Dovizioso – “The Feeling is Immense”

Andrea Dovizioso took his first win in over 7 years as he beat Valentino Rossi to win the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. The race was held in appalling conditions and despite mistakes from Marquez, Crutchlow and Iannone, it was Dovi who would come up trumps in South East Asia.

“It was very important for me to win a race this year: I’ve been trying for so long and I’ve come close on several occasions, so satisfaction for today’s result is truly immense”, began the Italian.

“I really powered to the win, because in the first half of the race I could not push too hard, but I didn’t give up, I didn’t make any mistakes and at the right time I passed both Iannone and Rossi and set my own pace”. It took him 151 races to finally win again, the question is can he make it last into next season.

“I am very happy about the improvements we have made this year, both in the bike and with my team, but also on a personal level. I am working hard also for next year and this win, which has come at the end of the season, is just reward for all the efforts.”

The win for Andrea puts him a safe 5th in the championship. He is too many points behind Maverick Vinales in 4th, and only 7 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa in 6th, however the latter is injured and not 100% confirmed for the Valencian Grand Prix on the 13th of November.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Bagnaia Bags Sepang Victory, Crash-Fest leaves half the field in the Gravel


Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) took his second ever career win at Sepang International Circuit, as he escaped at the front ahead of a demolition derby through the field – with Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) taking second for an amazing home result for the SIC team, ahead of another rookie podium for Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

A largely dry track, high ambient temperatures and a full Moto3™ grid characterized the start of the race, before the drama began early and went on to claim almost half the field. There were high rates of attrition on Lap 1, with a first incident at Turn 2 seeing Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) losing control of his KTM and making contact with RBA Racing’s Juanfran Guevara to take both out of the race. Ayumu Sasaki, replacing injured Enea Bastianini at Gresini Racing Moto3, was another early casualty as the 2015 SAATC winner and 2016 Red Bull Rookies Champion retired.

There was then a crash at Turn 6 on Lap 1, as Jorge Martin (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) caused a domino effect crash through the racing line on the corner, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Philipp Oettl (Schedl Racing GP) caught up in the incident.

The next drama saw the lead group suddenly shaken up at Turn 7 – after local hero Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) also fell at the corner – when World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Sky Racing Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) all slid out in unbelievable unison – leaving Bagnaia free at the front to build an incredible lead of over three seconds. Binder and Dalla Porta rejoined, but out of the points and lapped.

Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) then crashed at the final corner, losing out on the chance to haul in absent Bastianini for P2 in the title, as a missed gear at the end of the back straight put paid to his chances at points – leaving the top six in the Championship again unable to score in the Moto3™ race, after a similar situation in Phillip Island one week earlier.

Turn 9 then claimed two casualties as Ongetta-Rivacold teammates Niccolo Antonelli and Jules Danilo crashed out in separate but almost simultaneous incidents, with only Antonelli able to remount and remaining in the points.
At the front, Bagnaia was building his lead over four seconds with 12 laps to go, with Jakub Kornfeil, Bo Bendsneyder and RBA Racing’s Gabriel Rodrigo next on track in the second group. Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) found himself in space on the chase, with World Champion Binder coming back out to rejoin the race after repairs and then sharing the track with the Frenchman.

The battle over sixth saw local hero Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) and Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) locked together on track, with Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) in tenth but back from the group, fighting to catch up.

After a trip through pitlane, it was the South African World Champion on the move despite being down the order in terms of position, as he passed Quartararo and Rodrigo to unlap himself at least once – his superior pace allowing him the chance – as Frenchman Quartararo started to reel in the podium places.

Lapped Dalla Porta moved over to let the podium fight through, with Bendsneyder taking advantage to take Kornfeil for P2, as Binder did the same to allow Quartararo back past for the chance to continue his charge towards the podium.

