physical consequences for Miller, who was forced to retire. Despite that, he remains fifth in the overall standings, 54 points behind his teammate.
Marco Bezzecchi, rider of the VR46 Racing Team, wins the Rookie of the Year title thanks to his fourth-place finish today.
The Ducati Lenovo Team, on the other hand, is one step away from winning the Teams’ World Title in the premier class for the second year in a row; the Italian team is first, with a lead of 84 points over the second, in the teams’ classification when there are two races left to the end of the season.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 3rd
“I am satisfied with the third place today, but the most important thing is that we are finally first in the Championship. I only regret not being able to win because I did my best. In the first laps, I tried to manage the tyre consumption well, but towards the end, I didn’t have the same pace anymore, and I was still struggling with the front. When I saw that Quartararo was OUT, I changed my approach and just tried to have a smart race, avoiding unnecessary risks, to try to take advantage of the situation. The next GP will be in Malaysia, a track where we are usually fast, so there are all the conditions to do well there.”
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – Retired
“Unfortunately, it was an unfortunate day. I had managed to get back up pretty quickly. We had made some changes to the bike from yesterday, and I felt really comfortable, but at Turn 4, my corner, I got hit by Alex Marquez and crashed. These are things that can happen in the race. Then Alex came to me, explained what had happened to him, and I accepted his apology. I’m just sorry I couldn’t do something more for all my fans who came here to see me today. Still, it was an incredible weekend, and I am so happy to be back in Phillip Island. The positive side is that Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro didn’t score many points today, so we can still aim for third place in the Championship.”
With the weekend in Australia over, the Ducati Lenovo Team is about to leave for Malaysia, where the penultimate round of the 2022 season will be held at the Sepang International Circuit in less than seven days, from 21st-23rd October. On that occasion, Pecco Bagnaia will have his first “match point” for the title.
Marquez makes it 100 with podium return
357 days after his last trip to the podium, Marc Marquez became just the fourth rider in history to achieve 100 premier class podiums after a thrilling Phillip Island battle while Espargaro fought for the top ten.
The sun was shining down on the Phillip Island Circuit as Marc Marquez lined up in the centre of the front row of the grid for the 27 lap race. With clear track ahead of him, the #93 charged off the line to tuck in just behind polesitter Jorge Martin for the opening half of the race as they avoided the frantic battle behind. As the laps went by, the competition grew closer and it was soon a seven-way battle for the victory – a true Phillip Island classic. It would only be decided in the closing laps, Marquez saving his soft rear for an all-out assault at the end.
Pushing until the line, for the 31st time in his MotoGP career the eight-time World Champion took second place and earned his 100th premier class podium in the process. Marc Marquez narrowly missed out on a return to the top step of the podium 0.186s behind Rins. 357 days after his last podium, achieved at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in 2021, Marquez has once again taken to the rostrum. After incredible efforts to return to fitness after a fourth surgery on his injured right arm, the podium shows the great progress that Marquez is making in his ongoing recovery.
The eight-timme World Champion becomes just the fourth rider to achieve 100 podium finishes in the premier class, joining Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in an exclusive club. From 152 MotoGP starts, Marquez has achieved 59 wins and has finished in the top three in 65% of his premier class races. The second-place finish also moves him level with Spanish legend Angel Nieto, the pair sharing 139 podiums across all Grand Prix classes.
Behind, Pol Espargaro made an aggressive start to the race as he tried to hustle his way into the top ten. He quickly found himself battling with several other riders which saw him stuck in 14th place for the opening half of the race. Sticking to his plan and conserving his tyres, the #44 began to make steady progress in the final 13 laps as he worked his way forward to 11th at the line.
Now the Repsol Honda Team head for the penultimate race of the year at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. From the cold and wind of Phillip Island, it looks set to be a classic weekend in Malaysia with scorching temperatures and high humidity. The work continues right until the end.
“It was a great race today; I really enjoyed the battle a lot and the feeling of returning to the podium is fantastic. It has been a long journey and we have reached the next stage. The soft rear was certainly the correct option for us in the race, I felt quite good, and I was able to fight until the end. At the start I was managing the situation a little bit, but I really enjoyed the race, I tried to win! Alex Rins did really well in the last few laps. I left everything out on track today and I really enjoyed all the overtakes, especially at Turn 2 because the bike was working really well there. We are coming better but there is still work to do. It’s great to achieve this milestone of 100 premier class podiums and an honour to draw equal with Nieto but we are not done yet!”
