Magnificent Marquez Takes Win Number Five
Credit: Honda World 2015
Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) returned to the top step of the podium in today’s Australian Grand Prix, taking his fifth win of the year in breathtaking style after a race-long four-way fight that commentators described as “the race of the decade.”
Marquez regained the lead with a searing last lap – the fastest of the race – to depose long-time leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) for a second time in the 27-lap thriller, in front of a mesmerized and sun-soaked crowd at the scenic seaside circuit.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) finished fifth, taking control of an equally fierce group in the closing laps, but too far to close up on the leading quartet.
His 50th career victory was sweet for Marquez, who had started from his eighth pole position this year, and was anxious to put his difficulties behind him and demonstrate his trademark race-winning form. Several misadventures earlier this year cost him a third straight title, but the former 125 and Moto2 champion never lost confidence, and his fifth win this season is already one more than points leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), who finished fourth today.
Remarkably, Marquez’s win was despite the fact that he is still carrying his latest injury: a plated broken bone in his left hand from a mountain-bike fall two weeks ago. He rode with a specially padded and reshaped larger left handlebar grip to help ease the pain and weakness. The victory also broke his jinx at the circuit … this wasn’t only his first Phillip Island MotoGP win, it was also the first time he has scored premier-class points at the track.
Pedrosa’s fifth place followed his own triumphant return to victory a week ago at Motegi (also his 50th win), after missing several races earlier in the season for remedial arm-pump surgery. The 30-year-old factory Repsol Honda rider had qualified a strong fourth, but found himself involved with a fierce group in the early laps that meant he lost touch with any chance of a repeat podium finish.
Pedrosa had to work hard to get to the front of the gang, and the points earned for his fighting fifth reinforced his fifth place in the championship – a position he has climbed to after lying 15th after his return from surgery.
Satellite-team Factory rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was seventh after having played a leading role in this pursuit group, making it three Hondas in the top ten. In his first Honda year, it was also his ninth finish in the top seven, with a best of third in Argentina.
Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) finished eleventh on the second Factory-spec Honda. This, matched his qualifying position, but the English rider had to fight his way back from 15th after a bad start.
Rookie Jack Miller (LCR Honda RC213V-RS) was not only again the best of four riders campaigning the Open category Hondas, but top finisher in the lower-spec Open class for the first time. Riding in his home GP, the 20-year-old finished an excellent 15th, his sixth finish in the points in the premier class.
Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) was 19th, while team-mate Nicky Hayden (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) retired with a rare technical issue. Australian Anthony West, taking the place of injury victim Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS), finished 23rd.
All MotoGP riders used the latest asymmetric front tire developed for this circuit by Bridgestone. Last year, an earlier version caused a number of crashes as temperatures plummeted during the race, but design changes made it the tire of choice.
Today’s honors in the Honda-powered Moto2 race went to star rookie Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex). Rins started from pole position, took the lead on the second of 25 laps and won the race by a very comfortable six seconds.
With Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) having withdrawn from the race after a practice crash exacerbated an existing injury, Rins’s second win of his rookie Moto2 season moves him ahead of his Spanish compatriot, into second in the championship.
Second place was disputed between Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing Speed Up) and Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex), each a winner this year. Luthi seemed to have escaped, but slipped off, rejoining to finish 15th and handing 20 valuable points to the Briton.
A similar battle for third was resolved in favor of podium first-timer Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Kalex). He had passed Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex), but the German was poised for a counter-attack when he suddenly slowed then retired, with a rear-wheel puncture.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) prevailed after a long battle with Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) for an eventual fourth. Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) eventually escaped from the next group, leaving newly crowned champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) to a down-beat seventh, only his third time off the podium this year.
Mika Kallio (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) was a close eighth; Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) managed to get back ahead of Randy Krummenacher (JIR Moto2 Kalex) for ninth.
The climax of a thrilling Moto3 race was not only in the very close finish – the first five across the line within less than three tenths of a second – but in an incident on the 14th of 23 laps.
At that point a shuffling pursuit pack was still in touch with the leaders, and fastest qualifier Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was in the thick of it. The Englishman’s last remaining title rival, Italian teenager Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), had also closed up from a lowly 25th on the grid.
Suddenly Motegi winner Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW) touched Kent’s rear wheel. The Italian was pushed off the track, while Kent crashed out and Bastianini was brought down in the melee. Antonelli regained the track to finish 17th.
With neither finishing and KTM rider Miguel Oliveira winning the race, this changed the complexion of the championship. Bastianini’s chances are over, but Oliveira now has a numerical chance, lagging 40 points behind Kent with two races, and 50 potential points, remaining.
Even with ranks depleted, there were still two Hondas the top four, with Efren Vazquez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) second and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) fourth.
