Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez Wins Classic Phillip Island Battle to Extend MotoGP Points Lead
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) scored one of the most important victories of his stellar career at Phillip Island. The reigning MotoGP World Champion used all his skill and bravery to escape a multi-rider battle at the front and cross the line 1.799 seconds ahead of his pursuers to extend his series lead to 33 points with two of 18 races to go.
The fight was so close that Marquez finished the race with his leathers scuffed with rubber from rivals’ tyres and the seat unit of his RC213V cracked after another rider made contact. The first seven past the checkered flag were covered by 5.619 seconds, with local hero Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) coming home in seventh, just 24 days after breaking his right leg.
Marquez’s 35th premier-class success puts the 24-year-old just two victories behind the late, great Mike Hailwood, who won 37 500cc GPs for Honda and MV Agusta during the 1960s. It also extends Honda’s advantage in the Constructors World Championship, while the Repsol Honda Team still leads the Teams World Championship.
This was an extra-special day for Honda, with the manufacturer securing its third Moto3 World Championship in four years, thanks to a ninth win from 16 races by brilliant youngster Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW). Honda won its first-ever Grand Prix victory in April 1961 in MotoGP’s smallest class, so this was an historic event. Since 1961 Honda has won 16 riders titles in the 125cc/Moto3 class and 17 Constructors World Championships, including this year’s. Mir’s latest victory was Honda’s 204th in the 125cc/Moto3 category, another record.
With Mir’s and Honda’s Moto3 titles safe, Marquez’s latest win was another step towards winning his fourth MotoGP crown in five seasons, especially with his principal tile rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) finishing 13th. Marquez now knows that finishing either first or second in next Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be enough to secure his sixth world title: four in MotoGP and one each in the Moto2 and 125cc categories.
The Spaniard’s strategy of conserving his Michelin tyres during the opening two-thirds of the race worked perfectly. But this was not an easy race! Marquez spent much of the race in a frantic skirmish with up to seven other riders, during which the leading four or five positions changed several times each lap.
As the race edged toward its conclusion, Marquez made the break. On the 23rd of 27 laps he made his way to the front and posted three super-quick laps to eke out a crucial two-second advantage. Both Marquez and his RC213V excelled through Phillip Island’s dauntingly fast corners, a perfect combination of awesome throttle control and brilliant machine set-up. The result was his sixth win of the year.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) rode to brave fifth place, just three seconds behind Marquez, just hours after a bruising warm-up crash, which left his participation in some doubt. The Briton, who won last year’s Australian Grand Prix, suffered a violent tumble at Siberia corner in the wet morning warm-up session, leaving him with bruised ribs.
Normally one of the more aggressive riders on the grid, Crutchlow bided his time in the first half of the race, expecting to gain positions while the others fought among themselves. However, he used up too much of his rear tyre, leaving him unable to go with the top four in the closing laps.
Crutchlow’s bravery was matched by Miller’s tenacity. The Australian took the early lead from fifth place on the grid to head the pack for the first four laps, to the delight of the home crowd. Showing no real sign of his recent injury – a broken right tibia sustained in a training accident – Miller was a match for the best of them in the first half of the race. Only in the final laps did his pace drop off slightly, when the 22-year-old experienced severe rear tyre wear. All things considered, seventh place was a result to celebrate.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) endured a challenging weekend to finish 12th. The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion struggled to find adequate feeling from his tyres throughout the weekend. On the grid he switched to the soft option rear tyre, but then suffered too much wheelspin through Phillip Island’s long, sweeping bends.
Former Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) just missed out on a championship point after a tight, three-rider fight for 14th. The Spaniard missed out by only a fraction of a second, but took heart from his distance to the race winner: 26 seconds, a gap that underlines the current competitiveness of MotoGP.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) made history in the Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 category with a dominant win. This was his first victory in Moto2, which also makes him the first Portuguese rider to win in the intermediate category. And his success also brought to an end Kalex’s run of 49 Moto2 victories.
