MotoGP Phillip Island Preview 2018

Bruce Allen
by Bruce Allen

Reader Mailbag Edition

Photos by Getty Images; lead photo by Honda

Now that the 2018 MotoGP crown has been laid upon the unblemished head of Repsol Honda demigod Marc Marquez for the fifth time in six years, is opening up its MotoGP mailbag. We have selected several of your letters, and hope you keep them coming, with three rounds left. [It was either this or a bunch of dopey stuff about Phillip Island. —Ed.]

Dear MotoGP Guy

Why are you such a tosser when it comes to giving us anything about Moto2 and Moto3? Best racing on the planet in those lightweight divisions, and you simply bang on about a title that’s in the bag? Nice work. Do you even bother to watch Moto2 and Moto3, or what?

Desperate in Dubai

Dear Desperate

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Darryn Binder had GP career win number 1 in the bag, but missed a gear on the last lap, allowing Marco Bezzecchi and Lorenzo Dalla Porta through. Still, Binder secured his first podium finish.

Moto3 in Motegi delivered another astonishing finish, featuring Brad’s Little Brother Darryn Binder, Marco Bezzechi, and Lorenzo Dalla Porta. Binder, somehow, had his sights set on a career first podium and the friggin’ win with 200 yards left when series leader Bezzechi barged through, pulling Dalla Porta with him, and leaving Binder stunned in third place, .001 seconds removed from the silver medal. Series leader Jorge Martin crashed out of the lead unassisted, a rare occasion to be sure, leaving the championship margin between himself and Bezzechi at a single point heading to Australia. Right?

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Fabio Quartararo was first across the finish but was later stripped of his victory for after a post-race inspection determined his rear tire pressure was below the regulated standard.

Francophile Fabio Quartararo, graduating next year to the new Petronas SIC Yamaha team, appeared to have won the Moto2 tilt on Sunday after being pursued in relatively hot fashion for half the race by series leader Pecco Bagnaia, he himself on the way to Pramac Ducati in 2019. Lorenzo ‘BadAss’ Baldassarri finished a distant third, with KTM hotshot Miguel Oliveira a disappointing and rather lame fourth. But Quartararo received a big DQ after the race when it was discovered that his rear tire had been slightly underinflated. Tiregate in Moto2! Meanwhile, Bagnaia has now put 35 points between himself and Oliveira with the clock ticking. Should Oliveira fall short, he can comfort himself with the certainty of moving up to a full factory KTM in MotoGP with the Monster Tech 3 team in 2019 and getting on the bike a couple of days after Valencia. Joan Mir’s season has tailed off since it was announced he would be joining the factory Suzuki program beginning next season. He will be a baller.

The thing is, in 2008 I was in way over my head covering just the premier class. The thought of that learning curve multiplied by three, in support of a good freelancing client, was too much. I recently tried to talk into expanding their coverage of MotoGP but found I was whistling Dixie, as it were. But thanks for the aggressive tone of your letter. Be sure to write again!

Dear Bruce

Bruce? What Kind of Hairdresser Name is That?

What’s this I hear about low-talent Taka Nakagami getting a new LCR contract for 2019? Sounds kind of ethnocentric if you ask me.

Red State Red

Dear Red

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Takaaki Nakagami wasn’t even the top-finishing Japanese racer this weekend, finishing one spot behind Katsuyuki Nakasuga in his annual guest appearance at Motegi.

You won’t, I trust, be offended to learn how surprised I am that someone of your apparently prehistoric worldview would be familiar with the term ‘ethnocentric.’ If you’re suggesting the team’s sponsors were interested in hiring the best Japanese rider on the market, such would be no different than Fausto Gresini’s former infatuation with Italian riders, which disappeared over sponsorship issues. I’m not sure Nakagami is a great rider, but this sport is up to its neck in nationalism, so let it go. And I didn’t ask. Oh, and it’s so cute the way you capitalize the Important Words in your lead sentence! Just like The President!! Love it!

Dear Brucey

[Yeah, it’s me, incognito. Don’t let on!!!!!!] I have three questions, because this is all I do. So, what do you think was the key moment in the 2018 season? Was there a separate turning point later in the year? And do you agree that MotoGP is becoming a lot like roller derby due to tire issues?

Mold Oron

Dear Mold

I knew it wouldn’t take long to smoke you out with one of your multi-headed beasts of a question. As such, I have a reply at hand. I cannot discuss your first two questions, excellent though they are, at this point; this is material I need to save for the Valencia results article or a 2018 Recap later in November.

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It’s all about the rubber.

Tires have been a consistent issue in MotoGP ever since 2008 and probably long before that. Conserving them, then, is part of the rider’s art. Those that can find themselves on the podium. Those that can’t find themselves in eighth place singing the blues. The roller derby comparison is good. In both sports, groups of participants kind of cruise around in third gear, conserving energy/tires, looking for opportunities. Then, in roller derby, someone rings a bell somewhere and all hell breaks loose, like the last four or five laps of a lot of MotoGP races do of late, Sunday being only the latest example. You don’t tend to see as much of this stuff in the lower classes, as they are generally madness from start to finish. No time for ringing bells and such.