Alexis Masbou (SaxoPrint RTG Honda NSF250RW) made it another in the top ten, finishing ninth. First-time pole starter John McPhee (SaxoPrint RTG Honda NSF250RW) crashed out of the race.
The next and penultimate round of the 2015 MotoGP series is the Malaysian GP next weekend, at the Sepang circuit outside Kuala Lumpur.
Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow Scott Redding
Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 1st
- “It was a really fun race – certainly one to remember – and it had different phases to it. At the beginning there was a lot of overtaking, then when I passed Jorge it seemed that I was breaking away. However, I overheated the front tire and had to slow my pace. At the end I overtook Iannone and Valentino and I had a great last lap; I don’t know where I pulled that time out from, but it was what made the difference for us! I want to thank all the team, Honda and all the fans. After a difficult season it’s always nice to finish the year with some victories!”
- Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 5th
- “It was a difficult race – they are always tough here – but I’m pretty satisfied with our performance because we had a good pace, even though the final position was not very good because we were so caught up with Crutchlow. I had problems on the last corner; I could not accelerate hard because the bike was moving about, I lost all my acceleration down the straight and other riders were able to overtake me. At the end I was able to ride alone and I set very similar times to those at the front, and that’s positive. Now we will go to Malaysia and try to do better.”
- Cal Crutchlow, LCR: 7th
- “I was looking for the podium and we finished four places behind it and eight seconds away. I’ve been on the podium here ten seconds off the winner. Last year I was four seconds off the winner. It’s just been so close this year. I rode to the limit of our package. I felt we made a good step but it wasn’t big enough. We never had enough rear grip, it’s as simple as that. At the start I tried to fight as best as possible and stay in there until the rear tire dropped. Maverick Viñales couldn’t even believe I finished the race with how much my bike was moving. Obviously I tried to fight for the position but he had a lot more grip. Maverick has ridden fantastic all weekend, but I should probably have been ahead of Dani and in that battle at the front.”
- Scott Redding, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 11th
- “I got a terrible start and the Honda is not an easy bike to get off the line and being as tall I am my weight is higher, so I can’t move my body forward enough to put weight on the front. At the start it was a difficult fight with Bautista because he used the soft rear tire and it gave him an early advantage. Once I did get by I then had a battle with Petrucci and Dovizioso. Once I got in front of them I managed to start catching Bradley, but I’d used too much front tire earlier in the race while fighting through and it dropped off a fair bit. I’m happy with the race though because normally the satellite Yamahas normally drop me, and I was as close to the lead group as I have been all year. We can take some positives into next weekend in Malaysia.”
- Jack Miller, LCR: 15th
- “I’m really happy with today’s result. It’s really good to do something like this in front of the home fans. I’m happy with my performance also. We worked really hard with the bike all weekend and I’ve been trying really hard to change my style a lot this weekend. I believe it’s helped in terms of finding the grip and trying to manage the grip a little bit nicer. What we learnt today will really benefit us in the future. I was more out of the bike because it’s a track where you really need to work with your body. We were really fast throughout the whole race. We managed to conserve the tires and we didn’t do anything too stupid. Also I’m satisfied. Ok, it’s only 15th position but no one crashed: it was one of those races.”
- Eugene Laverty, Aspar Team: 19th
- “A disaster. For three laps we were OK. I really thought then that I could do something. I was getting held up by the guys around me. Then I made a mistake in turn two going wide around Hector Barbera. He was already wide so I got hung out to dry. I lost some places and had to make some back up again. At that point the bike was working really well. I was even looking ahead at Scott Redding and those guys, thinking I could go after them. After three laps the grip disappeared and it stayed that way for the whole race. We started with a higher rear pressure than the other guys. It was a real error on our part.”
- Anthony West, AB Motoracing: 23rd
- “Each time I went on the bike I felt more comfortable. Come the race I expected a bit more but I got held up with Elias in the first laps. He lost the gap to the guys in front of us. I was disappointed not to be able to go with them. Once I lost that tow I don’t have the experience on the bike to get the best out of it. It was difficult in the beginning to go fast. I still feel like I’m not riding the bike at 100 percent. There is so much to learn on these things. The tires really dropped off in the second part of the race. At the end I was having problems with the rear grip, but the front feels awesome. I changed my lines and felt much better. I wish I had done that yesterday. But that’s just the experience.”
- Nicky Hayden, Aspar Team: DNF
- “It was a very disappointing end. The team did a good job. We were better this morning, especially on used tires. I messed up qualifying, but in the race I was able to make up some positions. I was moving up and didn’t do anything spectacular. I had a decent feeling going and I was able to move up to 16th and then we started having an electronics issue. The bike finally stopped. I did break here one time running second which upset me a lot more.”
Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes
- Alex Rins, Paginas Amarillas HP 40: 1st
- “It was a difficult race – staying focused, staying in front, braking at the good points every lap. At the beginning I was a little bit nervous, but I was able to concentrate my mind and to push for my best pace … and finally I got the victory. All weekend we have worked really well, and we feel strong to go to the next race.”
- Sam Lowes, Speed Up Racing: 2nd
- “We changed the gearing a little bit for the race, and the first time we came onto the straight at the end of the first lap and they all came past me, I thought: ‘this is going to be a disaster’. We went a little in the wrong direction – it was quite good for the lap time, but impossible for the straight. In the end Alex had a better pace than me all weekend, so fair play to him. Twenty points is a good outcome for me.”
- Lorenzo Baldassarri, Forward Racing: 3rd
- “My first podium, and the feeling is unbelievable! It was a very good race, and a difficult day. I couldn’t believe when I saw I was third. Then I kept pushing without mistakes, so now I am very happy. Thanks a lot to all my team. They did a great job this weekend.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
Efren Vazquez, Leopard Racing: 2nd
“It was a crazy race but a great battle too, fighting for the podium till the line. It is a hard fought second place finally, so I’m really happy for it. At least we were a bit lucky today, opposite to some other recent races, like in Motegi last week. However, it wasn’t just luck because we worked so hard this weekend. A big thanks to my mechanics for their job but also to my crew chief, who gave me a really fast bike all weekend long. After this long-waited podium, I already look forward to the last two races where I will continue in the same way like here at Phillip Island and try everything to catch up one or two positions in the championship. I’m sorry for Danny as he missed this big chance today, it wasn’t his fault so he was really unlucky. But I’m confident that we as a whole team will manage to bring home the title next time out.”
Jorge Navarro, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 4th
“Having seen previous races at this track and how the weekend had gone, we knew that today the race was going to be contested amongst a large group. The long straights at this circuit mean that large groups are created. That leads to riders who are usually further back riding at the front. Throughout the race there were a lot of crashes, but luckily I was not involved in any of them. It was a shame that when I was in the lead with three laps to go, I ran slightly wide and lost a second to the group. I managed to catch back up immediately, but by then I had already lost the strong position that I had; I was last in the group and I could not continue climbing. In any case, I think that the experience we gained in the race today is part of the learning process for this year, so I leave Phillip Island happy. I think we’ve done a good job here and we will keep improving.”
Alexis Masbou, SaxoPrint RTG: 9th
“It was scary! Normally when you see the TV it looks crazy but you can manage on the bike. Sometimes in this race it was impossible to manage. There were so many riders that were so fast and the gap between was so small. I’m happy to finish this race, it was not an easy weekend. I scored some points, a top ten finish. We didn’t find any solutions for the braking problems here. I was too slow on the braking points. In the race when you don’t brake late it’s impossible to make a good race, especially in Moto3 because you need to pass on the brakes. Now we focus on Sepang.”
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|3||Andrea IANNONE (Ducati Team)||F|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|6||Maverick VIÑALES (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR MotoGP)||F|
|7||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)||F|
|8||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|9||Aleix ESPARGARO (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR MotoGP)||F|
|10||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|11||Scott REDDING (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)||F|
|12||Danilo PETRUCCI (Pramac Racing)||F|
|13||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|14||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)||F|
|15||Jack MILLER (LCR Honda)||O|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Alex RINS (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|2||Sam LOWES (Speed Up Racing)|
|3||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Forward Racing)|
|4||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|5||Xavier SIMEON (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|6||Luis SALOM (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|7||Johann ZARCO (Ajo Motorsport)|
|8||Mika KALLIO (QMMF Racing Team)|
|9||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|10||Randy KRUMMENACHER (JIR Moto2)|
|11||Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|12||Marcel SCHROTTER (Tech 3)|
|13||Simone CORSI (Forward Racing)|
|14||Ricard CARDUS (JPMoto Malaysia)|
|15||Thomas LUTHI (Derendinger Racing Interwetten)|
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Efren VAZQUEZ (Leopard Racing)|
|3||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|4||Jorge NAVARRO (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|5||Jakub KORNFEIL (Drive M7 SIC)|
|6||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|7||Philipp OETTL (Schedl GP Racing)|
|8||Isaac VIÑALES (RBA Racing Team)|
|9||Alexis MASBOU (SaxoPrint RTG)|
|10||Remy GARDNER (CIP)|
|11||Maria HERRERA (Husqvarna Factory Laglisse)|
|12||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Drive M7 SIC)|
|13||Manuel PAGLIANI (San Carlo Team Italia)|
|14||Karel HANIKA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|15||Jorge MARTIN (MAPFRE Team MAHINDRA)|