In a thrilling race that served as the most exciting Grand Prix of the 2013 MotoGP season, Jorge Lorenzo took the honours as title leader and rival Marc Marquez was black-flagged following a pit mix-up.
The race had already been shortened by organisers following admissions by Bridgestone that their tyres would not last the planned 27 lap distance in the Australian heat – the Phillip Island circuit’s legendary abrasiveness necessitating a cut to just 19 laps.
With safety issues foremost in everyone’s mind, the race authorities decreed a two-lap pit window on laps nine and ten would be opened for riders to switch to a second bike on fresh tyres before continuing racing, but it was a decision that was to confuse and upset many before the day was out.
Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa were fighting hard at the front when Dani made the first move for the pitlane entrance at the end of lap nine, bringing his Honda in for a swift changeover before Lorenzo followed suit the following pass. Marquez however ploughed on into lap eleven, immediately attracting attention as he, Brian Staring and Damian Cudlin continued circulating beyond the widely-understood cut-off time. When the Spaniard stopped to make the change, his attempt to rejoin the circuit almost ended in disaster as Lorenzo swooped into turn one and muscled the younger man unceremoniously out of the way.
The confusion was only just beginning though as fingers were pointed at both Honda riders; had Pedrosa been too early? Or was Marquez too late?
The answer quickly arrived as the championship leader was shown the black flag, ending his race and granting Lorenzo breathing space that he exploited to the maximum, crusing home for a crucial win ahead of Pedrosa, Rossi, Crutchlow and Bautista – the latter three covered by just 0.1 as they crossed the finish line. Britain had double cause to celebrate as Bradley Smith enjoyed a highly-competitive race to finish 6th.
Marquez’s demise has narrowed the points gap between himself and Lorenzo to just 18 points with two races to go.
CLASSIFICATION – RACE – AUSTRALIAN MOTOGP
STANDINGS – CHAMPIONSHIP – TOP THREE