Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP title defence remains alive after the Spaniard won an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, as championship leader Marc Marquez suffered a disastrous disqualification due to a howling team error.
With tyre problems forcing riders to change bikes mid-race in a MotoGP first, the battle between the two-time world champion Lorenzo and Honda's 20-year-old wunderkind fizzled out in the 14th lap when Marquez was shown the dreaded black flag for failing to pit during the mandated window.
Riders were ordered to pit by the end of the 10th lap at the latest out of safety fears, but an oblivious Marquez sped past the Honda garage after the team somehow botched a lap count on their pitboard. "Everybody understood correctly instead of us," an embarrassed team principal Livio Suppo told reporters at Phillip Island circuit.
"Of course we are sorry (to Marc). It's the first time I've seen him in a very disappointed situation," added Suppo. Having had the chance to wrap up the title in his debut season on Sunday and become motorcycling's youngest premier class champion, a crushed Marquez slumped in a chair in his team's garage with his head in his hands as Lorenzo toasted victory ahead of Honda's Dani Pedrosa and third-placed team-mate Valentino Rossi.
Pole-sitter Lorenzo was a deserving winner, however, having endured enormous pressure from the two Honda riders amid chaotic race conditions at the bucolic seaside track.
The win breathed new life into his title defence, trimming fellow Spaniard Marquez's lead to a more precarious 18 points.