The Portuguese masters the wet conditions once more as he takes his first win since the rain-soaked Indonesian Grand Prix earlier this season.
Miguel Oliveira takes his second win of the season in style, once again in rainy Asian conditions. It is a sigh of relief after having struggled for the most part of the season, often finishing behind his teammate Brad Binder. Starting 11th on the grid, he gradually cut his way towards the front and battled Jack Miller for the lead, eventually beating the Australian by just 0.7s.
The race began with Marco Bezzecchi on pole, his first one in the MotoGP class. The race did not turn out as the young Italian hoped, as he gradually lost positions throughout the race and out of the points. The Ducati factory boys meanwhile were on a charge, as Francesco Bagnaia hoped to revive his title hopes after a costly mistake in Japan left him with no points. This time it was Miller again emerging as the faster Ducati, but Bagnaia was still able to stay at the top three to claim valuable points, while championship leader Fabio Quartararo struggled outside the points all race.
Johann Zarco made a charge towards the front towards the end of the race. The Frenchman looked to have the pace for the win, but ultimately decided to settle for 4th behind Bagnaia, as he did not want to risk taking the Italian out and further damage both his and Ducati’s title hopes. He finished half a second ahead of Marc Marquez, who bags another impressive top five finish on his road to recovery.
Enea Bastianini finished a solid 6th, although he strays further away from the title race now as he sits 40 points behind with three rounds to go. He finishes ahead of Maverick Vinales in 7th, who claims the top Aprilia result of the weekend once again. Just three tenths behind him was Alex Marquez, who claims his fourth top 10 finish of the season.
Jorge Martin was another one of the front row qualifiers who failed to replicate their Saturday success, as he ended the race down in 9th after having qualified second behind Bezzecchi. Covering the top 10 was Brad Binder, who probably had hoped for more after his 2nd place in Motegi and seeing his teammate as the victor this weekend. It was not the weekend Aleix Espargaro had hoped for either in the midst of his title battle, as he was only able to salvage five points in 11th place in a race where Quartararo had scored none.
The title race heats up once again as only two points split Quartararo and Bagnaia at the top, while Espargaro is still an outlier sitting just 20 points behind the lead. The next round in Australia, like Japan and Thailand, returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019. Espargaro will be the most experienced rider coming to Phillip Island, having ridden there 9 times in his career while Quartararo and Bagnaia has only done so once in their rookie 2019 season. It could be another interesting turn to the title battle, as the three contenders have highly different experiences in the circuit.
Quartararo did not complete a single racing lap, having been wiped out by the second turn of the 2019 race. Bagnaia meanwhile finished an impressive 4th, while Espargaro finished 10th in the then-uncompetitive Aprilia, having briefly battled for the podium in the same race. Bagnaia’s strong debut there as well as his recent form makes him one of the main threats, while Espargaro will not only come as a veteran, but now as a title challenger with a competitive bike. It won’t be a surprise if those two have the upper hand in Australia, but Quartararo has also shown numerous times why he is a world champion, and may as well surprise us all with another world class performance. Stay tuned for the next race!
Featured Image – motogp.com, Dorna Sports