A crash for Maria Herrera at Turn 15 in an incident with Livio Loi then prefaced a Red Flag, and with well over two thirds of race distance completed, the results would stand – with the positions determined by standings on Lap 13 as the last full lap completed by the whole field; a dramatic end for a melodrama of a race.

Bagnaia therefore took his second career victory by an incredible margin, free at the front in an impressive, concentrated ride, with Kornfeil taking P2 by virtue of his position on Lap 13, and rookie Bo Bendsneyder completing the podium.

Quartararo was fourth as he lost the laps needed to reel in the podium, with teammate Locatelli further back but completing the top five. Marcos Ramirez took another fantastic haul of points in sixth, with Rodrigo, home hero Pawi and Loi in P7, P8 and P9 respectively, despite an apparent problem for the Belgian by Lap 15 when the flag came out. Darryn Binder was tenth in another impressive ride after his P4 in Australia, completing a double top ten for the Platinum Bay Real Estate team.

The season finale now awaits, as the Circuit de Ricardo Tormo in Valencia gets ready for the Moto3™ grid for the last lights out of 2016.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Zarco takes Malaysian Moto2 Victory and Second Title

The skies opened ahead of Moto2™ lining up on the grid in Malaysia, with Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) facing down his first chance at the Championship from a soaked pole position – but the Frenchman played his hand perfectly to take an unbelievable win, in front of more podium finishes for Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and wet weather specialist Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP). With Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) finishing in P6 and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) outside the top ten, Zarco took the crown in stunning style.

Folger got the holeshot as the spray kicked up off the start line, with Morbidelli then soon taking him back as polesitter Zarco slotted into third. Title rival Tom Luthi moved from P5 to P8 in the opening stages as the Swiss rider remained cautious in the difficult conditions, with third Championship challenger Alex Rins moving up ten places from 23rd on the grid to 13th in an impressive early gain. But Zarco, 22 points clear of Luthi and a few more of Rins, was the one with the advantage.

An early crash saw some drama in the intermediate class follow that of Moto3™, as Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) slid out followed by Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) at the same corner – before front row starter Axel Pons (AGR Team) then also retired in the difficult conditions.

Morbidelli led the field from Zarco after the Frenchman took Folger back, with Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) in fourth and local rider Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) moving into the top five. Luthi then had a shaky lap as he was passed by both Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team), with the second man in the title standings down in P8 – but the rain then stopping and conditions improving steadily.

As Simeon was reeled in by those on the chase, Rins was on the fight back further back on track – with the Spaniard moving up into the top ten by 13 laps to go but out of title contention. As Luthi struggled in the conditions, the two men in Zarco’s way were then down in P8 and P9 and the title got ever closer for the Ajo Motorsport rider.

The front trio of Morbidelli, Zarco and Folger were locked in a game of chess at the front, as the German kept setting the quickest laps of the three, before Zarco pounced for the lead with 6 laps to go – and disappeared into the distance as he tucked in and pulled away from Morbidelli.

Another win, after another pole, and another intermediate class crown – the first man to defend the Moto2™ title since its introduction in 2010.

Baldassarri came home in a lonely fourth after getting the better of those behind but unable to catch the front trio, with home hero Hafizh Syahrin getting a good pay off for his battles throughout the race as he completed the top five.

Tom Luthi finished the race in P6 after finding some more pace later in the race – but was unable to stop the Frenchman from taking the title. Fellow hopeful Alex Rins, after starting in P23, came home in fourteenth to similarly bow out in Malaysia.

An incredible ride from Alex Marquez saw the 2014 Moto3™ World Champion move up from a difficult qualifying in P21 to fight for P4 and then cross the line in seventh – gaining 14 places in tough conditions a week after sitting out the Australian GP through injury.

Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) made good on his practice showings at Sepang to ride through the field into an impressive top ten position, as the 2015 FIM CEV Repsol Moto2™ championship runner-up came home in P8. Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) split the Tech 3 Racing Team in P9 in tough conditions, with the second Tech 3 of Isaac Viñales completing the top ten as all three took some serious scalps on their way to big points hauls.

