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Number 93 extends his lead as Dovizioso has a tough race – and Rossi wins a last lap three-way battle for second
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took his sixth win of the year in a scintillating Phillip Island showdown, breaking away from an eight-rider fight for the win in the latter stages to take to the top step. After a tough race for title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) as the Italian suffered an early run off and was only able to fight back to 13th, it leaves the rider from Cervera now 33 points clear in the standings. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took second as he came out on top of a three-way fight for the podium, with teammate Maverick Viñales taking third. Viñales is now out of the Championship fight, 50 points back with two rounds to go.
It was Marquez who got the holeshot but he couldn’t hold it into Turn 2 as a stunner from Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) saw the Queenslander slice through into the lead – and then start pulling away. Viñales was the man in third on the chase, as an incredible first lap then took another twist next time round into Turn 1, when Dovizioso went wide and dropped down to P20.
Then the race was on for the Italian, as a seven-rider train at the front closed in on Miller in the lead. Rossi and Viñales were the first to get through, and a lead group of Marquez, Viñales, Rossi, Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Zarco began to fight it out.
Marquez vs Rossi, Zarco vs Rossi, Viñales vs Marquez, Iannone vs Zarco…in one of the most aggressive and hard-fought battles of the season, decade or more, the passes came thick and fast – including a move for Zarco around the outside of Doohan corner – as rubber was left on the road; a little on opponents’ leathers and a little paint was swapped in one of the most incredible fights in history.
Once Marquez was ahead, however, the reigning Champion was able to begin pulling a gap with five laps to go. Pulling the pin as the battle raged on behind him, the number 93 began to sprint away – and the fight to complete the podium was down to three by the final laps: Rossi vs Viñales vs Zarco.
With some of the tightest lines ever ridden around the Island at times on that final lap, Rossi was able to take it – but all three were almost neck and neck over the line. And over that line behind the nine-time World Champion, it was Viñales just edging ahead of the Tech 3 of the Frenchman – taking third for a return to the rostrum but a definite end to his chance at the title. Zarco’s fourth, however, confirmed him as Rookie of the Year.
After Iannone getting pushed back in the latter stages, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) took fifth ahead of the Italian, with Miller, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and another double delight for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing completing the top ten; Espargaro just pipping Smith. Dovizioso suffered late heartbreak after losing out on the drag to the line to both Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and coming home 13th, with Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) completing the top fifteen.
Sepang is now ready for business, with the next round soon on the horizon and 33 points swinging the pendulum in Marquez’ favour. But not everything goes to script, as Dovizioso found out at the Island – and the Italian won at Sepang last season. It’s time for a final stand.
MotoGP Race Results
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 40’49.772
2 – Valentino Rossi (ITA – Yamaha) + 1.779
3 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) + 1.826
1st Independent Team Rider:
4 – Johann Zarco (FRA – Yamaha) + 1.842
Phillip Island (Australia), 22nd October 2017
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales were front-runners in a fierce Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit. With seven riders fighting aggressively for a place on the podium, the teammates had to give their all to put their YZR-M1s inside the top-3. They did just that and secured second and third place respectively and delivered the team its fourth double podium of the season.
Rossi had a strong start from seventh on the grid and soon found himself in fifth position after the first few corners. He continued to push hard on lap 1, crossing the line in fourth place, right behind his teammate. An early battle with Johann Zarco saw him move back to fifth, but he was soon riding in third place, with 25 laps to go, when Marc Marquez and Zarco went wide. Passing Viñales, the Doctor looked to be on a roll when he overtook Jack Miller for the lead two laps later, but chaos was about to ensue.
Zarco and Marquez made a comeback as Rossi went wide in turn 4, with 18 laps remaining, and Miller did the same shortly after. The Italian didn‘t hesitate to fight his way back to the lead again, but he was unable to break away as the battle at the front continued.
The Doctor was riding in second place when, with eight laps to go, a touch of Marquez‘ front wheel pushed him back to fourth. Yet, a manic four-lap dash at the end of the race saw the nine-time World Champion retaliate. He set consistent personal best times in sectors one and two to start the last lap in second place. With a two-second gap to Marquez, he focussed on holding off Zarco and Viñales and took the chequered flag in second position, 1.799s from first. This result earned Rossi his 17th podium finish at the Phillip Island track.
