Jack Miller gave his championship hopes a major boost by winning a thrilling Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The home favourite performed a masterclass in defensive riding on the final lap to hold off the Estrella Galicia Hondas of Alex Marquez and Alex Rins with Efren Vazquez completing a top four covered by just 0.044s.
With the slipstream playing such an important role at Phillip Island, riders found it impossible to escape out of the leading group with no fewer than eleven bikes figuring in the fight for the lead at one stage. The fireworks were truly set off on the penultimate lap as Romano Fenati fell from seventh at Stoner corner while an aggressive move from Miller at the Honda hairpin wiped out Danny Kent and Brad Binder.
Marquez’s chances of victory looked to have taken a blow on lap 20 when a near-collision at Honda saw him shuffled back to ninth but a combination of powerful machinery and tactical nous saw him back at the front of the leading group as the last lap began. Miller was locked in the slipstream of Marquez’s Honda and drafted past on the run towards Doohan but victory was far from secure with an entire lap in which to hang on.
The pack of Hondas swarmed all over the sole KTM but Jack covered his line beautifully into the big braking zones of Honda and MG and a smooth run through the final corner gave him just enough time in hand to win the drag race to the finish line, pipping Marquez by 0.029s. Rins was three thousandths further back in third with Vazquez missing out on the podium by millimetres in a photo finish between the top four.
John McPhee built on his career-best result in Japan by claiming fifth in Australian, just a tenth of a second off the victory, while Alexis Masbou drew the short straw in the leading group by finishing sixth, a quarter of a second behind Miller. Miguel Oliveira took seventh for Mahindra ahead of Calvo’s Jakub Kornfeil while Niklas Ajo and Niccolo Antonelli rounded out the top ten.