Wildcard Ramdan Rosli (Petronas AHM Malaysia) had a stunning ride at his home GP, as he came home in twelfth and ahead of some usual Moto2™ frontrunners.

The curtain came down with a wheelie across the line as Zarco cemented his place in history once again – becoming the first Frenchman to win more than one Championship in Grand Prix Racing, followed by a trackside celebration as both he and a body double did a signature backflip.

Next stop: Valencia, and the Circuit Ricardo Tormo – where Rins, Morbidelli and Luthi will now have their final showdown behind the new World Champion in the table.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Dovi Dominates Malaysian Grand Prix to make it 9 Winners in 2016

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took his second ever victory at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, as he navigated the torrential conditions of Sepang to emerge as the ninth winner of 2016: an all time first for the MotoGP™ World Championship to write another chapter in the ever-changing history books of the premier class. After dueling for the lead earlier in the race, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) came home P2, with teammate Jorge Lorenzo completing the podium.

Lorenzo got the best start off the front row, but it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) from Row 2 who moved through the furthest – up to second around Turn 1 – with Lorenzo ahead and the frontrunners shuffling. With Rossi pushed down to P4, the front group of the Movistar Yamahas, Ducati Team and Marquez were joined in the fight at the front by Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro – before the Spaniard then slid out at Turn 1; able to rejoin but down the order.

Rossi fought his way back into the lead before Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) struck to take P1 – despite still recovering from a cracked vertebra from a crash in Misano – and the Maniac held firm. Teammate Dovizioso was holding off Marquez in third and fourth, with Jorge Lorenzo stalked by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) just behind.

A duel broke out at the front between Rossi and Iannone, with the Maniac true to form and hitting back as the Doctor attacked, before a Turn 15 move saw Iannone take back the lead and power out of the corner ahead – with the speed of the Desmosedici GP16 unthreatened on the main straight.

Dovizioso and Marquez were far from out of the fight, with both moving back to gain on the Italian duo in the lead. Lorenzo was the rider finding himself out of podium contention as he fell down to sixth, moving back into the top five as Phillip Island winner Crutchlow then fell at Turn 2 – the first shot of melodrama in the Malaysian GP.

Two more high profile crashes then rocked the front group, as reigning World Champion Marquez lost his Honda at Turn 11 and slid out – rejoining in the points but out of contention for the victory – followed by early superstar Andrea Iannone at Turn 9, who was unable to rejoin but walked away unscathed.

Dovizioso vs Rossi: Italy vs Italy: Yamaha vs Ducati became the duel at the front – and Rossi was beginning to suffer with the front tyre. With a handful of laps remaining, the rider from Tavullia ran wide at Turn 1 and left his compatriot able to get through, with ‘DesmoDovi’ needing no further invitation to start building a gap.

Keeping it calm and on the road, the number four Ducati crossed the line an incredible margin clear by the penultimate lap, before letting that advantage eke away on his way to the flag – keeping everything minimal risk. Rossi kept his Yamaha upright in second, as Lorenzo took a solid result in the wet to complete the podium, with the caution that at the start saw the Mallorcan overtaken then converted into a good haul of points as he kept it on the road.

Dovizioso’s spectacular win, as well as marking the ninth different victor of the year, is his second premier class victory – the first being Donington Park in 2009 – and the second win this season for the Borgo Panigale factory, after a long drought since 2010.

Loris Baz and Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) were the unsung heroes further back on track as the drama ahead stole the spotlight, with Baz showing incredible wet weather pace once again, into fourth with five laps to go. Barbera then overtook his teammate, with the two crossing the line to complete the top five in another Brno-esque triumph for the team.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had an uncharacteristically quiet race as the Silverstone winner struggled slightly in the wet conditions, nevertheless taking a solid P6 and good haul of points. Alvaro Bautista shone for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini once again in Malaysia with an impressive seventh place for the Noale factory, ahead of Assen winner Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), who completed the top ten.

