2016 Phillip Island MotoGP Results from Australia
During the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno, many attributed the poor weather conditions for Cal Crutchlow’s win. Regardless of the how and why, the LCR Honda rider made history as the first British rider to win a premier-class event since Barry Sheene 35 years ago.
Crutchlow showed promise since, and qualified second for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island–the second in three back-to-back races that includes Motegi last weekend and Sepang this coming weekend.
But was another win possible? Crutchlow proved it was Sunday following an impressive win at Phillip Island, round 16 of 18. Crutchlow capitalized on a crash by early leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), who clinched the 2016 MotoGP title at Motegi, and tire choice.
Crutchlow’s team initially questioned his hard-option Michelin front tire choice because Marquez was on the same tire when he crashed, and the temperatures were descending quickly. But the 30-year-old was able to manage his tire throughout the 27-lap race, remaining relatively unchallenged.
Once out front with 18 laps to go, Crutchlow continued in pure domination, claiming the win by over four seconds ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Rossi also impressed considering he qualified 15th and ran into the gravel trap at turn four while chasing down Crutchlow. Earning third was Rossi’s future teammate, Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales.
Crutchlow became the first Brit since Barry Sheene in 1979 to win more than one GP race in a season, and also clinched the Independent Team rider Championship.
“I was terrified when Marc crashed out in front of me, I braked really weakly into that corner for the whole race. I knew it was critical, because I crashed there from second a couple of years ago when I had a ten-second gap behind me, so I was quite scared to be honest. With that in mind, I also knew I had to keep pushing because otherwise I would lose heat in the front tire,” Crutchlow says.
“I was actually quite confident that I could have caught Marc today, but once he crashed I just carried on at the same pace and then the last ten laps or so I didn’t really push, I just made sure I kept heat in the front. I actually pushed more on the laps when the sun wasn’t out, because when it was I could be a little more relaxed. It might sound strange, but this is Phillip Island and anything can happen.”
“I’m really pleased for the LCR Honda Team, they have done a great job this weekend. I was confident I could have won even with Marquez in the race, but Honda have done a really good job with our bike, there’s no doubt about that. We can now look forward to the last two races, and then see what happens for next year.”
When the race began third-place qualifier Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) got the holeshot, as pole-man Marquez fell back. But Marquez wasted no time, and was quickly up front. It was short lived, though; with 18 to go, Marquez crashed out of the Australian GP at turn four just as he did in 2014.
This gave the lead to Crutchlow, who was fighting off the charging Rossi and Team Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro. Rossi had started from 15th, but was able to quickly pick off riders in Australia to get into second.
He continued his charge, but would not be able to catch Crutchlow. Vinales finished third, followed by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro. Earning sixth was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, the five-time World Champion followed by Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Scott Redding and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith. Rounding out the top 10 were Redding’s teammate Danilo Petrucci and the home favorite, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda’s Jack Miller.
As for the American riding in place of the injured Dani Pedrosa on the Respol Honda RC213V, he finished last in 17th. He was battling for a top-10 finish but was pushed into the gravel trap by Miller at turn four.
In regards to the battle for second in points, Rossi remains there with 216 points, 24 ahead of Lorenzo. The MotoGP series now heads directly to Sepang in Malaysia for the penultimate round.
Photos by Luciano Bianchetto