In one sense, the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is all about two men: Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, the only two riders left in the thrilling chase for this year’s MotoGP title.
In another sense, it’s not: there are several other riders in the premier class with milestones and landmarks of their own to aim for this weekend, so we thought you might like to keep an eye on some of them.
This will be the popular American’s final appearance in a Grand Prix at the Island – he’s off to Superbikes next season. ‘The Kentucky Kid’ isn’t so much of a kid any more – he’s 34 – but that willing smile and the familiar drawl will be very much missed, to say nothing of the riding skills that carried him to the 2006 title.
This will be Hayden’s 13th Australian Grand Prix. In the previous 12 he has finished in the top 10 on 10 occasions; the only two years he didn’t were 2007, when he posted a DNF, and 2009, when he was 15th.
Two of Nicky’s career five poles came here in 2005 and 2006; in 2008 he posted a fastest lap of 1:30.059 that stood till 2013; and he has graced the Phillip Island podium three times, finishing third in 2003 (his maiden race here) and 2008, and second in 2005. All three podiums were achieved while he was riding for Repsol Honda.
Hayden, riding an Aspar Honda, is currently on 16 points, equal with our own Jack Miller.
Mike di Meglio
The Avintia Racing Ducati rider reaches his 200th Grand Prix this weekend. The 27-year-old Frenchman will be taking part in his 34th MotoGP race after 75 in Moto2 and 91 in the lightweight class, where he was World Champion in 2008.
That was the year in which Mike took his last Grand Prix victory – and it happened right here in Australia. Di Meglio has picked up eight points so far this year; he was 14th at the Island last year.
Landmarks seem to roll around quickly for the Spanish youngster, and another one looms this weekend. Less than a week ago he watched Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa notch up his 50th Grand Prix victory; this weekend Marquez could hit that target in his own right, although if he does it will have taken him only around half of the race starts his senior compatriot required.
Marc, surprisingly, has yet to post a race result in MotoGP at the Island – he crashed out last year and was disqualified from the flag-to-flag race the season before.
While the big boys fight it out on the official bikes, the unofficial title of ‘Satellite champion’ means a lot to the guys who don’t enjoy full works backing.
Coming to the Island it’s Bradley Smith, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider on 152 points overall, who leads the satellite chase by a comfortable-looking 54 from compatriot, former team-mate and arch-rival Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.
Danilo Petrucci is next on a very creditable 93 points on the Octo Pramac Ducati, but watch out for Spain’s Pol Espargaro, just five points adrift of the Italian on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.
This is the small group of bikes not entered by the major manufacturers as factory or satellite machines – the class in which Australian Jack Miller on the second LCR Honda is a direct competitor. The top Open rider as they come to the Townsville man’s home race is Spaniard Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati, who has 30 points – but that puts him just two ahead of Frenchman Loris Baz on the Forward Yamaha.