It was a typically measured ride from the youngster as he broke clear from team-mate Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) and championship leader Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) to win by almost three seconds. The podium trio escaped from the rest of the pack due to an early collision between front-row starters Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex). Oliveira built a five-second lead, then carefully defended his advantage as drizzle fell in the closing stages.
Last year’s Moto3 champion Binder made it a one-two for his team after recovering from a mid-race lull to post the fastest lap on the penultimate lap to take the runner-up position from Morbidelli.
Silverstone winner Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) recovered from a slow start to sit second with just three laps to go, only for a fall at turn nine.
Binder was delighted with second, and Morbidelli relieved with another podium finish, his tenth of the season. Crucially, the Italian extended his championship lead over Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) to 29 points, after the Swiss rider could only manage tenth place. Luthi crashed heavily in morning warm-up, so he wasn’t in great physical condition.
Morbidelli can wrap up his first World Championship with a win next time out in Malaysia.
Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex) scored his GP best result to date with an excellent ride to fourth, winning a close fight with Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing Tech 3), who scored his second top-five result in succession.
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) recovered from an early scare to take sixth, heading a manic six-rider scrap. Simone Corsi (Speed Up Speed Up) was seventh, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing Suter), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) and a disappointed Luthi.
In Moto3 Mir won a typically frantic Moto3 contest, which was stopped after 15 laps due to a heavy rain shower. With two-thirds of the race run, the result was declared.
This was another convincing display from Mir. Despite seven riders fighting with him throughout, the 20-year-old remained typically composed, running at the front for most of the race. Time and time again he attempted to break clear, repeatedly building an advantage through the twists and turns, only to lose it again as the chasing pack drafted him down the main straight.
Mir stuck to his task and was justly rewarded. He has now won more races in a season than any other Moto3 rider. In the history of the junior class – formerly for 125cc machines – only Valentino Rossi (11), Marc Marquez (10) and Fausto Gresini (10) have won more races in a season.
It was another terrific Moto3 showing by Honda, with NSF250RW machines taking all three podium places. Mir’s team-mate Livio Loi (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was second, 0.351 seconds down, with Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) an excellent third, a fraction of a second behind.
Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) was fifth, while Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW), Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW) and Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW) all followed close behind in a pulsating eight-rider fight. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) in fourth was the only non-Honda rider in the scrap. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) was a solid ninth.
The Australian Grand Prix is the second of three events on consecutive weekends, with the MotoGP circus now heading north to Sepang, just outside Kuala Lumpur, for the Malaysian GP, the penultimate round of the season which ends at Valencia, Spain, on November 12.
Joan Mir, Leopard Racing: 1st and 2017 Moto3 World Champion
“It’s an amazing feeling. It was the perfect season for us. Two years ago I came to the World Championship and I said, ‘wow, these riders are really fast!’ Now, to become World Champion is incredible. It’s incredible when you follow something with all your strength for a lot of years, and then you achieve it. It’s an amazing feeling, something you cannot explain. It’s not just the race; it’s the race, plus the world championship. I hope to continue like this in the future!”
Yoshishige Nomura, President, Honda Racing Corporation
“Joan Mir has steadily notched up wins, leading to this marvelous achievement. I look forward to his further development in Moto2 as a rider, and even more success. I am grateful to the team staff, the many sponsors and fans that have supported him.”
Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 1st
“It was such an amazing race, I think we put on a fantastic show for the fans! I’m very happy, as I knew that today was important. Dovi was struggling a little this weekend, while I was feeling really good on the bike and had to make the best of it. When the race started I was thinking I had to stay calm and manage the tyres, but then Zarco hit me and I realized it was going to be a battle. I was in a group of fighters. I knew I had to push and defend, but also to attack. So I just tried to control the situation and then, with around eight laps to go, I just gave it my all. I pushed really hard for three or four laps and that was it. I’m happy with the win of course, but even more with going to Malaysia with a 33 -point advantage!”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: 5th
“Obviously that was a better race and a better finish than our qualifying. I felt quite good and confident. I was being really patient to be able to try and come towards the podium towards the end of the race. The problem was that after five or six laps there was a small gap to the leaders and I had to push a lot, so I used a lot of the rear tyre in that part of the race. Fifth isn’t bad, considering this morning’s crash. It was a massive crash – one of the biggest high-sides of my career, out of turn six. I was considering with the doctors and my team not being able to ride, because of the shape I was in. It was disappointing not to repeat my win from last year because I think if we’d had a little better weekend we would’ve been up there and more consistent than what we were. But what a great fight and what a great show – I enjoyed it a lot!”
