In a massive boost to both Yamaha and Maverick Vinales, the young rider took a dominant win in the 2018 Australian MotoGP Grand Prix at Phillip Island, ending the team’s 25-race winless streak in the premier class. Vinales took a comfortable win over Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone, by a margin of 1.5s, while runner-up contender Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati finished third. Fresh off his championship victory celebrations at Motegi last week, Marc Marquez of Honda had a nasty crash with Johann Zarco at almost 300 kmph. Fortunately, both riders escaped the incident unhurt.
(Maverick Vinales took his first win since Le Mans last year and Yamaha’s first in 490 days)
While both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales have been on the podium several times now this and the last season, a win eluded Yamaha for a long time now. The Australian GP turned out to be the first win for the team this season as, and also its first since Assen last year. Vinales started second on the grid behind Marquez as the starting pack grew closer and closer. Danilo Petrucci of Pramac Racing had the best start of the lot from P8 and was quick to take the lead into Turn 1, but was quickly passed by teammate Jack Miller as the former ran off into Turn 2.
At the end of the opening lap, Miller was in the lead followed by Iannone and Marquez. By the second lap though, the Honda champion was up into the lead with Dovizioso slotting into P2 followed by Iannone and Miller. With the riders swapping positions of each other, the lead pack grew tighter with less scope for error.
(Zarco made contact with Marquez losing control at nearly 300 kmph)
That’s when disaster struck on Lap 6 when Zarco and Marquez came in a bit to close to each other. Zarco’s front tyre came in contact with Marquez’s rear tyre under the hard braking zone at Turn 1 causing the Frenchman to lose control at nearly 300 kmph. The Tech3 bike swiped Marquez with it as well damaging the Honda too. The newly announced champion was forced to retire from the race, but thankfully neither riders suffered any injuries.
Meanwhile, Vinales was in top form and was quick to break away from the rest of the field to take the lead on Lap 6, while Valentino Rossi filtered to P2 behind his teammate. There was no looking back for Vinales from this point with a margin of a second over Rossi. The latter though couldn’t hold on to the position and was soon passed by Iannone, Alvaro Bautista, who has been filling up for Lorenzo at Ducati and Dovizioso.
(Vinales jumped into the lead from Lap 6 and held on to the position till the end of the race)
Iannone seemed to have a podium finish this weekend, but ran wide at Turn 4 with 15 laps to go, dropping to P5. This allowed Dovizioso and Bautista to move with Rossi on their tail. Iannone, meanwhile, managed to recover back in the lead pack as the Ducatis squabbled against the Yamaha with 11 laps to go. Vinales though, was clear of the field by over 4s, and just needed to manage his position well to bring his first win home since Le Mans last year.
With the final laps underway, the Andreas from Ducati and Suzuki managed to break away from the pack in a fight for P2. With four laps to go, Iannone was briefly running at Vinales for the to spot, but soon dropped to third as Dovi showed more consistent pace taking P2.
(Vinales, Dovizioso and Iannone finished on the podium)
Alvaro Bautista finished fourth onboard the Ducati, in a career best finish, followed by Suzuki’s Alex Rins, Rossi and Miller. Marc VDS Honda rider Franco Morbidelli secured a season best P8, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro taking ninth and Bradley Smith of KTM finishing at P10.
Apart from Marquez and Zarco, Dani Pedrosa was another casualty of the race crashing at midway point at Turn 4. This resulted in a miserable show for Honda at Phillip Island.
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