Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro clinched a strong 5th place finish at the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 today. The young Spaniard launched off the front row of the grid and shot to the head of the field when the race started. Espargaro completed the first lap in 2nd and remained in this position until the 5th lap as he challenged Marc Marquez for the lead of the race. He was then shuffled back two places but the 25-year-old stayed firm as he carried on his formidable pace at the high-speed circuit. He eventually slipped back another position on the 12th lap, but he powered onwards and opened a comfortable gap to the 2015 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo who pursued him. From here, Espargaro lapped consistently before powering across the finish line in 5th, which marks a highly positive end to the weekend for the former Moto2 World Champion. He now sets his sights on closing the triple flyaway events with another top tier result at the Malaysian Grand Prix next week.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team pit box, Bradley Smith produced a courageous ride to complete his 100th Grand Prix with the Tech3 team in 8th, despite not racing at full fitness due to a complicated knee injury. The young British rider kicked off the Australian GP from 14th on the grid and got straight to work when the sprint began. After carefully navigating his way through the first lap, he crossed the line in 18th but he then confidently stuck into a solid rhythm as he looked to progress. His pace allowed him to glide past four riders and move into 14thafter one third of the distance. Smith continued to push and his hard work and faultless riding lap after lap paid off and he joined a pack of seven riders all fighting for 7th as the GP entered the final stage. After a frantic dash to the chequered flag, Smith defied all expectations by finishing in 8th, having impressively jumped up two positions on the last lap. The positive conclusion in Australia leaves the British rider fired up for the forthcoming Malaysian round as he continues his recovery process.
Position: 5th - Championship: 8th - Points: 117
"Today I played all my cards and we have to leave Phillip Island feeling pleased about our performance over the weekend. The start itself was good and I put myself at the front of the field, plus I didn’t make any mistakes. In addition, I tried to brake smoothly and not take unnecessary risks throughout the GP. However, I can’t help but feel a bit frustrated when I think about how the factory riders passed me, whilst I was trying to fight with them, but I guess that’s how things go. Yet, I know that we gave our all and I have to say that the team is continuing to work in the same way that they did on our first day together, even if there are only a couple more races left together, and I appreciate that a lot. I think we were probably a bit lucky that there was limited dry track time this weekend because I believe this is why we were in front of a few factory guys today. However, looking at the results we have to be happy with what we are taking away from this GP and we will keep fighting for another strong result next week in Malaysia."
Position: 8th - Championship: 17th - Points: 53
"First of all, I have to say that the result is very positive. It was definitely a lot of hard work and in the last few laps, I was fortunate enough to find some opening gaps which allowed me to finish in 8th. Initially, I was a bit disappointed with myself because I wasn’t aggressive enough at the start. This may have been because of my injury and perhaps I was over thinking a bit about what to do, plus I was very careful with warming up the tyres. However, once I found my rhythm, I was able to catch the group, even if it was a challenge to do this, and when I got onto the back of them, I just tried to be smart and save the tyres, because I knew that the rubber was going to be vital for the last three laps. I made a few passes in the closing stages of the race and then finally in the last corner, I just went full attack mode on the outside and I got some good grip which allowed me to beat Petrucci and Miller to the line. Once again, I have to say big thanks to the Tech3 team because they did a super job, especially after yesterday’s crash. Also, with the limited track time that we had in the dry, the guys were fantastic and gave me a solid setting. For the moment everything is going according to plan. We came back in Japan, then here, we went a little better, so now let’s see what Sepang brings."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager:
“We knew it was going to be a tough race in the MotoGP class and for sure, it was. I think Pol undertook a brilliant start like he always does, but this time we could see it more clearly and it was a great feeling to see him leading the entire field. Unfortunately, Marc didn’t give him the chance to complete the whole lap, but Pol did very well behind him and they opened a gap. Yet, it became clear to see that he was not able to stay with Marc and the riders behind caught him up and after that, it was a really intense race. Nevertheless, I think Pol did a great job and his lap times were very consistent. He lost a few positions but the other riders around him had a better rhythm and maybe better equipment too. Anyway, we all have to be proud of what he has achieved this weekend. On the other hand, Bradley undertook a superb performance and we must remember that ten days ago, we didn’t even know if he was going to be able to take part. At the beginning, he took his time and tried to understand his package, as well as his physical condition. After that, Bradley was on a mission and he caught the group in front who were more than five seconds ahead of him. This was exciting to see as he took half a second each lap until he was there. Finally, Brad commenced the last lap in 10th, and he was incredible in the fourth sector before completing the race in 8th, which is far better than what we could have expected. Congratulations to him for his hard work, his dedication and his never give up attitude. To finish such a tricky weekend in 5th and 8th is fantastic when considering the poor weather and the track conditions that we had to face. Now we will move on to Sepang, the last of the three flyaway races, where we hope to repeat this result before we head back to Europe.”