Round 17 Australia

  • Collision Takes Marquez Out of Australian Grand Prix

    Honda's top MotoGP riders endured their toughest event in a long time at Phillip Island, where newly re-crowned World Champion Marc Marquez started the race from pole position and was fighting for his ninth victory of the year.

Report

Collision Takes Marquez Out of Australian Grand Prix

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia, October 28, 2018

Honda's top MotoGP riders endured their toughest event in a long time at Phillip Island this weekend, where newly re-crowned World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) started today's race from pole position and was fighting for his ninth victory of the year. But on lap six of the 27-lap race the youngster was rammed at the end of the track's ultra-fast start/finish straight, where Joann Zarco accidentally made contact with the rear of Marquez's RC213V at 280km/h (174mph).

 Franco MORBIDELLI

Zarco crashed but was remarkably unscathed, thanks to motorcycling's latest protective clothing and the circuit's expansive run-off. Marquez also came very close to falling and had to use all his skills to maintain control. However, the impact had been so heavy that the rear section of his RC213V was very badly damaged and he had no option but to pull into the pits and retire.

The 25-year-old Spaniard's first DNF of 2018 ended a remarkable run of success, including a hat-trick of victories at the last three rounds, in Aragon, in Thailand and in Japan last weekend, where he secured an historic fifth MotoGP world title in six years at Honda's home race.

Although Marquez started from pole, after a scintillating lap in yesterday's Q2 qualifying session, he didn't make the best of starts this afternoon. And yet he was immediately fighting his way forward and bravely took the lead into the high-speed first corner on lap two. He remained at the front for several laps, with the rest of the pack right behind him, fully aware that he had the pace to achieve his 70th Grand Prix victory across all three GP classes.

But there are few more complicated MotoGP races than the Australian Grand Prix. The circuit layout is fast and flowing, so it allows riders to race close together in large groups, which is why the track holds the record for the closest premier-class top-three in GP history – just 0.149 seconds – at the 1999 Australian GP, won by Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda NSR500). This is why Marquez purposefully relinquished the lead after a few laps, so he could evaluate the performance of his rivals and save his tires for the crucial later stages of the race. Sadly, it wasn't to be.

Now Marquez's focus is on the final two races of the year: at Sepang, Malaysia, next weekend, and at Valencia, next month, where he aims to help Honda win the Constructors World Championship and Repsol Honda the Teams World Championship. Honda is chasing its seventh constructors prize from the last eight years and if Repsol Honda can also secure the teams title, the coveted triple crown will be Honda's for the second consecutive year.

Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) also made an early exit from today's race, crashing out just before half-distance, having moved into the points-scoring positions. Phillip Island is never an easy race for the 32-year-old Spaniard – who weighs just 51 kilos – because the cool temperatures and blustery wind make it very challenging for him to ride at his very best.

At the end of the race Honda's top finisher was impressive rookie Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V), who rode a superb race to eighth place aboard his independent-team RC213V, beating several factory riders in the process. This is the best result of the 23-year-old Italian's apprentice MotoGP season, bettering his previous best, a ninth-place finish in May's Spanish Grand Prix. It came after a good weekend of work from Morbidelli and his crew who worked to improve their electronics settings throughout practice.

Morbidelli rode superbly, spending much of the race fighting with several more experienced riders on factory bikes, including Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith. On the final lap he pulled off two passing maneuvers to cross the line in eighth place, with his average lap time just eight tenths of a second slower than race winner Maverik Vinales.

Like fellow rookie Morbidelli, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) had an exciting battle with several other riders, the 26-year-old from Chiba fighting with Karel Abraham, Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding for 11th place. If he had made it to the front of the group it would have been his best MotoGP result so far. However, during the closing stages he lost rear traction and was unable to attack those ahead of him. At the checkered flag the quarter was separated by less than two second.

Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) had to overcome injury issues and tire wear during his run to 16th place. The Swiss rider suffered severe bruising to his ribs during a worrying moment in free practice when he was thrown out of the seat and landed back on his bike. The 2005 125cc World Champion found it difficult to maneuver his machine through Phillip Island's fast changes of direction and finished four seconds out of the points.