Viñales had a good start and immediately looked threatening behind frontmen Miller and Marquez. After two laps his tyres were warm and he was ready to make a move. As he overtook Marquez, he took Rossi with him. His teammate passed him with 23 laps remaining as they continued their chase after the leader, but the Spaniard wasn‘t to be shaken off easily.
When Rossi overtook Miller, Viñales launched himself past both. He was leading the race, but it wasn‘t to last in today‘s frantic MotoGP battle. He soon had to deal with Marquez, Zarco and Miller again and the Spaniard found himself in fifth place, with 15 laps to go, behind his teammate.
Seeing Rossi carve through the field, Viñales cautiously picked up places, but it remained a push-and-pull fight at the front. He had his head down, but soon had to start all over again as fighting with Zarco and Andrea Iannone pushed him wide and made him fall back to seventh place. He climbed back up the rankings, picking off Miller and Cal Crutchlow with five laps to go, and used his saved-up tyre life to perfection in the last laps to breeze past Iannone and overtake Zarco over the line for third place, pipping him by 0.016s, to take third place, 1.826s from first.
Today’s race results see Viñales hold third place in the championship with a 50-point gap to the leader, while Rossi regained fourth place in the standings, 81 points from the front. Yamaha moved up to second place in the Constructor classification, 34 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP are in second place in the Team title challenge, with 36 points to the top of the rankings.
The team will soon head north again to take part in next week‘s Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.
It was a fantastic race! The adrenaline levels were very high throughout all the 27 laps. Since Valentino and Maverick decided to use two different tyre options, I wasn’t able to relax, as I was unsure which was the right one, but in the end both choices seemed to work out well as both riders finished on the rostrum. This double podium result is very important for the team, especially after the challenging race in Motegi, and gives us a boost for Malaysia. This morning we made a good step in the wet and this improvement is another positive point that we take away from this Grand Prix. I want to thank the riders, team members and engineers for their hard work. We aim to continue this momentum in Malaysia as we still fight for the Team and Constructor titles.
I enjoyed the race very much. This track is unbelievable and it was a great race! All the riders in front were very aggressive, so you need to be more ‘stupid’, more aggressive, than they are. It was a great battle with Zarco, Iannone, Marquez and Viñales. I wanted to try the maximum to be on the podium. In the end I’m in second place and I’m very happy. I want to say thanks to all my team, they always work very hard, and thanks to all of Yamaha.
I had planned on attacking with five laps to go. On the previous lap, I had already overtaken Johann and tried to overtake Valentino at the last part of the straight, but I went wide. I had a moment with Johann on the outside and then went towards Andrea. I lost my race there, but in the end I recovered really well. I started to overtake the other riders fast and, honestly, I was quite far back from where I needed to be in the last corner, but the bike accelerated really well and I even thought I could pass Valentino. In the end he was a bit too far ahead, but I‘m still really happy. The team was working really well and especially this morning in the rain I felt great and that‘s a good starting point for Malaysia. There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend, especially on the soft tyre. The championship challenge is gone, this is not good news, but we already knew all season it was going to be difficult, especially during the second part. We have to try to be strong, as always, and try to be on the podium again in Malaysia. I want to recover some points to Andrea, which is important. We‘re going to try to make the bike work and try to have one of our strongest weekends.
Difficult race for the Ducati Team at Phillip Island, with Andrea Dovizioso finishing thirteenth and Jorge Lorenzo fifteenth in the Australian Grand Prix
Round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship at the Phillip Island circuit proved to be a tough one for the two Ducati Team riders. Andrea Dovizioso, who started from the fourth row of the grid for the Australian GP, was unable to gain any positions at the start and he crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in eleventh place. The Italian then braked very late for the first turn and dropped down to twentieth place. Despite a good recovery, which took him back up to eleventh place, Dovizioso was not able to make up any more places and at the final corner of the last lap he was overtaken by Redding and Pedrosa, finishing his race in thirteenth place.
