The predicted cold and stormy climate on Sunday at Phillip Island forced cancellation of the MotoGP Sprint but not before Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü had braved the conditions for his third Moto3 victory of the season with the KTM RC4.
Wild weather conditions marked the final day of the Australian Grand Prix. Strong winds, showers and low temperatures prevented the MotoGP Sprint from starting at round sixteen of the season. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had already finished 4th and 7th in the full GP distance on Saturday (the forecast led to the organizers swapping the races) but Sunday’s stage meant a very different set of circumstances compared to the bright conditions witnessed through the previous 48 hours.
After Saturday’s events Binder and Miller are 4th and 9th in the world championship standings. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are the 4th best team in the rankings (from a total of 11) and KTM are 2nd in the Constructors table.
Jack Miller: “We had good weather for the last two days but full respect to the fans – some of the best in the world – for coming out here today. I’m sorry we did not get to race for them. I think we should have done some laps. It’s windy but you have to adapt to the conditions. Hopefully next year.”
Brad Binder: “In warm-up this morning there was quite a lot of wind, but nothing like what we had around the time for the Sprint. It was clearly a bit sketchy so I think the guys made the right decision to swap the races; it was a good move. A pity not to be able to race today but we all know safety comes first.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “Unfortunately we knew since yesterday that the conditions would get worse and that’s why it was good to have the GP on Saturday. We are so sorry for the fans and it was a shame for Jack, but safety must come first and the Moto2 race was red-flagged for the wind and I think it was the right decision for the MotoGP Sprint.”
World championship standings MotoGP
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati, 366 points
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 339
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati, 293
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 224
9. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 144
KTM GP Academy
There was some doubt over the status of the Moto3 Grand Prix due to the inclement weather early Sunday morning. The field completed warm-up and were able to take to the grid for the 21-laps but the track surface and the swirling air created a very difficult stage.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado slipped off his bike on the Sighting Lap (along with three other racers) and needed quick reparations on the starting grid in order to launch away. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü circulated in the lead group of five riders with intent. The Turk made three small mistakes with seven laps to go and lost some ground. He was able to stay on two wheels and fight back to stalk Ayumu Sasaki. He lunged past the Japanese into Turn 10 and held on to the finish line for his third win and sixth podium of the year. Holgado faced-up to his early adversity to take three points for 13th. Jose Rueda reached the line in 18th while Filippo Farioli crashed out with 13 laps to go. Holgado is 3rd in the championship and 22 points from P1. Öncü is 5th but tied on points for 4th.
Deniz Öncü: “A really long race! I was already freezing after ten laps and it was hard to concentrate. I tried to be as clean as possible and I didn’t have a target: I just wanted to finish in the best way possible. We did a good job as a team and I want to thank them for always pushing me to do my best.”
Moto2 also raced into the storm. Pedro Acosta suffered early drama when he lost traction out of Turn 4 and crashed on the Sighting Lap. The championship leader had to be taken back to the pitbox and started the race from pitlane. He reached a very decent 9th before the race was red-flagged due to the deteriorating conditions and half points awarded. Albert Arenas stayed on two wheels and gathered two points for 14th. The margin between Acosta and his closest pursuer in the championship standings is now 56 with 100 left to win.
The OR Thailand Grand Prix will run next weekend at the Chang International Circuit.
Results Moto3 Grand Prix of Australia
1. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo 39:57.919
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.407
3. Joel Kelso (AUS) CFMOTO +4.391
13. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1:02.607
18. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1 lap
DNF. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3
World championship standings Moto3
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 217 points
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 213
3. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 195
5. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 180
8. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 111
25. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 7
Results Moto2 Grand Prix of Australia
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA) 16:22.970
2. Aron Canet (ESP) +15.088
3. Fermin Aldeguer (ESP) +15.614
9. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1 lap
14. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1 lap
World championship standings Moto2
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP), Red Bull KTM Ajo 280.5 points
2. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 224.5
3. Jake Dixon (GBR), 172
15. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 63