Argentine GP winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) was ruled out of the 17th round of the season following a heavy tumble at turn one in Friday afternoon's FP2 session. The 32-year-old Briton was blown off line as he approached the corner and went down at high speed, fracturing his right ankle, specifically the malleolus ankle bone and the distal tibia, where the tibia meets the ankle joint. He underwent surgery later that day at Melbourne Alfred City Hospital where surgeons fixed the injury in a cage. He will have the fractures plated later this week. It is too early to say when he will be able to return to racing.

In the Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 class, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) took his third win of the season at the end of a tense race. The South African emerged triumphant from a ferocious five-rider fight that at one stage featured as many as nine riders. The performance was all the more heroic because the 23-year-old was in some pain from a fast crash at turn seven on Saturday morning.

Binder had to contend with staunch challenges from reigning Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex), Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex), Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40 Kalex), Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing Tech 3) and Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing KTM).

The front group was reduced when Lecuona fell at turn two on lap seven, while Gardner and Baldassarri tumbled at turn ten on laps 13 and 23. Binder likened the encounter to a Moto3 shootout, with just 0.9 seconds covering the top four riders at the checkered flag.

In the end, the victory fight came down to Binder and Mir. Exiting the penultimate turn on the final lap Binder had a slide which gave Mir the chance to out-drag his ex-Moto3 rival to the line, but Binder held on to win by 0.036 seconds. After several races some way from the podium, Mir was rejuvenated, climbing from 14th place to fight among the top three.

Vierge got the better of Fernandez and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) on the final lap to finish third, his first podium since the Argentine Grand Prix in April. Fernandez collected his best GP result in 23 starts with fourth, with Marini recovering from a difficult start to the weekend in fifth. Aegerter finished sixth, his best result of the season and only his third top ten in 2018, ahead of a relieved Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), who suffered a nasty crash in qualifying and passed a late fitness test in order to race. Jesko Raffin (SAG Team Kalex) was eighth with Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) ninth and Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors - Speed Up Speed Up) tenth.

Both Moto2 title hopefuls had a difficult day. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) finished 12th, less than ten seconds behind the winner and just over a second behind his title rival Miguel Oliveira's (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM). Bagnaia takes a 36-point lead into the last two races.

Moto3 title hopefully Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) reignited his championship hopes by claiming a crucial second place in an epic last-lap shootout that included 15 riders! This was an heroic recovery from the 19-year-old Italian, who spent a night in hospital in Japan just seven days ago, following a bruising crash at Motegi. Just 0.099 seconds covered the first five riders and 2.1 seconds separated the first 15 – the fourth closest top 15 in 70 years of Grand Prix racing.

Moto3 World Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) rode to a fifth-place finish after his main title rival Marco Bezzecchi was taken out by a rival in the early stages. Martin, who qualified on pole position, repeatedly attempted to escape from the lead group, but later admitted the gearing of his machine was not perfect for the blustery conditions, so he could not break clear. Nonetheless his championship advantage has grown from one point to 12 points. Di Giannantonio is also in the title fight, 20 points behind Martin.

Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) equalled his best result in Grand Prix racing. The 21-year-old from Chiba finished a fantastic fourth, 0.081 seconds behind winner Albert Arenas and just ahead of Martin and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).

Malaysian Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) scored his best result since the second race of the year with seventh, just ahead of Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW). Eighteen-year-old Yokosuka rider Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was tenth.

From here the Grand Prix paddock moves to Malaysia for next week's penultimate round of the season at Sepang. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 18.

