Our local heroes had the crowd on their feet and roaring at Phillip Island
Fastest race lap 1m30.040s
Jack Miller put on an electric display, stunning the MotoGP field to lead the opening four laps of his home race. He set a frantic pace before eventually falling back into the clutches of a rampant pack, but still managed to run with the leaders for the whole race, finishing seventh.
“When I was leading, I don’t know if it felt long for you guys, but it felt like effing forever for me!” Jack said.
The 22-year-old fired up Aussie fans from the opening Friday practice, laying down times that saw him reach Q2 directly and qualify fifth, stopping the clock with a time of 1m28.963s.
Racing with a fractured right tibia sustained in a training accident just 24 days before the race, the young Aussie showed considerable courage engaging in the fight so soon after the break, but said it didn’t hamper him.
“I didn’t really notice it up until I went to do a burnout in front of the fans sitting at Turn 4,” Miller said. “As soon as I straightened it out it felt a bit stiff, but once it was on the bike it was fine. I probably pushed a little too hard on those first few laps and burnt through too much tyre. I wanted somebody to set the pace so I wasn’t out there spinning my tyre off its head and destroying it. Once I had a few laps behind Marc and understood what he was doing with his tyre, especially through Turn 3 and over Lukey, I learnt what I needed to do, but it was probably too little too late.”
Nevertheless, it was an uplifting performance from Miller in a race he should probably never have been riding in considering his injury.
Fastest race lap 1m31.824s
When Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal called Broc Parkes to ask if he was available to fill in for the ill Jonas Folger at Phillip Island, the World Endurance regular jumped at the opportunity, saying it would fulfil a lifelong dream to ride the Yamaha M1 at his home circuit. After qualifying 21st, Parkes was upbeat but admitted adapting to the MotoGP style of riding was taking time.
“I started in FP4 to get a good feeling with the bike, it was nice to get into the 30s. Basically, these bikes are a lot different to ride. I was making the lines way too long and wasn’t picking the bike up early enough and losing traction off the corners.”
Team owner Poncharal was still impressed with his pace, saying, “I have met Broc several times in my career and always liked him, but we never had an opportunity to work together. What he said touched me a lot, that it was his lifelong dream to ride the M1. It’s not easy against the best guys in the world, they have 16 races and a lot of testing under their belt, and he has done a fantastic job so far.”
The race proved challenging but Parkes was able to post very respectable lap times among a quality field. After the race, however, he said he was aiming for a better result.
“It was a bit tough! I thought I could go with the Ducati and Aprilia, but I didn’t really have any grip. There was a lot of spinning at the rear, maybe it was because I went with the medium compound instead of the soft, but it might have been the way I was riding … it put me about a second off where I needed to be. All in all it’s been an amazing weekend and I’d really like to thank Tech 3 for the opportunity.”
Fastest race lap 1m35.158s
Tech 3 Racing rider Remy Gardner endured a frustrating weekend at Phillip Island to finish 15th and in the points after qualifying 16th. Eager to perform well at his home race, Gardner recorded an encouraging seventh in FP3 on Saturday, but couldn’t find the pace to make the impact he wanted.
“I really wanted to get a bit more, trying for the top 10,” Gardner said after qualifying. “I tried to put everything together but I just kept making mistakes on the last run. I think if I had a clean run, we could have done a bit better. I also need to work on my last sector.”
The race wasn’t without incident for the 19-year-old, and he was obviously disappointed after wanting to do better in front of the Australian fans.
“I made a good start and thought I could run with the pack, but I was dive bombed by (Axel) Pons and I lost about five positions. It put me down about three seconds to the group ahead and I just couldn’t make it up.”
Despite the on-track frustrations, Gardner managed to pick up a valuable championship point before moving ahead to the next round in Malaysia.
Fastest race lap 1m42.736s
Tom Toparis and the Cube Racing team pulled off one of the most ambitious Moto3 wildcard efforts in recent times, emerging in 22nd place after an incredible fortnight of new experiences. Having not even laid eyes on their Kalex KTM Moto3 bike prior to the Japanese MotoGP round, the team travelled to Motegi one week before the Phillip Island race in an attempt to gain some set-up knowledge. But every session at Motegi was wet and the race was cut short, denying the team an opportunity to find a good base setting.
Undeterred, Toparis and the Cube team battled through the set-up process at Phillip Island in unpredictable conditions, making use of the limited dry time available to bring themselves closer to their full-time championship rivals.
More rain greeted the team on race day for the morning warm-up, which made set-up a gamble. Toparis was left with a bike that looked visibly difficult to ride and a small crash during the race threatened to end his day, but the Goulburn rider remounted, determined to continue.
“The front was pumping a lot coming up over Lukey Heights. I got to the top and pretty much slid to the bottom on the grass,”
“It’s been an awesome week and a half though, totally crazy and we’ve learnt so much.
“Thanks to Ben (Henry) and Riki (Lanyon) especially – he has put so much effort into this project with hours of study trying to get to know the bike. I’m just so grateful to the team, Leda Nutrition and Australian Outdoor Living, they are the ones who made this all possible.”
Report MATT O’CONNELL PHOTOGRAPHY GOLD & GOOSE AND BRIAN DYER