Márquez marks time
With capricious weather that disrupted the free practice sessions and complicated the races, the Australian Grand Prix was no picnic. Márquez won an honourable mention and managed his lead in the overall standings.
Once again, springtime in the southern hemisphere put the riders’ nerves severely to the test on the Phillip Island circuit. Scattered showers, a temperature of fourteen degrees and powerful gusts of wind that even forced the organizers to postpone the qualifying sessions for the MotoGP class on Sunday morning. A decision made after Miguel Oliveira crashed, driven off the track by a violent squall of wind at the end of the straight line. Well shaken by the crash, the KTM Tech 3 rider was unable to start the seventeenth race of the season. Braving difficult conditions although less unfavourable than those of the day before, Hafizh Syahrin, his teammate, managed to finish fifteenth to add a point in the overall standings. In Moto2, Álex Márquez did not ride the race he had hoped for after showing a good pace during the practice test sessions. Sixth on the starting grid, the Marc VDS rider never managed to keep up with the front-runners. He wisely stuck to eighth place. “The day was a lot more complicated than I expected,” he admitted. “Right from the start of the race I understood that I did not have the pace to take the lead. I found myself in a fight without being able to ride it out. When you don’t have the pace and you lack feeling with your bike, it quickly becomes difficult, especially on a circuit like Phillip Island where you have to feel confident to ride fast. But we still scored points that are important for the championship.” Starting from 14th place on the grid, Xavi Vierge was fighting it out for fifth position when he crashed at corner number four. “I’m really sorry for the team because I had the pace and the bike to make it to the podium,” said the Catalan. Like him, Marco Bezzecchi fell at the start of the race when he was classed eighth in the practice test sessions. Hit by another rider, the KTM Tech 3 rider could do nothing to prevent himself from crashing. And Phillip Oettl crossed the finish line in twentieth position.
Having scored eight more points at Phillip Island, Márquez leaves Australia with a 28-point lead over Tom Lüthi. Next weekend in Malaysia the Marc VDS rider will play his first match point to win his first Moto2 World Championship title. Despite his crash, Xavi Vierge remains in 16th place in the overall classification. No change either for Marco Bezzecchi, still twenty-second. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has moved up into seventeenth position while Hafizh Syahrin is now once again ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and is now in the twenty-third place overall.