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Home Heroes: From a land down under

Home Heroes: From a land down under

Four Australians line up on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix seeking to repeat the success of some of MotoGP™’s biggest names.

Australia has a proud history of World Championship riders and champions; the dirt track background of many riders made Australia a dominant force in the 500cc era. Wayne Gardner lifted the 500cc crown in 1987 to become the first premier class Australian champion, fellow MotoGP™ legend Mick Doohan would carry on the legacy and achieve five back-to-back titles. In more recent years, Casey Stoner achieved incredible success with both Ducati and Honda. Now the weight of Australia rests on four riders, with only two having full time rides.

Jack Miller lost the 2014 Moto3™ World Championship by just two points, but showed there was hope for Australians on the world stage after the departure of Stoner. For 2015 the 20 year old from Townsville made the unprecedented jump from the lightweight Moto3™ class to the MotoGP™ class with the backing of Honda, running with the LCR Honda team. Fellow Australian Garry McCoy made a similar move, stepping from the 125cc class in 1997 to the 500cc class in 1998.

It hasn’t been an easy year for Miller; there have been seven crashes in 15 races with a best finish of 11th at the Catalan GP. Amongst the many falls and tough races there have been flashes of brilliance; Miller won the Open class race in Argentina and was battling inside the top four of the British GP in the wet before falling.

Making his return to the premier class in Phillip Island is Anthony West, one of the most experienced riders in the World Championship. West fills in for the injured Karel Abraham after having parted ways with QMMF. His debut came at Phillip Island back in 1998 in the 125cc class before West joined the 250cc World Championship full time the following year. In 2007 and 2008 ‘Westy’ raced with the factory Kawasaki team in MotoGP™ with a best finish of fifth at the Czech GP in 2008.

West, alongside fellow Australian and former GP winner Chris Vermeulen, has become renowned for his ability in the wet. Both of his wins came in the wet at Assen, his first in 2003 in the 250cc class and his second at the Dutch track in 2014 in the Moto2™ class. The dirt track racing that many Australia racers grow up with is often said to be a major factor as to why so many are fast in the wet.

Alongside Miller, Remy Gardner is the only other Australian currently with a full time World Championship ride. Son of the aforementioned legendary Wayne Gardner, Remy’s debut year in the Moto3™ class has not gone to plan on the Mahindra MGP30 machine, struggling to match the pace of the Honda and KTM riders.

Of all the Australian riders on the grid, Josh Hook is perhaps the most familiar with the Phillip Island circuit. While both Gardner and Miller grew up racing in Europe, Hook has spent the majority of his life racing in the Australian Superbike Championship after a spell in the Red Bull Rookies cup. Many have been impressed by Hook who finished second at the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2015 alongside Dominique Aegerter, who he is currently replacing.

A late edition to the grid, Damian Cudlin will make his MotoGP™ return as a substitute for the injured Alex De Angelis on the ART machine. Cudlin, as with Josh Hook and the legendary Troy Bayliss, hails from Taree Australia and will make his eighth appearance in the premier class. The 2011 season saw him ride in Motegi and Phillip Island, though he was unable to compete in Australian GP due to a highside during practice. In 2013 he raced the final five races for the PBM team and has a reputation as one of the best and most dependable replacement riders.

MotoGP, 2015, PRAMAC AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, Joshua Hook, Jack Miller, Remy Gardner, Anthony West

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