until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP cancels Australian GP sprint race

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP has cancelled its Australian Grand Prix sprint race due to worsening weather conditions at Phillip Island.

That outcome had been in prospect for several days given the severity of the wind and rain forecast for Sunday.

MotoGP had already swapped the order of its races and run the grand prix on Saturday to ensure the main event definitely happened, and it then moved the revised Sunday schedule forward by an hour to try to get the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP sprint races in before the weather got too bad.

Crash-strewn Moto3 and Moto2 races showed how difficult conditions already were on Sunday morning, with both featuring plenty of falls even on the sighting laps on the way to the grid - including for Moto2 championship leader Pedro Acosta.

The Moto2 race was red-flagged and abandoned after just nine of the planned 23 laps.

And half an hour before the MotoGP sprint was due to begin, promoter Dorna announced that it was being called off given the extreme conditions and the forecast suggesting they would only get worse during the afternoon.

The view from the ground

Simon Patterson

The weather forecast for Sunday at Phillip Island predicted cold temperatures, heavy rain showers throughout the day and both high winds and gusts that were set to increase throughout the day - a prediction that came exactly true to form.

Moto3 started in cold and wet conditions that caused a number of crashes before the action even got underway properly, with four riders falling on the sighting lap alone and then a steadily increasing number throughout the rest of the 21 laps.

There was initial surprise that Moto2 even got underway as conditions continued to deteriorate, with championship leader Acosta this time a faller on the out-lap.

Conditions seemingly started to improve after the race got underway, with the rain stopping and the day brightening up.

However, speaking to The Race afterwards, race winner Tony Arbolino admitted that while it might have appeared to be improving, the ever-increasing wind speed was in reality making things worse and worse for the riders.

"It changed a lot for me," he said of the nine laps before the red flags came out to bring it to a premature end. "The first lap, the first three laps, were really the best conditions, then I started to feel a lot of wind and the grip was not really crazy good. For me, it was getting worse and worse and worse. To keep going like this was dangerous."

That was echoed by his fellow podium finisher Aron Canet, who was adamant in their post-race press conference (during which the cancellation of the MotoGP sprint was announced) that it was the right call to both end their race and the day's activities early.

"My pace from the beginning to the end was pretty similar because my rear tyre had no grip," the runner-up admitted. "When we started with the windy conditions, the dangerous conditions, maintaining the rhythm wasn't really good for anyone, but I'm happy with that. It was too dangerous.

"When I overtook Aldeguer around corner number three, I saw him go completely out of the track with the wind on the front of the bike. It's difficult to say whether we could do all the race or not, but the right thing is to not do the MotoGP race because it's too dangerous."

The sprint cancellation means Pecco Bagnaia heads into the season's final four rounds with a 27-point championship lead over title rival Jorge Martin.

Bagnaia had looked set to lose most of his points advantage for much of Saturday's Australian GP as Martin dominated.

But Martin's choice of a soft rear tyre backfired and he fell from first to fifth on the final lap, with Bagnaia coming through to second behind first-time winner Johann Zarco.

Martin would have started on pole for the sprint, with Bagnaia third.

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