Morbidelli takes second in thrilling photo finish at Phillip Island
Despite a near perfect high-speed race Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli missed a career first Moto2 win by a fraction of a second in today’s Michelin Australian Grand Prix.
In a thrilling photo finish at the seaside Phillip Island Circuit Morbidelli was beaten by just one hundredth of a second by Swiss rival Thomas Lüthi after a titanic 25-lap battle.
The official winning margin was 0.010s, about one metre, after 111kms of racing.
It was a superb comeback by the 21-year-old Italian who suffered three massive crashes during practice and qualifying.
Morbidelli started ninth and applied huge race long pressure with multiple overtakes on Lüthi from lap two before grabbing the lead on his own on the penultimate lap.
Leading the final lap Morbidelli looked in control for a historic victory when Lüthi timed a slipstream overtake to snatch a dramatic win.
After his starring role in a breath-taking battle Morbidelli was far from heartbroken to claim his third runner-up finish of the season. It was his sixth podium in the last nine races.
After two days of variable weather including rain and cold winds the race was run in sunny but cool conditions with an ambient temperature of 12 degrees.
A battered and bruised Álex Márquez did not start the race following his heavy crash in qualifying on Saturday.
After spending Saturday night in Melbourne for hospital checks and then being declared fit to ride Márquez withdrew from the race as precaution after struggling in the pre-race warm-up session.
Márquez was suffering discomfort from pain in his abdomen, left wrist and back and he will undergo a medical check on Wednesday to assess his fitness for the Malaysian GP next weekend.
Franco Morbidelli: 2nd
“I am happy because I rode a great race after a very difficult two days with big crashes and the team had to fix the bike and change the engine. But I was confident for the race and the pace with Lüthi out front was unbelievable, he was really fast. I understood the chance to overtake at turn one with two laps to go and make a strategy for the end of the race. I tried but on the run to the finish he took my slipstream and he won. But it was a great second position after a tough weekend and good result for the team. I must say a big thanks to my team who a did lot of work to fix my bikes after my crashes.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The final corner at the fast Phillip Island circuit is always a little tricky and when you have the experience of a rider like Tom Lüthi it is always an advantage to have the slipstream to the chequered flag. Franco rode a perfect race, he did nothing wrong and with all the overtakes it was a really nice race for all the fans. I am sure we are very close to Franco’s first Moto2 win, I’m very happy with this result. With Álex when he was not feeling 100% after the warm-up it was better for him not to race here so now he will rest and have some physiotherapy and I am sure he can be on the grid in Malaysia.”