Ryder Notes: Pinnacle

On the ground in Australia

The 2015 Australian GP may very well have been the best race we’ve ever seen at Phillip Island. It is certainly the best MotoGP race we’ve seen since Barcelona ’09. Both those races involved Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi but today’s also involved Marc Marquez and Andrea Iannone, and if you think the last lap of Catalunya ’09 was something, wait until you see this one.

Bear in mind that we’d already had a wonderful four-man dice for all of the race featuring Lorenzo trying to do his usual escape act, Iannone making very good use of what appeared to be a rocketship on the straight, Rossi at his cunning best making up for bad qualifying, and Marc Marquez at his mercurial best. It was a feast of the best of bike racing on what remains the best race circuit for bikes on the planet.

There were overtakes on every corner, massive slipstreaming moves on the front straight, and three makes of motorcycle with widely varying characteristics, strengths and weaknesses lapping at near-identical pace; paint was swapped, tyres were overheated, a seagull went to meet its make, TV commentators shouted themselves hoarse, and MotoGP trended on Twitter world wide.

Frankly, it would have done all that without the last lap. Underpinned by the subplot of what would happen to Rossi’s 18-point championship lead and Lorenzo’s need to do it severe damage, four men fought an astonishing race-long battle. Ianonne’s double pass on Rossi and Marquez out of Lukey Heights and down to MG was probably the most gob-smacking moment, although there were plenty of contenders.

Lorenzo started the last lap looking all over the winner, his lead was over two-thirds of a second, with the other three covered by another tenth. Marquez was third having stopped pressing in order to let his overheated front tyre recover. Now he was worried that he’d let them cool too much but decided to push at 100% anyway. He started the penultimate lap in fourth and final one in third. He then magicked up the best part of a second to take both Iannone and Lorenzo and win by a quarter of a second. I doubt we’ll ever see a better last lap.

Rossi tried to wrest third back from Iannone but couldn’t. Jorge Lorenzo therefore reduced that lead from 18 to eleven points, and appeared much happier to see Andrea Iannone than he had after qualifying.

If you have any doubts that we are in a golden era of motorcycle racing or that if Rossi win the title this year he truly deserves to be called the greatest of all time, watch this race.

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