Valentino Rossi marked his 250th premier class start in the grand manner by winning a dramatic Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The Italian capitalised on the misfortune of Marc Marquez with the world champion the first of many riders to crash out in the second half of the race. With tyres proving problematic for many, Rossi held it together to lead home a hobbled Jorge Lorenzo and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.
All looked to be going to plan in the early stages with Marquez cruising off into the distance while the factory Yamahas disputed second place, Lorenzo and Rossi swapping positions with regularity. The leading Repsol Honda was four seconds up the road and seemingly cruising when the front end of the RC213V folded under braking for the MG hairpin ten laps from home.
With Marc eliminated, the stage was set for a battle royal for victory between Rossi and Lorenzo but the Spaniard’s decision to run the extra-soft front tyre started to backfire in the closing laps as the no.99 Yamaha got slower and slower. Lorenzo’s grip on second was loosened by a determined Cal Crutchlow on lap 23 but Jorge was let off the hook by a heartbreaking crash for the Ducati on the last lap, the Briton suffering a carbon copy of Marquez’s spill, this time at Honda.
A superb ride for Crutchlow would go unrewarded but Bradley Smith’s effort and endeavour would finally get a trophy to match as the Oxfordshire rider was promoted to third. The Tech 3 rider had seen his teammate Pol Espargaro crash in front of him three laps from the finish and the misfortune of Crutchlow elevated him to the rostrum, a result he wasn’t aware of until he reached parc ferme, prompting an outpouring of emotion from the 23 year old.
Aside from the tyre troubles, Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa were eliminated following an optimistic braking manoeuvre from the Pramac rider at Honda while a similar misjudgement from Stefan Bradl took him and Aleix Espargaro out of proceedings. Andrea Dovizioso steered clear of the chaos to take fourth Hector Barbera gave Avintia their best MotoGP result in fifth, just pipping the Gresini Hondas of Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding.
Hiroshi Aoyama took eighth ahead of two-time Australian Moto2 winner Alex de Angelis while Nicky Hayden completed the top ten on the second Aspar machine.