Marc Marquez won the Australian MotoGP on Sunday. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.
Marc Marquez won the Australian MotoGP on Sunday. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.
Marc Marquez poses on the winner's podium. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.
Marc Marquez poses on the winner's podium. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.

MELBOURNE - MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez rode his luck on "destroyed" tyres before swooping late to win the Australian Grand Prix for Honda on Sunday as pole-sitter Maverick Vinales's challenge ended with a crash.

Marquez, who sewed up his sixth MotoGP title and fourth in a row in Thailand three weeks ago, roared past Vinales on the straight as they entered the final lap at Phillip Island and held off his fellow Spaniard in a nerve-jangling finish.

Pushing his Yamaha hard to reel in Marquez, Vinales spun out at the Lukey Heights section of the seaside circuit, handing Briton Cal Crutchlow the runnerup spot on his non-works LCR Honda, with local hero Jack Miller third for Pramac Ducati.

"I knew that if I didn't give up, these four or five (final) laps, it would be possible (for) the victory," said Marquez, who started third on the grid.

"We took a gamble because we went with the soft rear (tyre). It was completely destroyed but OK, able to win the race."

Marquez's 55th premier class win moved him past Australian Mick Doohan to outright third in the all-time list behind Italian great Valentino Rossi (89) and Giacomo Agostini (68).

The relentless 26-year-old notched his fifth race win in succession, his best run since 2014.

Rossi placed eighth for Yamaha after qualifying fourth in his 400th race weekend.

In a furious start, Danilo Petrucci high-sided after brushing by Marquez on the first lap and he took out French rider Fabio Quartararo as he flew off his Ducati.

Petrucci rolled across track and gravel at high speed to raise fears for his safety but he got gingerly to his feet and limped away with the help of track staff.

Rossi avoided the mayhem and shot into a surprise lead but soon relinquished it to Crutchlow.

Vinales swiped the lead from Crutchlow with 18 laps left before Marquez aggressively barged his way past the Briton into second place to set up his late raid.

Marquez extended his championship lead to an unbeatable 375 points with two races remaining in Malaysia and on home soil in Valencia.

Binder wins Moto2

Meanwhile, in Moto2, South Africa's Brad Binder led a Red Bull KTM Ajo one-two with team mate Jorge Martin, the latter having put up a strong fight for the lead throughout the race.

The win keeps Binder’s title hopes alive as he is now just 33 points shy of championship leader Alex Marquez, who finished eighth in Australia.

Binder’s victory comes in the same week that he was confirmed as a Red Bull KTM MotoGP rider for 2020.

South Africa's Brad Binder has many reasons to celebrate this weekend. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.

IOL & Reuters