Jorge Lorenzo, still in pain from his bad crash yesterday, remained in thirteenth place for much of the race, but in the last few laps he dropped to fifteenth and crossed the line in that position.
Following the Australian GP, Andrea Dovizioso still lies second in the championship standings, but he is now 33 points behind Marquez and 17 points ahead of Viñales.
MotoGP will be back on track in a few days’ time with round 17 of the championship, the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 13th
“Today’s race was a big disappointment and we really lost a lot of points in the championship. For sure my mistake in the early stages of the race complicated things and maybe even the choice of rear tyre was not the best one, but on this track our bike is still struggling a lot. This year we’ve managed to improve many aspects and be competitive throughout the season but when you come to tracks like this, where you don’t brake very much and where there are lots of long fast corners, some of our limits are magnified: in fact here at Phillip Island none of the Ducati were very quick. Pity, because at this point of the season it would have been better to be closer to Marquez in the standings, but now we have to think of Malaysia, where quite simply we’ll have to give it our all.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 15th
“It was a weekend to forget, because we were never able to be competitive. I started a long way down the grid and was unable to improve my position in the race: after ten or so laps I began to lap consistently and a few tenths quicker than yesterday, but when the performance of the rear tyre dropped it was impossible to keep that pace. In general here all the Ducatis suffered a lot, with the different choices of tyres available, but now we are going to Sepang with confidence, because it’s a track that is certainly better suited to our bike”.
MICHELIN’S GRAND PRIX SERVES UP A CLASSIC ALONG WITH A MARQUEZ MASTERPIECE
The Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from Phillip Island served up one of the greatest races in MotoGP™ history as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took a stunning victory following a breath-taking race-long battle between eight riders.
Marquez qualified on pole yesterday for today’s 27-lap race, but was beaten off the line and into the first corner by local hero Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). In-front of his home fans the Australian kept first place until he was overtaken by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) on lap-five. The nine-time World Champion then held the lead for four-laps, before Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), took to the front. The rookie stayed at the head of the pack for five laps, before the lead returned to Rossi, then went the way of Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and then finally to Marquez, in what was a titanic battle between some of the greatest racers in the world. The full-on encounter for the top positions featured the five riders that led the race at some point, plus Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) and Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), all of whom produced some incredibly close racing and daring overtaking throughout the whole race, with manoeuvres that showed the trust the riders had in their Michelin tyres.
Weather had been an issue at Phillip Island all weekend, with cold sessions, wet practices and intermittent sunshine meaning the riders had to leave the choice of MICHELIN Power Slick tyres to the very last moment as they all tried to gauge the weather for the race. When the event got underway in bright and windy conditions, which also produced the warmest temperatures of the weekend, Marquez took the decision to go with a medium front compound slick tyre, matched with a soft rear and he managed it superbly as he took the chequered flag to secure his sixth win of the season and strengthen his championship lead. Second was Rossi, who paired front and rear medium compound tyres, whilst third-placed Viñales used the medium front and soft rear configuration. Zarco took fourth-place on the line — setting the fastest-lap of the race in the process — a result which secured the First Independent Rider position and reinforced his lead in that championship and gave him the honour of being crowned Rookie of the Year. Fifth was Crutchlow, narrowly holding off Iannone at the finish, with home-boy Miller taking seventh and Rins eighth. The top-10 was rounded out by the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team’s Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith respectively.
The Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix also saw a very important announcement during the weekend’s proceedings, as a press conference was called featuring the CEO of Dorna Sports, Carmelo Ezpeleta and Director of Michelin Motorsport, Pascal Couasnon. This was held to confirm an extension to the partnership which will see Michelin as the ‘Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP’ for at least a further five-years, taking the Clermont-Ferrand based manufacturer to 2023 as the sole provider of race tyres for the premier-class.
Michelin now returns north of the Equator for the final of the three fly-away races, as MotoGP heads to Sepang for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday 29th October, a race that signals the 17th and penultimate round of the season and with the championship still to be decided it looks all set for being another thrilling event.
