Michelin Australian Grand Prix 2016

Posted on Oct 18, 2016 by Nick Harris


Cal Crutchlow arrives down under from Japan looking to continue his brilliant form at the Michelin Australian Grand Prix at the magnificent cliff top Phillip Island circuit on Sunday. The 30 year old Isle of Man – based midlander riding the LCR Honda is on a fantastic run that sees him both the top Independent Team and British rider in the MotoGP™ Championship going into the 27 lap race around the 2.764 miles circuit. He has finished fifth in the last two races and four years ago took third place at Phillip Island.

Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding has good and bad memories of Phillip Island and arrives in a confident mood after his ninth place in Japan. He finished second in the 2010 Moto2 race and third two years later. Bradley Smith defied all medical predictions to finish 13th in Japan on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha just seven weeks after wrecking the ligaments in his right knee. Another week should see more flexibility in the knee at the track where he finished third two years ago.

It was a tough weekend for Irishman Eugene Laverty in Japan, with practice and race crashes wrecking his chances. The Pull and Bear Aspar Ducati rider has plenty of experience at Phillip Island in both World Superbike and Supersport Championships. Sam Lowes is another rider with Supersport experience at the circuit and he hopes to bounce back from his second lap Moto2™ crash in Japan that wrecked any chance he had of challenging for the world title. He finished second in the Moto2 race last year and fifth the year before.

Former Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent was forced out of the Japan Moto2 race with mechanical problems. The Wiltshire – based rider will be seeking to get things back on track after a difficult season. Scotsman John McPhee made the long trip to Japan only to be involved in a three rider crash in the very first bend of the Moto3 race. A repeat of his fifth place two years ago for the Racing Steps Foundation supported rider would be a great boost.

Did you know?
This will be the 28th Australian Grand Prix, which has been held every year since the first visit in 1989.  Below are some facts and statistics from the previous Grand Prix events held in Australia:

• The first two Australian Grand Prix were held at Phillip Island, before visiting the Eastern Creek circuit for six successive years, then returning to Phillip Island in 1997 where it has since remained.  This is the 22nd time that the grand prix has taken place at Phillip Island.

• Honda are the most successful manufacturer at Phillip Island in the MotoGP era with six victories.

• Ducati have had four MotoGP wins at Phillip Island all with Casey Stoner in the years 2007 to 2010.

• Yamaha have had four MotoGP wins at Phillip Island, three with Valentino Rossi and one with Jorge Lorenzo.

• All three podium finishers of the MotoGP race at Phillip Island in 2014 were Yamaha mounted – the last all Yamaha podium in MotoGP.

• The only podium for Suzuki in the premier-class at Phillip Island came in 2006 when Chris Vermeulen finished second.

• Valentino Rossi is the rider who has had most grand prix wins at Phillip Island, with eight (2 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP), followed by Casey Stoner with six wins, all of which have been in the MotoGP class.

• Casey Stoner won the MotoGP race at Phillip Island for six successive years from 2007 until 2012, the last five of which were from pole position.

• Four current riders have started from pole in the MotoGP class at Phillip Island; Valentino Rossi in 2003, Dani Pedrosa in 2007, Jorge Lorenzo in 2013 and Marc Marquez for the last two years.

• Eleven of the fourteen MotoGP races that have taken place at Phillip Island have been won by either Casey Stoner (6 wins) or Valentino Rossi (5 wins). Three other riders have taken one win each: Marco Melandri (2006), Jorge Lorenzo (2013) and Marc Marquez (2015).

Marc Marquez: The story of a champion
A third premier class crown in four years for the 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion

The end of 2015 saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lose the title of World Champion for the first time since moving into the premier class of motorcycle racing, as the historic battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took over at the top of the table and Marquez suffered his mistakes. Crashes, struggles and controversy marked the toughest year of Marquez’ premier class career – and 2016 saw the rider from Cervera stage an incredible comeback. Controlled, poised and willing to play the long game: this was the new Marquez, and he was here to take back his crown.

Marquez made his debut in the World Championship in 2008 at 15, and although his rookie season was curtailed by injury, he made headlines by achieving a podium result in just his sixth race. He picked up another podium result in 2009, before becoming 125 World Champion for the first time in 2010 - winning an incredible ten of the last 14 races of the year.

In the Moto2™ class the following season, the rider from Cervera had a tough start before going on an incredible winning run, taking seven victories to hunt down the mammoth lead accrued by title rival Stefan Bradl – including a podium in Phillip Island from 38th on the grid. A crash in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix then halted the season, and Marquez was forced to cede the title fight with serious problems with his eyesight. Not knowing whether the problem could be solved, Marquez had a tough off season with his career in doubt  - until surgery was able to correct the problem, and he was finally able to get back on the bike. When he did, he obliterated the opposition and took the 2012 Moto2™ World Championship – including an unbelievable win from the back of the grid at the season finale Valencian GP.

