Sandro Cortese claimed his second Grand Prix victory at Phillip Island after a pre-race rain shower caused mayhem in the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix. The race was initially delayed by ten minutes due to the change in conditions and a number of riders benefitted from brave tyre choices.
Cortese started from the front row and stormed into the lead at turn one, aided by the absence of Jonas Folger who was forced out with a technical problem picked up in warm-up. Cortese's lead would only last two corners though as Alexis Masbou and Adrian Martin scythed through the pack on wet tyres, taking first and second respectively into turn two.
Martin grabbed the lead by the end of the lap while Danny Kent leaped up into second. Sadly for British fans, any hopes of a victory challenge disappeared on the second lap as the teenager slid off track, dropping to 31st.
Championship rivals Nicolas Terol and Johann Zarco weren't enjoying the conditions either as they tiptoed around on dry tyres. Zarco's pole position was now a distant memory as the Frenchman fell 12 seconds off the lead in fourth but Terol was having a nightmare, slipping all the way to 15th in the space of a single lap.
At the front, Martin had established a four second lead but strong winds were drying the track out quickly and Cortese was starting to close. The Intact-Racing man cruised past Martin on lap six as the slick tyres gave him superior grip exiting turn nine.
By lap eight, Martin realised the game was up and pitted for slicks, as did Masbou, and Zarco now found himself back in second. The 21 year old now had a charging Luis Salom on his case while Hector Faubel and Efren Vazquez also moved into contention taking fourth and fifth respectively.
At half distance, Vazquez disposed of Faubel and set about closing the four second gap to the riders ahead but by the time he got there, he was challenging his teammate as Salom had taken second, diving past Zarco at the MG hairpin on lap 17.
Surprisingly, Zarco then came under pressure from his teammate as Vazquez dived through into third on lap 18 but the Frenchman responded two laps late, just in time as it turned out. As Cortese crossed the line to start the penultimate lap, the rain returned leaving race direction with no option but to halt the race, handing Cortese victory ahead of Salom.
Zarco was understandably disappointed with third having dominated qualifying but at least he knew he would take points out Terol's championship lead. The question was, how many.
With ten laps remaining, the Spaniard was still outside the top ten but remedied that by passing Jakub Kornfeil. By lap 16, he had caught the two Mahindras who were having a private battle for eighth, disposing with them in quick succession.
Niklas Ajo surrendered seventh with four laps to go while teammate Faubel didn't defend too much when Terol set his sights on sixth. Alberto Moncayo was next along in fifth but the early stoppage put paid to any hopes of further progress. As a result, Terol will take a 25 point lead to Malaysia next weekend.
Faubel was classified in seventh while Maverick Vinales fought his way up to eighth after a terrible start. French rider Louis Rossi finished an excellent ninth while Danny Webb hung on to tenth despite struggling late on.
Taylor Mackenzie was just outside the points in 18th while Danny Kent ended up in 22nd. Harry Stafford didn't take the start at all and was unable to make use of his impressive grid slot.