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MotoGP Philip Island: Crutchlow scores superb second win of the season




Cal Crutchlow took only his second Grand Prix win, after dominating the majority of the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Last year’s race was dubbed the “Race of the Century” so this year’s contest had a lot to live up to, and while it didn’t quite manage that, it did bring some fascinating battles between the riders.

After a disastrous lack of dry track time on Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s morning warmup was crucial for setup and tyre choice, with the polesitter Marc Marquez topping the session, with Rossi and Vinales rounding out the top three.

By the time the riders were lining up on the grid, it was feeling cooler even though the track temperature had actually risen. With the temperatures expected to drop during the race due to the wind and later start time, no-one was sure how the tyres would perform over the 27 laps, but the expected drop-off point was around lap 15.

All of the riders chose the medium rear, with the majority of the grid choosing the soft front tyre, with only Marquez, Crutchlow, Vinales, Aleix Espargaro and Miller opting for the harder front, which only some of them had tested earlier in the morning.


When the lights went out Marc Marquez got a bad start from pole, with his Repsol Honda repeatedly wheelieing as he opened the throttle, in comparison Pol Espargaro who started third had a great leap off the line and led into the first corner, with Cal Crutchlow pushed back to fourth despite a good start.

Pol’s time at the front was short-lived as Marquez took the lead at turn 4, while Aleix Espargaro moved into third a few corners later with a firm move on Danilo Petrucci. At the end of the second lap, Crutchlow passed Aleix on the front straight to get into the podium positions, while further back Jorge Lorenzo, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi were slowly improving their awful starting positions.

On lap number six Crutchlow moved past Aleix Espargaro as he took the inside line at turn 10, while Rossi was continuing to gain and was now sixth, with Vinales behind him in seventh. It wasn’t until four laps later, though, that things got interesting.

On the tenth lap, Marc Marquez braked too late into the turn four hairpin and lost the front, crashing out of the race and recording his first DNF of this championship winning season. Marc took full responsibility for the crash saying “I took too many risks, it was completely my mistake” and making it very clear that he didn’t blame the tyres for his fall.

Marquez’s error moved Crutchlow into first place and with a healthy gap over Rossi, the British rider was unchallenged in the lead as he then went on to take the win.

In turn, Rossi was secure in second place as the main battle became between Vinales, Aleix Espargaro and Dovizioso for third. The three riders fought in incredibly close quarters, with none of them able to maintain an advantage for very long, until Espargaro crashed out at turn four with five laps to go. This moved Vinales into third place and the podium finishers were decided.

In the last couple of laps, turn four took another victim, this time substitute rider Nicky Hayden, as Jack Miller ran in too hot and nudged the American wide.

As Cal Crutchlow headed to the chequered flag to take his second win of the year, and of his career, he lifted the front to wheelie across the line while the LCR team hung off the pitwall in celebration.

Speaking after the race, Crutchlow admitted that he had been worried when Marquez crashed because they were running the same front tyre. He knew that he couldn’t afford to stop pushing later in the race, despite a healthy gap, because he needed to keep the temperature in the hard front slick. In quite a bizarre sounding strategy that actually makes perfect sense, Crutchlow said that on the laps when the sun was shining he didn’t push as hard, but when the sun disappeared behind the clouds he upped his pace to maintain the heat in the tyre.

For second-placed Valentino Rossi, he had found the perfect setup in morning warmup but simply couldn’t catch Crutchlow who was “too strong” for the Italian.


Similarly, Maverick Vinales in the third place had also stuck with his morning settings and was able to show good pace as he took a back-to-back podium finish after Motegi last weekend. The Spaniard’s success actually has an unfortunate effect on his team as it means Suzuki will lose their concessionary extra engines next season and also their extra testing days with immediate effect.

With this second victory, Cal Crutchlow becomes the first British rider since Barry Sheene in 1979 to score two or more wins in the premier class, while also becoming the first British rider to ever win a Grand Prix on Australian soil.

The MotoGP paddock now packs up and heads to the humidity of Malaysia, for the toughest race of the year and it promises to be an exciting weekend with Marquez keen to make amends, Crutchlow ready to continue his good form and the Factory Yamahas still fighting for second in the championship, but now with Vinales posing an extra threat.

With just two races left of this incredible season, MotoGP hasn’t quite finished handing out surprises.

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BT Sport extend UK MotoGP TV deal until 2021



British telecoms provider and sports broadcaster extend their live TV deal for another three years.

The subscription-only sports broadcaster took over the rights to show MotoGP on UK TV screens from the BBC back in 2014 and have been hugely impressive in their commitment to the motorcycling premier class and the breadth of their coverage.

Now, thanks to an extension of the deal, BT Sport will continue to show complete coverage of each MotoGP round for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Motorsport veteran and former BBC F1 presenter Suzi Perry will continue to front the show, alongside Craig Doyle, whilst Colin Edwards and James Toseland will remain onboard as pundits.

New to the line-up for 2018 will be ex-GP racer Michael Laverty as third foil for Edwards and Toseland whilst the retiring Julian Ryder will be replaced in the commentary box by former World Superbike champion – and current BT Sport presenter – Neil Hodgson.

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Honda’s new livery is the same as last years! Can we expect similar looking results from Marquez too?



Honda 2018 RC213V revealed with near-identical livery to their dominating machine of previous years.

After dominating the recent pre-season tests in Thailand – and let’s be honest – the last few years of the MotoGP championship, Honda revealed their 2018 GP livery in Jakarta today.

And it is almost exactly the same as every other year…

…which bodes well for the Honda team and their precision-like consistency; whilst probably annoying everybody else with their predictability.

From a racing point of view, we’re confident that we can be ready to fight for the title again, because our engineers in Japan made a big effort this winter and our riders are ready.

We know that our competitors will also be strong, and that they’ve taken some steps forward, but we expect a thrilling season – Alberto Puig, Team Manager

Not known to take major risks, the team would appear to be more focused on gaining Marc Marquez his fifth world title – after his stunning win last year – than winning any livery design competitions. And let’s not forget that Pedrosa will almost certainly want to build on his two race wins and fourth place championship finish last year.

Not long now… Excited yet?

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