Australian GP: Miller wins at home in thrilling weekend
After a long and eventful Moto3 race, Australia has its new favorite. Local hero Jack Miller has won his home Grand Prix in front of more than 77.000 people, who probably collectively became fans. No wonder, since the farewell of Casey Stoner in 2012, the aussies are waiting for a new, australian top rider. It seems that Miller is the one they were looking for.
The KTM factory rider started eighth position, but with the possible world title in mind, made his way up as fast as possible. His main opponent Álex Márquez instantly took the lead in front of his teammate Alex Rins, so Miller had to catch up quickly.
Through the first laps of the race, the leadership changed countless times. The leading group included eleven riders, with Márquez, Rins, Miller and Efren Vazquez up front and Danny Kent, Romano Fenati, Brad Binder, Isaac Viñales, John McPhee, Juanfran Guevara and Alexis Masbou following behind. After a contact and the resulting crash between Guevara and Viñales, the group shrank to nine riders.
The race was marked by fast overtakings, that mostly costed a rider several places at once, or, the other way around, made it possible to pass more than one opponent with a single maneuver. Partly this meant, that up to four or even five riders raced next to each other, all trying to outdo the others.
Althrough the younger Márquez tried his best to stay up front, he made a mistake and fell back to fifth place, with his rival Miller leading. The aussie had an advantage when it came to breaking, especially in the tight „Honda Hairpin“ passage, but on the finish line, the higher topspeed of the Hondas showed.
Nevertheless the local hero managed to ride a perfect last lap, never giving his by now again pursuer Márquez the slightest chance for an overtaking. With 0,029 seconds ahead of Márquez, Miller crossed the finish line first. Alex Rins completed the podium, with Efren Vazquez, John McPhee and Alexis Masbou behind him.
Due to a contact in the „Honda Hairpin“, Danny Kent and Brad Binder fell out of the leading group, which made it easier for Miguel Oliveira, Jakub Kornfeil, Niklas Ajo and Niccolò Antonelli to complete the Top Ten. Also Romano Fenati crashed out of race after a contact with Efren Vazquez. Luckily every rider remaind without further injuries.
After this enormous success for the australian fans followed the Moto2 race. Esteve „Tito“ Rabat had a good chance to already become world champion this weekend. If he had won and his teammate Kallio only made it to fourth place or worse, he would have achieved his goal.
The spaniard started well, but unfortunately went straight into the „Honda Hairpin“ and fell back to sixth position. His teammate Kallio jumped on that chance and took the lead in front of Maverick Viñales and a surprising Sam Lowes. But Rabat didn’t hold back and after passing Johann Zarco and Tom Lüthi, who completed the leading group, made it to the top again.
Unfortunately the Kalex rider made the same mistake twice again, always struggling while going through the Hairpin, but made up the lost positions to fight in the Top Three.
While Rabat fell back, the lead changed several times. Every rider in the leading group, except for Lowes and Zarco, had taken the lead throughout the race, but finally it was Maverick Viñales, who could prevail.
The Moto2 rookie leaded a strong race and once again showed, why Suzuki decided to sign him for their new MotoGP team, along with Aleix Espargaró.
After a little fight with Rabat, Viñales managed to free himself from his fellow countrymen and while Rabat lost his second place to Lüthi, Viñales crossed the finish line as the winner of the Australian Grand Prix.
Behind Lüthi and Kallio, alongsideViñales, on the podium, followed Mika Kallio and fourth and Sam Lowes in fifth position. Sandro Cortese, Marcel Schrötter, Dominique Aegerter, Xavier Simeon and Jordi Torres completed the Top Ten. Besides Zarco, also Mattia Pasini, Hafizh Syahrin, Thitipong Warokorn and Ratthapark Wilairot ended the race earlier, without a rider being hurt.
This series of crashes continued in the MotoGP race.
Polesetter Marc Márquez lost two places at the beginning to Yamaha factory rider Jorge Lorenzo and Tech3 rider Bradley Smith, who had started as fourth. Through it didn’t take long, until the two time MotoGP world champion passed first Smith, than Lorenzo and successfully tried to free himself.
Behind him, the fight continued, since Valentino Rossi appeared on the scene. The „Doctor“ went into the race as eighth, but due to a good start, he quickly caught up with Lorenzo. After a thrilling back and forth between the two teammates, Rossi prevailed and tried to follow Márquez, who by now was two seconds ahead of the field.
Behind them, Cal Crutchlow made his way up, passing one opponent after the other. The Ducati rider looked strong throughout all training sessions and continued to prove it. Unfortunately he crashed while being second at the end of the race. Crutchlow’s second place was due to the crash of leader Márquez, who lost the front wheel and wasn’t able to rejoin the race again and a slow pace from Jorge Lorenzo, who had chosen the wrong tire and therefor couldn’t go for 100 percent.
This made Rossi first, with his teammate and Bradley Smith following him. The rest of the field was pretty much decimating itself. Pedrosa, who had struggled since friday, had to give up due to a technical problem on his RC213V Honda while riding in ninth place. Same goes for local hero Broc Parkes, who had similar issues earlier in the race.
With even less laps, Karel Abraham also trashed his open Honda. Tech3 pilot Pol Espargaró crashed at the very end of the race and leaving his good, fourth place to Andrea Dovizioso. His brother Aleix Espargaró was hit by Stefan Bradl, who overtook someone on the inside. Espargaró couldn’t evade and while the german crashed out right after the contact, the spaniard had to give up, since the rear end of his open Yamaha was demolished.
Pramac Ducati rider Andrea Iannone was just as unlucky, but was, compared to Espargaró, responsible for the crash himself.
All this made the Top Ten a little different to the previous ones this season. With Rossi, Lorenzo and Smith on the podium, it was the first all-Yamaha podium since Le Mans in 2008. They were followed by Andrea Dovizioso in fourth, Héctor Barberá in fifth and Álvaro Bautista in sixth place. The Top Ten was completed by Scott Redding, Hiroshi Aoyama, Alex de Angelis and Nicky Hayden.
The MotoGP circus’ penultimate stop is the Sepang International Circuit next friday. After the Malaysian Grand Prix, the paddock gets together one last time at the season finale in Valencia, Spain.