“Our race today was quite similar to the last races; we were playing catch up a lot during the race. We were probably a bit closer to the front this race than in the previous ones, but the pace of the race overall was slower than we thought it would be. Again, starting so far back on the grid makes it really hard and especially at a circuit like Phillip Island – there’s a lot of turbulence and the opening laps you have to be really precise. We started the weekend well here, so we can see that there is some potential there but missing out on Q2 really hurt us. Two races left in the season; we keep on going.”
AUSTRALIAN GP ENDS EARLY FOR ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ
16 October 2022 | Australia GP Race
Álex Márquez saw his chances at the Australian Grand Prix ended by a crash in the first half of Sunday’s race at Phillip Island. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider had made a great start to the MotoGP showpiece, but a misjudgement on lap nine brought a premature finish to what had been an encouraging weekend for the Spaniard.
Setting off from the fourth row, Álex made a trademark fast getaway and moved up into 7th spot in the early exchanges. With positions constantly changing in the top 10, Álex was lapping in ninth when he carried too much speed into turn four and contacted Jack Miller. Both riders crashed out, but fortunately escaped serious injury.
Álex Márquez – NC
“The first thing I want to say is sorry to Jack because I hit him. I locked the rear. It was my mistake. We can say that this is racing and these things can happen, but I’m really sorry for him and all his team. Specially being his home GP. Apart from that, we had a really positive weekend overall and it was a shame about the crash in the race because I was feeling really good in the group, trying to fight and go forward as I had the pace to do a really good job. But we have a new opportunity next week and I will try hard to be on the pace again.”
FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Notification of Sanction: Alex Marquez
Sunday, 16 October 2022
Please find attached an FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Notification of Sanction for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol).
For causing a crash in the MotoGP™ race at the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, he has been given a Long Lap penalty to be served during the MotoGP™ race at the Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP SCORE NO POINTS ON PHILLIP ISLAND
Phillip Island (Australia), 16th October 2022
GRAND PRIX OF AUSTRALIA
Today‘s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was shaping up to be an incredible fight for the lead for all championship title contenders, but it ended abruptly for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo. He ran wide on lap 3 and dropped to 22nd place. He still put up a fight, but a crash on lap 11 ended his hopes for points. Franco Morbidelli used the 27-lap race to try new set-up changes. Starting from P23, he climbed up to 19th place before a crash on lap 22 ended his race prematurely.
LOCAL TIME: 14:00 GMT+11
AIR TEMPERATURE: 14°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 35°C
WEATHER: SUNNY / HUMIDITY 61%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
– / -6 LAPS
– / -17 LAPS
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team were unlucky to see both riders crash out of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix today. Franco Morbidelli was showing decent pace and moved up from 23rd on the grid to 19th when a crash ended his race with six laps to go. Earlier on in the race, Fabio Quartararo was riding in the leading group when things took a turn for the worse. After running wide on lap 3, he fell back to 22nd place. He wanted to put in a bid for points, but a crash in Turn 2 on lap 11 ended his challenge.
Morbidelli had struggled to find a good feeling at the Phillip Island track this weekend. He had hoped to make some set-up changes in Warm Up, but a sudden shower spoiled the opportunity. He had a cautious start to the race as a colder wind was blowing than in any of the previous dry sessions, but he did find a good rhythm. He followed Raul Fernandez through the pack and briefly overtook him for 18th with seven laps to go. The two riders started to battle, but the duel was cut short when Morbido crashed on lap 22. He was perfectly OK but unable to rejoin the race.
Quartararo had a good start from P5 and exited the first corner in third, but the riders were all very close together. El Diablo was overtaken by several others in the opening stages. He was in seventh place, with 24 laps to go, when going into Turn 4 the Yamaha-man ran wide. He managed to avoid his rivals and kept his YZR-M1 upright. He fell back to 22nd place, however, and put up a brave fight to push back to 15th when drama struck on lap 11. The number-20 rider crashed out of the race in Turn 2.
After today‘s race, Quartararo is now second in the overall standings with a 14-point deficit and a 219 points total, while Morbidelli remains in 19th with 31 points. After Round 18, Yamaha are third with 227 points in the Constructor championship, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP place fifth in the Team championship with 250 points.
