News 21 Oct 2023

Zarco breaks through with thrilling Phillip Island MotoGP win

Prima Pramac Racing's Martin drops back on last lap with soft.

Image: Supplied.

In a thrilling Australian MotoGP race that went right down to the wire, Johann Zarco emerged with his first-ever premier-class win while Jorge Martin dropped from P1 to fifth on the final lap as he struggled with a soft tyre choice at Phillip Island.

From pole and equipped with the soft rear tyre, Martin launched to the early lead, with Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory) making a fast start from the third row to fourth, before making his way past Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) into turn 10 for third

By the end of lap two, Martin had a half-a-second lead ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), with Bagnaia third and 1.499s back from the leading duo. A move from Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing) on Miller into turn four pushed the latter back to sixth, behind Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Tea), before Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) relegated the Australian briefly back to seventh.

Di Giannantonio soon past Bagnaia and began to stretch out an advantage in P3, while Martin continued to increase his lead out front and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) relegated Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) back to P8 on lap five.

Approaching the halfway point, Martin’s advantage at the front was 3.5s, as Binder began to drop back into the clutches of Di Giannantonio, plus Bagnaia and Zarco who clawed their way towards the number 49. Additionally, Miller passed Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Espargaro to regain P6.

In the podium battle, Binder responded in the laps that followed, with both himself and the number 49 building a one-second buffer ahead of Bagnaia and Zarco, as Di Giannantonio moved by Binder for second into turn one soon after.

With five laps to go, Martin’s lead ahead of the Gresini Racing rider was 2.5s, with Di Giannantonio still holding second ahead of Binder, Zarco and Bagnaia in tow.

The advantage of Martin continued to come down as he lost grip, with Binder taking back second and leading the charge towards the number 89 with four to go, and 1.3 entering the last two laps.

Zarco made an aggressive move on Binder into turn four on the penultimate circuit, with the gap to Martin just 0.4s on the final lap. Zarco wasted no time to strike, making his move on the final lap into turn four, with Bagnaia making his way through Martin at Miller Corner also.

From there Zarco remained at the front of the field, leading Bagnaia across the line with Di Giannantonio able to make his way up to third to secure his first MotoGP podium. Binder also passed Martin on the last lap, with the Spaniard dropping to take the checkers in fifth.

Leading what was the second group to take the checkers, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) delivered a gritty performance to take P6, ahead of Miller, Espargaro, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing) and Ducati Lenovo Team’s Enea Bastianini inside the top 10.

Other riders who opted for the soft rear, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) dropped back to 15th, while Pol Espargaro (GasGas Factory Racing Tech3) crossed the line in P17.

Non-finishers were Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) and Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Factory Racing Tech3), both ultimately coming down at turn four in separate incidents.

Thanks to finishing second while Martin was fifth, Bagnaia now holds an increased championship lead of 27 points ahead of the sprint race that will take place tomorrow, in line with the schedule changes due to the inclement weather forecast.

Detailed results