2014 Phillip Island MotoGP Preview
Though Marc Marquez clinched the 2014 MotoGP title three rounds early following a wise performance at Motegi last weekend, much is still on the line.
The 21-year-old Repsol Honda RC213V pilot can relax a bit this weekend at the Grand Prix of Australia – the second of three grueling back-to-back rounds – though he likely will continue setting the pace.
Behind Marquez is where the battling will take place. There’s a tight fight for second place in the standings between Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, and the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
As Marquez chases his 12th victory of the season at the picturesque Phillip Island Circuit, Pedrosa and Rossi are tied in second with 230 points each.
The Spaniard and the Italian have been on the pace all season. Rossi has finished on the podium 10 times, including a win at his home round in San Marino. As for Pedrosa, he finished on the podium nine times, including a win at Brno.
And at Motegi last weekend, Rossi finished third behind the 2014 Champion Marquez, followed 0.555 of a second behind by Pedrosa.
But Rossi has an advantage over Pedrosa at Phillip Island; the nine-time World Champion won there five-times straight in the premier class, achieving the title each of those years (2001-2005). Pedrosa has podiums there, but no wins in the premier class.
Rossi and Pedrosa have another huge threat that has been in dominate form the past-two rounds – Yamaha’s Lorenzo. The two-time MotoGP Champion won at Motegi and Aragon. He also claimed his only premier-class victory last season at Phillip Island, winning by nearly seven seconds ahead of Pedrosa.
Last year’s race at Phillip Island was confusing; the riders were forced to change tires due to the abrasive pavement, a scenario that won’t play out this year due to the track being smooth.
The top Ducati rider, Andrea Dovizioso, is in a lonely fifth in the standings with 153 points – 74 behind Lorenzo and 34 ahead of the top open-class rider, NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro.
Dovizioso was quick at Motegi aboard the GP14.2, which continually evolves under Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna. He took his second premier-class pole position in Japan, which was also the same circuit that awarded his first pole in 2010. When last week’s race wrapped up, Dovi finished fifth.
As for Aleix Espargaro, he’s locked into a battle for sixth with his younger brother Pol Espargaro aboard the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Rounding out the top 10 in points are Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing Ducati), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
The first MotoGP practice of the Tissot Australian Grand Prix gets underway with FP1 at 10:55 a.m. local time (GMT +11).
2014 Phillip Island MotoGP TV Schedule
Fox Sports 1 will provide live broadcast coverage of the Grand Prix of Australia beginning at 12 a.m. Sunday, October 19. The coverage also features a rebroadcast of Motegi MotoGP.
2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after 15 of 18 rounds):
|6||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||SPA||117|
|18||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||USA||11|
|22||Alex DE ANGELIS||Forward Yamaha||RSM||7|
|23||Mike DI MEGLIO||Avintia||FRA||4|