The downpour that headlined the warm-up sessions stopped just in time to give the Phillip Island breeze a chance to dry the soaking circuit. With damp patches still on track, most of the riders had opted for slick tyres even before Race Direction declared it a dry race. While sunshine did grace the podium and shone over the newly crowned world champion, the race result ended up being decided by another sudden rain shower after fifteen laps of the race were completed.
Joan Mir leaves Australia with a trophy for his ninth win of the season and with his name being engraved on the world championship trophy back in Valencia. The Spaniard got to share his celebrations with teammate Livio Loi in second position and poleman Jorge Martin in third.
Martin had good start to hold the lead once the lights went off but Romano Fenati had a dream start to mingle in the top three straight away. Juanfran Guevara was determined to get into the lead soon after and he brought his teammate with him. By the end of lap two, the usual suspects were in the top seven, with Gabriel Rodrigo leading Guevara, Fenati, Mir, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Martin and Aron Canet. The chasers were only a couple of tenths behind the leaders, with the top 13 riders separated by less than 2 seconds in the early stages of the race.
Fenati snuck into the lead by lap four, while his rivals were fighting it off in his slipstream. Just as the podium contenders seemed to reduce following Di Giannantonio’s fast crash in turn two, swiftly followed by Aron Canet in turn four, the big group behind decided to join the party with the likes of Marco Bezzecchi, Marcos Ramirez, Loi and Enea Bastianini.
The championship leader was in the lead by lap six, while Fenati was pushed back to the end of the top ten. As the faith of the world championship was starting to look clearer, rain flags started to wave due to spots of rain and the crashes continued. The weather behaved a bit longer but three laps later the situation was turned on its head, not entirely unusual for the lightweight class, as Fenati jumped into the lead with Mir down to ninth. Mir and Martin were the only two riders who had managed to keep upright on the hard rear tyre and they took a cautious stance at the bottom of the lead group.
Guevara further reduced the contenders as he crashed out on lap ten, with Ramirez snatching the lead very briefly, before sliding out in turn one following contact with Martin. Meanwhile, Mir got himself out of trouble and picked up the lead position once again, with seven other riders remaining in the lead group: Bastianini, Rodrigo, Loi, Martin, Fenati, Ayumu Sasaki and Adam Norrodin. Mir wisely stretched a gap of half a second with nine laps to go while lots of fairing rubbing took place behind him.
Loi proved to be a faithful wingman, the Belgian getting himself into second position without causing much trouble for his teammate. Mir’s gap at the front kept reducing but the Spaniard held station as the rain flag had another outing with seven laps to go. The race was promptly red flagged at the start of the next lap and the result was declared after fifteen laps, Joan Mir being named winner and world champion in the pouring rain. Mir took his ninth victory of the season, which made it 10 career wins in 35 races in the class for the Spanish junior and added the first Honda lightweight win at the circuit in over a decade.
Loi’s loyalty was repaid with a second place in the final results, the other Leopard rider crossing the line only eight thousandths of a second ahead of Martin, who completed the podium positions after failing to turn yet another pole into victory. Rodrigo had to settle for fourth, with Bastianini fifth and Fenati seeing his title hopes ended in sixth position.
Sasaki and Norrodin completed the lead group in seventh and eighth places after both riders started outside of the top fifteen on the grid, with Tatsuki Suzuki and Lorenzo Dalla Porta filling in the top ten over three seconds down the road.
That result sealed one of the championships with two rounds to go and Fenati’s second place looks secure, with Canet having a safe gap to Martin as well.
|10||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Mahindra||+4.005|
|22||70||Tom TOPARIS||KTM||1 Lap|
|23||58||Juanfran GUEVARA||KTM||1 Lap|
|24||40||Darryn BINDER||KTM||3 Laps|
|44||Aron CANET||Honda||5 Laps|
|4||Patrik PULKKINEN||Peugeot||6 Laps|
|12||Marco BEZZECCHI||Mahindra||8 Laps|
|95||Jules DANILO||Honda||10 Laps|
|21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||11 Laps|
|23||Niccolò ANTONELLI||KTM||14 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|17||John MCPHEE||Honda||0 Lap|