2016 Phillip Island MotoGP Race: Turn Four Turns Fortuitous

Cal Crutchlow won his second MotoGP race of the season (and career) in dominant fashion after Marc Marquez crashed out of the lead at the Phillip Island track on Sunday. Crutchlow grabbed the front for good with 18 laps remaining when the reigning World Champion lowsided on tricky Turn 4 while holding a sizeable lead.

Valentino Rossi, who started 15th on the grid after his worst qualifying session in five years, seized a distant second after slicing through the field but lacking the speed to close the gap on the eventual race winner. Maverick Vinales, who also began on the fifth row with Rossi, took a hard-fought third place after a race-long battle with Aleix Espargaro (who crashed with five laps remaining) and Andrea Dovizioso (4th).

Crutchlow's impressive win -- he led by more than six seconds at one point -- moved him into sixth in the world championship with two races remaining. 

Pol Espargaro, who started second on the grid, finished fifth, nearly six seconds in front of Jorge Lorenzo (6th) who qualified in 12th. Scott Redding survived a fierce, race-long, mid-pack, five-rider battle to take seventh just in front of Bradley Smith (8th), Danilo Petrucci (9th) and Jack Miller (10th). Replacement rider and former World Champion Nickey Hayden also was in the thick of the battle but went down late in the race after a collision with Miller. He crashed and remounted to finish 17th.

The race began with a surprising holeshot by Pol Espargaro who charged into the first corner and led by three bike lengths. But newly crowned 2016 champion Marquez began closing the gap immediately and seized the lead at Turn 4. By the end of the first lap, Marquez had a half-second gap to Pol Espargaro in second and Cal Crutchlow in third.

At the back of the pack, Rossi and Vinales wasted little time in starting their charge. With 25 laps to go, Rossi had moved into 10th. A lap later, he had pushed into seventh. At the front, Crutchlow took second from Pol Espargaro only to lose it briefly to Aleix Espargaro who was still in the lead group. Marquez, however, was out front and running laps nearly a second faster than the other riders. He began to open a lead.

Now in sixth, Rossi began matching Marquez's pace and with 21 laps to go, he set what was at the time the fastest lap of the contest. He passed Pol Espargaro and closed on Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso. With 18 laps to go, Rossi passed Dovizioso for third place. At the front, both Marquez and Crutchlow began running laps in the 1'29s. But Marquez pushed too hard in the same corner where he took the race lead and the front end folded. His Repsol Honda cartwheeled through the gravel and out of the race -- the second time in three years he has crashed out of the lead at the Australian track.

Now in first, Crutchlow maintained his torrid pace. Rossi, charging in second, set his sights on Crutchlow. Right away, he took a tenth out of his lead.

And then Crutchlow dropped the hammer.

With 17 laps to go, Crutchlow opened a gap of 1.8 seconds. Four laps later, the gap had grown to 2.8 seconds. Two laps after that, it was 4 seconds. Having no response, Rossi settled into protecting second place, maintaining his two-second gap to the three-rider fight for third. Vinales, Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro swapped positions. Then with five laps to go and with Vinales hot on his tail, Aleix Espargaro crashed, handing his Suzuki teammate third place.

Result:

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time / Diff. 
1 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 40'48.543
2 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 4.218
3 25 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki 5.309
4 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 9.157
5 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 14.299
6 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 20.125
7 45 Scott REDDING Ducati 28.369
8 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 28.781
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 28.792
10 43 Jack MILLER Honda 28.815
11 6 Stefan BRADL Aprilia 31.809
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia 47.734
13 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 47.749
14 50 Eugene LAVERTY Ducati 54.311
15 7 Mike JONES Ducati 55.875
16 53 Tito RABAT Honda +1'06.395
17 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda +1'22.604
Not Classified      
  8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 3 Laps
  41 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki 5 Laps
  93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 18 Laps
  76 Loris BAZ Ducati 0 Lap
         

 

Round Number: 
16
2016
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Comments

Not an overly exciting race but entertaining none the less.  Well done to Crutchlow, a straight-out fast dry weather win to add to his well judged / lucky wet/dry tyre gamble win in Brno.  Outstanding, he's really shown some form in the latter part of the season.

And how about Mike Jones?  I know I'm an Aussie and therefore biased, but he kept a cool head, didn't toss it away, scored a point, damn near beat Laverty, and was only 8 sec from 12th place at race end.  Talk about rising to the occasion.

Lin Jarvis must be a very happy man to see Vinales performing so well on that Suzuki. He's getting the next best thing next year. And very happy for Cal. Isn't he the only satellite team rider to win two races in a year in a long time? Well, Willow has sure brought him some much needed luck.

PI never disappoints eh :D

...Maverick Vinales also noted that third was great but that it was also important to beat Jorge too. Jarvis made a very smart move with Vinales. If he proves to be what everyone thinks he is, he's going to be the solution for Yamaha for a long while -- or at least until they sign Nicolo Bulega ;)

I'm pretty sure Lin will be pretty happy that Vinales will be joining the team next year. No more troubles with Lorenzo not finding confidence with the Michelins. In the beginning it was just when it was wet, but lately he's starting to have more and more problems in the dry as well.

Ducati on the other hand will not be so pleased with Lorenzo's performance. You can expect from anyone having some adjustment difficulties when the rules change, but Lorenzo is sure taking his time and it's not like things are improving... they're getting worse. Not sure if Lorenzo will be able to keep his 1st rider status for a very long time.

Read the roundup. Yes, they lose their concessions, but no, Davide wouldn't have.

So at the last race neither factory Yamaha scored points. Now in Australia neither Repsol Honda screes points. It seems the race for the team championship is on again. Especially with Aoyama riding in place of Pedrosa in Malaysia.