MotoGP Phillip Island: Rins reigns in Australia
Christina Bulpett |
Image: GeeBee Pictures
Alex Rins secured a hard-fought first win of 2022 for himself and Team Suzuki Ecstar at Phillip Island on Sunday.
With seven riders covered by less than a second on the flag, Rins held off Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and new championship leader Pecco Bagnaia for a thrilling and well-deserved victory as Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi took the title of best independent pilot and the Rookie of the Year award. from the fourth.
The final racing action of the day came after a memorial lap celebrating Australian MotoGP champion Casey Stoner on his 37th birthday. Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin lined up on pole position ahead of a seemingly back-to-form Marquez with Ducati Lenovo’s Bagnaia in third. Italy’s main rivals for the title Aleix Espargaro and Fabio Quartararo just behind in second with team-mate and local hero Jack Miller starting from eighth for his home GP in factory colors.
The Repsol Honda rider opted for a gamble with soft rear tyres, with the rest of the field split between hard and medium Michelin fronts and just five riders – Miller, Pol Espargaro, both LCRs and Cal Crutchlow opting for medium rears. Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira faced a long lap penalty – following his demotion on the grid to 24th – after Saturday’s penalties for an illegal start to practice before the Q2 checkered flag and disturbing the final fast lap from Enea Bastianini as he rolled slowly into turn nine.
The lights went out for 27 laps and Aleix Espargaro was third in the opening action. Pramac’s Johann Zarco was swallowed up by the peloton as he dropped from sixth to 17th, while Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales suffered the same fate as 13th after throwing the standings offline. Bagnaia was back on his rival with Quartararo still in tow as Miller edged past Alex Marquez for seventh by the end of the first lap. Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini is next in sight for the Aussie as Martin maintains control up front.
Ducati held third and fourth as Miller’s lead found the edge of the podium, with Espargaro trying to fight back on number 43 before being quickly put back in his place. Quartararo ran wide after a major swing at Miller’s corner as the defending champion returned to action in the 22nd and on the back of teammate Franky Morbidelli.
Gresini’s Fabio di Giannantonio crashed out on lap five. Rins raced through the pack finishing fifth, with Espargaro, the two VR46 riders and Joan Mir now behind. Quartararo immediately launched a comeback as he advanced to 19th with the two WithU Yamahas ahead.
Rins captured Miller early in lap seven, Bagnaia two-tenths clear before the Ducati became his final victim. The GSX-RR is now half a second behind Marquez and Martin with 20 to go.
KTM’s Brad Binder broke into the top ten before a crash for the young Marquez took Miller – at his newly renamed corner – immediately giving him seventh place. Quartararo in the points on lap ten with one second to bridge Espargaro’s Honda.
Rins was second next time out as further heartbreak descended on Quartararo, with the Frenchman leaving action at the Southern Loop for his third non-score in four races.
Bezzecchi was fifth with 15 to go as Bagnaia and Marquez battled ahead of GP21. The front nine ran within two seconds of the leaders as Rins briefly took charge of the overall before Martin fought back.
The Suzuki’s second attempt was more successful as Martin dropped back to fourth on the Miller corner. Bagnaia took second with Bezzecchi looking to capitalize on the struggling Pramac for fourth soon after.
Bagnaia took the lead on lap 15, Marquez quickly demoting Rins to the back of the podium at turn four. Bastianini returned to his usual late racing form claiming ninth place from the Zarco in recovery with Marini and Binder following.
Rins was back in second three laps later with Martin and Marquez next in line to battle for the final podium. The leading pack is now ten strong and covered by two seconds as the race wears off.
Bezzecchi was on the podium with eighth to go as Rins moved back into the lead. Marquez suffers and saves a moment through Doohan before looking to hit back at the Ducati. Rins at the mercy of Ducati power and the home straight as Bagnaia and Bezzecchi raced past with Marquez capitalizing for third as the lap unfolded.
Rins was back on the podium the next time around as Martin fired on the eight-time champion. Morbidelli crashed out to end a disastrous day for the Monster Energy squad as Espargaro’s hold on the lead group faded on his way to ninth.
Five to go and the fight up front was seven men. Bezzecchi hard on the wheels of his friend and training partner with Rins, Marquez, Marini and Martin a few tenths each behind as Bastianini came on their tail.
The rookie was dispatched by Rins and Marquez at turn three, as the Suzuki headed towards Bagnaia. Marquez outplaying the distracted Suzuki through the South Loop before the inseparable pair switched again.
The Italian found himself third as the final lap began, Bastianini trailing the VR46 duo before Marini was dispatched.
Rins held on to celebrate Team Suzuki’s victory over Marquez with Bagnaia, Bezzecchi, Bastianini, Marini, Martin and Zarco completing a huge top eight for the Bologna factory. Espargaro’s title hopes fade with a ninth-place finish from Binder and his younger brother Pol while Oliveira, Crutchlow, Darryn Binder and local rider Remy Gardner picked up the final Australian GP points.
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