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Miller walks on water for miraculous first win
A red flagged race put the MotoGP™ riders through their paces, Jack Miller mastering the wet to take his maiden premier class win.
A torrential downpour followed the Moto2™ and ensured that at least the start of the MotoGP™ World Championship race would be wet. With the track soaked, the rain eased and riders headed out onto the grid with wets fitted. Conditions were far from ideal, Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) falling on his sighting lap. The lights went out with riders knowing a flag-to-flag race was likely, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) grabbing the lead out of the first corner as they tiptoed around the first corners.
Once he had the lead Rossi didn’t look back, opening up almost a second advantage on everyone but Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on the first lap. But soon the wild Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) was past him; with a championship to consider ‘The Doctor’ and Dovizioso chose not to risk anything.
Riders looked set to consider a change to intermediate or dry tyres but then the rain returned with a vengeance. Dovizioso was able to catch up to Rossi once again. The rain only got heavier and allowed Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) to join the battle for victory, Yonny Hernandez’s fall turning their battle into one for victory. But then with 12 laps to go the rain was ruled to be too severe and the red flag was brought out due to the weather conditions.
Not long after the race was restarted, run over 12 laps. The grid was based on the finishing positions on lap 14 and the quick restart rule made its first appearance in the premier class. As such Dovizioso lined up on pole with Petrucci and Rossi completing the front row. Redding led the Repsol Honda Team pairing of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on the second row, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) lined up in 19th after a disastrous start in the first 14-lap race.
Andrea Dovizioso, who had led the restart, lost the front end as he attempted to stay with Rossi. He took a heavy roll through the gravel but sustained no serious injuries. This granted Rossi a comfortable lead until he crashed out at Turn 10 a lap later. It was disaster for ‘The Doctor’ in a race that could have seen him right with Marquez in the championship. This is Rossi’s third DNF of the 2016 season.
Known for his ability in the wet, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) made steady progress off the line and soon found himself in second behind Marquez. After an injury hit start to the season Miller seized his chance and took the lead of the race at the final chicane on lap four. Marquez tried to close down the Australian but Miller kept his cool. Miller’s victory is the first MotoGP™ win by an Australian since Casey Stoner’s final victory in Phillip Island in 2012. He also becomes the first rider on a non-factory bike to win a race since Toni Elias won the infamous Portuguese GP in 2006.
Marquez was aggressive off the line, leading into the entry of Turn 1 but dropping back as he ran wide and sliding to third. The Spaniard soon found himself in first as Dovizioso and Rossi fell. He had an important decision to make when Miller went past him, risk it for victory or settle for 20 points with his main rivals having disastrous weekends? Championship ambition won out and Marquez settled for second place, extending his championship lead over both Lorenzo and Rossi by a significant margin.
The battle for third was one of the closest on track, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Redding finding themselves in podium contention due to the falls ahead. Espargaro could smell his first podium but Redding had a point to prove. Redding muscled his way past his former Moto2™ rival to return to the podium for the first time since Misano in 2015.
Iannone managed to take fifth place ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP). Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jorge Lorenzo completed the top ten. Lorenzo had a terrible time in both races, the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship unable to find any speed in the wet. He picked up six more points than his teammate, but there’s a lot of work to do still in the championship.
Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Bradley Smith all finished the race, everyone who remained upright scoring points.
The wet had given Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) the perfect chance to show his skill; with nothing to lose the Colombian took the lead of the first race on the third lap. He’d extend his lead out the front until he fell on lap 12; his dreams of a miraculous first win gone as he retired before the red flag.
Dani Pedrosa’s weekend went from bad to worse as he crashed at Turn 9 on lap one of the restart. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) followed soon after at Turn 12.
What had been a dream Sunday for Petrucci ended in disaster as the Italian’s Ducati died on the second lap, his hopes of a Silverstone repeat over.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also fell from the race, conditions proving trickier than before.
Michele Pirro (Avintia Racing), Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) all suffered falls. Several were able to remount, solid points on offer due to all the crashes.