Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) has produced a sublime front-running performance to win a dramatic 27-lap MotoGP™ race at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2018.
Vinales’ fifth MotoGP™ victory, and his first since the third round of 2017, came after hitting the lead on lap eight and then breaking clear of the pack with a succession of searing lap times.
After extending his lead out to about four seconds, Vinales then went into race management mode for the last few laps, crossing the finish line 1.543 seconds clear of Ecstar Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone. Vinales’ triumph also broke Yamaha’s longest-ever winning drought of 25 races.
Iannone just held off a late charge from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), while Alvaro Bautista produced a superb performance to finish in fourth place on the second Ducati Team machine as a replacement for the injured Jorge Lorenzo.
Australia’s Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Ducati), who led briefly on lap one, was seventh, behind Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha), while world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) failed to finish after Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ran into the back of him at turn one on lap six.
Zarco crashed, fortunately unhurt, while Marquez limped back to the pits but couldn’t continue after too much damage to the rear end of his factory Honda.
By that time, Vinales was slicing his way through the pack after a slow start from the front row of the grid, and within three laps he was in the lead and showing his rivals a clean pair of heels.
Behind Miller, Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda) scored his best result of the year in eighth, a second in front of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who took their dice down to the wire.
Smith’s teammate Pol Espargaro was a retirement, while Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) – in his Phillip Island swansong – and Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also hit the deck.
Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing Ducati) ran off the circuit on lap one, but fought his way back from last position to finish in 12th.
Australia’s second rider, Mike Jones (Angel Nieto Ducati), was 18th.
For full results, click here.
With two rounds remaining in the 2018 MotoGP™ title, Marquez remains on 296pts, ahead of Dovizioso (210), Rossi (196), Vinales (180) and the injured Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol, 148). Miler is in 13th position on 83pts.
The penultimate round will be held at Sepang in Malaysia from November 2-4.