Fresh from that historic win, the newly crowned Champion of the intermediate class then got to try his new MotoGP™ bike for the first time at the Valencia test – joining Repsol Honda and finding big shoes to fill as Casey Stoner retired.

On the podium first time out and winning his second ever premier class Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Marquez became the youngest ever rider to clinch the premier class world title in MotoGP™, thanks to a truly amazing debut season. He also became the first rookie premier class World Champion for 35 years.

The 2014 campaign saw Marquez raise the bar as he built up a huge lead in the Championship with ten successive victories in the opening ten rounds of the season. Teammate Pedrosa then halted the streak with a victory in Brno, a result that started a mid season blip that saw him off the podium in three races in four. Back on top by Silverstone, Marquez wrapped up the title in Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi – the home of manufacturer Honda.

2015 began well, with a win in Texas second time out and Marquez looking to defend his crown. But too many crashes and points lost as the Yamaha charge of Rossi and Lorenzo gained traction saw Marquez out of contention by the time the flyaways came around – but a stunning win in Phillip Island saw Marquez back on the top step. After taking victory in one of the greatest races of all time, Marquez and Rossi then clashed next time out in Sepang – with Marquez crashing out and Rossi awarded a penalty for the incident. Valencia saw the rider from Cervera take another home podium in P2 to complete the year, ready to recharge over the winter and take back his crown from new World Champion Lorenzo.

The scars of last season have created a new rider. Where 2015 saw the Spaniard push too hard and make mistakes, this season has replaced those flaws with calm and control – pushing when the victory is there to be taken, and taking the points when the stakes are too high. The strategy – that Marquez explains as the way to win a title rather than win the most races – has seen the 2013, 2014 and now 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion equal great rival Lorenzo with a third premier class crown – his fifth World Championship. Taking the title at the home of Honda at Motegi - as he did in 2014 - Marquez' ride to a stunning fifth win of the season was enough, as Rossi and Lorenzo crashed out of both the race and the Championship fight in the high drama in Japan.

Wins in Texas, Argentina, Germany and Aragon saw the Spaniard 52 points clear ahead of the Japanese GP at Motegi. The only rider to score points in every race, the 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion is Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez – once again.

Marquez arrives on the island as new world champion
Twenty three year old Marc Marquez arrives at the magnificent Phillip Island circuit for the Michelin Grand Prix of Australia as the 2016 MotoGP™ World Champion. The Repsol Honda rider’s win at the previous round in Japan and the crashes of the Movistar Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo gave the Spanish rider his fifth world title.

He returns to Phillip Island where he won last year after a superb four rider battle against Rossi and Lorenzo along with the Ducati of Andrea Iannone making it easily the race of 2015. While Marquez chases his sixth victory of the season round the 2.764 miles clifftop circuit there is a mighty clash brewing for second in the championship between team-mates and bitter rivals Rossi and Lorenzo. Rossi, who has six MotoGP wins at Phillip Island, holds a slender 14 point advantage with three races remaining over three times Phillip Island winner Lorenzo going into the 27 lap encounter.

Andrea Dovizioso, on the factory Ducati, finished second to Marquez in Japan with double Phillip Island winner Maverick Vinales completing the podium on the Ecstar Suzuki. Dani Pedrosa will miss the race after breaking his collarbone in Japan and is expected to be replaced by former 250 cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama. Jack Miller returns home to race for the first time since that Assen win but on his return to the action in Motegi crashed four times over the weekend.

It is a much closer battle for the Moto2™ World Championship, although a second place in Japan for World Champion Johann Zarco gives the Frenchman a real chance of retaining the title. He holds a 21 point lead over last year’s Australian winner Alex Rins who crashed in Japan. The race winner was Tom Luthi who grabbed his third win of the season to move into third place in the championship just 22 points behind Rins.

With South African Brad Binder crowned Moto3™ World Champion in Aragon it’s the fight for second place that is making the headlines. Enea Bastianini's first win of the season in Japan gave him a 21 point advantage over Aragon winner Jorge Navarro who dislocated his shoulder in a Motegi crash. The battle for fourth could not be closer with nine points separating Nicol Bulega, Joan Mir, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Francesco Bagnaia.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 21st October 12.00am – 07.00am (practice)
Saturday 22nd October 12.00am – 07.15am (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 23rd October 12.30am – 7.15am (warm-up and races)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 24th October 20.00pm –21.00pm

Sunday 23rd October - TalkSPORT2 – races

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