2019 Phillip Island MotoGP Race Result: A Moto3 After School Special

After leaving the spotlight to on-track battles for the two opening races, the weather wanted some attention back ahead of the premier class race. Although sun was still reflecting on shiny fairings, the thermometer was not feeling too generous and the radar promised rainfall at some point over the 27 laps. Once rain tyres were scrubbed in, last minute tyre gambles made and lights went off, what unfolded was a show of Moto3 proportions. Some rain did eventually come, with a few drops literally raining on Marc Marquez’s parade as he celebrated yet another thrilling last lap victory to become the most successful Honda rider in history. Yamaha came into the race as the dominating force but left only with heartbreak, handing Honda another trophy with Cal Crutchlow making a comeback to the podium in second place. The shoey also made an unexpected comeback on home soil, Jack Miller getting a surprise podium in his lucky special leathers.

It was an interesting start to say the least, poleman Maverick Viñales and Marquez making a meal of it off the line and allowing Valentino Rossi to sweep past the lot of them into Doohan Corner. Front row starter Fabio Quartararo was still finding his feet after he gambled on the hard rear tyre and was struck, quite literally, by bad luck when Danilo Petrucci catapulted himself into the Frenchman, who was already running wide at turn two. Once the waters settled up front, Rossi gifted himself the lead of the race for his 400th – not birthday but grand prix start – and was showing the way to the unlikely duo of Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone. Marquez was just on the back of them with Viñales clawing his way back from sixth and trying to find a way past Aleix Espargaro by the end of lap one.

On lap three, Marquez and Iannone gave us the first flashbacks to 2015, the two swapping paint like the good old days. Meanwhile, Crutchlow grabbed the lead from Rossi into turn one and an opportunistic Iannone took advantage, the Aprilia finding itself in the lead by the end of lap four, through a familiar move in turn 10 – although the drag to the line was fatal to the Aprilia and the Honda resumed control. Rossi did not even get time to be surprised by his compatriot’s achievement as he was getting attacked by Marquez, in another nod to 2015 and Viñales was soon demoting his teammate for fourth place. Yamaha’s veteran got another Aprilia-shaped surprise when Aleix Espargaro pulled off an overtake on lap five and Rossi continued to go backwards, falling victim to Alex Rins soon after. Andrea Dovizioso was not making much noise early on but was hunting down Rossi for seventh place by lap seven.

Crutchlow was still in control of proceedings but had Marquez on his tail and an equally eager Iannone still hanging on and giving the world champion timely reminders of that. Viñales took a good few laps to find a way around the Aprilia at turn four, to be finally reunited with his fellow front row starter in provisional podium positions. Iannone and teammate Espargaro kept close, with Rins, Rossi, Dovizioso and Miller still in the lead group.

On lap nine, Viñales and his famously low heart rate arrived at Lukey Heights ahead of Marquez and the Yamaha rider was reeling in Crutchlow by Honda Corner, finding himself back in the lead for the first time since the lights went off on the grid. Marquez wasted no time in very closely brushing his fellow Honda rider’s side through turn 6 in an attempt to keep up with Viñales’s ominous pace. By lap 12, the top three of Viñales, Marquez and Crutchlow were setting a hot pace that shook off Iannone by one second but it was Rins taking over the pursuit soon after. The chasing pack also included Rossi, Dovizioso, Aleix Espargaro and Miller but the two Aprilias’ 15 minutes of glory seemed to have worn off.

The next few laps leading to the halfway mark of the race seemed like the calm before the storm, with the leaders keeping quiet as ever darker clouds were gathering. Slowly but steady, Viñales and Marquez were stretching away from Crutchlow, two seconds ahead with 12 laps left and the British rider four seconds ahead of Rossi in turn. The Italian was leading the pursuit but that group kept growing, with Pecco Bagnaia and Joan Mir mixing it up with the big boys. Bagnaia even got the honour of picking up his boss at turn four with nine laps to go, as the Ducatis were finding late pace to lead the chase. Dovizioso and Miller were the next victims of Bagnaia’s speed, the rookie fourth just one lap later, while Rossi kept yoyo-ing up and down that sizeable group.

Back at the front, Viñales and Marquez were still going strong on the soft rear tyre with six laps left, five seconds ahead of Crutchlow on the hard rear. The soft seemed like a much riskier choice for Marquez than for Viñales, who had killer pace on that combination in practice, but the Honda man did have the slight advantage of the hard front in the closing stages of the race. The world champion seemed to be sitting up on the straights and biding his time for a typical late attack. It wasn’t just Marquez waiting to pounce but also the rain, a threatening sight greeting the grid with every passing lap. Some way down the road, Dovizioso had reclaimed the advantage in the battle for fourth but Miller was not making it easy for him, just ahead of the rookie battle royale between Bagnaia and Mir.

Marquez eventually made his one and only well practiced attack into turn one at the start of the final lap and ran a tight defensive line everywhere that it mattered. Disaster struck when Viñales dramatically lost the rear out of Lukey Heights while lining up a move and flew into the gravel trap at MG corner. Marquez was lucky not to be collected by gravity as it was claiming the Yamaha machine and crossed the finish line with an 11 seconds advantage that did little to reflect the entertainment level of the race. Crutchlow inherited second but perhaps even happier than the victor was Miller, who unexpectedly claimed the final podium spot on home soil. The rookie tussle ended with Bagnaia in fourth but Mir was hardly a loser in fifth, ahead of a fantastic Iannone in sixth. Dovizioso was the first real disappointment, the Italian only seventh, ahead of a fading Rossi. Rins and Aleix Espargaro completed the top ten, with a notable mention to Johann Zarco in a dignified 13th place on his first outing for Honda.

