Lorenzo wins MotoGP duel Down Under
By Ian Ransom ,ReutersPHILLIP ISLAND, Australia -- Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP title defense remains alive after the Spaniard won an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, as championship leader Marc Marquez suffered a disastrous disqualification due to a howling team error.
October 21, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
With tire problems forcing riders to change bikes mid-race in a MotoGP first, the battle between the two-time world champion Lorenzo and Honda's 20-year-old wunderkind fizzled out in the 14th lap when Marquez was shown the dreaded black flag for failing to pit during the mandated window.
Riders were ordered to pit by the end of the 10th lap at the latest out of safety fears, but Marquez sped past the Honda garage as his team believed completing Lap 11 was allowed.
“The plan we had was not correct, we thought that we could do that lap. We thought we could go into the pit at the end of Lap 11,” Marquez told reporters at the Phillip Island circuit.
“The problem was not with the pit board, that was fine, when I saw 'Box' I came in. Now we need to forget about it and just concentrate in Motegi.”
Having had the chance to wrap up the title in his debut season on Sunday and become motorcycling's youngest premier class champion, a crushed Marquez slumped in a chair in his team's garage with his head in his hands as Lorenzo toasted victory ahead of Honda's Dani Pedrosa and third-placed team mate Valentino Rossi.
“I said on Thursday that the championship is very long. Today this happened and maybe in Motegi it's something else,” Marquez added.
“I know we're going in the right way, I feel so good on the bike. I could have fought for the podium or the victory today.”
Team principal Livio Suppo apologized to his rider.
“Everybody understood correctly instead of us,” an embarrassed Suppo said. “Of course we are sorry (to Marc). It's the first time I've seen him in a very disappointed situation and he reacted as expected.”
Pole-sitter Lorenzo was a deserving winner, however, having endured enormous pressure from the two Honda riders amid chaotic race conditions at the bucolic seaside track.
The win breathed new life into his title defense, trimming fellow Spaniard Marquez's lead to a more precarious 18 points with two races left in Japan's Motegi and Valencia.
“Today has been a crazy race,” the affable 26-year-old said after celebrating his first win Down Under.
“With this changeover of bikes in the middle, we practiced a lot before the race. So that was one of the keys.
“Now, (the title defense) is still very, very tough ... Let's see what happens in Motegi.”