Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi celebrated his 250th MotoGP race at Phillip Island today with his second victory of the year after Marc Marquez crashed out of a three-second lead but it was heartbreak for Britain’s Cal Crutchlow and elation for Bradley Smith.
Crutchlow had come through the field after an awful first lap to pass Jorge Lorenzo for second place with five laps to go but then, as the track temperature plummeted, crashed out on the last lap, losing the front at Honda corner.
Crutchlow’s misfortune, however, handed Monster Yamaha’s Bradley Smith his first-ever MotoGP podium as he bagged third place behind Lorenzo and, had he had two more laps, he would have passed his Yamaha stablemate. He was more than a second a lap faster as Lorenzo blamed a bad tyre for his lack of pace and Smith was in tears in parc ferme as his debut podium sank in, saying that as he crossed the line, he wasn't even aware he had taken third.
Smith had been in a race-long scrap for fifth place with team-mate Pol Espargaro and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso. He proved to have better pace than the Italian while Espargaro, who was equall as fast, also crashed at Honda, having the same tip off as he did in free practice.
The Oxfordshire rider completed an all-Yamaha front row while there was nary an RC213V in sight. Marquez - using the asymmetric front - binned it at MG, losing the front on the brakes while Dani Pedrosa was hit by an errant Andrea Iannone on lap six. Pedrosa was an innocent in the accident as Iannone came into Honda way too hot, clipped the back of the works RC213V and went down. Pedrosa tried to continue but his bike was damaged and he pulled in a lap later.
It means that Rossi now takes charge of second place in the title chase, enjoying a 17-point lead over the Spaniard and an eight-point advantage over his team-mate. It is Rossi’s 108th career win and his 82nd in the top class of Grand Prix racing. The result is also the first all Yamaha podium since Le Mans 2008.
British celebrations continued down the field as Scott Redding, who only found a decent setup in qualifying, stormed back from an early error to ride past the rest of the production Hondas and almost beat team-mate Alvaro Bautista for sixth place. The Gloucestershire man, who moves to MotoGP on the works RC213V he was chasing, had to contend with a lack of speed and just lost out in the run to the line by fractions to the Spaniard.
Michael Laverty kept it upright and finished in 13th place to take some more valuable championship points, taking his total to five for the year while PBM team-mate Broc Parkes retired.