Good question. I promise to reply to your first two at season’s end.

Dear Mr. Allen

Love your work; you’re the only reason I visit They should double your pay and make you work twice as much. Reads like fiction.

Here’s my question. Why is it that Miguel Oliveira is always starting races from, like, the third or fourth row? Why can’t this guy, who is seriously fast, get it together on Saturday?

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Dear Don’t

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Miguel Oliveira struggles on Saturdays but he manages to pull it together on Sundays. He currently sits second overall with ten podiums to his credit despite his qualifying troubles.

Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately, most of this stuff IS fiction, as I am generally too lazy to do much real research. But Oliveira’s average starting position this year is 10th. This is something he will need to work on in MotoGP, with its two 15-minute sessions. One might suggest that since he was so poor at the single 45-minute session, he can only improve starting next year. I hope he’s comfortable with the fact that most of the KTMs will have to fight their way out of Q1 in order to have any kind of look at the front two rows.

Dear MotoGP Correspondent

Can you possibly tear yourself from Candy Crush long enough to give us a little recent history at Phillip Island? It’s clear you’ve bailed on doing your job. Can’t you at least cut and paste from your old work? They vacuum your stuff off the site quickly, apparently trying to avoid lawsuits. A little history would help. You nimrod.

Your One Female Fan

Dear One

I TOLD them I had a female fan. Thank you for confirming it. Here’s some recent stuff. Oh, and I, too, love calling people nimrods. Lit majors think it’s a compliment.

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Marc Marquez had the rare opportunity to play spoiler in 2015, beating Jorge Lorenzo at Phillip Island and hindering his efforts of catching Valentino Rossi. Of course, we all remember what happened the next race at Sepang.

2015: The Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix had something for everyone. Repsol Honda defending double world champion Marc Marquez, in his season of discontent, laid down an historic last lap to steal the victory from compatriot Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo, trailing Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi by 18 coming in, was blessed that day by a statement performance from factory Ducati (then #1) Andrea Iannone, who slipped past Rossi for the last of many times on the final lap, surging onto the podium and trimming Rossi’s lead over Lorenzo to 11 points heading for Sepang and the fateful Round 17.

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The 2016 Australian Grand Prix will also be remembered for being Nicky Hayden’s final MotoGP race. The late Kentucky Kid was subbing for an injured Dani Pedrosa.

The 2016 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was about what one would expect from this great track after the championship had been decided – see 2014. Crown champion Marquez, on the factory Honda, having given a clinic on Saturday to take pole, obliterated the field early, apparently on his way to an easy win. Until Lap 10, when he apparently lost focus, went to Bermuda for a few moments, pushing harder than necessary, folded the front in Turn 4 and handed the win to an astonished Cal Crutchlow. Cal was joined on the podium that afternoon by Rossi and Maverick Viñales, then employed by Suzuki Racing. As so often happens in this sport, the best contest of the day was the fight for 7th place, won by Scott Redding on the Pramac Ducati, trailed by Bradley Smith, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller, the gap from 7th to 10th a full 45/100ths of a second.

Last year, Honda’s defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez survived a crowded, snappish, paint-trading lead group for the win that made the 2017 championship his to lose. With Yamahas everywhere, and guys like Johann Zarco and Andrea Iannone bouncing around like pinballs, it was just another picture-perfect Phillip Island grand prix. The confounding Valentino Rossi somehow finished second that day, teammate Maverick Viñales third. But having both factory Yamahas on the podium was cold comfort on the same day the team’s faint hopes for a championship came to an end.

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Marc Marquez won again in 2017, this time joined on the podium by the Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.

That’s it for this week’s mailbag. Keep those cards and letters coming, kids. And check the MotoGPforDummies blog for other statistical anomalies and fun facts. We’ll be back on Sunday with race results and analysis.

Bruce Allen
Bruce Allen

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2 of 54 comments
  • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Oct 28, 2018

    Zarco hits Marquez's bike in Turn 1, 8 mins into the race. Both are out of the race.

    Final result: 1 Vinales; 2 Iannone; 3 Dovizioso; 4 Bautista; 5 Rins; 6 Rossi; 7 Miller; 8 Morbidelli; 9 A. Espargaro; 10 Smith; 11 Abraham; 12 Petrucci; 13 Redding; 14 Nakagami; 15 Simeon; 16 Luthi; 17 Torres; 18 Jones.

    P. Espargaro, Syahrin, Pedrosa, Marquez and Zarco retired from the race.

  • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Oct 28, 2018

    Marquez: "Just I feel very lucky because I was really close to have a highside. For me, I will not complain to Johann because it is a racing incident, at that speed at the end of the straight in slipstreams you feel a lot and maybe he take the drift from me, from Jack, and was so difficult to stop the bike. The most important thing is that both riders are okay. Luckily I already done the championship last week, looks like again, one more time in Phillip Island zero points, this time not my mistake but okay, happy that both of us are okay."