|Just a week after the Japanese Grand Prix, MotoGP is back in action at Phillip Island in Australia., the second of the three fly-away races.|
Phillip Island began staging motorcycle races in 1931 and became a permanently constructed circuit in 1956. It continued to host motorcycle Grand Prix events until an extensive renovation took place in 1968.
The circuit made an intermediate comeback in 1989-1990, to become a regular fixture once more from 1997 onwards. Thanks to its terrific location, right next to the ocean, and its flowing lay-out (featuring seven left and five right corners and a 900m longest straight), the Phillip Island track is a very popular destination for MotoGP fans, who travel from far and wide to cheer on their heroes.
Following a terrific win at the Twin Ring, Andrea Dovizioso returns with the intent to further reduce the 11-point gap in the Riders standings with a possible win at Phillip Island. Dovizioso has stepped onto the Phillip Island podium a total of three times in different categories, scoring a win in 125 in 2004 and a third place in MotoGP in 2011, while last year he was involved in a terrific scrap with Viñales, finishing in a good fourth place. In the nine editions of the Australian GP in which he has taken part,
Team mate Jorge Lorenzo has won once and finished runner-up on four more occasions, while last year he finished the race in sixth place.
Reigning champion Marc Marquez will have a thing or two to say about Dovizioso’s challenge at Phillip Island. Marquez and team mate Dani Pedrosa are very motivated for the Australian GP. Marquez, who counts Phillip Island among his favorite tracks, is fresh off of scoring the 100th podium finish of his amazing career, after an exciting battle with Dovizioso at Motegi. Previously, the Repsol Honda ace has scored two wins in the 125cc (2010) and MotoGP (2015).
Pedrosa comes into the Australian bout aiming to recover from a tough race in Japan. He has a win in 250 (2005), plus an an additional 2 podiums and 1 pole position, at Phillip Island.
After a horrid outing last round, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi had little time to rest after last weekend’s race. Viñales continues to show great determination as he enters round 16; one of his favorite circuits. Currently third in the championship standings, he aims to keep fighting to close in on the rider in second place, who is 30 points ahead of him. The Spaniard got to lift a trophy after a race in Australia three times prior. He scored a Moto3 second place in 2013, secured a Moto2 win the year after, and stood on the premier class podium last year celebrating a third place.
Rossi is eager to bounce back from the misfortunes he experienced in Motegi last week by scoring a top result in Australia this weekend, in order to climb up from fifth place in the championship rankings.
After securing 250cc victories in 1998 and 1999 and a 500cc third place in 2000, the Doctor continued to work on an impressive résumé, enjoying a five-year winning streak from 2001 to 2005 in the premier class. This was followed by five more consecutive podium finishes, taking second place in 2008 and 2009, and third place in 2006, 2007 and 2010. The Doctor revisited the Australian podium in 2013, 2014 and 2016, claiming a third, first and second place respectively.
Aside from the top contenders, look out for either the factory Suzuki riders, Satellite teams’ riders (Yamaha Tech 3 and Pramac) to spring a surprise or two.