World Champion Marc Marquez – despite his crash – crossed the line eleventh to retain Phillip Island as his only DNF in a stunning year on his scorecard.

The paddock now return to Valencia as Marquez prepares to ride at home for the first time since taking his third premier class crown – but the one remaining race now begs the question…

…can there be a tenth?

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Luthi pips Morbidelli in Phillip Island Thriller


Tom Lüthi (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 – overtaking 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.

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 Lüthi 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 Lüthi then had a big moment, Morbidelli then struck for the lead – but the Swiss rider hit back and 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.

The front group of Lüthi, Morbidelli and Pasini remained clear in the lead, with the three keeping pace with each other – and Lüthi, 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.

Baldassarri finished P4, ahead of Nakagami by the flag as Folger held 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, Lüthi 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 really can sometimes win.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Binder runs away with Moto3 race, Locatelli and Canet on the Podium

Shortened race of 10 laps after a Red Flag sees South African World Champion take the honours – ahead of a 16 rider fight for the podium

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took a stunning win from pole at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, clear at the front as chaos reigned the Moto3™ class in a 16-rider battle for P3. Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) followed the South African home in second, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) taking his first career podium in third after winning the last lap group battle.

After a weekend of rain, wind and grey skies, Sunday finally dawned bright at Phillip Island, and Warm Up saw laptimes lower for the majority after a mixed Saturday – as the skies remained perfect blue above the Moto3™ grid lining up to race.

An original race saw crashes early on for some of the frontrunners – including key protagonists of the Rookie of the Year battle Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) – with a crash at Lukey Heights then seeing John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) crash out and collect a number of other riders – including Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3). The red flag came out, with a re-started race set for a distance of ten laps.

Bastianini was unable to make the restart, but Navarro lined up once again for the new race – as did Fabio Quartararo, with the Frenchman once again starting form the back after having been disqualified from his P2 qualifying position due to a technical infringement. Having fought up into second before the red flag, the Leopard Racing rider then faced the prospect of doing the task all over again.

The restart saw Binder and Locatelli escaping at the front, before the South African 2016 Moto3™ World Champion began to pull away, leaving Locatelli in a lonely P2. Further back, the battle for third saw riders heading into Doohan Corner eight wide, with the classic Moto3™ freight train creating a 16 rider battle to complete the podium.

Quartararo was unable to repeat his heroics from before the race start, and there were further crashers who then were out of podium contention – including Jorge Navarro after a touch from Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and Turn 4 casualty Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold). Brad Binder’s younger brother Darryn (Platinum Bay Real Estate) then saw the penultimate lap of the race become a duel for the podium with Aron Canet as the two broke free from the group slightly. Canet just took the honour with a slipstream over the line, with Darryn Binder nevertheless taking his career best finish in P4.

The top five was completed by Livio Loi (RW Racing BV GP), ahead of Jorge Martin (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) and Darryn Binder’s teammate Marcos Ramirez. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) and Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) were P8 and P9, with Bendsneyder locking out the top ten.

Third down to tenth was covered by just over seven tenths of a second in the incredible battle – with Fabio Quartararo in P12 still within a second of the podium.

With DNFs for so many of those in the top echelons of the points standings, Binder stretched his lead in the Championship – although already crowned Champion – with Bastianini and Navarro not scoring in the fight over P2, and all three riders locked in the battle for Rookie of the Year – Mir, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Bulega – were also all unable to see the flag.

Another incredible battle will see Moto3™ take over Sepang International Circuit next weekend, as the slipstream specialists take on the incredible final straight, Turn 15 and main straight combination – with a new track surface and some new cambers.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Go On Geezer!

