King of Phillip Island Marc Marquez as Jack Miller Shoey’s his way to Third and Mate Cal Crutchlow in Second
The Miller Thriller it was with crazy weather, up and down heart rates and an absolute cracking finish as the chequered flag was flown. The 2019 Pramac Generac Australian MotoGP was marvellous from start to finish with lead changes and mind games which resulted in Marc Marquez winning in style, Cal Crutchlow fighting strong to finish second and home grown Australian talent Jack Miller finishing in third which will give the crowd something to continue cheering about. The weather gods held off and allowed the rain droplets to fall as the Prosecco flowed.
Today was jam packed with qualifying in the morning as a result of the safety commission decision to finish the day’s events on Saturday early with gusty winds of in excess of 70km/h. The riders declared on Saturday that to ride in those challenging conditions could put themselves at risk of being hurt and so Sunday arrived with an early start and eager riders!
Race winner Marquez did not stop wanting to win in order to continue dominating the record books for 2019. Regardless of the conditions, he pushed when he knew it mattered the most and played games with Maverick Vinales which ended with heartbreak as on the last lap, he crashed at the bottom of Lukey Heights where no doubt he felt guttered about losing to the Spanish Champion and also after topping every time sheet including qualifying. Vinales will need a hot shower and look to reset for next weekend’s race at Sepang.
Australian fans have a new star to follow since the retirement of Casey Stoner. It is a breath of fresh air for this part of the world to have a rider who is dedicated to making a mark as he races up against the likes of Marquez, Crutchlow, Vinales, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Fabio Quartararo and so on. In demand will be Miller, because he is demonstrating a strong, positive and relentless attitude whilst admitting where he had to improve. Honesty is the best policy in order to rise to the top. Throughout the entire race, Miller was on the hunt whilst remaining focused as the riders chopped and changed places continuously. He may have not qualified in the way he needed to, with that said, Miller did the groundwork with his Ducati and even outperformed the factory team as DesmoDovi did not showcase enough speed and Danilo Petrucci made a major error on lap one taking out Quartararo and winding himself considerably. Analysing the riders on circuit, you could see where they felt the positive and negative points, how confidence grew with more track time and how hard it can be to recover if a start is poor. It was an epic battle and a close race, one we will be watching back over and over again for many years.
So what is like to ride around the island with such dynamic weather patterns, it is fun though at the same time extremely draining from a physical perspective. There is one rider who needs a special mention for their work today and that is Crutchlow who twelve months ago almost had a career ending injury with an ankle shattered into a lot of pieces. If you look back at the turn one crash in 2018, you will see a battered LCR Castrol Honda rider who admitted this weekend that he was scared and not looking forward to the race itself out of fear of a new injury arising if he was to crash. With that said, Cruthclow had one of his greatest races for the year and the victory was well deserved. The LCR Castrol Honda rider was calculated from the very first practice session and felt good with his bike. When this feeling arises, Crutchlow feels unstoppable. To both Miller and Crutchlow, it felt like a win even though Marquez managed to stay ahead and focus on winning more than ever because the risk was 0%. He could push where it mattered and also had a plan to overtake on the last lap which is the signature style of multi World Champion. He is now the third most successful rider in the class in terms of victories surpassing Mick Doohan.
MM93: “I knew that Vinales was the target. I waited for him. When he overtook me, I overtook him and tried to be in second place. It was a strong move to Cal, it was the only chance for me, if the gap had opened, it would have been impossible. I used his slipstream. I was faster in the last sector especially on the main straight we used our engine. I am very happy. We worked in all the details in the Repsol Honda Team. I am now the rider with more victories in Honda, it is incredible as they are one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. We enjoy because we do not know the future. On the last lap, it was my plan to overtake Vinales on the main straight. I saw that it started to rain on turns 3 and 6. I said to myself what is going on, I just tried to brake deep going in and I was sliding a lot on the rear because the tyre was finished. In turn ten, he overtook me two times. I went in deep and quite strong braking and I did not know he crashed. I had a second chance.”
