MotoGP: Australian GP Racing Starts with a Decisive Crash at Phillip Island

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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

Pos. No. Rider Manufacturer Time Diff
1 27 Casey STONER DUCATI 40’56.651
2 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 40’58.586 1.935
3 3 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 41’19.269 22.618
4 15 Alex DE ANGELIS HONDA 41’29.353 32.702
5 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 41’32.536 35.885
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 41’35.133 38.482
7 33 Marco MELANDRI KAWASAKI 41’41.112 44.461
8 14 Randy DE PUNIET HONDA 41’41.592 44.941
9 36 Mika KALLIO DUCATI 41’50.996 54.345
10 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 41’57.856 1’01.205
11 7 Chris VERMEULEN SUZUKI 42’02.068 1’05.417
12 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 42’02.601 1’05.950
13 41 Gabor TALMACSI HONDA 42’14.602 1’17.951
14 52 James TOSELAND YAMAHA 42’14.636 1’17.985
15 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 41’27.127 1 lap
Not finished first lap