Austrian Grand Prix, raceday round-up: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Andrea Iannone has taken the first win for the Ducati Team since Casey Stoner last took the red machine over the finish line at Phillip Island in 2010. The Italian, for whom the victory is his first, held off pressure from teammate Andrea Dovizioso as the Ducati duo took off in the second half of the race – and took a 1-2 for the Borgo Panigale factory for the first time since 2007. Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium in P3 to beat teammate Valentino Rossi to the rostrum – and cut the gap to points leader Marc Marquez.
Iannone began the race from pole and got a great start off the line to lead into Turn 1, with drama behind as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) went in hot and ran wide in an incident that also affected fast-starting Lorenzo. “The Maniac” was the only rider to change to the medium rear tyre allocation, in addition to suffering with pain in his ribs from a motocross accident, but after being passed by Dovizioso was able to fight back against his compatriot and eventually crossed the line ahead to take the historic win.
Dovizioso had an impressive race and led a good many laps at the Red Bull Ring, proving a worthy rival in the duel at the front as the Italian took the fight to his teammate. With a harder tyre option than Iannone, the veteran rider was however unable to quite close on his compatriot in the final few laps and crossed the line P2 in his 250th GP start – completing a historic result for the Desmosedici in the first 1-2 for Ducati since Phillip Island in 2007.
Jorge Lorenzo has had a difficult run in the last few races of 2016, but the reigning Champion showed exactly why he has that title in a calm ride under pressure – getting back onto the podium in P3. A spectacular double overtake early in the race was a highlight for the 5-time world champion as he fought for the lead, before a determined ride ensured the Mallorcan was the only man in the top three of the title standings to gain on a rival in Austria – with leader Marc Marquez in P5 and Rossi in P4.
Marc Marquez suffered a bad crash in FP3 that saw the points leader dislocate his shoulder, but the Spaniard rode on into an impressive top five finish despite the Repsol Honda Team not having tested in Austria. The championship leader held off pressure from Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) throughout to protect his large title margin and do some damage control, with the second Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa crossing the line in P7. Scott Redding came through into P8 for another good result for Octo Pramac Yakhnich, ahead of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
The next race sees the paddock move north to Brno in the Czech Republic for another incredible showdown – as the Ducati Team arrive as winners for the first time in 6 years.
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) took the victory at the Red Bull Ring after the reigning Champion crowned a weekend of supremacy with a historic win, with Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) back on the podium in P2 and the rostrum completed by a charging Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40).
It was an Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1-1 over the line at the end of Lap 1, as Morbidelli got the best start from P2 and Alex Marquez leapt up from a P5 grid spot to tail his teammate. The lead group became a 5-way battle with Morbidelli leading Schrotter, Luthi and Zarco, but the points leader remained patient and came through to the lead with nine laps to go – leaving the group to fight over who would complete the first podium at the Red Bull Ring.
Zarco played his hand perfectly after losing the lead into turn 1, as the Frenchman stayed patient and used his unique mixture of aggression and patience to make his way through. Pushing Alex Marquez wide as he began his assault, the Ajo Motorsport rider kept his focus throughout the fight for the lead, before breaking away with 9 laps to go and heading over the line to take another incredible victory – making him the most successful French rider in world championship history.
P2 man Franco Morbidelli was the early leader of the race after a fantastic start, and the Italian rider fought hard to stay in contention as Zarco passed him and began to pull away. Taking second back from Luthi on the final lap, Morbidelli then put his head down and headed for the line to get back on the rostrum and convert his qualifying position into 20 well-earned points.
Alex Rins had a difficult qualifying and looked well out of podium contention for most of the early laps, before managing to find his way past Alex Marquez and setting off in pursuit of the front group. Zoning in on the front three as the last lap approached, Rins then took an incredible podium finish in the last corner, denying Swiss rival Tom Luthi the rostrum in the final few meters of the race.
There were impressive performances from Marcel Shrotter (AGR Team), who got his best result to date, and Alex Marquez. The German completed the top 5 after keeping Rins honest for a lot of the race and then enjoyed a front row seat for the last corner clash between the Spaniard and Swiss rival Luthi, and Alex Marquez converted his best ever qualifying in Moto2™ into a P6 finish after fighting at the front. The 2014 Moto3™ world champion has come back from the summer break ready to recover the form that saw him take his place in history in the lower category – including a nostalgic battle with former Moto3™ teammate Alex Rins in Austria.
It was a bad day at the office for Championship hopeful Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the British rider crashed out of contention, opening the door for Zarco and Rins to gain a big margin over him in the points – after remounting, the Brit then suffered another crash at the same corner after damage to his bike.
Moto2™ will be back on track at Brno next weekend, for another thrilling battle as Zarco lays down the challenge.
Spanish rookie Joan Mir has taken a stunning victory at the Red Bull Ring as the Leopard Racing rider outfoxed the veterans of the Moto3™ grid to cross the line first, for his first win. Second was Championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who increased his points lead, ahead of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) – who beat French rival Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) over the line by just eight thousandths of a second to complete the podium.
Joan Mir – who has moved onto the world stage for the first time in 2016 from impressive, race-winning performances in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship – took a surprise but deserved pole position on Saturday to deny Brad Binder the top spot, and got a good start from pole to join the lead breakaway group of five. Staying cool under pressure, the rookie played a perfect hand on the last lap and crossed the line comfortably clear of nearest rival Binder.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) got the holeshot from P2 on the grid as the championship leader stayed calm under pressure off the line, and seemed the man to beat both in the race and over the weekend. Getting caught up in the battle behind, Binder wasn’t quite able to close on Mir in the final few corners to be close enough to make a move for the win – instead crossing the line P2 to take another big haul of championship points as he gets closer to the crown.
Bastianini made a great start from the front row and was in the lead at the end of Lap 1, showing a fantastic return to form after a more difficult 2016 before the summer break. The Italian, who until Mir’s win had been the last rider in Moto3™ to take a victory from pole in Misano in 2015, just beat Leopard Racing’s Quartararo to the line in a last corner tussle and drag race – with the difference proving only 0.008 at the flag.
With no Romano Fenati on the grid following the Sky Racing Team VR46 team’s suspension of the Italian, Binder’s only real title rival on track was Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro. After a difficult qualifying, the Spaniard fought back from 17th into the top 6 with some incredible laptimes, before taking a fall at Turn 3 and finding himself out of contention. Phillip Oettl (Schedl Racing) crossed the line in P5 after an impressive and aggressive race in the front group, with the second group headed by Jorge Martin (PULL&BEAR Aspar Mahindra Team) in P6, who beat Dutch rookie Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Fabio DiGiannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) over the line. The top ten was completed by Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV).
Brad Binder’s title lead has now stretched yet further with no score for Navarro and a DNS for Fenati, with the South African edging closer and closer to the crown as MotoGP™ heads off to the Czech Republic.