Jorge Lorenzo strengthened his defense of the MotoGP title by winning the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday when championship leader Marc Marquez was dramatically disqualified for delaying a compulsory pit stop. Yamaha’s Lorenzo won a race shortened to 19 laps by 6.9 seconds from Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi.
Marquez,bidding to become the youngest ever Moto GP champion,was disqualified five laps from the finish after staying on the track one lap longer than allowed before taking a pit stop. He took no points from the race,allowing Lorenzo to close his lead in the championship standings to 18 points with two rounds remaining.
For the first time in Moto GP history,compulsory bike changes were required in Sunday’s race which was reduced from 27 to 19 laps due to safety concerns over the tires on the resurfaced Phillip Island circuit.
Race directors announced the change only two hours before the start. The move came after Bridgestone said they were unable to guarantee the safety of their rear slick tires beyond 10 laps because of greater than expected tire degradation caused by the circuit’s abrasive new tarmac.
Riders were instructed to pit for bike changes on either the ninth or 10th laps of the race while also running harder compound tires throughout. Lorenzo pitted at the end of the 10th lap but Marquez continued for another circuit before pitting at the end of lap 11. Marquez was then disqualified as were Australian riders Bryan Staring and Damian Cudlin who also pitted outside the specified window.
The disqualification of Marquez allowed Lorenzo to claim his sixth win of the season. Pedrosa’s second placing kept alive his title chances while Rossi narrowly beat Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautisata in a thrilling contest for third.