Comments

MotoGP

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: DNF
“At first I didn't understand exactly what had happened, but I was angry because I felt the contact from the rear. I couldn't continue the race because my seat was broken and moving around. It was impossible to ride. When I arrived in the garage and saw the video, I understood. It was just a race incident because at that point of the track, we arrive really fast, over 300 km/h. I was behind Jack Miller when I braked even a bit later than usual, and then I felt the impact. Zarco had taken the slipstreams from the two of us. You may think he could have considered that, but for me it's just a race incident and I already spoke with him. What I can say is that today I feel really lucky, and the most important thing for me is that both me and Johann (ZARCO) are okay. Today I was really focused, and the race was going as expected. I led for a couple of laps, and then I decided to stay in the group and wait a bit. I had the pace and I felt I was able to fight for the win. It's unlucky that we got a zero here at Phillip Island, but if next year I can win the title in Japan again and have another DNF here, I'll sign up for that! Now let's focus on the next race.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: DNF
“It has been a difficult weekend. We never had a good feeling over the three days, and unfortunately I crashed out of the race. I wasn't in a good position, and then I lost the front in the braking point after the straight – quite a big crash, as it's a fast point. Anyway, we just have to move forward, hoping to have a better race next Sunday.”

Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 8th
“I am very happy with this result, my personal best result in MotoGP. We did a good job of the situation with riders going out of the race. Our tire choice was the right one and I had a good pace especially from the last half of the race and I was able to get into the top ten. I want to thank my crew for a great job this weekend to sort out the set-up of the bike for the race.”

Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU: 14th
“It was a difficult weekend. Today the weather conditions were a little bit better than yesterday, they were less windy and the track temperature was getting higher and higher. We decided to go with a soft compound on the rear and I think that was the correct choice, but the end of the race – the last 10 laps – really destroyed the tire. Over the last five laps I wasn't able to do anything. The lap times were quite strong and we couldn't find the race pace we wanted. In the end I got into the points, but for me it was a disappointing race and we have to think about the next one in Sepang and try to be more consistent over the weekend.”

Thomas Luthi, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 16th

“I had a good rhythm for the first ten laps and could stay with the group I was in so I'm little disappointed for this result. But then I lost a lot of edge grip and could not keep corner speed in the fast left-hand corners and I was struggling with understeer and that's where I lost too much time. I'm disappointed to be 16th again and just miss some championship points.”

Moto2

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 1st
“It was a crazy race; I thought I was in Moto3! I made a good start, got to the front and tried to break the group, but with 13 laps to go I saw that there was no way to do that. I tried to stay in the group and save something for the end. There were a few scares involving other riders; it was a little crazy, as there were people everywhere. I had planned to take the lead when there were two laps left and I pushed with everything I had. I was able to have a good race and take another victory, so I'm very happy. I thank the team a lot, as after the crash in FP3 I had to ride a completely new bike and it worked wonderfully. I hope that things remain the same in Malaysia.”

Joan Mir, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 2nd
“This podium is really special for me because I won the Moto3 championship here last year. And to come back to the podium after some not so good moments over the last three races I what I really wanted. I want to thank my team because they help me a lot in both the good and bad moments. Now I want to continue this form in the final two races and fight for the victory. I had strong [pace all weekend by not a fast single lap which penalized me in qualifying but I knew I had something extra for the final laps of the race. Now we just need to work on qualifying.”

Xavi Vierge, Dynavolt Intact GP: 3rd
“I felt very good in the first laps and I tried to stay in front in all laps because in the race at this track you can be first on the straight and then sixth in first corner. Every time riders passed me and then I tried to pass again. It's a pity because when I had the touch with Lecuona, I needed to push really hard not to go too wide  and off the track. That's when I started to get problems with the rear tire in the left corners. I had a lot of spin and for that reason in the last part, I lost too much time. Anyway, I think we still made a good job. The last laps were crazy. Everybody tried to pass and we touched a lot but finally we achieved a podium.”

Moto3

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Del Conca Gresini Moto3: 2nd
“It was a tough race and honestly speaking at the beginning I wasn't thinking about the podium, given the crash in Japan and the tumble on Friday. I was feeling good physically speaking, but not 100 percent. After making my way through the field and finding myself towards the front, I had to give it a go. This is a great podium finish that forces us to give our very best in the next two races and see what happens. We will be charged up heading to Malaysia: we will exploit our potential there as it's a track I love; fitness condition will be crucial and I think I'll be ready for it.”

