Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) needed a comeback at Motegi and the Spaniard didn’t get one, and that on the day Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) won his second race of the season. That worst case scenario for Canet – a 0 vs 25 points – means it’s a final stand for the Spaniard Down Under, with Dalla Porta poised to lift the 2019 crown at Phillip Island if he can increase his advantage by more than three points.
50 is the magic number, and Dalla Porta is currently 47 clear. So if he wins the race, he’s won the title. Anywhere else and it’s about the maths and getting above that pivotal number 50. Will he do it? He’s only had one top ten at Phillip Island before, but his track record hasn’t been the biggest tell this season as he’s shown serious pace everywhere. Canet, meanwhile, will hope the stats do tell a bigger story as the Spaniard took his first ever podium on the Island in 2016.
Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) could well lead the leagues of riders hoping to complicate the Championship duel. The Spaniard is the only man on the grid to have previously won at Phillip Island and he’s on a roll of late…and then there are the likes of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who’s gunning for third overall, and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), despite a couple of rougher races for the Italian. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) could be a key threat too – the Italian took his first podium on only his second Grand Prix appearance last year in Australia, and he does have a long shot at wrapping up Rookie of the Year, currently 28 points clear of Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
There are also a couple of home heroes who’ll be taking their shot at a Grand Prix weekend: Yanni Shaw and Rogan Chandler (Double Six Motor Sport). The two wildcards will likely be keen to head out for FP1 at 9:00 local time (GMT +11), before the race is an hour later than normal at 12:00 on Sunday. Will Dalla Porta lift the crown? Or will the battle roll on to the heat of Sepang?
1 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) – 229
2 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) – 182
3 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) – 161
4 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) – 144
5 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) – 136