With good race action distracting specators from the looming wet weather at Phillip Island, the Australian GP proved to be another decisive step in the MotoGP Championship. An early “rubbing is racing” moment, could very well have shaped the the way this season will finish, but with racing still to occur at Sepang, Malaysia and Valencia, Spain, no one is declaring victory just yet. Click past the jump for spoilers and a full race report.
It was really a two-man show at Phillip Island this Sunday. The start was taken by Dani Pedrosa, who may have missed his calling as a drag bike racer with his consistent rocket launches from the starting grid. However, gobbling up Pedrosa quickly were Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi. For Stoner, the race meant pride in front of a home crowd, and a final ushering of silence to any of his critics. While for Rossi, the race meant 25 free points.
Watching his teammate Jorge Lorenzo crash in the first lap, Rossi knew that if he could keep his bike upright, and finish well, he would come out of Australia with a strong points advantage. With these two motivations in contention, the result of Casey Stoner on the top podium almost comes without question. That is not to say that Rossi didn’t make Stoner earn that top step honor. Keeping within tenths of a second of the Ducati throughout the whole race, Rossi kept the pressure on at Phillip Island. Riding with his head instead of his heart though, Rossi refrained from any risky passes, knowing that each lap was closer to locking in another MotoGP Championship.
The pace that Rossi and Stoner blazed was too much for the rest of the pack, even Pedrosa finished an astounding 20 seconds behind the pair. Alex de Angelis would be the number four man, 32 seconds behind Stoner’s finish, with the rest of the pack a more respectable distance from this time.
Lorenzo now trails Rossi in the Championship points by 38 points, which means that Rossi only needs 13 more points to win the Championship outright. To put this in finishing terms, Lorenzo will have to win the next two races, and have Rossi only manage 10th and 11th place finishes at Sepang and Valencia. If Rossi should DNF in either of those races, Rossi would have to finish 4th in the other race to clinch a Championship victory, but a 5th place finish would hand the Championship to Lorenzo. This analysis assumes Lorenzo victories in Malaysia and Spain, which Casey Stoner is making harder to do, as shown by today’s results.
Race Results from MotoGP at the Australian GP at Phillip Island, Australia
|4||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||41’29.353||32.702|
|8||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||41’41.592||44.941|
|15||69||Nicky HAYDEN||DUCATI||41’27.127||1 lap|
|Not finished first lap|