The team will have one week off before travelling to Malaysia for Round 19, the penultimate round of the season, held at the Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 October.
It was a disappointing race for us. Things didn‘t go quite our way already from this morning. Warm Up was wet, while we had planned on using these 20 minutes to make some final dry set-up tweaks. But even without that opportunity, we were feeling positive. We had prepared for the race in the best way we could and thought we could get a good result, but regrettably this was a day to forget. It was unfortunate that Fabio‘s and Franky‘s crashes ended our race early and that it resulted in Fabio losing the championship lead. But the gap is only 14 points and there are two more GPs to go. Anything can happen in MotoGP, so we need to dust ourselves off quickly and get back into the saddle. We need a strong race in Malaysia next weekend to turn the championship back around.
Unfortunately, I crashed in the race. I was starting from far behind, and I struggled to recover some positions. When I was riding alone, I didn’t have the speed. Instead, when I was riding behind other people, I felt good potential. Overall, it’s been a tough weekend, but we did see some good things in some moments, like in FP4, when I was quick. So, we’ll keep working and keep digging to make those moments last longer. I struggled to put it all together here, but we’ll try again in Malaysia.
I was struggling a lot in Turn 4 because of the wind. I already made a mistake there earlier at the beginning of the race. After the second mistake, I tried to push. I was quite far behind. I did manage to overtake a few riders, but then I pushed too much in Turn 2. I made a mistake. Let’s see how we can handle the next races. I think Malaysia is a good track for us. I like it, so let’s see how we can do it. The championship changed a lot since Sachsenring, and that means it can also change for us in the last two GPs. I feel that we can make two great last races. We need to be focused, work well, and then we’ll see. We go to Malaysia with full motivation! I want to enjoy these last two races, that will be the most important, because when I enjoy the races, I know we can be fast.
PHILLIP ISLAND: ENEA BOUNCES BACK AND STAYS IN THE TITLE RACE
#AustralianGP race. A superb comeback marked Enea Bastianini’s race, as the Australian encounter saw had its share of drama. After a not-too-exciting start, a jolt after few laps activated the airbag system on the #23’s leathers; from then onwards, he put together an incredible pace, which allowed ‘Bestia’ to secure fifth place and keep his title hopes alive.
Today’s top-five result translates in a bunch of points lost to Bagnaia, but plenty recovered on Quartararo (DNF) and a few on Espargaró (9th). Bastianini is still 4th, but only 15 points away from the top three and still mathematically in contention for the title (-42 points).
Fabio Di Giannantonio on the other hand, had an unluckier race as he was on the receiving end of a manouevre by Crutchlow that pushed him wide after only four laps. From then on, it was a solitary race for the #49, who crossed the line 20th.
5th – ENEA BASTIANINI #23 (4th in the championship standings with 191 points)
“I’m only half happy because we had without a doubt a great race, but a better starting position would have helped and not just a little bit. Even two positions would have changed the race. In any case, we’re happy: we had a great pace and recovered many positions and why not, even some points in the standings. We’re still in the title race and it’s never over until it’s over. We’re now heading to Malaysia, and we’re fully focused on doing well, and to do so on Saturday too.”
20th – FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49 (20th in the championship standings with 23 points)
“It’s a real shame, because we had found a good setting with the bike and we were showing it in the first three laps, after also a good start. Unfortunately at turn four, during the fourth lap, Crutchlow hit me and I ended up on the grass. After that, the race was over…”
Tech 3 KTM
Gardner Grabs a Point on Home Soil at Australian GP, Fernandez Follows in 16th
Big race day for the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing team on Sunday as Australian Remy Gardner was set to race for the first time in MotoGP in Phillip Island. The KTM rookie was starting from P19 while teammate Raul Fernandez lined up in twenty-first before the lights went out at 14:00 local time.
After a positive weekend overall in Phillip Island, Remy Gardner took an impressive start to his Australian Grand Prix. From P19, he managed to stay within the front group and powered himself progressively all the way until P10. The first half of the race was impressive and the rookie seemed to feel strong and eager for overtakings on home turf. Eventually he started losing positions as tyres became harder to manage within the final laps. He passed the checkered flag in fifteenth and grabbed on point in front of brother, friends and fans.
