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Marc Marquez once again demonstrated why he rules the ranks of the Moto GP category with a last lap victory at the Pramac General Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales had held sway throughout the weekend as wind, rain and bitterly cold weather lashed Victoria’s south-east in between brief periods of sunshine, only to drop out of contention within sight of the chequered flag. Vinales’ misfortune brought an unexpected bonus to the parochial Australian crowd with Jack Miller elevated to third place behind Marquez and Cal Crutchlow.
The weather brought about a change in the Moto GP program after a severe weather warning came to fruition on Saturday afternoon with wind gusts in excess of 50kmh. Riders struggled to stay upright as sporadic bursts of gale force winds turned umbrellas into useless collections of bent metal and sent photographer lenses spinning uncontrollably. One such burst fired across Miguel Oliveira as he sped down the Gardner Straight and pushed the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 machine off the track. Oliveira was forced to drop his bike at close to 300kmh as he approached the turn 1 gravel trap. The Portuguese rider managed to walk away with no broken bones, but suffered heavy swelling to his hands. Oliveira explained on Saturday evening that his race fitness was dependent on; ”Whether I can close my hands to ride”. MotoGP later confirmed that Oliveira was not passed fit on Sunday morning “Due to pain and swelling to both hands”.
Fabio Quartararo was another to suffer injury during a practice fall. The French rider had an off throttle high side as the exit of Siberia on Friday and was sent for x-rays for a painful ankle injury. While cleared of any broken bones, the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider was hampered for the remainder of the weekend. Quartararo has suffered bruising to his leg in the crash. “After his crash in FP1, Fabio was taken to the medical centre for checks. X-rays show no fractures, but he’ll undergo further treatment to a hematoma in his left ankle,” the team said in a statement. “He’s been declared fit, but won’t participate in FP2 due to the painkillers he was administered.“
Qualifying was rescheduled for the Sunday morning after a hastily convened meeting between riders and Dorna deemed conditions to be too dangerous. The forecast for milder conditions on Sunday seemed to be a sensible solution to the problem. Vinales once again topped the session from Quartararo and Marquez, who just held out Valentino Rossi in what was his 400th race start. Jack Miller had been consistently near the top but managed just the 9th fastest time for the race.
Rossi jumped from the second row to lead the field for the opening laps, while Vinales dropped to 6th after a slow start. Quartararo lost track position and ran wide on the approach to turn 2, as did Danilo Patrucci when squeezed by Marquez. Petrucci lost the rear of his Ducati and was launched through the air as the bike twisted and bucked its rider. Petrucci was flung into the back of Quartararo’s Yamaha which sent the pair tumbling towards the gravel.
“At Turn 2 Marquez came in on me on the inside, I was forced to go wide and onto a dirty line, lost control of the bike and had a highside that unfortunately also involved Quartararo,” Petrucci said.
Quartararo was philosophical in his views of the incident. ”If Petrucci hadn’t hit me I would probably have run onto the grass and lost a lot of positions anyway, but it’s still my rookie year and I’ll learn from it. I’ll now take the opportunity to rest and recuperate as much as possible before the next race in Sepang where I want to reward the circuit and Petronas with a strong performance.”
Rossi’s fairtytale run at the front brought back memories of old as he continued to lead the opening four laps of the race before slipping back into the pack. Andrea Iannone was another who gambled on tyre life and took over the top spot on his Aprillia, then Cal Crutchlow had a turn at the front while Vinales and Marquez moved towards the leaders after slow starts for the pair. Soon it became a two rider battleground as Vinales led from Marquez, while Crutchlow slipped back in third. Crutchlow’s position strengthened as an intense battle amongst the pack enabled the LCR Honda rider to stretch the gap. Andrew Dovizioso, Joan Mir, Iannone, Alex Espargaro, Rossi and Miller fought an intense battle. As those who pushed harder in the early stages began to struggle with tyre life, Jack Miller slowed moved ahead to take fourth place during the final Iaps of the race.