The fry up. The scone. The pint of Marston’s Pedigree. The British Bulldog. And now, Cal Crutchlow. These things are synonymous with the British way of life, and now that Cal Crutchlow has become a winner for a 2nd time, it’s hard to ignore the fact that, he is one of the most talented sportsman in Great Britain. I suppose it’s like waiting for a bus, you wait ages and two come along at once; exactly what has happened in terms of waiting for a top class British winner.

“The Honeybadger” joined MotoGP in 2011, securing rookie of the year and a best finish of 4th at the final race of the year in Valencia. He came to MotoGP after winning multiple times in World Superbike, and although he had options to stay and be world champ, he acknowledged that he’d have to make the jump to a series on the up instead of stay in a championship in a spiral of decline.

It wasn’t obvious at first that Cal was in his natural habitat. Many people had thought he was just “another Brit”. The token British rider, there to purely keep interest in the sport over here in Blighty. So many people had tried and failed to become anything in MotoGP. James Toseland, the former double WSBK champion, couldn’t make it happen at premier level. Jeremy McWilliams, great on the 250s, but never allowing potential to fulfil in the premier class. Neil Hodgson was yet another one who was never given the opportunity. Shane Byrne on the Aprilia and on the KTM, not to mention James Ellison on the WCM and PBM ART machine. Yes, us Brits endured a torrid time, but then came along our saviour, our hero, our Cal.

2012 was a much better year for Cal. He battled with Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso all year, winning most of the scraps he had with the Italian. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez, Crutchlow finished 4th, just 2.4 seconds off the win and half a second off his first podium. Eyebrows were being raised over here. Surely he wouldn’t be able to mount the podium on a Satellite Yamaha? In true Cal Crutchlow style, he went and proved the doubters wrong, taking a third place at Brno! The Brits were back, as Scott Redding was on the up in Moto2, as was Bradley Smith. Danny Kent was racing through the ranks too, having an incredible year in Moto3. Crutchlow rounded out the season with a podium at Phillip Island, finishing the season 7th.

2013 would prove to be even better! For the first five races, he wasn’t outside of the top 5. A crash in Catalunya whilst with the leading quartet blotted his copy book, but he fought back with a stunning 3rd in Assen, almost beating eventual champion Marquez in a last lap scrap, as well as taking 2nd at the Sachsenring, where he would have to beat Valentino Rossi, who was on the Factory Spec bike. British fans were daring to dream of a win, but then Cal made the decision to move to the Factory Ducati team.

The dreams suddenly ended. The energy has suddenly subsided. It was all very sudden indeed. The bike that had ruined the careers of Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden and to an extent, Loris Capirossi. The bike that not even The Doctor of Rossi could cure. Crutchlow was taking a huge risk, but only one man knew that he would make it work, and that was Cal himself.

Re-joining old sparring partner Dovizioso at Ducati, Cal had a decent first outing, with 6th in the Qatari Desert. This was better than Valentino’s 2011 debut. However, a massive crash at COTA meant Crutchlow’s season was effectively over before it began. After 7 races, Cal had finished two of them, and now us Brits were once again thinking it was yet another talent squandered. A shock podium at Aragon in the rain was the only time Cal would stand back on the box. Despite running an impressive 2nd at Phillip Island, he crashed out on the final lap, due to a sudden drop in track temperature. The season was a season to forget, and maybe having a factory bike wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. Another year we had to wait for a win then.

Cal went back to a satellite team in 2015, with the LCR team, replacing Stefan Bradl. Crutchlow took a thrilling podium away from Andrea Iannone at Argentina, nicking it on the final flick left to seal the deal and beat the rider who replaced him on the Bologna Bullet. It would prove to be his only podium of the year but it was a sign that Cal was back. Cal could be the rider he was back in his Tech 3 Yamaha days.

2016 started off the worst way possible. After three races, the Coventry rider wasn’t carrying on his form, but instead, he was propping up the series table, as he was rock bottom. Things got better for him at Catalunya, as he took a 6th, but then, the ball started rolling. A simply stunning 2nd position in Germany emphasised and reminded us all that the name “Crutchlow” was still a formidable force.

