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Lorenzo Pulls Off Hard-Fought Podium in Phillip Island Thriller

Yamaha 101815

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had the race fans on their feet at the Grand Prix of Australia today, delivering a stunning race result at Phillip Island with a vital outcome for the 2015 Season. Not only did Lorenzo claim second place to reduce the gap to Rossi, who finished fourth, to 11 points, but his efforts also handed Yamaha the Manufacturers’ World Title.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders got swept up in an unbelievable fight around the Phillip Island circuit today for the first four places at the Australian Grand Prix. In the end it was Jorge Lorenzo who finished second ahead of Valentino Rossi in fourth in a nail-bitingly tense race, securing vital points for the MotoGP Championship.

Lorenzo had a good launch from third on the grid and immediately overtook Marquez at the start. With Rossi stuck behind Cal Crutchlow, the number two in the championship standings made most of the situation and powered passed Iannone in corner eight for the lead, but had to relinquish his position when they reached Doohan corner.

What happened over the next two laps was a flurry of activity. The top three protagonists consisting of Lorenzo, Iannone and Marquez switched position multiple times, before the Yamaha rider managed to take over the lead for a second time with 25 laps to go. This time he made it stick and quickly tried to check out.

It looked like the race leader was soon to be visited by Rossi, Marquez and Iannone once more, until the chasing group started to fight amongst themselves. Lorenzo put his head down one more time and increased the gap to 1.2s with 15 laps to go. However, despite his consistency, Marquez reached the back of his bike two laps later and the following swapping of places between the Spaniards allowed Iannone and Rossi to catch up.

Realising the threat that came from behind Lorenzo put in a brave move in Lukey Heights and took over the lead with six laps to go. He tried to build up a solid lead, but again it wasn’t to last. He defended his leading position the best he could, but was caught in the end and had to settle for second, +0.249s from the front.

The Doctor made a great start to this tense race from seventh on the grid and soon moved up to sixth on the opening lap, but lost crucial time behind Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa. With 24 laps to go he managed to squeeze the nimble Yamaha YZR-M1 past the Spaniard and the Briton and then soon started to make his way to the front to join the fight for the lead two laps later.

With Lorenzo clearing off at the front, the Doctor pushed to the maximum to follow him, as every point is crucial in these incredibly tight championship standings. Chasing Marquez, Rossi set the fastest lap at that time of the race with nine laps to go. The young Spaniard went wide in Doohan Corner, allowing Rossi to catch up, but soon a scrap between him and Iannone gave Marquez a chance to break away and reel in Lorenzo.

They two Italians chased the leading Spaniards and found themselves in with a shot when, with six laps to go, they reached the duo at the front. With four laps to go Rossi took third from his compatriot. He went up the inside of Marquez one lap later, making a block pass, but it was Iannone who took advantage. On the last lap Rossi tried to take third from his fellow Italian in Lukey Heights but was unable to make it stick had to settle for fourth, +1.058s from the front.

Today’s results see Rossi hold the lead in the championship with 296 points and an 11-point margin over teammate Lorenzo in second place.

Jorge Lorenzo
2nd / +0.249 / 27 laps

“I think this was the most exciting race of the season and for sure one of the best in the last few years. To have four of the fastest riders fighting for victory in all the corners for the whole race is unbelievable. To be honest, I didn’t expect that Andrea and Valentino would be able to stay with us. I also expected Marc to be stronger than me, but in the race I saw that he had some problems in some corners and so when I passed him again I tried to push to the limit and create an advantage, but it wasn’t enough. In the slow corners I lost out a little bit, because my front tyre’s life was going down, so I couldn’t lean in completely, so he was able to recover a lot of time in these corners. I didn’t want to crash in the last braking zone and that’s probably why Marc was able to brake later and take the victory. It’s a really good feeling to close in on Valentino in the championship. The bike was working really well and we did a good job throughout the whole weekend. It was just a pity that this front tyre on the bike was struggling a little bit, but we are a step closer in the championship. It could have been more but it also could have been less, but it’s enough. At some point you have to be happy, look ahead to continue delivering this good work during the last two races.”

Valentino Rossi
4th / +1.058 / 27 laps

“Today the results could have been better, but this is OK too. It could have been better if I would have been able to overtake Iannone in the last lap and it was a shame I wasn’t able to stay on the podium. I had a good pace and good speed during the race, so arriving in fourth place is a pity, but it was still a good race. We already said that race results was going to be important ten rounds ago, but now it’s really important and it will be very tough until the last race.”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today we saw the most exciting race of the season, unfortunately we couldn’t win it, but we did everything we could. We all felt confident that we could deliver a good result here, but this race went beyond our expectation. Both Jorge and Valentino fought a very hard battle and pushed to the limit. We secured the Team World Title in Aragón in Yamaha’s 60th Anniversary Year and now we have followed it up with the Manufacturers’ Title, in which the whole team can take great pride. For the Rider World Title we will have to wait a little while longer and we can’t wait to get started for the next race in Sepang.”

