Features 22 Oct 2023

Racefeed: 2023 MotoGP Rd16 Phillip Island

Direct updates from 16th round of the season in Australia.

Follow the 2023 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix with direct MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 updates from round 16 of the season at Phillip Island through Racefeed.

Image: Supplied.

MotoGP Australian GP race: 

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 Sunday, in line with the schedule changes due to the inclement weather forecast.

Moto3 race: 

A late move from Deniz Oncu denied Ayumu Sasaki the race win and championship lead, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider splashing to success at Phillip Island while Joel Kelso scored his first-ever Moto3 World Championship podium. From pole in the tricky wet and windy conditions, Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) grabbed the holeshot, followed closely by home-hero Joel Kelso (CFMoto Pruestel GP). However, it didn’t take Leopard Racing’s Adrian Fernandez long to reach the lead from ninth on the grid and start to stretch the field out with his pace at the front, and after the first three laps he held a one-second advantage in front of Sasaki, Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kelso, Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Mario Aji – the Honda Team Asia rider making rapid progress from 24th on the grid. In the stages that followed, Oncu moved into second, with Kelso also passing Sasaki for third with the gap to Fernandez remaining at one-second. By the lap nine mark, Oncu, Kelso and Sasaki had bridged the gap to Fernandez out front, with Veijer still in contention and roughly eight-tenths back from his teammate, who made a move on the number 66 into turn one the following time round, with Kelso swiftly responding at turn two. With eight to go, Sasaki took Kelso again into turn one, as Veijer continued to drop back from the leading group of four. Notably, the top-five had over 20 seconds of advantage ahead of the second group, led by Taiyo Furisato (Honda Team Asia) at this point. The following lap saw Oncu save a near highside out of turn four, allowing Sasaki by as Kelso charged past the Turkish rider soon after into third, with Fernandez out front capitalising on the mistakes by the number 53 to stretch his advantage back out to a second, before disaster stuck and he crashed out of the lead at turn 11. Five to go, and Sasaki led Kelso and Oncu in a leading group of three, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider taking the Australian into turn one the next time round. Kelso ran slightly wide into turn 10 that lap, dropping back from the leading two as Oncu edged towards Sasaki. A last-lap lunge from Oncu into turn 10 proved decisive, and he was able to ride on to win the Australian Moto3 World Championship race, ahead of Sasaki with Kelso scoring a popular home podium in third – his best result yet in the category. Veijer finished a distant fourth, as Fernandez remounted and finished fifth ahead of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Riccardo Rossi. Taking the checkers in P7 was Furisato, leading championship leader Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing), as Matteo Bartelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Lorenzo Fellon (CIP Green Power) completed the top 10.

Moto2 race:

A weather-induced red-flag saw the Moto2 World Championship race at Phillip Island brought to a premature end, with Tony Arbolino mastering the tricky conditions to take what was a dominant victory with half points awarded. Pons Wegow Los40’s Aron Canet launched to the early lead, however, last year’s winner Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) took to the front before he crashed out at turn four on the opening lap. Amidst the early drama, Canet’s teammate Garcia grabbed P1, before crashing out of the lead on the third time round at The Hayshed, with Filip Salac (Gresini Racing) also falling out of podium contention. Adding to the early drama, Jake Dixon (GasGas Aspar) fell out of fourth at turn two on the next lap, with Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) holding a 12-second lead at the front on lap five ahead of pole-setter Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp), ahead of Canet in third. Championship leader Pedro Acosta made his way up to P10 by this point, having to start the race from the back of the grid after falling at turn four on the sighting lap. With 15 laps to go, Canet took Aldeguer for second around the outside at Miller Corner, while Arbolino’s gap at the front extended to 15s, as the red flag came soon after due to the weather conditions and the race was ultimately declared. Crucially two-thirds of the race distance is not complete, meaning half points are awarded. Behind the top three of Arbolino, Canet and Aldeguer, Jeremy Alcoba (QJMotor Gresini Moto2) and Joe Roberts (Iltrans Racing Team) featured inside the top fice. Positions P6 to 10 were Izan Guevara (Inde GasGas Aspar Team), Somkiat Chantra (Honda Team Asia), Bo Bendsneyder (Petramina Mandalika SAG Team), Acosta and Marcos Ramirez (OnlyFans American Racing) . Acosta now leads the world championship ahead of Arbolino by 56 points, with four races in the 2023 season to go.

MotoGP sprint race:

Cancelled due to extreme weather conditions.