Starting from P21 today for the eighteenth round of the season, Raul Fernandez was impressive in Phillip Island, a track he had only raced on once, back in Moto3 three years ago. His start was smooth, but the second half of the race was very good. He seemed to feel confident as he registered his fastest lap of the race in 1’30.106 on lap 13, faster than Marc Marquez’ fastest lap. He did his best to manage the tyres until the end of the race, and settled with a P16, just outside of the points. Next week already, Tech3 KTM Racing Team will head to Sepang for the Grand Prix of Malaysia, the penultimate round of this busy 2022 MotoGP season.
“I took a rather good start to the race and stayed close to the front group for thirteen-fourteen laps more or less as I felt strong on the bike. At one point, we were in P10. Then the tyres started dropping and we lost a couple of positions but I had a lot of fun riding here today. The fans have been incredible all weekend, and it was good to spend some time with them on the cooling down lap after the race. Thank you to all of them who came supporting us this weekend, they have been amazing.”
“I have enjoyed the last couple of races although this is not the place where both my team and myself want to be. In terms of pace, we have been close to the other KTM riders which is a positive point. This track does not have so many corners to overtake, turns 4 and 10 are the main ones. We had a few fights with Franco Morbidelli but we lost time doing so and my race pace was better after he crashed. I think that we made the right tyre decision today although it was tough to manage within the final laps, but I am happy with my race overall.”
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 16th
Alex Rins: 1st
Joan Mir: 18th (+ 23.489)
The entire paddock was desperate to get back on track in Australia after the long hiatus caused by the pandemic, and Phillip Island didn’t disappoint as it offered up one of the most thrilling races of the season – one which gave Suzuki a superb win in the hands of Alex Rins.
A tense start to the race saw Alex deep in the field but battling through to 8th in the early laps, and before long he set the fastest lap of the race, slotting into 5th place by Lap 6.
His progression continued to impress while the pack closed in around him, for three laps in a row Alex made slick and well executed passes at the Southern Loop section of the circuit, bringing him into a podium position by the eighth circulation.
On Lap 14 Rins charged to the head of the race, and from there on out he battled hard to both attack and defend. It was far from an easy task with just 1.8 seconds covering the first ten riders, but Alex was feeling confident and carrying great corner speed on his GSX-RR. The Suzuki squad held their breath as their rider refused to give up, despite slipping to 3rd with three laps left. Two more sensational passes at the Southern Loop plunged Rins back into the lead before the chequered flag and he took his fourth MotoGP career win – now completing the set having also won here in Moto3 and Moto2.
Joan Mir had a more complicated race. After starting well and climbing into 9th, he struggled with tyre pressure problems caused by a fault with the manometer. He tried hard to stay in the points but slipped to 18th by the line.
“I’m super happy! During the race I was feeling pretty good, in fact my feeling with the bike was amazing. The pace was fairly slow to try and preserve the rear tyre, because we know this place can be tough on tyres. But in the end, I was able to find some good traction in the sweeping corners and this allowed me to gain places and feel strong until the end – we had a fantastic battle all together! The entire team and everyone who has worked on this project deserves this win, and so do the fans, I’m so pleased that I could celebrate another victory together before we depart.”
“On our side of the garage it’s been a very disappointing race. There was a problem with the manometer which meant that the tyre pressures were out, and this caused me to drop backwards. I practically couldn’t finish the race, but I just managed too. It’s a sad comeback for me, but I’ll do my best in the last two races and hope for some better luck. On the other hand, I’m so happy for the team and Alex, because a victory here in Phillip Island is something very special.”
Livio Suppo – Team Manager
“It’s actually a very mixed feeling: I’m super happy for Alex, of course, but super sorry for Joan. Alex rode an unbelievable race, he showed all his talent and all the potential of the bike, I’m really glad to celebrate this victory with the team after such a difficult season. It was a real shame for Joan, due to a tiny technical issue his race was compromised from the beginning. His pace in the practices was also very good, and I’m sure he could’ve been up there too. Anyway, we’ve shown today that we truly don’t give up, and I want to thank everybody for the support.”
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“I’m happy because, at last, we’ve come back to the podium – and not only to the podium but the top step. Alex did an incredible job and this is a nice reward for us, and for everybody who has contributed to our team and factory. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, our project will end this year but we could prove we’re enough competitive and we’ll continue to go ‘full gas’ in the last two races. Joan had some problems today which meant he couldn’t show his potential, but it’s great to have him back with us and we hope next week will be much better for him.”