Tatsuki Suzuki, Sic58 Squadra Corse: 4th
“I was well placed on the final lap but saw Jorge Martin and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) touch each other in front of me at Turn 10, so I had to close the throttle. That's why I lost ground on ‛Diggia' and Albert Arenas just ahead in the final two turns. It's a pity I missed out on the podium, but anyway, starting the race from 24th on the grid and finishing 4th was not so bad. I failed to get a good grid position here and Motegi, which cost me a lot in the race, so I have to improve it in Sepang. I believe I can do it because now I have good momentum.”

Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Moto3: 5th
“What a crazy race! Honestly I think we did what we could: I wasn't feeling good on the bike and I think we did something wrong with gearing. In any case we were able to be among the leading protagonists and now we hope to fix some issues before Malaysia, especially under braking. Sepang is a track I really love and one where I've always been strong: we will have our first match point there but we'll keep focusing on winning the race and then we'll see.”

Results

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2018
Round 17: AustraliaRace

MotoGP Class

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
2 Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
4 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Ducati Team)
5 Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
6 Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
7 Jack MILLER (Alma Pramac Racing)
8 Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
9 Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
10 Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
11 Karel ABRAHAM (Angel Nieto Team)
12 Danilo PETRUCCI (Alma Pramac Racing)
13 Scott REDDING (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
14 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)
15 Xavier SIMEON (Reale Avintia Racing)
16 Thomas LUTHI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
17 Jordi TORRES (Reale Avintia Racing)
18 Mike JONES (Angel Nieto Team)
RT Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
RT Hafizh SYAHRIN (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
RT Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
RT Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
RT Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)

Moto2 Class

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2 Joan MIR (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
3 Xavi VIERGE (Dynavolt Intact GP)
4 Augusto FERNANDEZ (Pons HP40)
5 Luca MARINI (SKY Racing Team VR46)
6 Dominique AEGERTER (Kiefer Racing)
7 Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
8 Jesko RAFFIN (SAG Team)
9 Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)
10 Fabio QUARTARARO (MB Conveyors - Speed Up)
11 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
12 Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)
13 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
14 Sam LOWES (Swiss Innovative Investors)
15 Edgar PONS (MB Conveyors - Speed Up)
16 Khairul Idham PAWI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
17 Steven ODENDAAL (NTS RW Racing GP)
18 Joe ROBERTS (NTS RW Racing GP)
19 Simone CORSI (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)
20 Andrea LOCATELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)
21 Bryan STARING (Tech 3 Racing)
22 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Pons HP40)
RT Xavi CARDELUS (Marinelli Snipers Team)
RT Remy GARDNER (Tech 3 Racing)
RT Jorge NAVARRO (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)
RT Iker LECUONA (Swiss Innovative Investors)
RT Federico FULIGNI (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)
RT Jules DANILO (Nashi Argan SAG Team)
RT Isaac VIÑALES (Forward Racing Team)
RT Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)

Moto3 Class

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Albert ARENAS (Angel Nieto Team Moto3)
2 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)
3 Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46)
4 Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
5 Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)
6 Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
7 Adam NORRODIN (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
8 Enea BASTIANINI (Leopard Racing)
9 Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox PruestelGP)
10 Ayumu SASAKI (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
11 Alonso LOPEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
12 Darryn BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
13 Andrea MIGNO (Angel Nieto Team Moto3)
14 John MCPHEE (CIP - Green Power)
15 Philipp OETTL (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing)
16 Yari MONTELLA (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
17 Stefano NEPA (CIP - Green Power)
18 Nakarin ATIRATPHUVAPAT (Honda Team Asia)
19 Kaito TOBA (Honda Team Asia)
20 Vicente PEREZ (Reale Avintia Academy 77)
RT Tony ARBOLINO (Marinelli Snipers Team)
RT Dennis FOGGIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)
RT Marcos RAMIREZ (Bester Capital Dubai)
RT Jaume MASIA (Bester Capital Dubai)
RT Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Leopard Racing)
RT Marco BEZZECCHI (Redox PruestelGP)
RT Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Skull Rider)

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