Australia’s Jack Miller rode a tight and smart race on Sunday at home at the Phillip Island circuit to take victory in Rd. 16 of the Moto3 World Championship. With his fifth victory of the season, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider gained an important five points on Alex Marquez of Spain as the competition goes into it’s final stages.
Marquez, who finished second in the race ahead of teammate Alex Rins now leads Miller in the championship by 20 points with just two races to go.
Clearly excited about his victory at home, Miller said he had had had some valuable tips from his friend Maverick Vinales on how to best tackle the Australian circuit, adding: “I just tried to time it to do everything perfect in the last lap.”
It was a thrilling last lap for the Australian crowd that saw Miller take the win from his Spanish rival by just 29 thousandths of a second. The Red Bull-sponsored athlete started in the middle of row three on the grid. By lap 4 of the 23-lap race he had set the fastest lap and moved up into podium contention, tucked in behind Rins and Brad Binder.
An eleven-rider group broke away from the main field in the early stages and while the front-runners constantly exchanged the lead throughout the race, Miller stayed in the thick of the action.
The lead group dropped to five in the latter stages of the race, then with just three laps to go Miller hit the front on his KTM RC250 GP machine, only to slip back to second in the penultimate lap. He grabbed the lead going into the Doohan corner in the final lap and with clever riding and brave late braking held off hard challenges to take the trophy.
Miller’s young teammate Karel Hanika of the Czech Republic was racing at Phillip Island for the first time. He remained in the middle of the field for most of the race but finished in thirteenth place in what is an increasingly competitive field of young riders.
KTM riders Jakub Kornfeil (CZE) and Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) both had top ten finishes while two young Australia wild card entries on KTMs, Remy Gardner, son of former 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner and Olly Simpson, a Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup competitor finished 26-28. They were both making their first appearance in the elite Moto3 class of the World Championship.
Miller, who led the championship points through the first 14 rounds of the 18-round competition has edged five points closer to Marquez. He now has to go all out to make up the deficit in the two remaining rounds, in Malaysia next weekend and then in Valencia, Spain to close the season.
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Moto3 Rd. 16 – At Phillip Island Australia
1, Jack Miller, AUS, KTM, 37:25.209
2, Alex Marquez, ESP, Honda, 37:25.238
3, Alex Rins, ESP, Honda, 37:25.241
4, Efren Vazquez, ESP, Honda, 37:25.253
5, John McPhee, GBR, Honda, 37:25.343
6, Alexis Masbou, FRA, Honda, 37:25.451
7, Miguel Oliveira, POR, Mahindra, 37:27.962
8, Jakub Kornfeil, CZE, KTM, 37:28.664
9, Niklas Ajo, FIN, Husqvarna, 37:43.327
10, Niccolo Antonelli, ITA, KTM, 37:43.328
11, Francesco Bagnaia, ITA, KTM, 37:43.413
13, Karel Hanika, CZE, KTM, 37:43.487
18, Hafiq Azmi, MAL, KTM, 37:51.103
26, Remy Gardner, AUS, KTM 38:21.483
28, Olly Simpson, AUS, KTM, 38:22.549
DNF Romano Fenati, ITA, KTM
DNF Isaac Vinales, ESP KTM
1, Marquez, 251
2, Miller 231
3, Rins, 210
4, Vazquez, 187
5, Fenati 175
7, Vinales 121
8, Bastianini 116
9, Kent 103
10, Binder 102
12, Kornfeil, 86
15, Bagnaia 50
16, Antonelli, 50
18, Hanika, 31
29, Granado 2
1, Honda 343
2, KTM 335
3, Mahindra 158
4, Husqvarna 130
FTR KTM 4
Image courtesy KTM