Features 19 Oct 2017

Top 10: Australian GP focal points

All types of topics to watch for at Phillip Island this weekend.

The 2017 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is shaping up as a weekend to remember at Phillip Island this weekend, especially – as usual – from an on-track standpoint. Here are the Top 10 things we at CycleOnline.com.au will be watching for between Friday to Sunday.

Source: Supplied.

1. Marquez vs Dovizioso:
After battling it out for the win in Japan, all eyes will be on the title fight between Repsol Honda’s reigning champion Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in Australia. Just 11 points separates them following DesmoDovi’s win last Sunday, which will make the end of the season even more intriguing from now.

2. Miller’s return:
Last year at Phillip Island Jack Miller rode to a 10th-place finish, which came after a positive weekend that saw him start out of fifth on the grid. This year he’s just three weeks out from breaking his leg and undergoing surgery, so it will be a big ask to replicate that type of form, but he believes he should be able to at this point.

3. Tech3 time for Parkes:
With Jonas Folger back in Germany and unable to race, it makes sense that Broc Parkes has been called into Monster Yamaha Tech3 for his MotoGP comeback. Much of his grand prix experience is within the former CRT ranks, but the fact that he’s tested the M1 with Michelin a couple of years ago will also come in handy.

4. Photo finishes:
The flowing nature of Phillip Island can often lead to the tightest of differences for victory, especially in the lower tiers of Moto2 and Moto3. Whether it be in any of the grand prix categories or even the supports, there will be wheel-to-wheel results to emerge.

5. The Rossi factor:
When Valentino Rossi broke his leg last month there was some concern that he may not be fit for Phillip Island, but he was back by Aragon and has also contested Motegi since, so he’ll be vying for victory number nine at the Island and his first since 2014.

Source: Supplied.

6. Can Cal repeat?:
It’s been a full 12 months since LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow won at Phillip Island last year and, following a miserable time at Motegi, he’d enjoy nothing more than to climb back aboard the podium. His success in 2016 was aided by the crash of Marquez, but you can’t take it away from him – it was a superb result in Australia.

7. Weather conditions:
We hate to say it, but a quick weather search as of now indicates possible showers for the Island during much of the weekend, but as we are all aware, you can never really predict what type of conditions will be experienced down there in Victoria. Fingers crossed there’s a good dose of dry track time had over the weekend and into Sunday.

8. World-class supports:
This year will see some of Australia’s leading talent on-hand for the weekend at Phillip Island contesting the national support categories. At one end of the spectrum will be the action-packed Superbikes, fresh from hosting their final round at the circuit a fortnight ago, as well as the ever-entertaining Supersport 300 development ranks.

9. Gardner goes again:
The Moto2 race will feature a familiar name in the Australian grand prix as Remy Gardner – son of 1987 500GP champion Wayne Gardner – lines up for the second time at home in Moto2. Last year he crashed on the opening lap and retired not long afterwards, so he will be seeking some kind of redemption this time around.

10. Toparis’ wildcard challenge:
We saw Australian Supersport number three Tom Toparis debut in Japan aboard an ex-Kiefer Racing Kalex KTM, but that opportunity to gain valuable mileage and experience was largely spoiled by non-stop rain at Motegi. Be sure to cheer him on track-side the weekend.