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Tissot Australian Grand Prix

CRUTCHLOW AND SMITH ENJOY THE ISLAND DELIGHTS

In one of the most extraordinary races in the 65 year history of world championship motorcycle racing Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith kept cool while chaos surrounded them to finish fourth and sixth respectively in the Tissot Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

The race was reduced to 19 laps with a mandatory pit stop because of tyre degradation and their Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team organized the stop to perfection. Crutchlow was involved in a tremendous battle once again for the final podium position with Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista. Rossi finally grabbed third on the last lap. Smith made a fantastic start from the third row and held onto a comfortable sixth place which equals his best result of his MotoGP rookie season. Ulsterman Michael Laverty on his debut at Phillip Island was a hard fought 18th riding the Paul Bird Motorsport ART machine.

With Moto2™ Championship leader Scott Redding watching from his hospital bed in Melbourne both Gino Rea and Danny Kent picked up points in the 13 lap Moto2 sprint race. Kent was 13th with Rea one place behind. Scotsman John McPhee made a great start in a fiercely contested Moto3™ race but eventually finished just out of the points in 17th place.

REDDING UPDATE

Twenty year old Scott Redding crashed in qualifying for the Moto2 race at Phillip Island yesterday and sustained a fractured radius of his left wrist. The Gloucestershire rider underwent surgery at the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne last night, with a plate and six screws being inserted in his wrist by renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Andrew Oppy. Redding's rehabilitation programme will start in three to four days, with the final round of the season at Valencia the current target for his return to racing.

Lorenzo wins in Australia, Marquez disqualified

Jorge Lorenzo has inflicted maximum damage on the day Marc Marquez could have clinched the MotoGP™ crown, as the current title holder clinched his 50th career race victory in a Tissot Australian Grand Prix including mandatory bike changes. Failing to acknowledge the pre-determined pit window, Marquez was shown the black flag.

Prior to the race, it was announced that the duration would decrease from 27 to 19 laps on the grounds of safety, with tyre degradation throughout practice having been significantly higher than expected on the newly-resurfaced Phillip Island circuit. Furthermore, all riders would be obliged to pit for bike changes on either the ninth or tenth laps of the race, while also running the harder available compound throughout.

A clean start saw no fallers, with Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) attacking Lorenzo at the Honda hairpin but the Yamaha Factory Racing man immediately retaking the top spot on the run into Siberia. The sensation would come with the mandatory pit window, with Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa first to peel off from third place at the end of Lap 9 and followed by numerous other riders.

Lorenzo would pit at the end of the tenth tour but, having expected a pit lane duel with Marquez, saw the 20-year-old rookie continue for another circulation of the circuit. Marquez then pitted at the end of Lap 11, outside the pre-determined pit-in window of Laps 9 and 10. In a remarkable twist for the 2013 World Championship battle, Marquez was disqualified as was Australian Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) as the same error had been committed.

Having escaped a touch with Marquez as the latter rejoined from the pits, Lorenzo went on to claim win number six of the season; this also marked the first time since 2006 that a rider other than the now retired Casey Stoner had clinched victory at Phillip Island. Pedrosa finished second to maintain his own title aspirations, as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi beat Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista in a thrilling contest for third, while light rain began to fall as proceedings drew to a close.

Bradley Smith was sixth for Tech3, having run as high as fourth thanks to a rapid start, while the top ten was rounded out by Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) who ended a race as lead CRT for the first time this year. Behind him, Aleix Espargaro secured enough points to clinch overall CRT honours for the second year in succession. Danilo Petrucci finished 15th for Came IodaRacing Project, denying a first point for Luca Scassa as the Cardion AB Motoracing rider finished less than one tenth of a second behind.

The MotoGP™ fight now rages on to Motegi Twin Ring and the Grand Prix of Japan, with the championship lead having been decreased from 43 to 18 points. The season will then reach its climax in Valencia, Spain on 10th November.

Espargaro wins to retake championship lead

Pol Espargaro has retaken the Moto2™ World Championship lead, winning Sunday’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix in the absence of Scott Redding. Tom Luthi and Jordi Torres completed the podium, with Tito Rabat sinking to eighth.

When looking back at the Phillip Island round of the 2013 season, the race is likely to be remembered as a key turning point in the campaign. Redding’s chances took a major blow on Saturday, with the Englishman and long-time championship leader being ruled out of action as he fractured his left wrist. Following an operation on Saturday night, the Marc VDS Racing Team rider was left helpless on the sidelines.

Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40) started from his fifth pole of the season, joined on the front row by teammate and last weekend’s Sepang winner Tito Rabat who has demonstrated rapidity since practice began on Friday. A reduced race distance saw the riders tackling only 13 laps of the southern Australian venue, with fears over tyres having seen changes to the duration following the qualifying session on Saturday.

It would prove to be a lights-to-flag victory for Espargaro, his fifth of the season and allowing the Catalan to win at Phillip Island for the second consecutive year; in the process, he snatches back the championship lead for the first time since after the season-opening race in Qatar. In a brilliant day for Espargaro’s championship situation, teammate Rabat finished only eighth after running off the circuit.

Tom Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing) pushed Espargaro all the way, finishing only half a second behind Espargaro for a fifth rostrum of the season and his second within the space of a week. Jordi Torres was third for Aspar Team Moto2, collecting his first podium finish since winning the German Grand Prix in July.

The top five was completed by NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi and former Phillip Island winner Alex de Angelis, who ran second for NGM Mobile Forward Racing in the early stages of the race. Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio was seventh from the aforementioned Rabat, Aspar’s Nico Terol and QMMF Racing’s Anthony West who successfully finished in the top ten in his home event. Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese was 11th for Dynavolt Intact GP from Forward’s Ricky Cardus and Tech3’s Danny Kent. In 14th place, Gino Rea scored two points for Argiñano & Gines Racing, while Indonesia’s Doni Tata Pradita achieved his maiden Moto2™ point for Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 by finishing 15th.

Five riders failed to finish: Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team), Johann Zarco (Came Iodaracing Project), Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team), Louis Rossi (Tech3) and Alex Mariñelarena (Blusens Avintia). Tuenti HP 40’s Alex Pons made the end in 24th after an early race off. Pons, Italtrans’ Takaaki Nakagami and Maptaq SAG Zelos Team’s Marcel Schrotter were all handed penalties for jumping the start.

With just the Japanese and Valencian rounds of the season remaining, Espargaro leads Redding in the championship by 16 points following a highly dramatic shaking up of the establishment. Rabat sits third, 36 points behind the leader with a maximum of 50 left on offer. The action will continue at Twin Ring Motegi next weekend.

Rins beats Viñales in Phillip Island photo finish

Alex Rins has won a thrilling Moto3™ Tissot Australian Grand Prix, coming out of top of a multiple-rider battle to beat Maverick Viñales by just three thousandths of a second. Both riders decreased the championship-leading advantage of pole-sitter Luis Salom, who completed the podium at Phillip Island.

Rins’ latest victory of 2013 was surely his most dramatic to date, ensuring he has now matched Salom on six race wins this season as well as having won three of the last four Grands Prix. Remarkably, the top seven riders were covered by just over one second, with Niccolo Antonelli only a further 1.1 in arrears.

The majority of riders in the field found themselves in tight groups for the duration of the 23-lap race, affected by light rain on certain parts of the newly-resurfaced circuit. Philipp Oettl (Interwetten Paddock Moto3) would fail to start due to engine problems and there were retirements for Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia) and Hyuga Watanabe (La Fonte Tascaracing), but no less than 30 riders managed the testing conditions to finish.

A titanic battle at the forefront saw a selection of riders enjoying time in the lead, whereas Salom ran as low as seventh but looked to be making his customary climb to the very sharp end in the closing minutes of the race. However it was Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who stole the limelight as the final lap began, shooting into the lead at Doohan curve only to run wide and drop to sixth three corners later.

The run to line resulted in the closest finish so far this year in the World Championship, with Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) pipping Viñales (Team Calvo) after having both started on the second row of the grid. The winner now moves to within just five points of championship leader Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) with a pair of races remaining in Japan and Valencia, whereas Viñales is also in contention and 22 in arrears of the overall leader.

Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez finished fourth, with the first group completed by local favourite Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG), Folger, front row starter Efren Vazquez (Mahindra Racing) and Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3). Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo was a further 12.8 seconds behind and headed the second group, with Alexis Masbou rounding out the top ten for Ongetta-Rivacold. Mahindra’s Miguel Oliveira recovered to 26th spot and was fortunate to avoid injury after flying over his handlebars at the MG hairpin on the opening lap. Wildcard Lachlan Kavney (Bullet Racing) also hit trouble, finishing one lap down in 30th place.

With only five points now between the championship leaders and a maximum of 50 still on offer, it is all to play for in the title battle. The 2013 Moto3™ season will continue next weekend with the Grand Prix of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi.

NickHarrisMedia

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