The hard overtaking moves that characterised a scintillating MotoGP race at Phillip fell within the limits of what is deemed acceptable, according to five leading premier class riders.

At Thursday in Malaysia, Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Johann ZarcoMaverick Vinales and Cal Crutchlow gave their views on the frenetic race down under, which saw contact made on several occasions as the leading group battled for supremacy.

With the exception of Dovizioso, each of the riders asked to give their thoughts on whether or not the manoeuvres had crossed a line were directly involved in a fierce battle for the rostrum in Australia.

Race winner Marc Marquez said: “I like races like Australia but here I prefer a quiet race. You never know, in the end if you need to fight, I will fight and I will think only about the race, but always will have some margins,” he said.

“About the contact rules, for me it’s OK. What we saw in Australia was always inside the limit more or less and in the end MotoGP riders have experience, some more, some less, but it was great.”

Dovizioso, who finished 13th in Australia, said the layout of the Phillip Island circuit created a situation in the race that made contact inevitable.

“The battle everybody saw in Phillip Island I think is a special thing in that track; the layout of the track, the speed: I think all of the contact happened for the layout of the track,” he said.

“In the normal braking you are able to manage in a better way but when you come from fast corners and you have a really slow corner in first gear, it is difficult to recover a mistake.

“I think that is the reason why it happened and this year we fight a lot and there was a nice fight and I think we will continue like this,” added Dovizioso.

“Like Vale say in the press conference, the young riders are very aggressive, they want to achieve the result and they are aggressive. I think in this moment, everything looks under control.”

Movistar Yamaha’s runner-up Rossi, who was left with a big tyre mark on his shoulder after contact with Marquez (pictured) and blamed a hard move by fellow countryman Andrea Iannone as costing him the chance to challenge for the win in the closing laps, said an element of contact was permissible so long as it did not result in ‘big mistakes’.

“I also think that the layout of Phillip Island is something strange compared to the other race tracks and it is fantastic for these type of races,” said the 38-year-old.

“We saw also during the year a lot of great fights and yes, for sure the level of aggressiveness is high, but is all in the rules and I think sometimes you can touch. The important thing is to not make big mistakes and for sure it was a great race to do and also to follow on to Malaysia.”

Premier class rookie Johann Zarco has been under the spotlight more than once in his debut season in MotoGP following some controversial overtakes. The French rider said that while it would be the perfect situation to have many passes in a race without any contact, this is a scenario that is ‘difficult to manage’.

“I would like to see more races with many overtakes as we did in Australia. The track is difficult for this type of race but also on other circuits we can have many overtakes,” he said.

“About the contact, the perfect way is to have so many overtakes in the race without the contact, but sometimes it is difficult to manage it. You take the decision, you go; you don’t want the contact because it is dangerous for the other rider and also you are scared to crash.

“I hope the level of the bikes, the rider, is coming up and sometimes we can see we are at the same level, maybe because of the tyres we can push more, but this gives the opportunity to see more wonderful races.”

Maverick Vinales agreed that Phillip Island was more likely to produce the type of on-the-edge battles that developed last weekend, with contact an unavoidable factor.

“Australia is a special track for that, especially for the contact because it is a difficult track for the contact. If you want to overtake, normally you have to go in the contact and it is not an easy track,” said Vinales.

“Anyway I hope here in Malaysia we can enjoy the same, being in the top, fighting and it is very nice to enjoy these last races like that.”

Crutchlow meanwhile cautioned that, while he enjoyed the battle, it wouldn’t have been all smiles if someone had fallen.

"The level of fighting and contact is fine, but when somebody falls off, there will be a massive drama," he said. "So in the end, I liked it, and I was involved, and I did it. But if somebody crashed, everybody would say, 'Ah, it's stupid, too much, blah blah blah.'

"In any one of those manoeuvres where we were touching, anybody can crash. It was just luck that we all stayed on. Maybe in another race, we don't stay on. But honestly I thought it was OK, because nobody crashed.

"If somebody crashed, everybody would say it's too much because we have 50 staff come to every race, and then you don't get a result because of a contact. But we had a great battle, I think it was great for us as riders, the manufactures, and the fans.

"So what can you say? I think everybody in this group did as good as what they got. Maybe Zarco gave a little better than everyone else! But he still never stood on the podium.

"The Maverick and Iannone move was hard. That can easily be a crash. But we know what we are doing. We all sign up for it. And if you don't want to battle, you can go with Rins, out of the group [in eighth]. Probably the most sensible. Maybe he could have been taking a podium by staying in that position at one point!"

 

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