Sunday, October 28

ESPARGARO WINS, MARQUEZ CHAMP

By MICHAEL ESDAILE


A YEAR ago Spaniard Marc Marquez was ordered to start the Australian Moto2 race from the back of the grid after ramming Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot at the end of the first practice session and sending him to hospital.

As a result, Marquez was forced to start from the back of the grid for the 2011 race and after racing through the field he finished in third place.  Going into the 2011 Australian race he was leading the Moto2 Championship by two points from German Stefan Bradl.  By the end of the weekend, Bradl was leading, by three points with two rounds to go.

Marquez then crashed in the first practice session at the following weekend's Malaysian GP, sustaining a badly bruised shoulder that ruled him out of action for the weekend, and his championship bid was over.

This year he came to Phillip Island holding a more than healthy 48 point lead with just two rounds remaining and his mission was to stay out of trouble and nail the championship.

He did just that.

After leading the first lap, fellow Spaniard Pol Espargaro (Tuenti Movil HP 40 Kalex)  drafted past Marquez to lead into the first corner and then, dropping his lap times into the 1m 33s bracket, he simply raced away from the field to win by almost 17 seconds.

Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) then caught Marquez and the two engaged in a dice for second before Marquez settled in behind the Englishman.  Behind them, Australian Ant West (QMMF Racing Team Speed Up) emerged from the ruck contesting fourth place and steadily, lap by lap, caught Marquez and Redding.

Searching for a podium finish to go with his second place at the previous weekend's Malaysian GP, West got past Marquez and then nipped under Redding as well to grab second place.

Behind him, Marquez went past Redding and was trying to slip-stream past West but came up just two hundredths of a second short.

But that third place was more than enough to give him the Moto2 Championship.