MELBOURNE, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Spain’s Maverick Vinales made the most of an early retirement for world champion Marc Marquez to bring an end to Yamaha’s longest MotoGP winless streak with a victory in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Sunday.
The 23-year-old gave the Japanese marque a first victory in 26 races since last year’s Dutch TT at Assen, comfortably holding off a charging Andrea Iannone over the final couple of laps to take the chequered flag in 40 minutes, 51.081 seconds.
“It feels amazing, it’s been such a difficult year for me, I can’t believe I’ve won,” Vinales said.
“The bike was perfect today. When I crossed the line, there were tears in my eyes.”
Iannone finished 1.543 seconds back to take second for Suzuki ahead of his fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who did his chances of securing second place in the riders’ championship no harm by finishing third on his Ducati.
Marquez, who sewed up his fifth MotoGP title with three races to spare in Japan last weekend, started on pole but lasted only five of the 27 laps in the race.
Johann Zarco’s Tech3 Yamaha caught the back of the Spaniard’s Honda going into turn one and although the Frenchman escaped a nasty high speed crash without serious injury, the damage to Marquez’s bike brought an end to his race.
Vinales had dropped from second to 10th on the opening lap but worked his way back to the front and he gradually stretched his lead over the field to claim his fifth MotoGP win - a first since last year’s French Grand Prix.
His team mate Valentino Rossi, Dovizioso’s main rival for second place in the championship, finished sixth behind Alvaro Bautista, who was standing in for three-times world champion Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Ducati, and Suzuki’s Alex Rins.
Seven-times world champion Rossi will head into the final two rounds in Malaysia and Valencia 15 points behind compatriot Dovizioso. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)