In terms of being a strong athlete, you have to go forward at 110% otherwise you risk being caught up in the middle towards the end of the pack. Crutchlow had an incredible start and worked his way from there keeping calm, not making errors and rather being a different rider at the Grand Prix this weekend. CC35: “It has been a great job by my team the LCR Castrol Honda team with a minimal amount of time we have had available. I did not have the perfect setting for the race, we made it happen. We did choose the wrong tyre for the race. I knew I could manage the hard to the end. I thought the soft was a risk because I did no laps on the weekend with it really besides the fast qualifying laps. When these guys came past, I knew that their tyre was better than mine and knew they could pick up the bike a little bit more than mine which was spinning. The last five laps the tyre was completed destroyed. I cruised the last five or six laps. It was an incredible race by Marc and Maverick. It was a shame Maverick crashed. I think we did a good job after what happened here last year. I normally get straight back up after a crash, that one from last year has been haunting me all year. I was not happy coming to this Grand Prix thinking about it. I have never really been injured in that way especially it could have been a career ending crash. I actually had the surgeon here this morning who performed my operation and I thanked him for saving my career. At the start of the year, we did not know if I could be able to ride at all. To have a podium back at this Grand Prix is very special and great to be on the podium with these two: Jacky on the podium, like a knight in shining armour in all that. It was a good race and we managed well”.
There is no denying that the Honda machine is suiting one rider, that of Marquez. Crutchlow has demonstrated today what the team is capable of and it is a reminder of how quickly you can improve with the right mindset, team and discipline even when the bike produced for 2019 is a challenge in its own right to conquer. CC35: “Last year’s bike was turning better and we struggled a bit with corner entry, engine braking and the turning of this year’s bike. Sometimes you feel better and sometimes you don’t. When I feel good, I am able to push. It is as simple as that. I look forward to Malaysia, Valencia and the 2020 bike”.
Celebrating in style, was that of Miller and also Crutchlow who was genuinely happy to see his friend up on the podium steps with him. Fans went crazy for the two characters who always show up for a battle and are outspoken!
JM43: “You never want to see a rider crash with two corners to go. It is what it is. I saw these boys put soft tyres on the grid. Majority of the dry track time, I was able to do some laps on the soft, my consumption was too high. I sat back, when Danilo had his big crash, I was a little bit nervous because as I went in to turn two, it went on me, I was able to push the gas and hold through. I hope he is ok. Valentino went flat out at the start, I thought that was pretty keen. In the end, ten laps to go, Pecco came past me and was into it and this was extra motivation for me because you know your teammate, here at Phillip Island, I thought he was going to burn out after three laps. I got passed him in the end, on the second last lap, Dovi passed me and then almost highsided going in to turn two, then I just went inside and as I came out of turn nine, I saw dust, my heart rate jumped about 50 beats per second because I was like I am in third, inside, inside and as I went through the last corners it was full power to ensure no one was coming past me on the front straight.”
The Miller Thriller will be remembered as this race is a reminder that if you put the work in, there is every opportunity to reap the rewards. To those curious, Miller decided on his leather design for race day by sending a picture of Ned Kelly to an Italian designer and this is what he got back. JM43: “I wanted to be an outlaw, bank robber and ended up like a knight. We do not have any medieval history in Australia. I don’t fight, I just say yes it looks good.”
Some final words of wisdom from Crutchlow and Miller after finishing on the podium today.
JM43: “It feels like a win. Step by step I have been closer this week. I think Cal has come from bigger adversities as of recently. This time last year, I was up in the hospital with him and he was off with the fairies with the drugs and what not. He is a better position this year”
CC35: “I am still off with the fairies now. After that sip of Champagne, I don’t drink so I am feeling great. Yeah, if we are talking what happened last year, it is great to be able to come back to this track and get a podium here. I know I have been fast around this track before. I was not as fast as Marc and Maverick today but I feel like I could have with the right rear tyre or at least a lot closer. So, I had a good feeling in Friday FP2 and FP2 and I knew it was possible for the podium, I did not tell my team, I knew I had a good fight within me to do that. Once I saw that these guys were a lot faster than me, I managed the situation and went with them for two or three laps and was happy and comfortable to do it. When I have the feeling like that with the bike, I am able to do it. Coming from where we came from last year and some of the races this year, I felt great. It is a big deal for me and we will try do the same in Malaysia. It will be a lot more difficult”.
Next up is Malaysia where hot and humid conditions are bound to push others and see success versus failure. Celebrations have begun and Miller was seen walking barefoot through the venue as he threw his third place boots out to the crowd. “On Ya Jack”.