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A new level

A new level

The Australian GP was a magical race, one that will go down in the history books as a highlight of the modern era and a turning point.

2006, Estoril. 2008, Laguna Seca. 2009, Catalunya. 2012, Brno. 2015, Assen. Some of the most memorable MotoGP™ races of the modern era but now Phillip Island’s 2015 thriller joins the ranks. The previous races were, for the most part, epic duels, two riders locked in thrilling battles focused fully on their most heated rival of the time. But the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was a new type of race, four of the sport’s greatest current talents grappled in a no holds bar free-for-all. Friendships and nationalism were thrown out the window as Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone and Valentino Rossi produced perhaps the best race of the last decade.

The action started as the lights went out and lasted till the flags came out, each lap filled with overtakes and moments of drama. From wildlife to drags to the finish line, Phillip Island had it all. Phillip Island also proved that the 2015 MotoGP™ title is far from settled. Both Marquez and Iannone proved neither should be ruled out or under estimated.

Marc Marquez is known for his ability to produce record-breaking laps out of thin air, he did in during Q2 in Austin to the amazement of millions. But his closing lap of the Australian GP was better. It was a masterpiece. As the final lap got underway the Repsol Honda rider was 0.778s behind Jorge Lorenzo, and had the incredibly aggressive Andrea Iannone between them. With an overheated front and a rear near the end of its life, Marquez conjured a 1’29.280 to not only close down Lorenzo but also to cross the line 0.249s ahead. That’s a difference of 1.027s in a lap, and he passed two riders.

Not only did Marquez improve his level, but Iannone is also riding like never before. The Italian battled like a man possessed in Australia, he has produced performances such as these before but often only for a few laps. Today he joined the aliens; he brought the fight to Rossi and Marquez on a track where a rider’s ability can overcome a plethora of other issues and limitations. Iannone's move at Turn 10 to pass both Rossi and Marquez was something that even Phillip Island king and Ducati ace Casey Stoner would have been impressed by. This is the true Andrea Iannone and he, like Marquez, will be a threat for the podium in Malaysia and Valencia.

Lorenzo made up ground, but he would have liked more. Even two more points could have made a significant difference. The Mallorcan has never won at Sepang in the premier class, a best finish of second in 2012; he’ll have to join Marquez and Iannone in reaching a new level if he wants the gap to reduce again. Lorenzo needs victory, he needs as many points as he can. Dramatically changing is not out of the question for Lorenzo, in 2013 when he was battling Marquez for the title Lorenzo returned to the hyper aggressive Lorenzo of his 125cc and 250cc days. Flashes of that Lorenzo appeared in Phillip Island, but will he make a full reappearance in Sepang?

11-points separate Rossi from Lorenzo. It’s enough for Rossi to finish second in each race and still take the title, but with Iannone and Marquez even a podium isn’t guaranteed anymore. Of course it could also work in Rossi’s favour and push Lorenzo from the podium. Whatever happens, there are more than just two riders deciding this title fight.

 

Tags:
MotoGP, 2015, PRAMAC AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, RAC, Ducati Team, Repsol Honda Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, #TheIslandBattle

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