Valentino Rossi raised the roof in Australia
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi raised the roof in Australia today, delivering a stunning race victory at Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo claimed the second step of the rostrum as part of a full Yamaha podium with Bradley Smith in third.
The Doctor made a great start to his 250th Grand Prix race in MotoGP as he jumped two places to sixth on the opening laps. He fought off Dani Pedrosa as he continued to battle his way to the front of the field, passing Bradley Smith and Pol Espargarò for third place.
Starting from third on the grid Lorenzo was not shy in grabbing the hole shot into turn one. He initially led the race, before falling back behind rival Marc Marquez. Lorenzo pushed to the limit but was unable to match the race leader’s pace.
When I was in front Marquez crashed and I said to myself “victory!"
Meanwhile teammate Rossi gradually closed down the gap to reach the rear end of Lorenzo’s M1 on lap nine. What happened next was a flurry of activity. With 17 laps to go Rossi set a fastest lap of 1’29.605 and made his first overtaking move at the hairpin and then Lorenzo fought back and retook second place in the first corner of the following lap. Over the next seven laps the teammates continued to swap places, when suddenly race leader Marquez crashed out of the race on lap 18 and they were left fighting for first and second place.
Rossi then put the hammer down and created an unbridgeable gap, while Lorenzo’s front tyre started to drop dramatically, forcing him to hand over second place to Cal Crutchlow. He kept pushing in his efforts to manage the gap to the following riders. Drama then struck again as Crutchlow also crashed on the last lap, handing Lorenzo a lucky but well fought second place, his tenth podium finish of the season.
Oblivious to the drama behind him, Rossi had increased his lead to 10.836 seconds and took an amazing victory as he wheelied over the finish line to celebrate his 108th Grand Prix win in all classes. The stunning win cements Valentino Rossi’s reputation as one of the greatest riders to grace the Phillip Island circuit.
Thanks to this amazing result, Rossi stays in second place in the championship with a points total of 255. He thereby increases the advantage over his teammate Lorenzo to eight points, whose third place sees him rise to third in the championship with 247 points.
Valentino Rossi (1st / 40'46.405 / 27 laps): “I’m so happy because Phillip Island is one of the most important and most beautiful tracks of the season. I won here many times in the past, but over the last few years I was only able to get onto the podium without winning the race. To comeback and take the first position after ten years is great. It's also great to see three Yamaha's on the podium! The race was tricky. The work that we did during the weekend with the team was very important.
We did a fantastic job and made the right front tyre choice. Marquez was not too far in front of me but he had a two second gap, so I decided to focus on my pace and on Jorge. He was very fast during the whole weekend, but for the second position in the championship it was very important to finish in front of him. When I was in front Marquez crashed and I said to myself “victory!"
Jorge Lorenzo (2nd / +10.836 / 27 laps): “It’s a great result for Yamaha, because there are three of us on the podium. Our race on the other hand did not go as I expected to. We struggled a lot to get the best set up for the race. Everything needs to be perfect, but if you put on the wrong tyre the race is over. I’m happy for the second place.
This has been the luckiest second place in my life, because there were a lot of riders that could have finished in front of me. Honestly I’m a bit disappointed because with a different tyre it would have been possible to stay with Marc and fight for the race. We'll keep on doing our best to be in the best possible shape in Malaysia and try to win the race.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “It has been an incredible race. We’ve been very competitive all weekend and we knew we could achieve a good result here. We were a little unsure about this afternoon’s colder conditions, but Vale did a brilliant job to take the victory starting from eighth. He didn't make any mistakes and showed some great overtakes. Jorge also rode another strong race. He was always pushing hard, but his front tyre started to drop towards the second half so he had to manage the grip level as best he could.
Despite this problem, we couldn't ask for a better result. It’s another double podium for our team and it’s great to see three Yamahas’ at the front. We now look forward to another strong race in Sepang where we plan to continue to show what we are capable of. I need to thank the whole team who worked very hard this weekend to give the riders competitive bikes to challenge for the honours they have won.”
Lin Jarvis - Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing: “Obviously I’m delighted with today’s result. It has been a long time since we had a total Yamaha podium, back in Le Mans in 2008. Again a victory, the fourth in a row for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. That’s an incredible run of results in the last events. Jorge also had not been lower than second over the last seven races.
That is phenomenal. My congratulations also go to Valentino. It’s his second win of the year and he’s been riding great. It's great to see him win here after we won the championship in 2004 at Philip Island.
He's ten years older but still going as fast and equally as 'hungry', so chapeau to him. Also congratulations to Bradley Smith for achieving his first MotoGP podium, a very much deserved result. We have two races to go. We’re fighting for the second position in the championship with both Vale and Jorge, so hopefully there will be more victories to finish off this year and let us go into the Winter to be stronger for the next season.”
Smith blazes to maiden podium in Phillip Island thriller
Bradley Smith rode an unforgettable race today to clinch his best ever MotoGP result and a debut podium at the Tissot Australian Grand Prix. The young British rider began the Grand Prix at the 4448 meter track from fourth after just missing out on the front row of the grid by 0.006 seconds. He launched forward to run right behind the leading MotoGP bikes before completing the first lap in third, hot on the heels of the front runners.
