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250th Race a Win for Rossi

Moto GP 2014

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Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi took the top-step of the podium once again at Phillip Island in his 250th Grand Prix race, the Doctor’s first win at the Australian circuit since 2005. Rossi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, finished second followed by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith in third, the British rider earning his first ever GP podium.

It was a thrilling race, with only 14 of the starting 23 riders making it to the finish and plenty of dramatic action down to the final lap. At the start, Lorenzo throttled to the head of the pack alongside Smith, as the two dipped into the first turn side-by-side for the front. Lorenzo took the lead position briefly but Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez slipped by both Smith and Lorenzo within the opening turns to assume the number one spot. Behind, riders jostled for position with Smith’s teammate, Pol Espargaro, Rossi, Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, Forward Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro and Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow slotting into fourth through eighth.

Marquez maintained his lead on Lorenzo during the subsequent laps, Rossi got ahead of both Tech 3 riders for podium position and Crutchlow started to ascend the ranks, getting to sixth three laps into the contest. The battle for fourth place was really tight however, and the close quarters were compounded as Aleix Espargaro, Pedrosa, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone closed in on the group.

Iannone became one of the first casualties of the battle five laps in, clipping Pedrosa’s rear tire entering a turn and taking a tumble. The Ducati rider was able to walk away from the incident. Pedrosa kept upright, but the hit took a toll on his machine and on the next lap the Spaniard slowed considerably. He was forced to pull into the pits for an assessment of the damage and his team eventually decided to pull the bike in and end the day early.

Meanwhile, Marquez was managing a one second lead on Lorenzo at the front while Rossi was ticking off personal best laps, one after the other, in third. Crutchlow had made it up to fourth, where he was riding a lonely race with multiple second gaps ahead and behind him. Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro, Smith and Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso were going at it hard for fifth position.



As the race reached mid-point, Rossi had closed in on Lorenzo and the two waged a multi-lap battle for second. They swapped positions numerous times, all the while losing valuable time on Marquez at the front, allowing the Repsol rider to stretch his lead to more than three seconds.

With 10 laps remaining things took a dramatic turn when Marquez, with more than four seconds of an advantage on second place, crashed out at the bottom of Lukey Heights. The 2014 title winner lost the front end and went sliding into the grass. He righted the bike quickly and tried to rejoin, but was unable and left the battle for the win to the Yamahas.

“We were having a good race, right up until the crash,” said Marqeuz. “It was a pity that I went down at a time that I was not riding on the limit or faster than the lap before. It was a race where there were many crashes, and almost all happened the same way: the front wheel locking up. The temperatures were down a lot, something that was also a factor today. It is better that this happened now, so that I gain experience for next year.”

At this point, Rossi had put some space between himself and Lorenzo. Further back, more mayhem ensued as Bradl made a move up the ranks through a pack of riders, coming in too hot on Aleix Espargaro and clipping the Forward Yamaha’s rear tire. The contact sent Bradl into a crash while Espargaro kept on pushing, but soon after Espargaro was forced to pull off track due to the damage his machine had suffered. Infuriated by the turn of events, Espargaro broke the windscreen of his machine with his fist.

With seven laps remaining, Rossi was more than two seconds ahead of Lorenzo and Crutchlow was picking up steam from third position. The Ducati rider was in the groove, cutting almost two seconds on Lorenzo within a single lap. Crutchlow caught and passed Lorenzo with five laps remaining.



Rossi was now more than five seconds ahead of his closest competition in the lead while Crutchlow was looking stronger than ever this season in second. Lorenzo continued to drop pace in third, aiding Pol Espargaro in cutting the gap on the Mallorcan in the final laps from fourth. Pol missed out on the opportunity to challenge for the podium with three laps to go when he lost the front end of his machine and crashed out.

This bumped Smith up to fourth-place during the final laps and all seemed to be set for a Rossi, Crutchlow, Lorenzo podium. On the final lap disaster struck once again, this time to Crutchlow who lost his front end and crashed out just a few turns from the finish line.

“I’m absolutely gutted with today’s result. We didn’t deserve that,” said Crutchlow. “The first time I slowed throughout the whole race was on the last lap and the front tire obviously cooled down. I chose the asymmetrical and this was always the risk that we took. It was just a shame that the only mistake I made was slowing down a bit and not carrying on pushing for the rest of the lap. It’s a disappointment to my team, because I believe they deserved it and I’m really sorry for that.” 



Rossi took the win by more than 10 seconds at the checkers. 

“I’m so happy because Phillip Island is one of the most important and most beautiful tracks of the season,” said Rossi. “I won here many times in the past, but over the last few years I was only able to get onto the podium without winning the race. To comeback and take the first position after ten years is great. It's also great to see three Yamaha's on the podium! The race was tricky. The work that we did during the weekend with the team was very important. We did a fantastic job and made the right front tire choice. Marquez was not too far in front of me but he had a two second gap, so I decided to focus on my pace and on Jorge. He was very fast during the whole weekend, but for the second position in the championship it was very important to finish in front of him. When I was in front Marquez crashed and I said to myself “victory!"

Dovi finished in fourth place followed by Avintia Racing's Hector Barbera in fifth. Go & Fun Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista took sixth trailed by his teammate, Scott Redding, in seventh. Drive M7 Aspar's Hiroshi Aoyama crossed the line in eighth followed by Forward Racing's Alex De Angelis in ninth and Aoyama's teammate, Nicky Hayden, in 10th.

Marquez wrapped up the title in the previous round at Motegi, but the battle for second was close between Pedrosa, Rossi and Lorenzo coming into the Australian round. Rossi leaves Phillip Island firmly in second place, eight points ahead of Lorenzo, who moves to third. Pedrosa drops down to fourth after taking zero points for the round.

MotoGP Phillip Island Results 2014 
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 
3. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 
5. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 
7. Scott Redding (Honda) 
8. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 
9. Alex De Angelis (Forward Yamaha) 
10. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 
11. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 
12. Danilo Petrucci (ART) 
13. Michael Laverty (PBM) 
14. Mike Di Meglio (Avintia)

MotoGP Championship Points 2014 
1. Marc Marquez, 312 
2. Valentino Rossi, 255 
3. Jorge Lorenzo, 247 
4. Dani Pedrosa, 230 
5. Andrea Dovizioso, 166 
6. Aleix Espargaro, 117 
7. Pol Espargaro, 116 
8. Bradley Smith, 108 
9. Andrea Iannone, 102 
10. Stefan Bradl, 96

 
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