Stunning first win for the Austrian factory, and a first win for Portugal in the intermediate class
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was in a class of his own in the Australian GP, taking victory by three seconds – the gap having been as high as six – and crossing the line to take KTM’s first win in Moto2.
The history making continued in second, as teammate Brad Binder took his first ever podium in the intermediate class as his rookie year gains traction following a tough, injury-hit start to the season.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took third and protected his title hopes, making good gains in the standings on key rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten), who had a tough day to come home tenth.
MotoGP 2017 – Round 16 – Phillip Island
Off the line it was Oliveira who took the holeshot, with polesitter Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) losing out and Binder moving up into second. Morbidelli slotted into third, with Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) moving into fourth. Lüthi got a good start and shot up into sixth, moving around the outside as he attempted to get in the fight at the front.
The pack then started to shuffle, and a crash for Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) collected Pasini and sent Aegerter wide – as Oliveira started pulling away at the front. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered a big moment, and Lüthi began to struggle – as the top trio of Oliveira, Binder and Morbidelli found themselves in clear air. Oliveira had an advantage of six seconds with seven laps to go.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was the rider on the charge mid-race, moving up and then into podium contention before passing both Binder and Morbidelli. The South African and the Italian exchanged some tough passes and spectacular moves, before then the rain flag came out near the end of the race and Nakagami slid out ahead of the duo. Oliveira crossed the line almost three seconds clear, with Binder setting the fastest lap on the penultimate lap to take second and Morbidelli a safe third.
Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) put in an impressive performance for fourth, ahead of another top ride from Motegi podium finisher Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing). Alex Marquez recovered from his moment early in the race to pull clear of a number of riders and take sixth, ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Aegerter, a solid ride from Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Lüthi.
Axel Pons (RW Racing GP), Francesco Bagnaia and teammate Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) – despite dislocating his shoulder on Saturday – and home hero Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) completed the points. The point scoring finish now marks Gardner’s seventh points position finish of the season.
The advantage is now 29 points for Morbidelli at the top, giving him his first shot at the title at Sepang International Circuit, which is up next.
Miguel Oliveira – P1
“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 has been 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 – P2
“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 on the bike. Early in the race I tried to do my best and I was up there with Miguel (Oliveira), but he had a very good pace and didn’t make any mistakes. Then I started fighting with Franco (Morbidelli) 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.”
Aki Ajo – KTM Team Manager Moto2
“After the excellent race today, the first thing I want to do is to thank the riders, KTM, Red Bull, all our partners and the team, because we are very happy to be part of a great project like this year after year. It was an unforgettable race, with Miguel (Oliveira) dominant at all times and setting a steady pace that allowed him to escape, and with Brad (Binder) showing his great evolution and getting a very hard fought and deserved podium. These results are the reward for the great work done throughout the season by all parties involved.”
Franco Morbidelli – P3
“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 Brad Binder. When Takaaki 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.”
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