MotoGP 2019 Phillip Island

The Australian Grand Prix with Boris

Now that was one crazy sumbitch of a race, huh? Thank you, Phillip Island. You’ve delivered yet again. It’s no wonder the racers hold you in awe.

Wind Phillip Island CRW
Severe winds saw qualifying cancelled – Image by Colin Rosewarne

But of course, when the Island delivers, it sometimes also removes. Like when appalling winds removed what remained of Free Practice on Saturday. First the winds removed Jack Miller’s pit board from the hands of one of his crew and blew it onto the main straight.

MotoGP Phillip Island Pit Board Pramac
A wayward Pramac Ducati pit-board interrupted proceedings shortly after FP3 got underway at Phillip Island

Then they removed Oliveira at the end of the main straight and deposited him the gravel.

It all got kinda desperate after that and a stop-work meeting was called which saw the riders troop into one of the sheds out the back where it was decided they would call it a day.

Three things happened after the meeting.

Paolo Simoncelli had a wee meltdown and questioned why the smaller classes weren’t important enough to also stop practicing.

The fluffer classes (ie. All those dedicated ASBK blokes, which was not that many, who turned up to have a points-free race on the MotoGP undercard) had all their races cancelled. This is what happens when millions of dollars are at stake.

And finally, Jack Miller was the only rider who wanted to carry on, shrugging his shoulders and saying people should just ride to the conditions.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP FP Maverick VIÑALES
Maverick Vinales topped every single session over the Phillip Island MotoGP weekend ahead of the race. FP1, FP2, FP3, FP4, Warm up, Qualifying…

Anyway, FP4 and Qualifying resumed early Sunday morning, and come race time, Maverick Vinales looked to be the man to beat. He sat on pole, followed by Fabulous, Marquez, and a resurgent Rossi. Petrucci was next, and Crutchlow finished up the second row.

Miller was all the way back in ninth behind Iannone, who was probably wondering why everyone was riding so slowly.

When the lights went out I virtually soiled myself.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Start Rossi
Valentino Rossi led the field on lap one at the Australian Grand Prix

Rossi, the old warhorse, sling-shotted his way around the outside of everyone and sailed into the lead into Southern Loop. By all that I hold holy, which is not all that much, was The Doctor going to win his 400th Grand Prix?

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Rossi Leads
Valentino Rossi leads the Australian Grand Prix

Well, no. He kinda went backwards after that, but Phillip Island delivered a thrillingly crazy race which even saw Iannone lead at one stage. Clearly, the Maniac had been inspired to greater efforts by his near-death experience with a kangaroo on Friday, and was feeling somewhat immortal.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone leads the Australian Grand Prix

Fabulous was swamped at the start and was running wide a bit into Turn Two, which upset Petrucci, who high-sided himself into the back of Fabulous’s bike, and they both went down. Quartararo may need to add an extra crutch to his single unit next week.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Quartararo QP Stick
Fabio Quartararo qualified on the front row despite a big crash on Friday

Vinales was all business. He is clearly in a late purple patch this season, and probably shopping himself around a bit for 2021. He eventually hammered his way into the lead, followed closely by Marquez and a confused Crutchlow, who also led for a few laps. Rossi sat around in fourth for a while, but eventually faded and finished eighth. I had stopped yelling by that stage.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Vinales Rossi
Maverick Vinales quickly worked his way into the lead

Miller was hard on the heels of Crutchlow and probably wondering what the hell Peco Bagnaia was doing so close to him. And then in front of him. It took a bit of effort for Jack to get past Peco.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Miller Bagnaia Dovi
Jack Miller had his rookie team-mate Pecco Bagnaia all over his six at one point in the Australian Grand Prix

Jack later said that Bagnaia’s riding style very much suited the Island, and he expects a strong performance from him at Sepang as well.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Bagnaia Dovi Miller
Bagnaia ahead of Dovizioso and Miller at Phillip Island

As the race entered its final stages, Marquez was shadowing Maverick, and it all started to get a bit déjà vu.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Vinales Marquez T
Maverick Vinales leading from Marc Marquez

Marquez passed him and on the final lap, Maverick decided that would just not stand.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP Race Maverick Crash
Phillip Island MotoGP 2019 – Image by Rob Mott

