For the past 21 years, MotoGP has raced on Australian shores, but not always at Phillip Island, where the current Australian Grand Prixs have occurred.
In 1989 and 1990, Phillip Island hosted the GPs, but for the next six successive years, the races were held at the Eastern Creek Circuit. Then in 1997, MotoGP returned to Phillip Island, where it has remained since.
Home-favorite Casey Stoner will be looking for his fourth consecutive win at Phillip Island this year, but the Ducati Team GP10 rider will have much competition, including the 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo’s Fiat Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi also will be putting up a fight, looking to claim his third win of the 2010 season. Then there’s the return of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who will be looking to keep his second-place position in the championship.
Anything can happen this weekend at Phillip Island, as shown from the history at the track. Below is a summary of the highlights at the previous MotoGP races held at Phillip Island.
1989/Phillip Island – The home crowd had lots to cheer in the first ever Australian Grand Prix, with Wayne Gardner (Honda) taking the 500cc victory by less than half a second from Wayne Rainey after a race long battle. Sito Pons (Honda) won the 250cc race on the way to his second world title and Alex Criville (JJ Cobas) scored his first ever Grand Prix win in the 125cc race.
1990/Phillip Island – Another victory for Wayne Gardner, this time after a tremendous battle with fellow Australian and team-mate, Mick Doohan, with less than one second separating them at the end of the race. Gardner had ridden for most of the race with his fairing dragging on the tarmac, after breaking a bracket with his knee fighting a near high-sider on lap two. This was the first ever one-two for Australia in the 500cc class. John Kocinski (Yamaha) won the 250cc race to take the world title and Loris Capirossi (Honda) won the 125cc race to become the youngest ever world champion – a record that he still holds.
1997/Phillip Island – Grand Prix racing returned to Phillip Island in 1997 following a six year break during which the Australian GP was held at Eastern Creek. Alex Criville (Honda) won the 500cc race from team- mate Takuma Aoki on the V-twin Honda. Australian hero Mick Doohan had crashed out of a comfortable lead on lap seventeen. Max Biaggi (Honda) finished second to his closest rival Ralf Waldmann to clinch the 250cc title by just two points and in doing so became the first rider to win the 250cc championship in four successive years.
1998/Phillip Island – Mick Doohan (Honda) won the 500cc race from Simon Crafar, to clinch the last of his five world titles at his home race. Valentino Rossi (Aprilia) won for the first time at Phillip Island, in the 250cc class.
1999/Phillip Island – Tadayuki Okada (Honda) took the last of his four 500cc Grand Prix victories after early leader Kenny Roberts was forced to slow, due to his rear tyre losing chunks of tread. Valentino Rossi repeated his 250cc win of 1998 at Phillip Island, on his way to taking the world title.
2000/Phillip Island – Max Biaggi (Yamaha) won the 500cc race from fellow Italians Loris Capirossi and Valentino Rossi. This was the first all-Italian podium in the 500cc class since 1972. Olivier Jacque (Ya- maha) won the 250cc race from team-mate and closest championship challenger Shinya Nakano by just 0.014 sec to clinch the world title by only seven points.
2001/Phillip Island – Valentino Rossi (Honda) won his first premier-class title by taking the victory in one of the closest races of all time with just 2.832 seconds covering the first nine riders across the line.
2002/Phillip Island – Valentino Rossi (Honda) won the first race at Phillip Island of the four-stroke MotoGP era. Jeremy McWilliams had started the race from pole riding the three cylinder Proton KR machine – the last ever pole in the premier-class by a two-stroke machine and the first MotoGP pole by a rider using Bridgestone tyres. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) won the 250cc race to clinch the title and become the youn- gest ever rider to become 250cc world champion.
2003/Phillip Island – Valentino Rossi (Honda) took one of the most incredible wins of his illustrious career after being given a ten-second penalty mid-race, for a yellow-flag infringement. Andrea Ballerini (Honda) won for the only time in the 125cc class, using Bridgestone tyres; this was the last 125cc GP to be won by a rider not on Dunlop tires.
2004/Phillip Island – Valentino Rossi won once again after a race long battle with great rival Sete Gibernau, to clinch the MotoGP title in his first year riding for Yamaha. Fourth place in the 250cc race was enough for Dani Pedrosa (Honda) to take the honour of being the youngest ever 250cc world champion.
2005/Phillip Island – Valentino Rossi won for the fifth successive year in Australia – the last MotoGP win for both Rossi and Yamaha at Phillip Island. Dani Pedrosa won the 250cc race to clinch his second world title in the class.
2006/Phillip Island – Marco Melandri (Honda) won the race by almost ten seconds after the flag-to-flag wet weather regulations came into play for the first time. Chris Vermeulen was second, and became the first Australian to finish on the podium in the MotoGP class at Phillip Island since Mick Doohan in 1998. In the 250cc class, Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) won for the first time at Phillip Island. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) won the shortened 125cc race to clinch the world championship.
2007/Phillip Island – Casey Stoner (Ducati) won for the first time in Australia, racing for the first time as MotoGP world champion. Jorge Lorenzo won the 250cc GP at Phillip Island for the second year in succes- sion, this time by a massive margin of almost 20 seconds.
2008/Phillip Island – Casey Stoner again won the MotoGP race in Australia, from Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, which was only the second time in the 60 year history of Grand Prix racing that a podium consisted of three riders who were either reigning or past world champions in the premier-class. Mike di Meglio claimed the 125cc title with a race win at Phillip Island.
2009/Phillip Island – Last year in Australia, Casey Stoner made it three successive wins at his home Grand Prix. Julian Simon (Aprilia) won the 125cc race to clinch the world title.