Here, Smith set into his strong race rhythm as he looked to maintain this position, before being shuffled down the order to eighth due to a few aggressive moves by his competitors which he needed to avoid, to prevent crashing. However the 23 year old remained fully determined in the following laps as he sought to ascend back through the field and he remained firmly in the thrilling battle for fifth with the four other riders.
Honestly, I wasn’t too happy with how I was riding at the beginning of the race, I made several mistakes and lost a few positions.
With three quarters of the race distance covered, the British rider moved into fifth after passing Andrea Dovizioso and as the finish line loomed closer, his consistent and fast times saw him rapidly cutting the gap to third place. The tireless efforts undertaken by the Tech3 rider were rewarded as he relentlessly pushed further before screaming over the finish line in third, seizing his first podium since Mugello in 2011 in the Moto2 class.
In addition, it was his career best result and ensured a complete Yamaha podium. His strong showing today granted him a rise to eighth in the World Championship standings and leaves him poised for more success in Malaysia next week.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage Pol Espargaro suffered bad luck as he unfortunately fell from fourth place whilst pursuing the final podium position at Phillip Island. The Spaniard kicked off his 27 lap challenge from ninth on the grid and undertook a phenomenal start to reach fourth as he crossed the finish line for the first time. In the following laps he locked into a fierce battle for fifth as he aggressively exchanged places in the exciting midfield fight.
By the 19th lap, the Spaniard had moved up to fourth and then worked tirelessly to gap the chasing riders. While he was quickly closing in on third place, which was well within his grasp as he constantly lowered the distance to Jorge Lorenzo, who was running in front of him, he lucklessly fell with three laps remaining.
His brave showing at the fast flowing Phillip Island circuit was nevertheless highly impressive in his inaugural appearance at the Australian circuit aboard a MotoGP bike. The reigning Moto2 world champion will now keenly look towards the next round in Malaysia in seven days to produce another top result.
Bradley Smith (3rd / +12.294 / 27 laps): “For sure it is a fantastic feeling to clinch my debut podium in the MotoGP class and I am so pleased to reach this milestone. Honestly, I wasn’t too happy with how I was riding at the beginning of the race, I made several mistakes and lost a few positions. Therefore I told myself to calm down, I improved and moved forward. It’s a bit unexpected to be on the podium in all honesty, but after having great pace all weekend, it is the dream way to complete all of the good work we have done recently.
I passed the chequered flag and saw the team on the wall, so I thought that I was in fourth or fifth, but then I saw my name in third on the board as I came around the corner, which was an amazing feeling. Now we have closed the gap in the championship to sixth quite considerably, so we need to focus on this for the next two races. There is only a small gap between myself, Pol and Aleix in the standings, so we will aim to continue this great run in Malaysia and try to climb two more positions in the final standings.
I must say a big thanks to the team who did a great job this weekend as well as to my sponsors for their support. Moreover, it's a fantastic experience to complete an entire Yamaha podium and I can't be anything other than grateful for their assistance!”
Pol Espargaro DNF: “Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on our side once again today. It is a real pity because we already had fourth place in our hands with just two laps to go. The track temperature had dropped slightly and obviously racing at 16:00 in the afternoon in not an ideal time to keep the heat in the front tyres and that's exactly what happened. I lost the front at turn four, without any warning which is what also occurred for Marc and Cal.
We probably wouldn’t have been able to race the soft tyre, so we had to adapt to the harder compound which caused the unfortunate end result for me in the race. However despite having had quite a tough start to the weekend here in Australia, we still performed really well during the race. This is a huge positive and allows me to confidently look forward to next week in Sepang where we will be ready to give our all once again.”
Great ninth place for Alex De Angelis at Phillip Island
It was a race of mixed feelings today at Phillip Island for the NGM Forward Racing Team. Alex De Angelis crossed the finished line in ninth position, while Aleix Espargaro was obliged to retire when he was fighting for the fourth place.
Starting from the sixth position on the grid, Espargaro rode an incredible race, fighting with the front guys for the fourth position and the podium. Unfortunately, with seven laps to go in an incident with Bradl, his Forward Yamaha was damaged and he was obliged to retire.
After two difficult days of practices, Alex De Angelis and his team were able to solve the technical problems in the warm up. Alex, who was taking the start from the back of the grid, was able to make a superb recovery, finishing in ninth position.
Alex De Angelis (9th / +33.577 / 27 laps): “After two difficult days of practices, today I did the best race of the season. I’m really happy. In the warm up I found a good set up and I started very motivated. In the race I fought with the other guys, recovering positions and in the end I did the fast lap and this is really positive. I’d like to thank my team, they worked hard to allow me to face the race in the best possible way.”
Aleix Espargaro DNF: “I’m really disappointed and it’s a pity because we were really close to get a very good result. I did a good start but I lost some positions. In a few laps I was able to recover. I fought throughout the whole race with the front guys, aiming at the podium. Unfortunately my bike was damaged in the incident with Bradl and I had to retire. I’d like to thank the team for the great work done during the weekend and today because my bike was really competitive.”