Australian MotoGP: Maverick Vinales returns to dominant self in Phillip Island Masterclass

Maverick Vinales took his and Yamaha’s first race win of the season at the stunning Phillip Island circuit.

It wasn’t a good start from the eventual winner as the Spaniard dropped from 2nd on the grid to barely inside the top 10, meanwhile from 9th on the grid Danilo Petrucci made a lightning start passing everyone into Doohan corner but as they tipped into turn 2 Petrucci lost the rear and was forced to sit up and take his GP18 to the grass.

This meant that the 2018 World Champion Marc Marquez was in behind homeboy Jack Miller who leads the charge at the end of the first lap. Marquez then slipstreamed Miller into turn 1 to put his RC213V into the lead.

Eventually, the top 9 broke away leaving all 9 riders to scrap it out for the win. As usual, Phillip Island throws up an incredible race and this was another classic battle on the Island with Dovi, Rossi, Iannone, Marquez, Miller, Zarco, Rins. Bautista and Vinales all swapping positions for the remaining 20 laps.

 

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Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

Johann Zarco made a poor start from the front row and was left to fight his way back through the field making bold moves on Valentino Rossi and Alex Rins at the Hayshed before disaster struck at turn 1 a few laps later. Zarco was slipstreaming the Champion who was slipstreaming local hero, Zarco pulled out of the slipstream to just put his M1 alongside Marquez’s Honda but the 7x World Champion moved over to the left catching Zarco’s front tyre sending him over the handlebars at 180+mph damaging Marquez’s suspension whilst severely damaging his hard rear tyre forcing him to retire from the race in the process. This means that 2014, 2016 and 2018 Marquez scores 0 points after taking the crown in Japan in all 3 of these years.

Marc Marquez wasn’t the only Honda to go down in the race after his teammate Dani Pedrosa crashed out at Honda Hairpin from a huge scrap with Morbidelli, Aleix Espargaro, Redding, Simeon and Nakagaami. With both Marquez and Pedrosa retiring from the race, it means no Constructors title would be won for Honda in Phillip Island.

 

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Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

Meanwhile back at the front Maverick Vinales had snuck into the lead with his “suffering” teammate Valentino Rossi behind making it a Yamaha 1-2 and the Spaniard opened up the gap to over 3 seconds as Iannone, Dovizioso, Bautista and Rins all thought the Doctor for 2nd.

Bautista was first to make the move on the ‘goat’ followed by Iannone and Dovizioso as the trio then broke away from the helpless 46 Yamaha. This meant that on his debut in red on the GP18, Alvaro Bautista was in a chance of taking his first podium since Le Mans 2014 but he had to fight both Andrea’s for it who were looking to bounce back strong after their crashes in Japan.

 

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Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

Andrea Iannone made some hard moves as he put his Suzuki up into 2nd position and started closing down Maverick Vinales who with only 5 laps remaining was focussing on bringing the M1 home. This left the two Ducati’s to fight it out for the final podium spot with current 2018 runner-up Dovizioso eventually getting the better of his one-off teammate Alvaro Bautista who settled for the 4th position he said he would finish in Cal Crutchlow’s social media question at the pre-event press conference.

With Vinales, Iannone and Dovizioso completing the podium and Alvaro Bautista coming home in 4th, all eyes were on the two blue bikes as Rins made the move on Valentino Rossi for 5th on the last lap at turn 10 relegating the Italian to 6th where he eventually crossed the line.

Aussie Jack Miller had to settle for 7th position at home but he was the top independent rider meaning he could go to parc ferme to celebrate with his home fans after the race.

Franco Morbidelli extends his lead over Hafizh Syahrin who crashed out of the Australian Grand Prix as the pair fight for the rookie of the year award, Morbidelli came home in 8th with Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith completing the top 10.

 

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Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

On his debut on the GP17 Karel Abraham missed out on the top 10 with Petrucci just behind who recovered from his lap 1 excursion. Petrucci was ahead of Redding, Nakagaami and Xavier Simeon who gets his first MotoGP point.

Tom Luthi came home in 16th ahead of the two replacement riders Jordi Torres and Mike Jones.

With Ducati coming home in 3rd and 4th they now close to within 39 points of Honda with 50 remaining.

For Full Race Results click here. For full championship standings click here.

Featured Image Credit: MotoGP.com

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