Marc Marquez has scored a dramatic victory at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix with a Maverick Viñales crash on the final lap elevating Jack Miller to third place.
After dominating the weekend, Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) led Marquez (Repsol Honda) heading into the final lap at Phillip Island.
The world champion made his move ahead of Doohan Corner and when Viñales tried to come back at Lukey Heights, he lost the rear of his Yamaha and crashed.
The result means Marquez now has 55 premier class race wins, one ahead of Mick Doohan, and now trails only Valentino Rossi’s 89 and Giacomo Agostini’s 68 all-time victories.
“The most difficult point for me was when Viñales first pushed after getting the lead,” said Marquez.
“But I didn’t give up and stayed with him for four or five laps.
“The weekend was crazy with wet and mixed conditions, but all the Repsol Honda Team did an incredible job.
“We chose a gamble with the soft rear and although it was destroyed, we were able to win the race.”
Cal Crutchlow (Castrol LCR Honda), who led early, came home a distant second with Miller holding off his Pramac Ducati team-mate Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia at the flag.
A dramatic start saw ‘400’ race-man Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) taking the lead into Doohan Corner.
Behind, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) high-sided at Southern Loop and flew off his bike, taking out Fabio Quartararo (Petronas SRT Yamaha) in the process.
Crutchlow moved into the lead on Lap 3 as the front nine of the field were covered by nine seconds.
Viñales had dropped outside the top five off the start, but by Lap 6 took the lead at Honda Corner with Marquez following into second ahead of Crutchlow at the approach to Lukey Heights.
The top two then moved away from Crutchlow as the rest of the pack started a non-stop battle.
The group included the likes of the Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Gresini Aprilia duo Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro.
Miller was as far back as ninth after starting on both hard front and rear Michelin tyres. He picked riders off one by one, with his biggest challenge coming from Bagnaia, who at one stage got in front of the Australian.
“I saw those three bolt, especially Marc and Maverick, as I knew on the grid they were on the softs,” said Miller.
“So, I just managed the race. Tried not to push too early like I have in the past. Then I got to fourth in the end there and thought that was a good result.
“Then to my surprise on the last lap I came around there and just saw dust off the top of Lukey Heights. I saw it was Maverick and I thought ‘holy… I’m in third now’.
“It’s amazing. We have done a lot of work and a big shout out to the team who got a great base setting with not much track time. They worked overtime and changed the livery and whatnot.
“It has been a great day. It’s not a win but it certainly feels like it.”
The victory to Marquez was his 11th of the season from 17 races and his fifth in succession. In fact, outside a failure to finish at the US Grand Prix, Marquez has finished no lower than second place this year.
As good as it has been for the world champion, the same can’t be said for Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who finish 16th and the last rider running. It means Ducati is still in the fight for Manufacturers’ title.
MotoGP packs down tonight and races again next weekend at Sepang in Malaysia.
Race results: Australian MotoGP
|1||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||40:43.729|
|2||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+11.413|
|3||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Pramac Racing||Ducati||+14.499|
|4||63||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||+14.554|
|5||36||Joan MIR||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+14.817|
|6||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+15.280|
|7||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+15.294|
|8||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+15.841|
|9||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+16.032|
|10||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+16.590|
|11||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||+24.145|
|12||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+26.654|
|13||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+26.758|
|14||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+44.912|
|15||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||+44.968|
|16||99||Jorge LORENZO||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+1:06.045|
|DNF||12||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1 Lap|
|DNF||82||Mika KALLIO||FIN||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||3 Laps|
|DNF||53||Tito RABAT||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||24 Laps|
|DNF||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha|
|DNF||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati|
Race winner: 27 laps