Phillip Island Australia sees itself playing host to the megastars of the motor bike racing world, for round 16 of the MotoGP, with people coming from all over the world for this event. The island becomes a massive party destination during the event with fans and motorbikes as far as the eye can see. With mixed weather conditions forecast for the 3 days, it was going to be a bit of everything for this event. Rain, sun, cloud and wind…… sounds like a typical day in Melbourne. But as always, the MotoGP is far from typical.
Friday saw the weather with sunny patches and a slight breeze which was great for the mornings first session. It was Aprilias Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) that went quickest on Day 1 of the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, mastering Phillip Island in FP2 to head the timesheets ahead of reigning champion and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). With only 0.005 seconds splitting the two men, Marquez’ key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in third and still within a tenth. Saturdays qualifying was a mixed bag with the weather. It would rain for 5 minutes, then stop, then start again, constantly changing throughout the morning. Riders in the Moto 2 and 3 classes endured wet weather for both practise and qualifying sessions. In the afternoon the weather had held off during qualifying for the MotoGP class.
It was Marc Marquez who ended up taking the pole position at Phillip Island, as the reigning Champion waited till the final lap to stamp his authority, pushing Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) to 2nd and 3rd position joining Marquez on the front row. Andrea Dovizioso was unable to find the pace and qualified in P11.
Race day and the weather Gods delivered the sunshine. It was go time! On lap 1 Australian, Jack Miller ended up taking the lead with the Aussie fans going nuts seeing him leading the pack over the start/finish line. But after a couple of laps he was hunted down and slowly overtaken. The racing was intense. Marquez vs Rossi, Zarco vs Rossi, Viñales vs Marquez, Iannone vs Zarco… this quickly shaped into being one of the most aggressive and hard-fought battles of the season. It was the battle between Marquez, Rossi and Viñales that had everybody up off their seats. The trio battled the entire race, constantly changing positions. Marquez slowly pulled out to enough of a margin to hold on and take his 6th win of the season, Rossi taking 2nd and Viñales 3rd. Andrea Dovizioso managed to finish in 13th which seriously hurt his championship contentions with only a couple of rounds left and now 33 points behind Marquez. Once again the island did not disappoint.
“I had marks on my leathers and bike, but I was aggressive too!” quoted Marc Marquez about his scrapes with some real close and hard fought battles.
“If you want to play the game, it’s like this. If not, you should stay at home.” Rossi said when asked about the pace of the current riders and dangers of pushing too hard and taking too many risks.
With riders now looking to the next round at Sepang, its down to the championship end of the season. Also maybe the crowning of a champion as well. Soon enough we will know. Enjoy some more pics below.