Jorge Lorenzo has won the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island with Dani Pedrosa claiming a valuable second place in a race that was shortened twice and run in a flurry of rule changes, black flags, penalties, and pit-lane mayhem in the first-ever grand prix with a compulsory mid-race change of motorcycle.
Lorenzo’s team-mate, Valentino Rossi delivered a solid performance to finish third.
Jorge Lorenzo: I’m really happy with this win, we’ve also been lucky because Marc made this mistake. Without that he would have been second or first because he was really fast today. So we’ve been lucky but we were unlucky in the middle of the championship so today is a balance. When I was entering the first corner Marc was exiting the pit at exactly the same time, the situation was almost impossible to avoid. I was braking a little later to open the line and I don’t think he was looking so much entering the corner so it was both our fault.
“Now we have options, if Marc keeps constant on the podium then it is impossible to win the championship but there are a lot of laps to go so anything could happen.”
Dani Pedrosa: Today’s race was very stressful -above all before the start, as the rules were being changed every five minutes. Everything was turned on its head and it was very difficult to adapt first time, without making any mistakes. Marc made mistakes and I did too. Everything was going so fast and it was confusing for both the riders and the mechanics. We had to be clear about which lap to enter the pits, as it wasn’t obvious which was lap nine and which was lap ten.
“The two bikes needed to be prepared and the tyres as well, the pit lane was much longer than normal… it was all so strange today. The exit line from the pits wasn’t clear, and neither could you see the entry line very well, so it was all a bit improvised. In my case I was able to rectify my mistake on the track and, although the second bike wasn’t the same for me as the first, I managed to take second in the race and be very competitive.”
Valentino Rossi: “At the end the result was good, I’m so happy to be on the podium here at Phillip Island because it’s always a great pleasure and a great atmosphere. I tried to give the maximum, the race was very thrilling and I enjoyed it very much, especially because with the team we were able to do a very good job in the pit and gain two positions. I had a great battle with Cal, when I understood it was for the podium I tried to give the maximum. In the last half of the lap it started to rain which was very scary but at the end it was ok and a good result. We still need to work and improve to be faster for the next race.”
Unfortunately the 20 year-old Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez, was one of three riders to suffer the black flag penalty, after missing the brief window for the compulsory pit stop.
The race was reduced from 27 to 19 laps on the grounds of safety, with tyre degradation throughout practice having been significantly higher than expected on the newly re-surfaced Phillip Island circuit. Furthermore, all riders would be obliged to pit for bike changes on either the ninth or tenth laps of the race, while also running the harder available compound throughout.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo took the hole-shot from his pole position with the Repsol Honda duo of Marquez and Pedrosa in hot pursuit. The reigning champion gave no quarter but was unable to pull away, the rivals staying within 0.5 of a second as they counted down to the pit stop. This itself turned into a bizarre event with potential consequences for the championship.
Pedrosa decided to pit one lap earlier than the others, to take advantage of a clear pit lane. Unfortunately he suffered a penalty, being later obliged to drop one position on track after he was judged to have run over the pit-lane limit. He served this without losing much time, dropping behind Marquez.
Lorenzo would pit at the end of the tenth tour but, having expected a pit lane duel with Marquez, saw the 20-year-old rookie continue for another lap of the circuit. Marquez then came in at the end of Lap 11, outside the pre-determined window of pitting by Lap 10 at the latest.
In a remarkable twist for the 2013 World Championship battle, Marquez was disqualified as was Australian Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) as the same error had been committed.
Marc Marquez: “Today was our first experience of a Flag-to-Flag race, and suffice to say it wasn’t a good one. My team and I had set out a strategy and we thought that we could come in after lap 10, but in reality this counts as an extra lap. We hadn’t had that in mind and this was a huge mistake. We had everything well planned and I followed the instructions on my pit board. You learn from these things though, so now we have to move on and focus on the race in Japan”
As Marquez rejoined the race from the pits, he escaped a touch with Lorenzo, the latter going on to claim win number six of the season. Pedrosa finished second to maintain his own title aspirations, as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi beat Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista in a thrilling contest for third.
Bradley Smith was sixth for Tech3, having run as high as fourth thanks to a rapid start, while the top ten was rounded out by Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) who ended a race as lead CRT for the first time this year.
Finishing 11th, Aleix Espargaro secured enough points to clinch overall CRT honours for the second year in succession. Danilo Petrucci finished 15th for Came IodaRacing Project, denying a first point for Luca Scassa as the Cardion AB Motoracing rider finished less than one tenth of a second behind.
Aleix Espargaro: “I feel very happy,” says the Catalan, who finished one place behind de Puniet. “Today we got our reward for a year of excellent results. We have always been close to the factory bikes and, with the few points we usually pick up, to win the CRT ‘championship’ with two races to go means that we have done things very well.
“This title is a huge prize for the team and for me. Since I joined the Power Electronics Aspar Team I have never stopped growing as a rider. I have had the best parts and bike around in the CRT class and we have been the complete package.
The MotoGP fight now rages on to Motegi Twin Ring and the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan, with the championship lead having been decreased from 43 to 18 points.
1. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 29m 7.155s
2. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 29m 14.091s
3. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 29m 19.499s
4. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 29m 19.615s
5. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 29m 19.668s
6. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 29m 35.418s
7. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 29m 40.108s
8. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 29m 42.217s
9. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 29m 42.259s
10. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 29m 44.581s
11. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 29m 53.254s
12. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 29m 55.304s
13. Yonny Hernandez COL Ignite Pramac Racing (GP13) 29m 57.066s
14. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 29m 57.153s
15. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 30m 5.873s
16. Luca Scassa ITA Cardion AB Motoracing (ART CRT) 30m 5.946s
17. Claudio Corti ITA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 30m 15.260s
18. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) 30m 34.385s
19. Lukas Pesek CZE Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT)* 30m 38.248s
20. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 29m 33.585s
21. Damian Cudlin AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART CRT)* 30m 52.751s
Bryan Staring AUS Go&Fun Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) DSQ
Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) DSQ
* Standard ECU.
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team 253
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 219
3 Jorge Lorenzo Factory Yamaha Racing 219
4 Valentino Rossi Factory Yamaha Racing 169
5 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 146
6 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 124
7 Alvaro Bautista Go&Fun Honda Gresini 112
8 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Team 104
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 95
10 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 71
11 Aleix Espargaro Power Electronics Aspar 71
12 Michele Pirro Ducati Test Team/Pramac Racing 50
13 Andrea Iannone Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 41
14 Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing 31
15 Hector Barbera Avintia Blusens 27
16 Danilo Petrucci Came IodaRacing 23
17 Randy De Puniet Power Electronics Aspar 20
18 Ben Spies Ignite Pramac Racing 9
19 Yonny Hernandez Paul Bird Motorsport 7
20 Claudio Corti NGM Mobile Forward Racing 7
21 Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia Blusens 6
22 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 5
23 Alex de Angelis Ignite Pramac Racing 5
24 Michael Laverty Paul Bird Motorsport 3
25 Bryan Staring Go&Fun Honda Gresini 2
26 Javier del Amor Avintia Blusens 1