Riders rate Phillip Island MotoGP a winner

The identity of this year’s MotoGP World Champion may be uncertain, but what is crystal-clear is that the world’s premier riders rate the Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix as one of the sport’s best events.

With just one month to go before this year’s Australian leg of the 18-round championship, the likes Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez can’t wait to unleash their 1000cc machines at one of the sport’s most revered circuits as the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Rossi, who won at Phillip Island for five consecutive years from 2000 – 2005, says the coastal circuit “is more or less a favourite of all the riders.”

“It is something special compared to the others,” the seven-time MotoGP World Champion said. “It’s very fast and it’s always a great feeling to ride a motorbike there.”

Lorenzo, who finished behind race-winner Casey Stoner last year to seal his second MotoGP world title, concurs with his Yamaha team-mate.

“Phillip Island is a very special track… when you go into the first corner and do a lap you realise how different it is,” he said.

“It’s really narrow, really fast, and the landscape is wonderful. It’s great to ride, especially when the weather is perfect.”

With Stoner retiring from MotoGP at the end of last season, this year’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will hail a new King of the Island. Stoner has won at his home circuit for the past six years running.

Might Marquez, who inherited Stoner’s ride at the Repsol Honda team, be the man to take the crown? Marquez, who is on track to become the first rookie in 35 years to win the premier class title, has finished on the podium in the junior World Championship categories for the past three years, sealing his Moto2 title in Australia 12 months ago.

“Phillip Island is one of the most special tracks in the championship – when you have the best set-up and you are fast, you enjoy it a lot,” Marquez said.

“I won the title there in Moto2 so I will always have special memories about Phillip Island. It’s a fast circuit, and with MotoGP, in the beginning it will be hard.”

American Nicky Hayden, who holds the lap record at Phillip Island, said the circuit has “everything you want as a rider” and “you need a whole lot of guts to ride it.”

“The racing is normally pretty good because the riders stick together and the slipstreaming is real important,” the 2006 World Champion said.

“I grew up watching races there and now I get to ride there, so that’s a sweet part of my job. It’s one of the better tracks we go to, if not the best of all.”

Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, who will take over from Hayden at Ducati next season, finished third to Stoner and Lorenzo in Australia last year, one of his most memorable results.

“The best moment about it was sharing the podium with two greats,” the British rider said.

“You had one (Lorenzo) who was the World Champion and two (Stoner) that just absolutely dominated the Grand Prix.”

“I’m excited to go back. It seems you guys have got a little Union Jack on your flag as well. The fans seem to take to me well there, so it’s nice.”

The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will be run at Phillip Island from October 18-20.  For bookings or more information visit www.motogp.com.au or call 1800 100 030.

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