Márquez triumphs in Australian GP thriller
22 October 2017 – Marc Márquez put himself on the brink of a fourth MotoGP title after prevailing in an epic Australian Grand Prix, which featured an eight-bike train for the lead for much of the race.
Márquez was involved in the thick of a fierce scrap for the bulk of proceedings, which featured several moments of contact between the leaders, before he broke clear with five laps remaining, going on to triumph.
Márquez's title quest was aided by a dismal display from primary championship rival Andrea Dovizioso, who was off the pace all weekend, and managed only 13th, via a wide moment early on.
Off the line it was local hero Jack Miller who thrust his Marc VDS-run Honda into the lead from fifth, as he initially pulled a near-second lead over his rivals.
Miller, though, was soon reeled in by the chasing pack, triggering a battle which involved Márquez, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Johann Zarco and Andrea Iannone, with Cal Crutchlow and Álex Rins hanging on.
Viñales displaced Miller with a two-on-one pass along the pit straight, though he was usurped on the same lap by Rossi, whose race pace typically belied his weekend-long one-lap showing.
However, Rossi went deep into Turn 4 a few laps later and ceded position to Márquez and Zarco, before gradually working his way past both once more.
Márquez, who had survived a hefty clip from Zarco, hounded Rossi before shoving his way past through Turn 2, the pair brushing bikes as they battled, and the Spaniard soon overhauled Tech 3's Zarco.
Viñales thrust himself back into contention with a move on Márquez for the lead but the Honda rider reclaimed the position with a move into Turn 4.
Márquez was initially unable to break clear but with five laps left a frenetic paint-swapping fight between Rossi, Zarco and Iannone slowed the trio, enabling Márquez to pull a gap.
Iannone dropped back on the last lap while Viñales, who had slipped to seventh after taking evasive action against the charging Suzuki rider, re-emerged in the battle for the runner-up spot.
Rossi ultimately prevailed for second by just 0.027s, with Viñales edging Zarco for the final place on the podium, the pair split by 0.016s across the line.
However, with Márquez winning the race, Viñales is now mathematically out of title contention.
Crutchlow netted fifth from Iannone on the final lap, while Miller collected a fine seventh, upon his return from a leg fracture, as Rins took a measured eighth.
KTM once more put in a solid performance as Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith scrapped for ninth place, the Spaniard grabbing the position by a mere 0.011s.
Dovizioso, off the back of his superb Motegi victory, had his most lacklustre showing of the campaign.
Dovizioso tried to make gains early on from 11th on the grid but slithered wide through Turn 1, taking to the run-off, and dropped to 20th place as a result.
Dovizioso made incremental progress to run in 11th spot, but fell behind Scott Redding and Dani Pedrosa on the run to the line, and is now 33 points behind Márquez with only 50 to play for.
Karel Abraham took 14th position for Aspar, while Jorge Lorenzo completed a colourless weekend – in which he sprained his ankle in a practice crash – in 15th place.
Such was Lorenzo's subdued display that he finished just a tenth clear of Marc VDS' Tito Rabat, followed by Álvaro Bautista, Loris Baz and Sam Lowes.
Héctor Barberá was 20th, while Danilo Petrucci – a podium finisher a week ago – lacked pace throughout and mustered only 21st, as Tech 3 stand-in Broc Parkes completed the classified runners.
Aleix Espargaró was the sole rider to retire after crashing out of the lead group through Turn 1 early on, squandering his and Aprilia's eye-catching pace.
Espargaró was left with a fractured finger, but is confident of competing at the next event in Malaysia.
1. Marc Márquez - 269 points
2. Andrea Dovizioso - 233 points
3. Maverick Viñales - 219 points
The next round of the championship takes place in Malaysia from October 27-29