Espargaro wraps up the Australian GP in 8th

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro produced a consistent performance down under to complete the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 8th position aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard kicked off his campaign at the 4.4 kilometre Phillip Island Circuit from the rear of the third row and when the lights flicked off, he jumped forward before completing the opening lap in 11th. Espargaro then quickly set into his strong race pace and began muscling his way through the field. By the 5th lap, he was back up to 9th position and exchanged places with Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati several times. He powered past on the 8th lap and then opened up a gap quickly, with Aleix Espargaro next up in his sights. After inching closer lap by lap, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion dived past on the fifteenth lap and then comfortably pulled away. He carried on pushing before eventually crossing the finish line in 8th, closing what has been a challenging weekend for the 24 year old. Next up is the final flyaway race at Sepang, where he will seek to battle his way into the leading satellite position and fight as close as possible to the factory MotoGP bikes.

On the other hand, Bradley Smith pushed throughout the 27 lap sprint and eventually concluded the 16th round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship in 10th position. The young British rider launched into action from the fourth row of the grid and finished the opening lap in 12th as he set into his rhythm whilst he intended to move through the pack. After running at a consistent pace, the 24 year old moved up one position on the fourth lap and then continued to build up his speed before overtaking Andrea Dovizioso on the 10th. He slipped behind the Ducati rider one lap later, but he forced his way through shortly after and then stretched ahead. Next in line for Smith was Aleix Espargaro in 9th and the Briton pushed onwards as the distance to the end of the race decreased. Yet in the end, Smith ran out of time and finished in 10th, just over half of a second behind the Suzuki factory rider. Nevertheless, this result sees Smith continue his 100% record of completing every MotoGP race of 2015 inside the top ten as well as increasing his advantage over Dovizioso in the World Championship standings with only two races left to run. The 24 year old will now seek to guide his Yamaha into a top six position at the next race at the world famous Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Pol Espargaro
8th / +18.401 / 27 laps

“Today’s race was a solid finish to the weekend and we have to be satisfied when bearing in mind how we started on Friday. In addition, the gap to the riders in front is not as big as it has been at other races this year, so all in all we have to be pleased. Having said that, I also have a bittersweet taste in my mouth when thinking about the confidence and pace that I had in today’s warm up, but for some reason the grip level during the race always seems to be lower than in the morning. This lack of grip generates a few issues for us which we have experienced in the last couple of races as well as today. Therefore, we need to find a solution to this matter and be more prepared for the race at Sepang, even if this round has been a positive one.”

Bradley Smith
10th / +20.657 / 27 laps

“To be honest, today was a tough race for me and it’s positive to walk away with a top ten finish. This weekend we struggled to find the right setting in order to give me the confidence that I needed to be fast around this technical track. In the end, we did the best that we could with a solid setup for the race and ultimately, I was pleased with the consistency of my lap times. They were better than the times I had been setting across all three days so the team did a good job with giving me the best bike that they could. Having said that, unfortunately this was only good enough for 10th, but nevertheless, I was fighting with my teammate and I finished in front of my championship rival Andrea Dovizioso, plus I gained three points on him. We must learn from this tricky weekend because every day we couldn’t quite find the right direction, especially with regards to the extra hard tyre that Bridgestone brought here. Therefore, we need to take note of what we did and then try to improve these factors in the future. However, next up is Sepang and we won’t have that tyre there so I will arrive in Malaysia a lot more confident about getting back inside the top six which is where I feel I need to be. We had two great tests there in the winter, so I’m happy that we’ll have a solid base setting to start with. It will be another gruelling race under the heat so now it’s time to recover as much as possible in the next few days so that we can be ready for a good performance in Sepang.”

Baz third Open at Phillip Island

The weekend of the Australian Grand Prix ended with both rider of the Forward Racing team out of the points at Phillip Island. Loris Baz and Toni Elias struggled a lot on the Australian track and they respectively crossing the finish line in 18th and 22nd place.

Baz, after finding the right feeling in qualifying, became a protagonist of a strong fight with Barbera and Hernandez to breach into the Top15. After a series of overtakes, the Frenchman, who suffered in terms of top speed, was forced to give the way and passed under the checkered flag in 18th place.

It was also a difficult race also for Toni Elias, who has struggled from the free practices to find the right confidence with his Yamaha Forward. The Spaniard lost the contact with the group after the first few laps and finished in 22nd position.

Loris Baz
18th / +48.677 / 27 laps

“The race has been positive. I fought all the time with Barbera and Hernandez and I enjoyed it. I lost something in terms of top speed from them, but I could manage the gap. I did not lose points in the standing and it was a good result after this complicated weekend.”

Toni Elias
22nd / +1’20.942 / 27 laps

“I cannot say I’m happy with the race. I suffered in the free practices and in the race and I could not set my pace. I had not the feeling to be able to push and I struggled until the end. I’m looking forward to race in Sepang: it’s a track that can be good for the Yamaha Forward”.