Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) thought he’d taken a valuable second at Motegi, but some time after the race there came an announcement: the man who’d taken the flag just ahead of him, Fabio Quartararo, had been disqualified after running tyre pressures lower than the required minimum. It was heartbreak for the Frenchman but for Bagnaia it was another small step towards the crown. Another 25 points as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the podium.
That means there are a few scenarios for Bagnaia to take the title at the fast and flowing Phillip Island. If he wins, he’ll be Champion if Oliveira doesn’t finish better than fifth. If he’s second, he’ll take the title if Oliveira doesn’t finish better than P9. A third place for Bagnaia means Oliveira has to finish better than 13th, and finally, a fourth for the Italian would mean the Portuguese rider would have to suffer a DNF or not score for Bagnaia to be crowned. But who won last year?
Phillip Island 2017 was the first win for the new KTM Moto2™ chassis as Oliveira made a little history, and it was also the start of a three-in-a-row rampage that saw the Portuguese rider unbeaten in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia – with teammate Brad Binder on the podium too. So the Red Bull KTM Ajo team should be walking fairly tall on the way on to the Island, with recent stats on their side.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) will also want to get in the battle and join Binder as their teammates fight for the title, and the South African also has third overall in his sights. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took fourth despite a huge highside on Friday in Japan and is another to watch for back at 100%, as well as Motegi podium finisher Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40). Finally, one man with even more at stake is home hero Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing), who has big aspirations. Phillip Island is a track the Aussie hopes will prove a much better fit than the last two.
One man has everything to win and one everything to lose – but it’s far from a two-man show. Make sure to tune in for a pivotal Australian GP weekend, with Moto2™ going racing from 14:20 (GMT +11) in a slightly later timetable.
1 – Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 284 points
2 – Miguel Oliveira (POR) KTM 247
3 – Brad Binder (RSA) KTM 168
4 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX 152
5 – Alex Marquez (SPA) KALEX 139
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