“I saw the big boys putting their soft tyres on, on the grid, and I thought, ‘Oh, they are pretty keen’. In the majority of the dry track time that I have had this weekend, I was able to do some running on the soft tyre, and my consumption was far too high. “So I was thinking, ‘these guys have got something a lot more than I have, in terms of throttle control’“I thought that fourth was the best that I can do. I saw that Danilo had his big crash right at the start, and I was already nervous, because I had the hard tyre in too. I had a moment in Turn 2, I got wide on the gas and I lost a few positions.”
“Step by step, Valentino went past me and I thought he was bit keen, then he started coming back towards me,” Miller recounted. “The Aprilias went past and they came back, then Rins for about 10 laps and then he started coming back.“I had Dovi in front of me, and I thought that we would just cruise to the end,” Miller said.“Then with about 10 laps to go Pecco came past, and he was into it. That was extra motivation for me as you don’t want to finish behind your teammate, and especially not here at Phillip Island. I was able to get past him, and then Dovi got past me. I got a look at his rear tyre and I knew that was gone, he nearly had a highside into Turn 2.”
Marc Marquez hounded Maverick Vinales during the latter stages of the race, playing mind games with the Monster Yamaha rider, who fully expected a challenge but never knowing when it might occur. Marquez has become a master of the last lap pass and one wonders how much it plays on the minds of the other Moto GP riders. The pass eventually came at Doohan corner at the start of the final lap. Vinales was just too far behind to challenge at Honda corner, which left Lukey Heights and MG corner as the final opportunity, given the straight line speed of the 2019 Honda. Vinales lost the rear as he tucked in behind Marquez and dropped the bike just after the crest of Lukey Heights, his machine torn apart as it dug into the gravel at MG corner.
Marc Marquez moved ahead of Mick Doohan as the. most successful Honda rider of all time with the win from Crutchlow on another Honda, while Jack Miller became the first Australian to stand on the Phillip Island Moto GP podium since Casey Stoner in 2012 with his 3rd place finish.
“You never like seeing anybody crash, especially with only two corners to go,” said Miller, who was ecstatic to finish on the podium of his home grand prix.
“An incredible victory because today, we were not the fastest at the racetrack,” Marquez said.“Maverick was faster than us, and I was waiting [for] him.“I knew his tyres were not so good. I was happy to be in second place because I knew if I led, he would push a lot. That was the only chance for me. I was fast in the last sector especially. So on the straight we used our engine, so I am very happy. We are slow cooking; we are cooking a victory.”
Brad Binder strengthened his slim hope for the Moto2™ title with a emphatic win at the 2019 Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2019. Binder and teammate Jorge Martin rode away from the field, as Beta Tools SpeedUp.Iker Lecuona caused chaos for a number of potential race winners. On the opening lap Lecuona ran deep into Turn 4 and hit Marco Bezzecchi. A chain reaction then saw Luca Marini also fall from his bike. While Lecuona was able to continue after taking a penalty, Marini’s hopes of a third consecutive Moto2™ win were over after only 30 seconds.
Alex Marquez was also amongst that group and was fortunate not to fall as Bezzecchi and Marini fell to his left. It was difficult to tell whether Marquez had a problem with his bike or was riding with the championship lead in mind as the slipped back down through the field. The Spaniard dropped back through the pack before righting the ship in the closing laps, getting back up to eighth place. Thomas Luthi took 3rd from Jorge Navarro, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Australia’s Remy Gardner in 6th.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta wrapped up the Moto3™ World Championship with the race win at Phillip Island.The Italian only managed to seal the win with a great run out of the final corner. A large pack of riders exchanged the lead throughout the race as no one could break away from the pack. Albert Arenas just failed to take advantage of the slipstream to the chequered flag and was caught on the line by Marcos Ramirez, which made it a 1-2 finish for the Leopard Honda team.
Dalla Porta’s race was made easier when Aron Canet, his main rival for the championship, fell out of contention early. The Spaniard walked away from a 160 km/h crash slid at Doohan corner with hs title hopes over. Tony Arbolino also had a mathematical chance of stealing the crown with the race win but only managed a 9th place finish on his Honda. The close racing lead to a number of incidents, with Jaume Masia, Celestino Vietti, Andrea Migno and Filip Salac (KTMs) and Honda riders Sergio Garcia and Kaito Toba amongst a number of riders to crash during the course of the race.
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