Jack Miller’s 2022 MotoGP race for Australia ended in horror as Alex Rins took a classic victory in a last-lap thriller that could have major implications for the development of the world championship.
Australia’s home hero put on a show, moving from eighth to third within the first five laps, but he didn’t see the checkered flag after Alex Marquez ironically took him out at Miller Corner.
Although Miller’s race lasted just nine laps, the big crowd couldn’t take their eyes off the action as a thrilling battle for the lead unfolded, while Fabio Quartararo lost the championship lead to a costly crash on the South Loop .
Marc Marquez, Alex Rins and Francesco Bagnaia shared the lead in a stunning second half of the race, with the latter looking set to turn the championship around when he started the final lap in front.
But Rins made a bold move in the final round of the Southern Loop and managed to hold off the brave Marc Marquez and Banya, who marked their fine podiums with a simultaneous strike.
The race was lively from start to finish as just 5.940s closed the top 10, the second smallest margin in premier class history.
Australia’s Remy Gardner made it as high as 13th before finishing 15th.
With the sun shining on more than 40,000 people, Phillip Island set the perfect stage for MotoGP to make its three-year return to Australia and a race to remember.
Pole Jorge Martin enjoyed a fast start and established a lead which he held until lap 14, while Banya crashed but managed to recover to take third.
It didn’t take long for Miller to impress as he made three moves in as many laps on the MG to take the lead from P8.
He tried to make it four in a row, battling Ducati team-mate Bagnai for third, but failed to do so.
After attacking for the first seven laps, Miller was forced to start defending and was unable to prevent Rins from flying past as the Suzuki rider launched his ultimately successful counterattack.
The Australian dropped off the podium to seventh on lap 9 when his home race came to an abrupt end.
Miller headed to the corner named after him, minding his own business before being destroyed by an out-of-control Alex Marquez.
The younger Marquez lost control in the braking zone and carried right into the back of the unsuspecting Australian, who was carted off to his home turf heartbroken.
“I was doing everything I could and the bike felt great, but then I got hit from behind. It came out of nowhere and there was nothing I could do,” Miller told Fox Sports.
“I feel like I’ve been hit by a motorcycle and I’m devastated to finish my home Grand Prix like that after a three-year absence.”
Another famous rider who survived the accident was Yamaha’s Quartararo.
The Frenchman nicknamed “El Diablo” went into the race with a two-point lead in the championship, but that has now evaporated.
Quartararo’s tough day started with a costly mistake when he allowed the exit at Miller’s corner, dropping him from 6th to 22nd on lap 4.
But it got worse when the star Yamaha lost the front end at the Southern Loop and crashed out on lap 11, making it three pointless comebacks in the last four races.
Despite the fact that his main rival Quartarara crashed, Banya did not hold back in his pursuit of victory.
Martin led the first half of the race but dropped to fifth after a couple of turns, leaving Marc Marquez, Bagnaia and a charging Rins to fight for the win.
The trio shuffled up and down the order with some daring high-speed moves, but Banya managed to hold on to the lead on the final lap.
But less than a tenth of a second covered the entire top three as they crossed the line, with the Ducati rider unable to prevent Rins and Marc Marquez from diving to the inside on the South Loop.
With the championship lead to defend, Bagnaia held on for third ahead of Marco Betseki and Enea Bastianini, leaving the #42 and #93 to battle it out for victory.
Marc Marquez did well with his soft front tire and was on Rins by the final third of the lap, but had to settle for second place in his 100th MotoGP career podium.
This allowed Rins to enjoy his first victory in more than two years and give Suzuki a sweet victory in the penultimate race before leaving the sport at the end of the year.
While the crowd were underwhelmed by Miller and Suzuki delighted with Rins, the main storyline was Banya running away with a 14-point championship lead, 91 points behind Quartararo just eight rounds ago in Germany.
After an unforgettable Australian Grand Prix, the championship heads to Malaysia, where Banya and Quartarara will resume their title battle next weekend before the season finale in Valencia.
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1. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +0.186
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.224
4. Marco Bacecki (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +0.534
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.557
Standings of the MotoGP Championship 2022
1 Francesco Bagnaia 233 points
2 Fabio Quartarara 219
3 Aleix Espargaro 206
4 Aeneas Bastianini 191