Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a stunning ride today to win the Australian Grand Prix in a thrilling spectacle filled with drama. Valentino Rossi delivered another exciting performance, fighting to take third on the podium.
Following concerns over the safety of the Bridgestone tyres to last full race distance the race was changed to incorporate a bike change at the ten-lap mark, with the total laps reduced to 19.
The start saw Lorenzo take the hole-shot from his pole position with riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa in hot pursuit. The reigning champion gave no quarter but was unable to pull away, the rivals staying within 0.5 of a second as they counted down to the pit stop. This itself turned into a bizarre event with potential consequences for the championship. Pedrosa pitted a lap early, Lorenzo pitted at the ten-lap mark and Marquez pitted a lap too late. As a result Marquez was given a black flag and disqualified and Pedrosa was forced to drop a position after crossing the white line on his pit lane exit.
Further disaster was also narrowly avoided when Marquez exited the pits just as Lorenzo passed down the straight at high speed, the two making contact into turn one. Luckily both were able to stay upright and continue. Lorenzo kept the pressure on and held the top spot for the remaining nine laps to claim the race win.
The result leaves Lorenzo now on 280 points, 18 behind Marquez as they head to Motegi for the final of the triple-headers. Rossi stays secure in fourth position on 214 points, 35 ahead of Crutchlow in fifth.
1st | 29'07.155 | 19 Laps
“I’m really happy with this win, we’ve also been lucky because Marc made this mistake. Without that he would have been second or first because he was really fast today. So we’ve been lucky but we were unlucky in the middle of the championship so today is a balance. When I was entering the first corner Marc was exiting the pit at exactly the same time, the situation was almost impossible to avoid. I was braking a little later to open the line and I don't think he was looking so much entering the corner so it was both our fault. Now we have options, if Marc keeps constant on the podium then it is impossible to win the championship but there are a lot of laps to go so anything could happen.
It’s unbelievable to have 50 Grand Prix victories at 26years old. It seems like only yesterday when I won in Brazil in 2003 but it’s been ten years. I’m very proud of it and hope to win some more in the future!”
3rd | +12.344 | 19 Laps
“At the end the result was good, I’m so happy to be on the podium here at Phillip Island because it’s always a great pleasure and a great atmosphere. I tried to give the maximum, the race was very thrilling and I enjoyed it very much, especially because with the team we were able to do a very good job in the pit and gain two positions. I had a great battle with Cal, when I understood it was for the podium I tried to give the maximum. In the last half of the lap it started to rain which was very scary but at the end it was ok and a good result. We still need to work and improve to be faster for the next race.”
Double top six for Crutchlow and Smith in Phillip Island thriller
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team celebrated a fantastic double top six finish for Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith in an action-packed and unique flag-to-flag MotoGP race at Phillip Island this afternoon.
Concerns about excessive tyre wear on a new track surface meant the race was reduced to 19-laps on safety grounds, which included a mandatory pit stop for fresh Bridgestone rubber at the end of lap nine or 10. There was incredible drama and tension from start to finish and Crutchlow put up a tremendous fight to score his fifth rostrum of the campaign and second in succession at the super-fast Phillip Island track. The 27-year-old pulled into the pits to switch bikes at the end of the 10th lap and in a tense tussle with Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista, the British rider fought for the podium right down to the final corner. As rain spots started to fall on the Phillip Island track on the final lap, Crutchlow missed out on his first podium since his second place in Germany by just over 0.1s, with Rossi claiming the final podium spot in front of a crowd of 31,500 enthralled fans.
Teammate Bradley Smith stormed back into the top six for the first time since the German round after he made a sensational start to round 16. The 22-year-old got a stunning launch off the line and on the first lap he’d surged into fourth and was right on the back of leading Spanish trio Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Smith gained precious experience after dicing it out with Rossi, Crutchlow and Bautista in the early stages and he employed a different strategy by opting to enter the pit lane at the end of lap nine. He was able to comfortably clinch a richly deserved top six finish and today’s performance gave a significant boost to his hopes of securing a top 10 World Championship finish, with his lead over Aleix Espargaro now 11-points with two races remaining.
Crutchlow and Smith’s excellent display also moved the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team a step closer to clinching third in the Team World Championship standings.
4th – 179 points
“It was a bit of shame that I couldn’t finish on the podium today but to be honest I’d have only been there because of what happened to Marc. But I am happy because I rode really well. The problem once again was my start. I have got to work on that because once again today it wasn’t acceptable. The positive point is I had good consistency in the race and I was a lot faster than I expected to be given what had happened with the tyres over the weekend. It was good to race so close to Valentino on the factory Yamaha and I enjoyed it. It was a very hard but fair battle with him and Alvaro. I actually thought there was one more lap, but because I’d been so close to Valentino on the straight I’d not seen my pit board. I’d have liked to be on the podium but fourth is my best result for a few races and hopefully we can be strong in Japan next weekend."
6th – 99 points
“Sixth position is a very good result and I got another really fast start. It was great to be right up there on the first lap and I could learn a lot in the early stages from the guys with much more experience. The setting we ran wasn’t ready to fight for the top six but I gave it my best shot. We damaged the rear tyre in the first run, so I tried to take it a bit steady in the second one. It has not been an easy weekend with a lot of drama and confusion surrounding the tyres, but my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew remained calm and concentrated throughout and it was good to pay them back with my first top six for a while.”