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29 days ago
By motogp.com

He who dares: Luthi takes a stunning photo finish

Rins out, Lowes out, and Zarco in P12? The Swiss rider sweeps up in Phillip Island to take over P2 in the title fight

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Highlights: Luthi steals victory at the last in Australia

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Luthi: "Two in a row for the first time!"

Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) has taken his first ever back-to-back victories in the world championship, as he slipstreamed Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli to the line in Australia – taking the Italian in a stunning photo finish only a week after his victory at the Twin Ring Motegi. Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese completed the podium for his first rostrum in over a year, bouncing back from a tough season marred by injury.

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Morbidelli: "I'm happy anyway"

Blue skies, good weather and finally a completely dry track at Phillip Island saw Moto2™ line up a little late after a dramatic Moto3™ race, with Luthi getting the holeshot from pole and as you were at the front – with a key loser off the line proving Championship leader and reigning Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport). As Luthi then had a big moment, Morbidelli then struck for the lead – but the Swiss rider hit back as the front row set off at the head of the race.

From a tough starting position of P15 for Championship contender Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40), the Spaniard was up into P6 with 20 laps to go – with Zarco back in P13 – as he attempted to cut the Frenchman’s 21 point lead ahead of the Australian GP.  Then Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was the first big name to crash out – rider ok – as the Brit suffered his fifth fall of the weekend early on, before Rins saw his title chances take another big hit as he ended up in the gravel soon after, and Zarco began his fight back and got up into the top ten.

The front group of Luthi, Morbidelli and Pasini remained clear in the lead, with the three keeping pace with each other – and Luthi, P3 in the Championship, seeing his “Rins – out” pit board. As the three remained in the 1:34 laptimes, Zarco began to drop back through the field – in P14 by 11 laps to go.

After a strong turn of pace at the start, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) fell back into the clutches of Misano winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing), with the Italian taking over in P4 and Folger holding on in the top five – until Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Folger’s teammate Sandro Cortese overhauled the Brno winner. Cortese continued his stunning pace and ride through the field to take the podium, with Nakagami fading slightly as he felt the effects of his highside crash in Qualifying - and Pasini falling out of contention at Turn 4.

After a strong turn of pace at the start, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) fell back into the clutches of Misano winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing), with the Italian taking over in P4 and Folger holding on in the top five – until Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Folger’s teammate Sandro Cortese overhauled the Brno winner. Cortese continued his stunning pace and ride through the field to take the podium, with Nakagami fading slightly as he felt the effects of his highside crash in Qualifying - and Pasini falling out of contention at Turn 4.

Baldassarri finished the race in P4, ahead of Nakagami by the flag, with Folger hanging on to P6. Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) had a solid ride to P7, with Axel Pons (AGR Team) taking eighth ahead of an impressive performance from Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), who came home in ninth. Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) completed the top ten.

Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) headed reigning Champion Zarco, as the Frenchman finished the race in P12 – with Jesko Raffin (Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG), Edgar Pons (Paginas Amalrillas HP40) and Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsi Honda Team Asia) completing the points positions.

With Lowes and Rins both crashing out, and Zarco down in P12, Luthi was the big winner in Phillip Island – cutting his deficit in the title fight significantly as the penultimate round of the year at Sepang International Circuit approaches. He took over in P2 in the title, now only 22 points down, and showed the adage can be true – he who dares, can sometimes win.

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