He tucked in behind the world champion and as they arced over Lukey Heights and prepared to drop into MG, Vinales set himself up to come down the inside of Marquez at the bottom of the hill.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP Race Maverick Crash
Phillip Island MotoGP 2019 – Image by Rob Mott

Except his tyre had another idea altogether and the gladiator went down, gifting Marquez the victory, Crutchlow second and Jack third.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP Race Maverick VINALES
Phillip Island MotoGP 2019 – Image by Rob Mott

I think it’s debatable Vinales would have won even if he’d made the pass into MG stick. Had he succeeded there, Marquez could well have sat on his rear wheel, slipstreamed him through Turn 12 and onto the straight and then pipped him over the line. As it was, Vinales’s Hail Mary effort was heroically praiseworthy. The championship may be won, but the racing sure ain’t done.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP Podium Marc MARQUEZ Jack Miller Cal Crutchlow
2019 Phillip Island MotoGP Race results
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 40’43.729
2 – Cal Crutchlow* (GBR – Honda) +11.413
3 – Jack Miller* (AUS – Ducati) +14.499

Another strong point of interest on the weekend was Zarco and how he would do on the Honda. Not that great, as it turned out. He even apologised to his team, but Honda really had no expectations of the Frenchman. HRC has promised him nothing, and he finished 13th, ahead of Abraham and Syahrin.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Zarco LCR Honda Lukey
Johann Zarco on the LCR Honda at Phillip Island

And ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, who came stone motherless last, 66-seconds behind the winner.

MotoGP Phillip Island Australia Race Lorenzo Syahrin
Jorge Lorenzo at Phillip Island

My sources tell me Jorge will be parting company with Honda very shortly, and the announcement will probably be made either at Sepang or Valencia. For the past month, it’s been a weird kind of stand-off. Jorge wants out, some say, but he will not break his contract. Honda wants him gone, but doesn’t want to pay him out or admit it got it wrong hiring him in the first place.

MotoGP Motegi Honda Lorenzo Puig
Lorenzo on the grid with the evil Puig at Motegi the week before…

Puig probably stays awake at night wondering how he can get rid of him. I understand it has reached critical mass, and we may well not see Number 99 next year. Which, quite frankly, is a great shame. A five-time world champion to leave in such ignominy is rather heart-breaking. But then, MotoGP is a very cruel sport.

MotoGP Australia Phillip Island RbMotoLens MotoGP FP Pits Jorge LORENZO
Jorge Lorenzo at Phillip Island – Image by Rob Mott

Next week, it is Sepang’s turn to host the circus. This is Petronas country. Fabulous will want to impress here, and it’s a cinch Maverick hasn’t finished showing off.

MotoGP Rnd Thailand QP Vinales Quartararo
Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo

I reckon it will be a cracker.

MotoGP Results/Standings


 

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 40m43.729
2 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +11.413
3 Jack MILLER Ducati +14.499
4 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati +14.554
5 Joan MIR Suzuki +14.817
6 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia +15.280
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +15.294
8 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +15.841
9 Alex RINS Suzuki +16.032
10 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +16.590
11 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha +24.145
12 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +26.654
13 Johann ZARCO Honda +26.758
14 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +44.912
15 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM +44.968
16 Jorge LORENZO Honda +01m6.045
Not Classified
DNF Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1 Lap
DNF Mika KALLIO KTM 3 Laps
DNF Tito RABAT Ducati 24 Laps
Not Finished 1st Lap
DNF Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 0 Lap
DNF Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 0 Lap
Pos Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 375
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 240
3 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 183
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 176
5 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 169
6 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha FRA 163
7 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 153
8 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 141
9 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 133
10 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha ITA 105
11 Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 89
12 Joan MIR Suzuki SPA 77
13 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 74
14 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 53
15 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati ITA 50
16 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia ITA 43
17 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM POR 33
18 Johann ZARCO Honda FRA 30
19 Jorge LORENZO Honda SPA 23
20 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 18
21 Stefan BRADL Honda GER 16
22 Michele PIRRO Ducati ITA 9
23 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM MAL 8
24 Sylvain GUINTOLI Suzuki FRA 7
25 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 7
26 Mika KALLIO KTM FIN 2
Fabio Quartararo Scorpion x

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