Dovizioso victorious amidst huge drama at the Red Bull Ring

2020-08-17 02:05
A Red Flag for a dramatic incident at Turn 3 saw the MotoGP™ race re-started, with the Italian then able to pull clear for Ducati's 50th premier class win - ahead of Mir and Miller
Sunday, 16 August 2020
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) played his cards and his race to perfection in the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, overhauling an early lead for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to take over at the front and then pull the pin for Ducati's 50th premier class win - keeping the marque's 100% record at the Red Bull Ring intact. Miller looked set to take second until the last two corners, with the Australian then heading ever-so-slightly wide and having his pocket picked by Team Suzuki Ecstar's Joan Mir. The Spaniard therefore took second and was on the premier class podium for the first time.

The headlines were dominated, however, by an earlier incident that brought out the Red Flag. On the initial start, Miller got a great launch from P2 and it was the Ducati rider who grabbed the holeshot, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) also getting away well to slot into P2 from pole. Dovizioso was a fast starter from P4, with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) dropping back. Then Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) chipped away and got himself to the front, before Quartararo then ran off track at Turn 4 to drop to the back of the pack on Lap 6. Espargaro, Dovizioso, Mir, Miller and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) were leaving the rest behind, but the incident for which the race will also likely be remembered then unfolded at the Turn 3 braking zone, bringing out the red flags.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) were almost side by side on the straight, and as they got on the anchors into Turn 3, the duo came into contact and both went down. What unfolded next was terrible luck followed by incredible luck. Zarco and Morbidelli’s bikes careered towards Turn 4 and both bikes hit the air-fence, thankfully slowing them down, but the speed of the crash was such that the machines headed into the path of the riders that were coming into and out of Turn 3. Viñales and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) were the two in the firing line and somehow, the two errant bikes missed the two factory Yamaha riders. Morbidelli’s bike shot through the gap between Viñales and Rossi, missing the nine-time World Champion by a matter of inches, with Zarco’s bike narrowly avoiding Viñales.

The debris and aftermath brought out the Red Flag, with Zarco on his feet immediately and going to check on the stricken Morbidelli. The Italian was up initially but then taken away on a stretcher to be checked over. Ultimately, both headed for the Medical Centre and incredibly, both were declared fit and were not injured. A crash the scale of which will ensure it's remembered forever, and thankfully everyone walking away unscathed.

As the dust settled, the track was cleared and race restart prepared. This time it would be Pol Espargaro on pole, leading as he had been just before the Red Flag incident happened. As the lights went out, the KTM rider got a very good getaway but Miller came flying up the inside from P3, the Aussie running wide but was able to use the drive down the long straight to hold his advantage. Pol Espargaro was back through at T3 but Miller was trying to pull the pin from the off, and the Australian took the lead at Turn 6 and immediately got the hammer down.

Meanwhile, the opening lap on the restart was a nightmare for Viñales, who slipped to last place, with pitlane reporter Simon Crafar confirming after the race that the number 12 did have some sort of issue on his YZR-M1. And what about Quartararo? Starting from the back of the grid but at least on the pack after his earlier run off in the abandoned race, the Frenchman had started making up places but for the top two in the Championship, this was now all about damaged limitation – P16 and P20 was the situation for Quartararo and Viñales on Lap 1.

By Lap 3, Miller was nearly a second up the road from Pol Espargaro, Dovizioso, the two Suzukis and Oliveira. Mir and Alex Rins were looking very strong after making great starts on their GSX-RRs, and the duo – along with Dovizioso – were swarming Pol Espargaro. Lap 4 saw then Miller’s lead creep up to over a second but on the next lap, Dovizioso set the fastest lap and it appeared a pin was about to be pulled. Just behind the Italian, Espargaro had his hands full with the two Suzukis too, the trio exchanging positions like there was no tomorrow and losing time on Dovizioso. Rins eventually made a move stick though, and the 42 bolted off to chase the Ducati Team machine.

Further back, Quartararo had made it into P13 and Viñales was still out the points, but back at the front, Miller’s lead was down to just 0.4 as Dovizioso and Rins reeled in the Pramac. That left Pol Espargaro, Mir and Oliveira over a second off the podium scrap, and Espargaro looked like he was getting impatient as a potential race win was slowly slipping from his grasp. Then, on Lap 9, catastrophe struck for KTM at their home race. At Turn 4, Espargaro and Oliveira were both down, Oliveira heading up the inside and Espargaro cutting back across, contact ensuing.

Ahead of that, Miller’s advantage was no more. Dovizioso and Rins were right on the tail of the GP20, with Mir clawing back the gap after the two KTMs crashed as well. At Turn 6, Rins was almost down as the front of his machine tucked, but the Spaniard saved it. Then we had a change for the lead. Dovizioso carved past Miller into Turn 1 and then, at Turn 9, Rins followed the Bologna bullet through. It wouldn't last long though, as the Suzuki rider's race then prematurely ended at Turn 6. A repeat slip of the front tyre couldn’t be saved this time as Rins swept up the inside of Dovizioso, but then slid out. A four-way battle for the race win became three: Dovizioso vs Miller vs Mir, with Brno winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) over two seconds back in fourth but the South African producing another fine Sunday ride.

