Monday Motor Sport Report

MOTO3: Miller joins the greats in a thriller

QUEENSLANDER Jack Miller yesterday joined a very special group of Australian riders who have won their home world championship motorcycle grand prix.

KTM rider Miller, who started eighth in the Moto3 GP at Phillip Island, needed a strong result to keep alive his championship hopes and charged hard early to stay on terms with pole man and points leader Alex Marquez on the more powerful Honda.

The initial lead bunch of 11 bikes swapped places in ferocious fashion, with Miller happily working over Marquez at every opportunity.

Throughout the race, Miller experimented with slipstreaming, aware that the Hondas had the straight-line grunt to gobble up his KTM on Gardner Straight. When Miller held only the tiniest of leads in the final corner, his Honda rivals must have fancied themselves in the run to the chequer.

But  in an outcome that left the patriotic crowd ecstatic, Miller cannily broke their draft with a bit of lurid swerving and beat home Marquez by 0.029sec.

Marquez’s team-mate Alex Rins was third, the first three covered by just 0.032sec.

It was no surprise that Miller declared it the most satisfying win of his career.

“I definitely gave that my 120 percent,” he said. “On the last lap I nearly dropped the front; I was trying to get the last sections perfect; it seemed to pay off really well.

“I’m just super-dooper happy. It’s just awesome.”

Miller is now 20 points behind Marquez in the World Championship with only two rounds remaining.

Son-of-a-gun Remy Gardner, in only his second GP (and first Australian GP) had to endure the frustration of his bike being reluctant to fire and was forced to start dead last from pit lane. He fought back to pass some riders and see out the race.

The penultimate round of the 2014 Moto3 World Championship will take place in Malaysia at Sepang next Sunday, October 26.

Most motor sport fans know that local heroes Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner have won world championship Australian GPs, all in the premier class, but back in 1996, when the event was held at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway, Garry McCoy triumphed in the 125cc (now Moto3) Australian GP. 

Jack has now joined that elite bunch of local AGP winners. Five in all.

MOTOGP:  Rossi wins crash-strewn AGP

NINE years after his last win at Phillip Island, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi won an incident-packed 2014 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in a memorable 250th start in the premier class.

Rossi’s 82nd 500cc/MotoGP victory equalled Australian Casey Stoner’s record of six wins in Australia and moved him clear of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in the battle for second in the 2014 world championship.

Honda’s Marc Marquez, who has already wrapped up this year’s crown, exited the race in dramatic style, crashing out of the lead while holding a comfortable four-second lead. Pedrosa was never in contention and was forced to retire after being clipped by Andrea Iannone.

Lorenzo made it a one-two finish for Yamaha, while Bradley Smith secured his first podium finish in MotoGP on a satellite Yamaha.

In an indicator of his lousy, luckless season, Cal Crutchlow threw away what would have been a great second place for the Brit and Ducati, dropping the Italian bike under brakes heading into the hairpin on the last lap.

Australian actor Eric Bana, former Formula One driver Mark Webber, Olympic gold medallist Sally Pearson and a brace of AFL players were among the crowd.

FORMULA RENAULT 1.6: De Pasquale is our newest champ

ANTON de Pasquale is Australia’s newest champion on the global stage, having pocketed the 2014 Formula Renault 1.6 Series victory with another crushing performance in the three-race finale at Zandvoort, Holland.

The teenager dominated qualifying, taking pole for the first two races and earning a pole start in the third race by virtue of his brilliant earlier two wins of the weekend.

De Pasquale (Lechner Racing School) clinched the series by winning the first race.

“I am so happy to have won this race and won the championship,” de Pasquale said. “I had a good start and could control the race to bring the win home. We are now going to celebrate.”

Emphasising his supremacy, the Australian went on to win the second and third races, his eighth and ninth wins of the series.

ARC: Team Citroen back in 2015, but who are the drivers?

ELI Evans and Scott Pedder have each been in separate discussions with Team Citroen Australia about driving for the squad in the 2015 Australian Rally Championship.

Citroen team principal Ron Cremen has confirmed Citroen and a handful of backers will return to the ARC after a tough 12 months campaigning a pair of DS3 R3s, driven by Adrian Coppin and Tony Sullens.

The Citroen DS3 is the dominant front-wheel drive of choice in world rallying, but the fledgling Australian team spent 2014 learning the ropes in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Scott Pedder and Brendan Reeves, who are just 27 points apart at the top of the ARC title table.

“Being new in the (Australian Rally) Championship, we had to find out exactly where we were compared to our opposition and then to try and be as competitive as possible while learning with a new car,” ex-driver Cremen said.

 Cremen admitted he has been surprised by the performance of Pedder and Reeves this year. Although he expected both drivers to be fast, he was caught out by just how rapid they have been at the front of the field.

While the two Citroens run with identical paint schemes and are serviced side-by-side, the DS3s are in reality separate operations, Coppin owning his car and running his Innate Motorsport team separately from Sullen’s NSW Central Coast-based outfit.

Cremen admits the make-up of Team Citroen Australia may vary heading into the 2015 season.

Many options are under consideration. Coppin has international ambitions, but Sullens may drive a Citroen again next year. The option of replacing Sullens with another driver remains a possibility and Cremen has opened discussions with others including Eli Evans and Scott Pedder.

The speedy Reeves may also find himself in consideration following his recent revelation that Rally Victoria, the last round of the ARC, will be his final drive in the Mazda2.

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