Just a few days after the Grand Prix of Japan, which saw Marc Marquez take the world title after a crash for Andrea Dovizioso on the penultimate lap, the Ducati Team has already arrived in Australia for the next race. Round 17 of the championship, the third in a challenging series of four successive end-of-season overseas rounds and the third to last one on the calendar, takes place this weekend at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The Italian rider has been on the podium three times in different categories at Phillip Island, scoring a win in 125cc in 2004 and a third place in MotoGP in 2011, while last year, after a difficult race he was unable to finish any higher than thirteenth.
Jorge Lorenzo, who returned to Europe last Sunday, had a successful operation Wednesday on his left wrist at the hands of Dr. Xavier Mir of the Dexeus Clinica, who carried out an arthroscopy on his injured left ligament. The Spanish rider has already returned home to Lugano to try and speed up recovery, with the aim of returning to the track at Sepang in ten days’ time.
At Phillip Island therefore, it will be Álvaro Bautista who will race on the Mallorcan rider’s Desmosedici GP. The 33-year-old Bautista finished fifth in the Japanese GP last Sunday with the GP17 of the Ángel Nieto Team. His best result in the eight editions of the Australian GP in which he has taken part is a fifth place, which he achieved in 2012 and 2013.
Situated close to the Bass Strait in the state of Victoria, the Phillip Island track runs in a counter-clockwise direction with a series of extremely quick curves that make it one of the fastest on the world championship calendar. Despite the fact that weather conditions in spring in the southern hemisphere are often unpredictable, the event is always a favourite for teams, riders and fans alike. Like Motegi, the Ducati Team has also notched up four wins at Phillip Island, all scored by Casey Stoner.
With three rounds remaining until the end of the 2018 championship, Dovizioso currently lies in second place overall on 194 points, while Bautista is in twelfth place with 83 points.
The weekend schedule at Phillip Island kicks off on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 11.55am local time (02.55 CET), while the 27-lap race is scheduled for Sunday at 4pm (06.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (194 points)
“After Motegi my goal now is to stay in second place in the championship because Rossi is only nine points behind me, and here at Phillip Island, where I expect the Yamahas to be strong, it’ll be an important test for us because it’s one of the tracks where we tend to struggle a lot. We’re going through a positive period: since Brno we’ve always been fighting for the wins and we want to continue in this way, evolving the bike and improving even more. For sure it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to try.”
Álvaro Bautista (Ducati Team #19) – 12th (83 points)
“To race with the official Ducati team for me is a dream come true. I want to thank Jorge Martinez ‘Aspar’, the Angel Nieto team and Ducati for giving me this chance in the Australian GP, and I’m really thrilled about it. The weekend will only be to learn and enjoy myself, without any pressure and without aiming for any particular results. That’s OK: next year I won’t be in this championship because I’ll be racing in Superbike with Ducati, so this race is a sort of prize for me.”
The Phillip Island Circuit
Phillip Island, located around 150 km south of Melbourne, is steeped in motor racing tradition, with the first car races having been held there on public roads in the 1920s. The first motorcycle races took place in 1931 and a permanent track was built in 1956. The circuit fell into disrepair during the late 70s and early 80s until it was bought in 1985 and given a major facelift. MotoGP returned in 1989 and 1990 before becoming a regular fixture once more from 1997 onwards. The Phillip Island circuit is blessed with breathtaking scenery and beautiful ocean views and is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar.
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’27.899 (182.1 km/h) - 2013
Circuit Record: Marquez (Honda) 1’28.108 (181.7 km/h) - 2013
Best Pole: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’27.899 (182.1 km/h) - 2013
Top Speed: Dovizioso (Ducati) 348.0 km/h - 2015
Track Length: 4.4 km
Race Distance: 27 laps (120.1 km)
Corners: 12 (7 left, 5 right)
Race Start: 16.00 (06.00 CET)
Podium: 1st Marquez (Honda), 2nd Rossi (Yamaha), 3rd Viñales (Suzuki)
Pole Position: Marquez (Honda) 1’28.386 (181.168 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Zarco (Yamaha) 1’29.572 (178.770 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 32 (born on 23 March 1986 in Forlimpopoli)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 291 (193 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2008 Qatar (MotoGP), 2005 Spain (250cc), 2001 Italy (125cc)
Wins: 20 (11 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2009 Britain (MotoGP), 2006 Catalonia (250cc), 2004 South Africa (125cc)
Pole Positions: 19 (6 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2010 Japan (MotoGP), 2006 France (250cc), 2003 France (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 19
Age: 33 (born on 21 November 1984 at Talavera de la Reina)
Residence: Talavera de la Reina (Spain)
Races: 270 (154 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 67 x 125cc)
First GP: 2010 Qatar (MotoGP), 2007 Qatar (250cc), 2002 Spain (125cc)
Wins: 16 (8 x 250cc, 8 x 125cc)
First Win: 2007 Italy (250cc), 2003 Spain (125cc)
Pole Positions: 18 (1 x MotoGP, 9 x 250cc, 8 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2012 Britain (MotoGP), 2007 Italy (250cc), 2006 Qatar (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)