Marquez’s brilliant run of victories brings the Spaniard only one point behind Ducati in the teams’ title, while Dovizioso wrapped up second place in the riders’ championship. Then it is either Rins or Viñales who are more likely to iron their dress pants for the gala, the two separated by 7 points, but with Petrucci and Quartararo not too far behind either.

Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 40'43.729
2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +11.413
3 43 Jack MILLER Ducati +14.499
4 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati +14.554
5 36 Joan MIR Suzuki +14.817
6 29 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia +15.280
7 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +15.294
8 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +15.841
9 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +16.032
10 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +16.590
11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha +24.145
12 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +26.654
13 5 Johann ZARCO Honda +26.758
14 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +44.912
15 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM +44.968
16 99 Jorge LORENZO Honda +1'06.045
    Not Classified    
  12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1 Lap
  82 Mika KALLIO KTM 3 Laps
  53 Tito RABAT Ducati 24 Laps
    Not Finished 1st Lap    
  20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 0 Lap
  9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 0 Lap
Round Number: 
17
2019
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Comments

Wow! Action aplenty.

Marc Marquez is the man.

Great to see Valentino leading. Good to see Andrea Iannone leading as well, is it contract renewal time already?

So pleased to see Cal on the podium after last years awful crash & very nasty injury.

Almost everybody was happy to see Jack Miller score a podium, despite the circumstances. Well Mav wasn't best pleased nor was Lyn Jarvis.

Good result for Johann Zarco, his first ride on the Honda.

Three good races & some rain. Happy days.

Jeremy Burgess popped in as an after dinner speaker today. Among some interesting information J. B. told us that Valentino's contract gives Rossi the power to decide if & when he finishes racing at the very highest level. Jeremy said Yamaha is happy for Vale to continue racing as long as V.R. 46 wants to & he will have a factory bike for the rest of his career. No surprise really, but good to hear it from someone who knows. Go the Crows!

Since it was Petrux body, not bike that took out Fabio, I wonder if it was Pedrosa flinging himself againt the rear of Fabio's bike if Fabio would have stayed up???

Might not have been very stylish, but being flung off the bike fast enough to catch the bike in front, and then take it out... full marks for effort.

Miller got lucky not once but twice on the last lap. Gifted a place by Mav going down (which was a sad end to a great race by him), also previously picked up a place when Dovi had a moment and ran wide on the last lap. But credit to Miller for doing a better job looking after his tires than he did last race, and having enough pace and grip to be in the right place at the right time.

Lucky, but........  he had worked his way to the front of that group at the end of the race, Dovi had only just passed him into turn one and pushed too hard into turn two and gave it all up.

Lucky with Mav for sure though.... but in the end Miller had a pretty strong race.  Thought he might have made a mistake with the hard tyre, but it worked out well in the end.

What a ride by Marquez. The weekend had Vinales written all over it until about 3 laps from the finish. Credit to Maverick though, an ever so slightly less determined racer would have settled for the 20 points and given himself a shot at runner up in the title chase. Impressive ride to say the least. Its almost as if Marc wanted to pip Doohan's 54 in Aus. Anyway, that box is firmly ticked in an era where anyone of four manufacturers and close to ten riders can win on any given weekend. Another great ride from Crutchlow. Happy Jack and good on him for the podium. Dovi's last lap mistake cost him dearly but did not cost him anything in the final analysis. It was good to see Aprilia in the mix up to the halfway mark and Zarco seems to have got to grips with the Honda quicker than was expected. Lorenzo ? I wonder what will happen between him and HRC post season finale. Petrux is another with much on his mind, I'm sure. If one discounts Marquez, KTM are still about 10 to 15 seconds back from the rest with the RC16. That must be hurting them a bit. Philip Island is a track which tests most everything from bike to electronics to tyres and above all, the tool between the pegs and the bars. A thoroughly enjoyable day of racing.

Just watched AI29 beat VR46 and AD04 on an Aprilia.....over race distance....

Can someone explain why we are not all talking about this?

Someone give this guy an RC213V.

In that race I was really looking forward this summary, and you did a fantastic job Zara. I particularly enjoyed the line about Vinales and his famously low heart rate, though I fear it may have been somewhat elevated on that last lap!

So many fascinating surprises in this race.

One that was not surprising is how yet again Marquez made his own best chances to win.
The moment Vinales hit the front and threatened to break away, Marquez nailed the hard pass on Crutchlow that allowed him to grab Vinales' coat tails. If Marquez was not so ruthless and had spent one or two laps getting past Crutchlow the last lap could have been different as Vinales had the better speed most of the weekend and could have been safely clear.

Completely agree with the above comment from @Rick650.  MM93 made his chances today.  Even in the post race interview, he said the fastest rider doesn't always win.  It reminded me of CS27 and VR46 in Laguna - 08, I think - where CS27 was clearly the faster rider and had been all weekend.  VR46 harrassed him into a mistake and won the race.

Kudos to Vinales as well.  He could've just accepted second place and not went for it, but I'm glad he did.  FQ20 is laying a challenge for the top Yamaha, and Mav needs some more that disposition.