Hear from Jack on his incredible podium at Phillip Island that wrapped up a crazy day, one that he’ll always remember.
It’s hard to know where to start after that! Third place at my home race in Australia, standing on the podium, celebrating with the crowd … today’s a day that I’m going to remember for a very, very long time. We have some pretty long celebrating to do too before Malaysia and my voice is already gone from so much shouting on the lap back to the pits, so there’s been a bit going on.
Where to start? I saw Marc (Marquez) and Cal (Crutchlow) with the soft tyre on the grid, and I thought ‘geez, you’re pretty keen to be racing that’. I’d done some laps on the soft tyre, but my consumption was far too high so we never thought about racing it. I got an OK start and then just sat at the back of the front group and stayed comfortable. I had the Aprilias in front of me, (Alex) Rins was able to get underneath me in Turn 2, but I stayed calm.
Three years now here I’ve been in the mix, but there’s so many places you can get carried away. Turn 3, Turn 11, Turn 12 … you can destroy the tyre quick, so I was gentle in those three corners and stayed patient. I just managed the race, and tried not to push too early like I’ve done in the past.
With about 10 laps to go, my teammate Pecco (Bagnaia) came past, and he was into it. That was extra motivation for me … younger teammate, a rookie, here at Phillip Island … I thought he was going to burn out in three laps, but he started pushing the pace. I was able to get past him on the second-last lap, I think it was, and then when ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso) came back past me, I could see his rear tyre was done because he nearly high-sided into Turn 2. I got to fourth and I thought fourth was going to be the best I was going to do, and just defended my position.
I then came over Turn 9, saw dust, and then the heart rate probably jumped up 50 beats per second! I saw it was Maverick (Vinales) and I thought, ‘holy shit, I’m in third now’. When I got through the last two corners, it was full power to make sure nobody got past me on the front straight.
You never want to see anyone crash like that, especially with two corners to go, but it is what it is. I’m not going to hand it back!
That’s enough drama for one day, but the whole weekend was like that. It’s always pretty hectic for me here with the home GP and whatnot, but the weather, doing qualifying on Sunday – after the race warm-up mind you – like I said, plenty happened, that’s for sure.
I came into the weekend pretty confident and I was in the top five after Friday, so felt even more confident we could do something. The last couple of years we’d been able to lead and I’d been fighting with those front guys for the majority of the race, but I was at the back of the group by the end of the race. After Friday I felt pretty sure that this year, I’d be able to take it to them for the full race distance.
But then came Saturday, and you saw what happened with the rain, the wind, (Miguel) Oliveira’s crash … I was one of the three riders in the safety commission meeting who said it would be OK if we kept going for qualifying (I’ll let you guess who the others were), but I was fine with the decision to stop it. I mean, the biggest thing is safety, and it was unsafe. But saying that, I’m a big believer in riding to the conditions. If the conditions are that bad, you can always slow down. The gas works both ways … If you feel you can push it a little bit more, we know the risks and we know what we’re doing. Know your limits.
I’m not going to lie or exaggerate things … Turn 1 on Saturday was f**king scary. You were gripping the handlebars every time you went in there not knowing whether you were going to get a gust of 60km/h or 20km/h. It’s hard to position yourself on the track when the bike isn’t in your control. In the end, I agreed with the decision to stop because something bad happened with Oliveira.
Every year we come to the Island in October and every year we get asked about weather, the date of the race and whatnot. It is what it is, and of course March would be a better time of the year to have the race. The weather here is never predictable, let’s say, but there’s a chance of more sunny or warm days in March compared to October, that’s just a fact. It’s Melbourne, you’re still going to get the shit weather every now and then, maybe just less of it in March! But then Melbourne has the Formula One race in March, we have the Island in with the flyaways in Asia with Malaysia and Japan, add Thailand in there now … every year we talk about it like it will change and every year I know we won’t. Look, it’s not ideal, but there’s a lot of things that aren’t ideal and we have to roll with them. On a good day here – maybe one in every eight days! – the place is amazing for riders, for the fans, for TV. It’s the risk you have to take, I guess. On Thursday this week, I was in shorts and a t-shirt having a barbeque with my family and friends and everyone was sitting outside looking for a cold drink, it was about 25 degrees even after the sun went down, it was a great night … you can’t predict this place, and it’s pointless trying.
Some of my family are coming up to Malaysia for next week, it’s a pretty hectic time at the moment. But it’s been such a great week at home, and for the fans that came out to the track and braved the weather, cheered for all of us, asked me to sign something or take a selfie … I definitely appreciate it, and I’m always really proud to be an Aussie in a world sport when so many guys I race with say positive things about home.