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Marquez the Merciless added to his reputation and his trophy cabinet again on Sunday in Australia.

For a third time in the last five races, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) waited until the start of the final lap to pounce. This time the victim was Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), and by the end of the lap, the Monster Yamaha rider wasn’t there any longer. Trying desperately to regain the lead he’d held for most of the race, his rear grip gone, Vinales had one last chance to attack the Repsol Honda –under braking for the Turn Ten hairpin. But he never made it. In the change of direction over the preceding Lukey Heights, the rear tyre let go and he was down and out.

The 2019 world champion’s fifth win in a row was his 11th this year and the 55th in his career – putting Marquez one ahead of Mick Doohan as the most successful Honda rider.

Marquez, Australian MotoGP 2019

Vinales’s crash, with three corners to go, handed a fine second to Cal Crutchlow (LCR HONDA CASTROL) at the track where a year ago he suffered potentially career-ending leg injuries; and a home-hero podium third to Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who had carefully tended his tyres, then manoeuvred his Ducati to the front of a huge gang disputing the position.

Third to tenth was covered by just over two seconds, with jostling position changes throughout the race, and the two usually downbeat Aprilias having by far their best race of the year, at a track where rhythm and handling mean more than acceleration and power.

Miller, Australian MotoGP race 2019

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) took fourth and fifth the best yet for both class rookies. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was sixth, his best Aprilia finish; then Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who celebrated his record 400th race with a tearing start, leading for the first three laps before fading to finally finish eighth. Alex Rins Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), took ninth and tenth, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT)  a distant 11th. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), salvaged KTM’s honour with a tenth over former Red Bull KTM team-mate Johann Zarco (LCR Honda IDEMITSU), in an impressive first Honda ride.

Miles behind the last points went to the battling Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Ducati) and Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3); with the increasingly embarrassing Jorge Lorenzo’s (Repsol Honda Team) 16th and last, another 20 seconds away.

Words Michael Scott

Pics GnG