It would be the Czech Grand Prix however where the wait would finally end. Having been languishing down in 13th for most of the race, the harder option tyre came to Cal as the softer option went away for the front runners. He and Valentino stormed through the field, but the Brit was the one to prevail. On the back wheel in a way only Cal could, he took his first win. 35 years of drought had been ended by number 35 himself. Silverstone was next, and from pole position, Crutchlow took a 2nd place in front of thousands of home fans willing him on. The season was just unbelievably successful.

Then, along came the Australian Grand Prix. Starting from the front row, Crutchlow made an appalling get away, but he made up for it and soon he was 2nd. At Honda hairpin, the camera panned, and it was an orange flash flying through the Australian dirt. Marc Marquez, the champion, the race leader, had crashed out in dramatic fashion. This left Cal Crutchlow with a mammoth task of keeping hold of the lead for the remainder of the race against the fiercest competitor of all time, Valentino Rossi. But, not even Valentino could do anything about the run-away Brit this time. Crutchlow became the first ever British winner of an Australian Grand Prix across all the classes. He had done it in the wet at Brno, but now, he had done it in the dry of Australia.

Crutchlow has reaffirmed his position as one of the finest riders in MotoGP. Now, he is a double winner. He is one of only a handful of riders to win a WSBK race and MotoGP race. He has taken us through good times, seen us through the bad times, and at last, ended the drought of waiting for a British winner. A character loved by everyone in the paddock, can now say that he’s a double Grand Prix winner. His name can go next to Barry Sheene’s in the record books. Against the odds, doubters and adversity, Cal is arguably the first homegrown Brit who has gone through the national series, to World level and then to the Premier class. Not only to do it, but to make it work at each stage. He is a legend. Our Cal, Britain’s saviour. Britain’s favourite.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Vinales takes Superb 3rd as Espargaro falls in the battle for Top 3

Maverick Viñales raced to a sensational hard-fought third place in today’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle GP after an exciting recovery from 13th place on the grid and a hard-fought battle with team mate Aleix Espargaró, who unfortunately slipped-off from his provisional third position with just five laps remaining.

Both Team Suzuki Ecstar riders were on podium pace from the morning’s warm-up, held in bright and dry conditions at Phillip Island, for the first time all weekend. And on the start, both GSX-RRs got great jumps with both riders immediately in the hunt.

Espargaró moved from fourth to third and Viñales started his climb through the pack that saw him catch-up from a lowly 13th on the grid, to challenge for the podium with nine laps remaining.

The young Spaniard traded places with his team-mate and Andrea Dovizioso in the race’s most exciting battle until Espargaró lost the front end after re-passing for third position in the closing stages; putting Viñales in line for his second successive podium in two weeks; his previous one being at Motegi in Japan.

Maverick Viñales: I thought I could catch Vale
“This podium has a very good taste to it, the weekend had been very hard this morning, but finally I was happy when I woke up today and saw the sun. We had very little time to finalise a set-up for the race, but finally the machine was very good to me and the tyre choice proved to be the right one, allowing me to recover and go for the third. I only had to be careful in the very early stages of the race because not having had the time to test the tyres I was not totally sure the front would support me, but after two or three laps I realised I could trust it. My pace was very good, I’m sorry for Aleix’s crash because we were having a strong race and we had a good pace. At the end, I also thought I could catch-up for second place, my pace was good enough to do it, but unfortunately I’d lost too much time in getting from sixth to third and the race was gone. Anyway, I’m really happy with the result, I want to thank my team because they did a very good job having such a short time to prepare.”

