Features 13 Oct 2022

Rewind: Australian MotoGP 2019

Reflecting on the most recent GP contested at Phillip Island.

As the MotoGP World Championship makes its long-awaited return to Phillip Island, we Rewind and reflect on the last time the GP paddock visited the iconic 4.445km circuit three years ago.

It was the reigning MotoGP world champion at the time Marc Marquez who captured the 2019 Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in a thrilling affair that eventuated in home hero Jack Miller standing on the podium in third.

Repsol Honda’s Marquez was relentless in his pursuit of pole-setter Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), who led much of the 27-lap duration prior to a final lap attack from the eight-time world champion into turn one.

With rain looming, Vinales attempted to counter-attack in the run from Lukey Heights down into turn 10, but lost grip on his factory YZR-M1 and crashed out in spectacular fashion. That enabled Marquez to go and eclipse Mick Doohan as Honda’s best-ever on 55 MotoGP wins, plus allowed Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Miller to climb positions into second and third places respectively.

It was Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) who holeshot and led the opening three laps in his 400th grand prix appearance. Meanwhile, contact between Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) saw them both out of the race at Southern Loop on lap one.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammates Andrea Iannone – a shock leader at one point – and Aleix Espargaro featured inside the top five during the early laps, but it was Vinales and Marquez who were steadily moving forward. Vinales took the lead into turn four with 18 laps to run, with Marquez also slicing through on Crutchlow by turn nine.

Marquez was patient in his strategy, but once he hit the lead he pushed at 100 per cent, able to force Vinales into the mistake that enabled him to go on and win by 11.413s on soft tyres – his fifth win in succession – from Crutchlow and Miller.

Behind the leading trio came impressive rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing Ducati), who almost pipped teammate Miller across the line, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also strong for a top-five result. The top 10 was completed by Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Rossi, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Espargaro.

Finishing 11th was Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), comfortably ahead of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who in turn edged out former teammate Johann Zarco (LCR Honda), while Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing Ducati) and Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech3) in the points. The final finisher was Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) following another puzzling ride in P16.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder and Jorge Martin were unmatched in Moto2 on their way to a 1-2 result during the 2019 Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Binder kept his title hopes alive in a race that saw world championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) cross the line in eighth position – 33 points now the difference with two races remaining.

While South African Binder overcame the challenge of teammate Martin by 1.968s, veteran Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) rounded out the podium finishers to sit second in the standings. Pole-setter Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) was fourth, ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (FLEXBOX HP 40).

Australian ace Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) put forward a strong effort for a sixth-place at home. He was followed by MotoGP-bound Iker Lecuona (American Racing), Marquez, Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward Racing) and second of the SAG Team entries, Tetsuta Nagashima, in 10th.

Drama struck Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Marco Bezzechi (Red Bull KTM Tech3) on the opening lap when both crashed out, courtesy of an error made by Lecuona into turn four. He also ran wide and was later dealt with a long lap penalty on his way to salvaging P7.

Image: Russell Colvin.

In Moto3, Italian rising star Lorenzo Dalla Porta was crowned world champion after edging to a deserved victory in a frantic race.

The Leopard Racing rider became the first Italian to win the title since Andrea Dovizioso in 2004, topping today’s race over teammate Marcos Ramirez and Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) after title rival Aaron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing KTM) crashed out early.

With in excess of 10 bikes battling in the front group throughout the 23-lap affair, Dalla Porta crossed the finish only 0.077s ahead of Ramirez and 0.088s from Arenas in third. No less than six riders met the chequered flag within a second, including Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda) and a gritty Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power KTM).

Positions seven through 10 in the race featured Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda), Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power KTM), Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Honda) and Stefano Napa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77 KTM).

Wildcard Yanni Shaw (Double Six Motor Sport KTM) was a non-finisher after entering the pit-lane on lap four, while New Zealand teammate Rogan Chandler was the final finisher, a lap down on Dalla Porta in 19th position.