Crutchlow started the race from second position on the grid, and took a gamble by deciding to fit the hard option front tyre to his bike. Marquez had trailed Pol Espargaro in the first corner, but quickly snatched the lead, thereafter. Disaster struck at turn four of the early stint of the race when Marqeuz made a small mistake, braking slightly late and losing the front end on his RC213V. Crutchlow managed his tyre to perfection, pulling away from the rest of the field to lead by over six seconds at one point. He was then able to manage the gap in the latter stages of the race to become the first ever Briton to take victory in an Australian GP.
He is also the first Brit to take more than one win in a MotoGP season since Barry Sheene in 1979, 25 points which cement his stranglehold on top Independent team rider in the championship. “I was terrified when Marc crashed out in front of me, I braked really weakly into that corner for the whole race. From the mid-race, I just carried on at the same pace and then the last ten laps or so I didn’t really push, I just made sure I kept heat in the front. I actually pushed more on the laps when the sun wasn’t out, because when it was I could be a little more relaxed. It might sound strange, but this is Phillip Island and anything can happen,” Crutchlow commented.
Rossi charged from 15th place on the grid to finish a brilliant second, while Jorge Lorenzo came back from 12th to 6th. The Yamaha team mates are battling for the runner-up spot in the standings and with a second place finish, Rossi now holds a 24-point advantage going into the final two races of the year.
Rossi jumped two places to 13th on the opening lap, then found a way past Nicky Hayden and got up to eighth in the early stint. Having climbed up to eighth, he was trailing Lorenzo, who he quickly overtook on lap three and then the pair smoothly pulled ahead of Danilo Petrucci. Rossi gradually closed down the 0.4 margin to tack onto the back of Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaró‘s bikes. He then put the hammer down and set a provisional fastest lap of 1:29.795, leaving behind his two rivals a lap later. He kept pushing in fourth place, trying to bridge the 0.4 gap to Aleix Espargarò and a podium finish. As Rossi wrestled his way past Aleix Espargaró, drama struck as Marquez crashed out of the lead on lap nine, handing the Italian second place.
The fight for the win in the closing stages was between Rossi and Crutchlow, who was a little more than two seconds ahead of him. The Doctor was eager to hunt down the Briton, but the chase to the front of the field in the early stages of the race had taken its toll on his soft front tyre. Rossi decided to focus on maintaining his position after a small mistake on the brakes and cruised to a stunning second place. Vinales was third, ahead of Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro. Behind Lorenzo, the top ten finishers were Scott Redding, Bradley Smith, Petrucci and Jack Miller.
The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang is next on the agenda…
2016 MotoGP Phillip Island results
1 Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 40’48.543
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 00’04.218
3 Maverick Viñales Suzuki ESP 00’05.309
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 00’09.157
5 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 00’14.299
6 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 00’20.125
7 Scott Redding Ducati GBR 00’28.369
8 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 00’28.781
9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati ITA 00’28.792
10 Jack Miller Honda AUS 00’28.815
11 Stefan Bradl Aprilia DEU 00’31.809
12 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia ESP 00’47.734
13 Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 00’47.749
14 Eugene Laverty Ducati GBR 00’54.311
15 Mike Jones Ducati AUS 00’55.875
1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 273
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 216
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 192
4 Maverick Viñales Suzuki ESP 181
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 155
6 Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 141
7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 137
8 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 117
9 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 96
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 84
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ESP 82
12 Eugene Laverty Ducati GBR 73
13 Scott Redding Ducati GBR 71
14 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia ESP 67
15 Danilo Petrucci Ducati ITA 65
16 Stefan Bradl Aprilia DEU 60