He may be the reigning MotoGP world champion but Marc Márquez is still registering firsts in his career…
The 22-year-old Spanish motorcycle road racer pulled off a spectacular final lap to take the lead from Jorge Lorenzo three corners from home on Sunday for a thrilling victory at the Australian MotoGP, his first-ever win at Phillip Island.
The race featured repeated changes of placings among the leaders: Marquez, his Spanish compatriot Lorenzo, Italy’s Andrea Iannone and overall championship leader Valentino Rossi.
Marquez, on a Honda, wrested the lead from Lorenzo with 10 laps remaining but Lorenzo, riding a Yamaha, reclaimed first place three laps later and seemed bound for a win which would have slashed Rossi’s championship lead.
But Marquez ducked through on the inside at the bottom of Lukey Heights on the last of 27 laps and went on to win by 0.25 seconds from Lorenzo, Iannone and Rossi.
Marquez had struggled with an overheated front tire and had fallen almost a second behind Lorenzo at the start of the last lap. But the Spaniard, whose Repsol Honda had been fastest in all four practice and qualifying sessions leading into the Grand Prix, produced a track record 1 minute, 29.280 second final lap to charge into the lead.
Lorenzo held on for second, 0.7 seconds ahead of Ducati rider Iannone who produced the best race of his short career to keep Rossi off the podium.
Rossi’s overall championship lead was cut to 11 points with two races remaining, at Sepang, Malaysia next weekend and at Valencia, Spain on November 8.
Marquez is a further 63 points behind Lorenzo in third place and may surrender his world title, though he was delighted to celebrate his first win in Australia.
“During the race I felt well but at the beginning there were many overtakes between me, Valentino, Andrea and Jorge who opened some gaps,” Marquez said. “Then I pushed a little bit to catch Jorge and it looks like I overheated the front tire.
“I had a lot of movement when I tried to open a gap and I tried to cool down but it was not there. In the last lap I said `okay, I will push’.
“Andrea did overtake me and then on the last lap I pushed 100 percent. I didn’t expect to overtake Jorge but I’m really happy with this victory because we’ve pushed really hard and the races are not coming but this victory is really nice for us.”
Lorenzo was struck by a seagull during the race but continued to push hard for the win.
“I spent some laps behind Marc and I saw he had some problems of traction in some areas,” he said. “So I thought if I push very hard he might make a mistake.
“But he made an unbelievable last lap, he made a record of the track and I tried to close the door on the last braking but he was too good.”