Marc Marquez moved to within touching distance of a fourth MotoGP world title with victory in a classic Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The Spaniard came out on top in a race which saw as many as eight riders fight for the lead most of the way and with Andrea Dovizioso enduring a disastrous afternoon on his way to thirteenth, Marquez now leads the title chase by 33 points.
The race couldn’t have got off to a better start for the capacity crowd with home favourite Jack Miller diving into the lead at Doohan corner on lap one. The same bend would be Dovizioso’s undoing on the second lap with the championship challenger outbraking himself into the right-hander, falling all the way back to twentieth.
As Miller was shuffled back after his rocket start, Marquez began to go to battle with a trio of Yamahas as Johann Zarco joined the factory duo up front. The Frenchman hit the front on lap nine after a mistake from Valentino Rossi but with so much aggressive overtaking among the leading group, no-one was able to make a decisive break.
This all changed with three laps remaining when Andrea Iannone joined the podium scrap, sitting Zarco up at the Honda hairpin, but as the two continued to squabble over second, Marquez eased into a 1.9s lead which he would maintain until the finish. Rossi would muscle Zarco aside on the penultimate lap to claim second with Maverick Vinales outdragging the Tech 3 rider to the line for the final rostrum position.
2016 winner Cal Crutchlow pipped Iannone for fifth in another photo finish with Miller dropping to seventh, just ahead of the impressive Alex Rins, while KTM duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith finished side-by-side in ninth and tenth respectively.
Dovizioso made steady progress after his early mishap, climbing to eleventh, but his misery was completed on the final lap when Scott Redding and Dani Pedrosa relegated him back to thirteenth.
2017 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix – Result
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