Marquez rides luck to win in Australia
- News Service 27 OCTOBER 2019, 10:19Reuters
MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez rode his luck on "destroyed" tyres before swooping late to win the Australian Grand Prix for Honda on Sunday as pole-sitter Maverick Vinales's challenge ended with a crash.
Marquez, who sewed up his sixth MotoGP title and fourth in a row in Thailand three weeks ago, roared past Vinales on the straight as they entered the final lap at Phillip Island and held off his fellow Spaniard in a nerve-jangling finish.
Pushing his Yamaha hard to reel in Marquez, Vinales spun out at the Lukey Heights section of the seaside circuit, handing Briton Cal Crutchlow the runnerup spot on his non-works LCR Honda, with local hero Jack Miller third for Pramac Ducati.
"I knew that if I didn't give up, these four or five (final) laps, it would be possible (for) the victory," said Marquez, who started third on the grid.
"We took a gamble because we went with the soft rear (tyre). It was completely destroyed but OK, able to win the race."
Marquez's 55th premier class win moved him past Australian Mick Doohan to outright third in the all-time list behind Italian great Valentino Rossi (89) and Giacomo Agostini (68).
The relentless 26-year-old notched his fifth race win in succession, his best run since 2014.
Rossi placed eighth for Yamaha after qualifying fourth in his 400th race weekend.
Qualifying was staged on the morning of the race after being called off on Saturday due to safety concerns following Miguel Oliveira's crash amid high winds during practice.
An error on Marquez's final flying lap cost him a better position on the grid but his laser focus was restored by the time of the race.
In a furious start, Danilo Petrucci high-sided after brushing by Marquez on the first lap and he took out French rider Fabio Quartararo as he flew off his Ducati.
Petrucci rolled across track and gravel at high speed to raise fears for his safety but he got gingerly to his feet and limped away with the help of track staff.
Rossi avoided the mayhem and shot into a surprise lead but soon relinquished it to Crutchlow.
Vinales swiped the lead from Crutchlow with 18 laps left before Marquez aggressively barged his way past the Briton into second place to set up his late raid.
Marquez extended his championship lead to an unbeatable 375 points with two races remaining in Malaysia and on home soil in Valencia.
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, who finished seventh at Phillip Island, is second on 240 points.
- Marc Marquez