MotoGP: The battle for second heats up

The gift of MotoGP: The greatest gift of all?

All season long, it’s been pretty certain Marc Marquez would take first overall in the MotoGP standings, but a very interesting contest is shaping up for second place.

After Jorge Lorenzo’s win at Motegi, two riders (Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa) are tied for second now, with 230 points. Lorenzo’s success in Japan rocketed him back into contention for second as well; now, he’s only three points back of second, with 227 points.

To make things even more interesting, this weekend’s race is at Australia’s Phillip Island circuit. Guess who’s been very successful at Phillip Island in the last few years? Rossi and Lorenzo, that’s who. Rossi dominated here in the 2000s, winning five straight races starting in 2001. He also landed third in 2000, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2013 and got second in 2008 and 2009.

Lorenzo doesn’t have quite as much history at Phillip Island, but he still earned second in 2010 and 2012 and won in last year’s rain-shortened race.

This season has been a bit of a comeback ride by both Rossi and Lorenzo; Rossi is salvaging his career after the debacle with Ducati, while Lorenzo is proving he’s still a top-flight rider in the season’s second half, after a string of failures in the first half.

The biggest obstacle between them and victory this weekend will be another rider who’s got something to prove at Phillip Island. This is the track where Marquez was disqualified last year after screwing up a mandatory bike swap. For that reason, the world champ might have more drive to win than anyone else in Australia.

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