Maverick Viñales has broken a 25-race winless streak for Yamaha with a dominant performance in the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Viñales took the lead on Lap 8 and cleared out to a lead of as much as 4.213s before giving up more than half of that margin on the run home at Phillip Island.
Andrea Iannone (Suzuki Ecstar) staved off Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in the dying stages as they rounded out the podium, while Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) finished seventh having led on Lap 1.
Marc Marquez was a non-finisher after a spectacular incident at the speed trap on Gardner Straight when he was hit from behind by an out-of-control Johann Zarco.
Danio Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) somehow launched from eighth on the grid to lead into the first corner, but stayed there for only another corner when he had a big wobble through Southern Loop and ran off.
As that was going on, Miller got by the two factory Suzukis to take the lead of his home grand prix, but dropped behind Marquez, Dovizioso, and Iannone early on Lap 2.
The Australian had a brief battle with Zarco before re-passing Iannone for third, then found himself second again when Marquez ran wide at the Turn 4 Hairpin on Lap 5, handing top spot to Dovizioso.
Zarco made a mistake braking for Doohan Corner at the start of Lap 6 and his Tech3 Yamaha launched into the back of Marquez’s Repsol Honda.
The Frenchman walked away after tumbling into the scenery while Marquez brought his wounded bike back to the pits and took no further part.
Viñales dragged past Miller a lap later and the Pramac rider had a big moment at the end of the main straight which saw him relegated to fifth.
From there, Miller began to fade as Viñales’ charge kicked on.
The Spaniard passed Dovizioso off the Hairpin on Lap 8 and was 1.008s up the road after Lap 9.
As Viñales cleared out, a five-bike battle for the minor placings raged on between the factory Ducatis of Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista, the factory Suzukis of Iannone and Alex Rins, and Valentino Rossi.
Rossi passed Dovizioso for second at MG on Lap 8 but Iannone got by the #46 Movistar Yamaha at Lukey Heights four laps later.
Bautista came all the way from 12th on the grid to pass his temporary team-mate Dovizioso for fourth on Lap 12 and took second from Rossi at the end of Lap 15, clearing a path for Dovizioso to follow him through.
Iannone, who had run wide at the Hairpin on Lap 13, brought himself back into the battle with around eight laps to go, by which time it became apparent that Rossi didn’t have the pace in a straight line to hang on to a podium position.
Rins even stuck his hand up but it the situation was soon the factory Ducatis and Iannone vying for the minors.
Iannone passed Dovizioso with a bold move on the run to Lukey Heights on Lap 24 and looked to have done enough to seal second position.
However, they were side-by-side again on the run to Siberia on the 27th and final lap, with Iannone prevailing.
Bautista ultimately finished fourth, ahead of Rins and Rossi.
Miller looked a chance of catching Rossi near the end but didn’t quite get to the Italian.
Rounding out the top 10 were Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia), and Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM), while Mike Jones (Nieto Ducati) was the last finisher in 18th.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Hafizh Syahrin (Tech3 Yamaha) joined Marquez and Zarco as crash-induced retirements, while a technical problem in Pol Espargaro’s Red Bull KTM brought an early end to his afternoon.
Round 18 of the season is the Malaysian MotoGP on November 2-4, where Dovizioso will take a 15-point advantage over Rossi in the quest for runner-up in the standings.
Race results: Australian MotoGP
|1||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||40:51.081|
|2||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+1.543|
|3||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+1.832|
|4||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Ducati Team||Ducati||+4.072|
|5||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+5.017|
|6||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+5.132|
|7||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+6.756|
|8||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+21.805|
|9||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+22.904|
|10||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+22.940|
|11||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+34.386|
|12||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+35.025|
|13||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+36.348|
|14||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+36.389|
|15||10||Xavier SIMEON||BEL||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+44.214|
|16||12||Thomas LUTHI||SWI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+48.226|
|17||81||Jordi TORRES||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+1:04.965|
|18||7||Mike JONES||AUS||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+1:19.817|
|DNF||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||5 Laps|
|DNF||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|DNF||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||16 Laps|
|DNF||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||22 Laps|
|DNF||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||22 Laps|