Aleix Espargaro: We proved we are more competitive recently
“I’m really sad because once again, just like in Japan, we were fighting for the podium until the last laps… it’s difficult because I felt I had the pace to catch-up for second, but I lost much time to keep my rhythm as I had to recover from passes on the straight. After the warm-up we took a gamble, going with the hard tyre at the front without having tried it properly in the warm-up, but also the team did a very good job improving the machine a lot for the race. I’m sorry also for them, I hope we will come strong again in Malaysia to be competitive again. We proved we can be a lot more competitive recently, so we will work to keep this positive performance.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

AGR Team Salvage positives from Tricky Phillip Island weekend

The weather forecast was right and the day started at Phillip Island without rain and with a little bit of sun, though with an ambient temperature of 12º that caused many crashes in Moto3 and then also in Moto2. The final position of our riders was in some degree due to some crash of the riders in front, but mostly to their honour and competitiveness.

Our riders started from different rows of the grid, 4th for Schrötter and Pons from 7th. And until mid-race it was the German who was ahead of the Spanish rider in the competition between the two Argiñano & Ginés Racing Team riders. But in the second half, things changed and Áxel went ahead. The Catalan rider led a group of 5 that also included Schrötter, Vierge, Simeón and the Champion Zarco, who finished behind our riders.

They fought for the 9th position. They had Corsi 5 seconds ahead and they were not able to catch him in the end, though they did reduce his advantage by 2 seconds. In the end, the 8th and 9th place for the AGR riders was due to Pasini’s crash a couple of laps before the chequered flag.

The team is gathering its things in Phillip Island to go to Sepang, where the title could be decided. Tomorrow, Monday, we will have a day of rest in the island, but in the evening, we will go to Melbourne to take the flight to Malaysia. There we will have the last race of the Asian tour, the penultimate of the year.

Áxel Pons: I think we had more pace

“I’m happy with the result. Yesterday we made a mistake and we paid it today. We recovered positions, but starting so far back it was impossible to get to the leading group, though I think we had pace for more. I’m happy with the weekend, overall, and I want to keep this path for the last two races of the championship”.

Marcel Schrotter: The bike was dangerous under acceleration

“Another difficult day, because we want more, but at least we finished in the top 10. At the start, I lost some position and I couldn’t get the line, so I had to fight and recover. I had some trouble during the race, which sometimes delayed me and sometimes the bike made a dangerous move when accelerating. In fact, it was a difficult weekend, but I was able to stay in this group and overtake another 3 rivals. It’s important to be in the group and feel that you are in a competitive situation”.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Danilo back to the top 10, Antonelli on the floor

A crazy race today for the Moto3 at Phillip Island circuit, signed by lots of crashes, incidents and a red flag, at the sixth lap, which obliged riders to a race interruption and a second start. Niccolò Antonelli, starting from the sixth row on the grid, avoided the crashes of the first part of the race but, at the first lap of the second start, lost the front at the corner 4 without any possibility to rejoin the race.Good performance of his teammate Jules Danilo who, after a series of races in the rear, came back to the the top ten. The French rider fought with the group ahead in the second race and crossed the finishing line in ninth position.

Niccolò Antonelli: The tyre was still cold

“The first race wasn’t so bad, I was recovering many positions and the feeling with the bike was good. Then, at the start of the second race, during my first lap, the front closed at corner 4 and I crashed, probably because the tyre was still cold and as I was too large in that corner. It’s a shame but we have to look ahead and think of Malaysia”.

Jules Danilo: Luckily I was not involved in any crashes

“It was a crazy race today, with lots of overtakes and lots of crashes. In the first race I managed to pass many riders in the first two corners and, luckily I was not involved in the crashes of the riders in front of me. In the second race I did a good start and I was trying to catch Rodrigo. Then there was a hard fight with the front group and I did only one mistake, I tried to go in the front of the group too early and I lost too many positions. Anyway, we are happy of the result, finally in the top ten again after some difficult races and the top fifteen of the World Standing is still possible. Thanks to all the team for the great job”.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

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