Marc Marquez — Repsol Honda Team:
“Today’s race was amazing. It was a bit like a Moto3 race because it was a big fight until the end with lots of bikes involved. This was because the riders were saving the tyre, as most of them went with the soft option on the rear. All the guys that chose this option tried to manage because we knew it would be at the limit at the end of the race, but the Michelins managed well and then I gave as much as possible in the last five-laps and that was enough to open a gap. I felt really good all weekend and I led every session, just in FP2 I was second, but I am very happy because in wet, dry and cold conditions the tyres worked well and I felt good, so I am happy for the victory and because we increased our lead in the championship.
“Also for me the news that Michelin is carrying on for another five-years is very important for the riders and the teams and of course for Michelin. When you start in a new category with a lot of technology it takes time, but Michelin arrived so quick and at a good level. Now it is important that we have stable tyres and we always have more or less the same compounds and they are working very good. Also, the riders and manufacturers start to understand the tyres very well and now I believe we will be faster and faster.”
Nicolas Goubert — Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“I don’t know where to start after a race like that. The performance of the front group was amazing and it was incredible to see such a race. The riders pushed the tyres to the limit and we saw no fade in performance as the race progressed from any of the tyres on such a demanding and abrasive track. This is always such a challenging race and it was the first time the riders had the soft rear option for a race here and they certainly put it to good use today. Throughout the weekend we had many different conditions to contend with and tyre choice was difficult today for all concerned. The the track was warmer than at any other point this weekend, but the race was quite late, so the temperature could have dropped quickly and all those factors had to be considered. The Michelin technicians worked closely with all the teams to assist with the decisions on tyre selection and again it demonstrated how different riders and manufacturers can use different compounds. We now head to Malaysia where I’m sure it will be a lot warmer than here, that will also bring its own challenges, but we will certainly be up to the test.”
Pascal Couasnon — Director of Michelin Motorsport:
“This has been a very busy weekend for Michelin, due to being the title sponsor here at Phillip Island and with that honour it has also given us the opportunity to announce this great news about our extension to the contract. We are delighted to be a part of MotoGP for a further five years. This is a huge compliment to the confidence that Carmelo Ezpeleta and Dorna has shown in what Michelin is achieving and fully endorses our achievements since we returned to MotoGP. These first two seasons have seen some impressive racing and we have seen tyre performance and strategy make a real contribution to the show. Michelin is pleased to have played a role in this and that has been endorsed by the decision of Dorna to extend its collaboration with Michelin as technical partner and exclusive tyre supplier until 2023.
“Michelin will use its on-going association with MotoGP to continue developing ever-safer and more competitive racing tyres and it is these innovations that will go on to benefit our road tyres. The information we gather from the premier motorcycle championship is directly linked to improving our road tyres, we are constantly striving for the best, whether it is on track with the world’s top racers or on the street, Michelin is dedicated to offering the finest tyres for the task.”
BRAVE CRUTCHLOW TAKES FIFTH IN PHILLIP ISLAND THRILLER
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow claimed a fine fifth placed finish in a thrilling Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Sunday. The Briton showed all of his fighting qualities to overcome a serious fall in the warm-up session, before battling it out amongst the leading group in what was a thrilling spectacle at the famous circuit in Victoria.
Starting from the fourth row of the grid, Crutchlow went hard in the early stages to ensure he joined part of an eight-man group at the head of the field. All eight riders were covered by just one second at around the halfway stage with places being swapped regularly.
In the end, championship leader Marc Marquez pulled away to claim an important victory, but Crutchlow fought all the way to the end and edged out Andrea Iannone on the line to claim a creditable result in fifth.
Cal Crutchlow – 5th
“Obviously it was a better result and race than in qualifying. I felt quite good and confident in the race and I was being very patient to be able to try and come towards the podium at the end of the race. The problem was that after about five or six laps there was a small gap to the leaders and I had to push a lot and use a lot of the rear tyre at that moment of the race.
“But I think that fifth is not a bad result considering that we had a massive crash this morning. It’s one of the biggest high-sides of my career out of turn six and to be able to ride in this shape was good as I was really contemplating not being able to ride with the advice of the doctors and my team.
“But I tried my best and I think it was a good result considering, although I’m disappointed not repeat my win from last year because I think if we’d have had a little bit better weekend we could have been right up there. But what a great fight, what a great show in the MotoGP race at Phillip Island today.”