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 7th
“It was great feeling to be leading my home race at Phillip Island but maybe going hard early hurt me later in the race with rear grip, when I had to switch engine maps. It would have been nice to be able to push a bit harder at the end of the race but it was a solid weekend considering my injury. Starting fifth and finishing seventh in front of my home fans, I’m happy with that.”
Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes
Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 1st
“I’m very happy; I just feel happiness. I could not be more grateful for this victory because when it started to rain I struggled a little. I already had a certain advantage and was aware that the distance I had from the pursuing riders had been reduced, which created a little stress. As you can imagine, it was the longest race of my life. I’m very happy with the team and with my first victory in the class, the first for KTM and hopefully not the last.”
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 2nd
“It’s really been great to get on the podium. Throughout the weekend, from the first lap I went out on track, I felt very good, and I just tried to put in as many laps as possible. Early in the race I tried to do my best and I was up there with Miguel, but he had a very good pace and didn’t make any mistakes. Then I started fighting with Franco and with Nakagami, and the race became really tight. On the last few laps I started to feel stronger and in the end I was able to fight. Getting second position makes me very happy. I want to thank the team for all the work they have been doing this season.”
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 3rd
“My target was to get a podium and try to be ahead of Tom Lüthi and score points for the championship and I was pushing hard for this in a long fight with Binder. When Nakagami crashed ahead of me I decided that it was the time to take the points for third. I didn’t know his position but I knew Tom was behind me. It was a very good weekend for me, I achieved what I set out to do. I want to thank the team for all the work they have been doing this season.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
Livio Loi, Leopard Racing: 2nd
“For me the strategy was quite clear. I came from 21st position. I knew I needed to fight my way to the front. In the end the race was great. I could go to the front quite fast. My strategy was to stay at the front. The last race I did in dry conditions was at Silverstone, where I was going for the podium. We were there but I never expected the red flag on the lap before, and I wasn’t in the position for the podium. I learnt from that. In this race I stayed in the first few positions and we got second. Also, I want to congratulate Joan, my team-mate for his World Championship.”
Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3: 3rd
“Today we had the speed for something more, but the red flag prevented us from trying. It is what it is though. I would like to congratulate Joan for the title, he deserves it. I’m happy with this third place in what was such a difficult race with many riders together and I can’t wait to return to the track in order to have another try at the win. We’re getting really close and we still have two races left this year.”
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
Round 16: Australia Race
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|3||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|4||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)|
|6||Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|7||Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|8||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|9||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|10||Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|11||Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|12||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|13||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|14||Karel ABRAHAM (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|15||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Jesko RAFFIN (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|5||Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)|
|6||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|7||Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)|
|8||Dominique AEGERTER (Kiefer Racing)|
|9||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|10||Thomas LUTHI (CarXpert Interwetten)|
|11||Axel PONS (RW Racing GP)|
|12||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|13||Stefano MANZI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|14||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Forward Racing Team)|
|15||Remy GARDNER (Tech 3 Racing)|
|1||Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)|
|2||Livio LOI (Leopard Racing)|
|3||Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|4||Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|5||Enea BASTIANINI (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)|
|7||Ayumu SASAKI (SIC Racing Team)|
|8||Adam NORRODIN (SIC Racing Team)|
|9||Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|10||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Aspar Mahindra Moto3)|
|11||Nicolo BULEGA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|12||Jakub KORNFEIL (Peugeot MC Saxoprint)|
|13||Philipp OETTL (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing)|
|14||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|15||Manuel PAGLIANI (CIP)|