The margin won’t say so, but the 2019 Australian Grand Prix was one of the best races of the year, with plenty of battles at the front of the field before it became a battle between Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, with Márquez shadowing Viñales for a number of laps until the final lap, when Márquez made his move, passing Viñales on the Gardner Straight/into the Doohan Corner (Turn One).
Viñales tried all he could to overtake Márquez, but crashed out on the final lap entering the braking zone of Turn 10, throwing away a certain podium, and Márquez went onto claim his third win at Phillip Island, his 11th for the season, and the 55th of his premier class career, overtaking Mick Doohan into third on the all-time premier class winners list.
However, there is still plenty on the line for not only Márquez, but also the rest of his rivals as we head into the penultimate round, the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 18 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
Márquez (375 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 135 points over Andrea Dovizioso (240 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati after winning in Australia, and despite having the world championship well and truly wrapped up, Márquez still has plenty to play for, including equalling his win tally from 2014 of 13, as well as the record for the most points in a premier class season, Márquez currently just eight points away from Jorge Lorenzo’s record of 383 points that was set back in 2010, and the biggest world championship winning margin, with the Spaniard’s lead just 12 points away from Valentino Rossi’s record winning margin of 147 points set back in 2005 when the great Italian was at the peak of his powers.
Meanwhile, Dovizioso has secured second in the championship for the third-straight season in what has been a difficult season overall with two races remaining.
Behind the Top Two though, it is a giant battle for third in the standings between Álex Rins (183 points) from Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, Viñales (176 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Danilo Petrucci (169 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati, and Fabio Quartararo (163 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT.
However, the only rider to finish the 2019 Australian Grand Prix from these four riders was Rins, who finished in a lowly ninth after another disappointing qualifying session, qualifying 12th in a performance symptomatic of his season, and his performance over one lap is something that must be addressed if he is to ever challenge for a MotoGP World Championship.
Behind those four, Valentino Rossi (153 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Jack Miller (141 points) from Alma Pramac Racing, and Cal Crutchlow (133 points) from LCR Honda are still in the hunt for third in the championship, but it will be a tall order for those three to challenge the four ahead of them in the standings for third.
However, the performances of Crutchlow in finishing second, and Miller in finishing in third at Phillip Island were simply magnificent, and they will be hoping to take this form into the final two races of 2019.
Behind them, Franco Morbidelli (105 points) closes out the Top 10 for Petronas Yamaha SRT.
In terms of the Teams’ Championship, the Repsol Honda Team (408 points) are somehow, thanks largely to the performances of Márquez, just a single point behind Mission Winnow Ducati (409 points) heading into the final two races as Honda look to win the Riders’, Constructors’, and Teams’ championships.
So, who is going to win the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix?
There is only one rider that you could tip with confidence, supreme confidence, to win this weekend, and is probably in his best form since the first 10 races of 2014. It has got to be Marc Márquez to claim his sixth-straight race victory, and win the Malaysian Grand Prix for just the third time in the premier class.