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ KEEPS HIS APRILIA IN THE LEADING GROUP BUT A CRASH ON TURN 1 TAKES HIM OUT OF THE RACE
Only a crash on the first corner during the eighth lap kept Aleix Espargaró from battling for important positions in the GP of Australia. The Spanish rider had both the pace and the confidence to contend in the leading group. Well supported by an Aprilia RS-GP, he was once again solidly at the level of the best.
Aleix paid a high price for a slightly wide trajectory on the fast first corner as he was overtaking Miller for fifth place. The high speed slide resulted in a fracture to the fourth metacarpus of his left hand, an injury that shouldn’t keep the Spanish rider from participating in the Malaysian weekend that is just days away.
Sam Lowes finished nineteenth after a shrewd race, overtaking Parkes, Petrucci and Barbera.
“The race was going well. Despite a less than perfect start, I had already rejoined the leading group and I had a good feeling. Unfortunately, as I was overtaking Miller on the first turn, I went a bit too wide, ending up on the dirty part of the track and sliding out. I should be able to participate in the race in Malaysia even with the injury to my hand. We’ll see what the conditions are on Friday.”
“Obviously you always hope for a better result but, given the conditions, I’m rather satisfied. I overtook a few riders in the race and I didn’t make any mistakes throughout the weekend. We are working well. Unfortunately, Aleix wasn’t able to demonstrate the full potential of the RS-GP today because of the crash, but we are on the right path.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“This was a peculiar weekend where we once again demonstrated how competitive our bike is and how Aleix is able to take advantage of it. The race began in the best possible way. Despite a less than perfect start that we need to work on, he recovered with impressive speed. Unfortunately, the crash stopped him in a race where anything could have been possible, but the responses from this track give us great optimism both for the upcoming races and for 2018.”
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER
“Except for the race result itself, this was another good weekend. More proof that we are competitive, very close to the best in the category. Unfortunately, we are leaving Phillip Island today with a bitter taste in our mouths, knowing that we have a great bike and a very fast rider. Aleix paid a high price for a small mistake, but that is racing.”
Home hero Miller a superb seventh at Phillip Island
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller received a hero’s welcome from home fans after a courageous seventh place in today’s Australian Grand Prix.
Miller’s stirring performance came despite racing with a fractured right tibia held together by a plate and seven screws.
Making his trademark rocketship start Miller stunned the stars of MotoGP by taking his Honda RC213V to the front and leading the opening four laps of the 27-lap race at the super-fast Phillip Island Circuit.
Cheered on by local fans Miller outpaced Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales and eventual winner Marc Márquez with his daring early charge.
The gritty Aussie remained a podium contender until just after the halfway mark when rear grip levels dropped and Miller raced to ensure a top ten finish.
Miller’s amazing recovery from his injury, suffered just 24 days ago in a trials bike accident, was tribute to his determination and an intensive rehab program.
Miller’s teammate Tito Rabat missed scoring championship points by just eight hundredths of a second.
The Spaniard, who started 14th, finished 16th just behind Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo.
The third and final race in three consecutive flyaway events will be next Sunday in Sepang, venue for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Jack Miller: 7th
“It was great feeling to be leading my home race at Phillip Island but maybe going hard early hurt me later in the race with rear grip when I had to switch engine maps. It would have been nice to be able to push a bit harder at the end of the race but it was a solid weekend considering my injury, starting fifth and finishing seventh in front of my home fans, I’m happy with that.”
Tito Rabat: 16th
“I always like to score points and although I just missed out today there were many positives for me over the weekend, I learnt a lot in the mixed weather conditions over three days at Phillip Island. I qualified 14th and finished 26 seconds behind the winner, which is a good step for me. I am happy about my race and now I can look forward to the race in Sepang next week.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Jack put in a big effort to finish seventh considering his injury and as we know at this track rear grip is always an issue in the second half of the race. For a private team to finish in the top ten at this level in MotoGP is always a good feeling. It is a pity Tito just missed the final championship point but he did a good job, in conditions over the weekend that were not easy for him. Now we look forward to the race next weekend in Malaysia.”