PHILLIP ISLAND. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took his sixth win of the year in a scintillating Phillip Island showdown, breaking away from an eight-rider fight for the win in the latter stages to take to the top step. After a tough race for title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) as the Italian suffered an early run off and was only able to fight back to 13th, it leaves the rider from Cervera now 33 points clear in the standings. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took second as he came out on top of a three-way fight for the podium, with teammate Maverick Viñales taking third. Viñales is now out of the Championship fight, 50 points back with two rounds to go.
Marquez vs Rossi, Zarco vs Rossi, Viñales vs Marquez, Iannone vs Zarco…in one of the most aggressive and hard-fought battles of the season, decade or more, the passes came thick and fast – including a move for Zarco around the outside of Doohan corner – as rubber was left on the road; a little on opponents’ leathers and a little paint was swapped in one of the most incredible fights in history.
The podium fight was down to three by the final laps: Rossi vs Viñales vs Zarco. With some of the tightest lines ever ridden around the Island at times on that final lap, Rossi was able to take it – but all three were almost neck and neck over the line. And over that line, it was Viñales just edging ahead of the Tech 3 of the Frenchman – taking third for a return to the rostrum but a definite end to his chance at the title. Zarco's fourth, meanwhile, confirmed him as Rookie of the Year in 2017.
After Iannone getting pushed back in the latter stages, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) took fifth ahead of the Italian, with Miller, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and another double delight for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing completing the top ten; Espargaro just pipping Smith. Dovizioso suffered late heartbreak after losing out on the drag to the line to both Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and coming home 13th, with Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) completing the top fifteen.
Aleix Espargaró keeps his Aprilia in the leading group but a crash on turn 1 takes him out of the race.
Only a crash on the first corner during the eighth lap kept Aleix Espargaró from battling for important positions in the GP of Australia. The Spanish rider had both the pace and the confidence to contend in the leading group. Well supported by an Aprilia RS-GP, he was once again solidly at the level of the best.
Aleix paid a high price for a slightly wide trajectory on the fast first corner as he was overtaking Miller for fifth place. The high speed slide resulted in a fracture to the fourth metacarpus of his left hand, an injury that shouldn't keep the Spanish rider from participating in the Malaysian weekend that is just days away.
Aleix Espargaró: N.C.
"The race was going well. Despite a less than perfect start, I had already rejoined the leading group and I had a good feeling. Unfortunately, as I was overtaking Miller on the first turn, I went a bit too wide, ending up on the dirty part of the track and sliding out. I should be able to participate in the race in Malaysia even with the injury to my hand. We'll see what the conditions are on Friday."