Morbidelli and Lüthi fully focused on double points challenge in Australian Grand Prix
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS duo Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi are relishing the chance to make their first appearance on a MotoGP machine at the spectacular Phillip Island track, which plays host to round 16 of the World Championship this weekend.
Franco Morbidelli’s pursuit of the coveted Rookie of the Year prize continues in Australia, with the Italian looking to consolidate his advantage over Hafizh Syahrin ahead of the final two rounds in Malaysia and Valencia next month.
Just four points split the pair after they were engaged in an exciting race long duel for the top 10 during last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi.
And Morbidelli is hoping to strengthen his challenge in Australia having impressed recently at Phillip Island with a narrow second to current teammate Lüthi in 2016, which he followed with a return to the rostrum in third position one year ago.
The Phillip Island encounter presents Tom Lüthi with another opportunity to break into the points scoring places after several close calls throughout the 2018 season.
The 4.4km Phillip Island track is yet another venue where Swiss star Lüthi has enjoyed tremendous success in the past. He was victorious in the 125cc race back in 2005 and he then won an engrossing battle with Morbidelli to win the 2016 Moto2 race by the small gap of just 0.010s.
That titanic tussle between the two current Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS men is the eighth closest margin between first and second in intermediate class history. Lüthi was also runner-up twice previously in the Moto2 race behind Pol Espargaro in 2013 and Maverick Vinales in 2014.
The Phillip Island track is universally adored by riders from all three World Championship classes owing to its fast, flowing and technical layout. And its coastal location overlooking the scenic Bass Strait provides one of the most picturesque settings on the 19-round schedule.
Its proximity to the coast often delivers wildly contrasting weather conditions, with rain, gusting winds and cool temperatures a common feature.
FP1 for the MotoGP field commences at 955am local time and the 27-lap Australian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 4pm local time on Sunday afternoon.
Franco Morbidelli – 14th in the overall standings on 38-points
“Phillip Island is one of my favourite tracks”
“Phillip Island is a completely different track compared to Japan and I have to say it is one of my favourite tracks even though I haven’t had many good results in the past. I’m really looking forward to riding a MotoGP bike there.”
Thomas Lüthi – 26th in the overall standings
“It is always a pleasure to race at such a spectacular track”
“It is good to be back on track so quickly in Phillip Island and it is always a pleasure to race at such a spectacular track. These three races together mean you spend a lot of time with the team, which is enjoyable and helps us make a clear plan for this weekend. This will hopefully allow us to have a faster speed in Phillip Island.”
Track facts / Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit (Victoria, Australia)
Length: 2.764 miles (4.448 metres)
Width: 42.65 ft. (13 metres)
Corners: 7 (left) + 5 (right)
Longest straight: 2952.76 ft. (900 metres)
MotoGP Race: 27 laps, 74.5 miles (120.1 km)
Best pole: Jorge Lorenzo (1'27.899 – 2013)
Circuit record: Marc Marquez (1'28.108 – 2013)
Top speed: Andrea Dovizioso, 216.2 mph (348.0 kph) – 2015)
2017 race winner: Marc Márquez (40'49.772)