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Marquez's 50th victory sets title race alight

Marquez's 50th victory sets title race alight

Marc Marquez wins one of the most dramatic MotoGP™ races of all time as Lorenzo reduces Rossi's lead in the standings to just 11 points.

Repsol Honda’s Marquez emerged triumphant from an incredible Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix to record his 50th career GP victory and fifth of 2015. Marquez secured the race win in the end by just 0.249s from Jorge Lorenzo, with Andrea Iannone completing the podium ahead of championship leader Valentino Rossi who had to settle for fourth.

The 32,000 fans packed into the grandstands bore witness to one of the most exciting races in the history of the World Championship as Marquez was involved in a race-long scrap with Movistar Yamaha teammates and title rivals Lorenzo and Rossi, plus the Ducati GP15 of Iannone. The battle between these four was simply breath-taking, as for once the weather did not throw a spanner in the works with the sun shining and track temperatures reaching 40˚C. It really did have everything: a myriad of overtakes, lots of contact, a championship title on the line, and even a bird strike.

At the start it was Iannone who got the drive off the line to lead into turn 1 with Lorenzo and Marquez in hot pursuit. Lorenzo would take the lead into turn 8, and in a sign of things to come there was contact between Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa at turn 10 as the former defended 3rd. Iannone re-took the lead on lap 2, only to be hit by a stray seagull on the entrance to turn 4 to allow Lorenzo to move back to the front.

The lead swapped hands a number of times between these three on the opening laps. All the while Rossi, who had started from seventh on the grid, had been biding his time, before starting to move through the pack by lap 3. The ‘Doctor’ overtook the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow to move up to fourth on lap 4 and join in the fun at the front.

Lorenzo began to break away at the front, and by the end of lap 7 he had opened up a 1.4s gap, but just when it looked like he would disappear into the distance the chasing trio started to close. Unbelievably, despite constantly swapping places, the three started to reel in Lorenzo at the front. At the end of lap 13, Lorenzo’s lead was down to a second. At the end of lap 14 it was 0.5s, and fans were in for a treat as Marquez, Iannone and Rossi caught Lorenzo at the front with 10 laps to go.

From here on in it was anyone’s guess who would win, with Iannone using the incredible power of his GP15 to show some blistering pace on the straight. This meant each time once of the others passed the Italian; he was able wait until the Gardner straight to launch his Bologna missile back past.

Lorenzo took the lead with 7 laps to go once more, and with just two laps to go had extended this lead to one second as the others fought against each other. The best was still to come though. As the riders entered the final lap less than second separated all four, as Lorenzo led across the line from Iannone with Marquez in third and Rossi fourth.

Marquez passed Iannone in the Southern Loop to move into second and set off after Lorenzo. Rossi also came past his compatriot after contact at turn 4, before Iannone fought back into 3rd through Lukey Heights. Then at turn 10 Marquez blitzed past Lorenzo into the lead, as Rossi tried desperately to pass Iannone for the final time but failed. Marquez then managed to hold on through the final few corners to secure an amazing victory as the crowd went wild. Marquez had saved his best till last, putting in the fastest lap of the race on the final lap as he timed his move to perfection. It seemed a fitting way for the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion to break his MotoGP™ points duck at Phillip Island, as he became the youngest ever rider to reach the milestone of 50 GP wins.

Lorenzo took second, his tenth podium of the year, to close the gap in the standings to Rossi to just 11 points with two races remaining. Iannone completed the podium, his third of the year and first since Mugello, while Rossi’s fourth was only the second time he has missed out on the podium this season. To give you an idea of how close it was, just a second separated the four across the line. It was also Rossi’s 328th grand prix, which moves him level with Loris Capirossi at the top of the list of riders with the most World Championships starts.

Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa came out on top in the battle for fifth as he crossed the line 5 seconds behind Rossi. The winner at Motegi had enjoyed an excellent race long fight with Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who finished in sixth and seventh respectively. Sixth equalled Viñales best MotoGP™ result from the Catalan GP as he once more impressed in what is only the Spaniard's rookie season.

Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) won the battle of the brothers as he beat Aleix (Team Suzuki Ecstar) to 8th. Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith completed the top ten, finishing less than a second ahead of his compatriot Scott Redding on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda in eleventh.

LCR Honda’s Jack Miller took the Open class victory at his home grand prix by finishing in fifteenth, while Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) crossed the line in 19th after announcing he will be staying with his team for 2016. Laverty’s teammate Nicky Hayden was forced to retire with a technical issue and Damien Cudlin (E-Motion IodaRacing Team), who was substituting for the injured Alex De Angelis, also had to return to the pits with an issue.

Check out the full MotoGP™ race results and the latest championship standings.

MotoGP, 2015, PRAMAC AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, RAC, Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team, #TheIslandBattle

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