With seven laps to go in Spielberg, there was nothing between the leading three, and Rossi and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) were chasing Binder, as Championship leaders Quartararo and Viñales remained down in 8th and 13th, although Viñales was the fastest man on track. With five to go, Dovi then really started edging clear of Miller, and with four to go, the Italian had pulled almost a second out. The Australian held firm in second, but Mir was climbing all over the back of the Desmosedici...

Coming onto the last lap, barring a mistake, the race was Dovi’s. But who would take second? Miller was defending as hard as he could to make it a Ducati 1-2 and it looked like he was going to be able to do it. Heading into the penultimate Turn 9 though, Miller’s defensive line took him wide on the exit and Mir swept through to steal that second place, denying the Australian as he took his first MotoGP™ podium on the second step. Dovi took the chequered flag just ahead of them to claim his third Red Bull Ring victory, and Ducati's 50th MotoGP™ win.

Binder, after qualifying 17th, finishes P4 at KTM’s home race on his first visit to the Red Bull Ring on a MotoGP™ machine, the South African putting in a performance of pure class once again. Fifth went the way of Rossi, who came out after the scare of his life like nothing had happened - true testament to just how superhuman the riders are - and 'The Doctor' finished as the lead Yamaha rider. Nakagami picked up a solid P6 just behind as the leading Honda.

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) crossed the line seventh to finish just 0.036 ahead of Championship leader Quartararo, but it was a great damage limitation job done by the 21-year-old who salvages eighth. 1.5 seconds behind Quartararo was Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) who secures his best premier class result in P9; a top job by the rookie who will have a significant boost of confidence heading into the Styrian GP next weekend.

Viñales also did well to recover to P10 after his issues in the restarted race, and it’s not what either Viñales or Quartararo would have been looking for from the front row but considering what unfolded, it was the best they could do. Quartararo’s gap has been closed down to 11 points in the title fight though, with Dovizioso now overtaking Viñales in the Championship. The Frenchman and the Spaniard will both be hoping for better fortunes in seven days’ time.

Completing the points were Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Michele Pirro (Pramac Racing), Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Repsol Honda Team’s Alex Marquez and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol).

After a little history is made, the title fight gets another shake and some serious drama in Spielberg, it's now time to reset and reload to attack the Red Bull Ring once again next weekend in the Styrian GP. Thankfully and most importantly, with everyone ok after that huge crash, and thoughts all with those who were involved in the scary incident.
MotoGP™ podium
1 Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team - Ducati - 41:38.764
2 Joan Mir - Team Suzuki Ecstar - Suzuki - +1.377
3 Jack Miller - Pramac Racing - Ducati - +1.549
Andrea Dovizioso: "I’m more surprised by the comeback after Brno, the feeling was so bad and in my mind I didn’t have any clear idea of what to change. But from the experience in the last few years, it was the work we did on small details and on my riding style more than changing the bike like everyone normally does.

“And we started again. In the way I was approaching the braking, the rear tyre changed a lot of things and from the first practice I was able to brake a bit further and that gave us the possibility to be near, working in a normal rhythm and then win the race."
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Mir, Dovizioso and Miller
Martin takes first Moto2™ win in Spielberg sprint
After a Red Flag and restart, the Spaniard nevertheless was able to stamp some authority on Austria, taking his first intermediate class win ahead of Marini and Schrötter
After a dramatic crash, Red Flag and restart, Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took a commanding first Moto2™ victory in the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, and after proving the man to beat on the initial start and the restart. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Yeam VR46) tried to go with the Spaniard but was forced to settle for second, thereby, however, taking over in the Championship lead, with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completing the podium.

The incident that brought out the Red Flag was a highside for former points leader Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), who was in fifth place on Lap 5 of the first start when he highsided out of Turn 1, leaving his bike stranded in the middle of the track. In a real heart-in-mouth moment, Moto2™ riders swerved left and right to avoid it before Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team), unsighted sitting behind another rider, was left with nowhere to go and hit the machine.

Both Edgar Pons (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Andi Izdihar (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) were also caught up in the crash and were fortunately OK and walking away. Syahrin was first taken to the Medical Centre at the track where no fractures were found in initial checks, before the Malaysian was taken to hospital for CT scans and a comprehensive examination. He is ok, but was ruled "unfit" for a pelvic contusion as per official terminology.

On the restart, Martin took off like a shot from pole - he'd been leading when the Red Flag went out - with Marini making good use of a front row start this time around to settle into second. Again, Schrötter and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) were in contention in third and fourth, although the Italian then tried a move and headed extremely wide at Turn 3. Original poleman Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was the ultimate opportunist and squeezed through on both in the aftermath, moving up to third but that now some distance behind the two leaders.

Martin and Marini were a second clear of the chasers at the end of the second lap, and Bezzecchi then made the same mistake again just one lap later and dropped right out podium contention as a result. Former World Championship leader Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then crashed out at Turn 1 at the start of lap 4 as his title aspirations took another huge blow, joining Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) on the sidelines after the Spaniard had crashed earlier.

With ten to go of the 13-lap sprint, Marini was looking ominous behind former Moto3™ World Champion Martin. And behind them, the podium fight suddenly took a big twist as Gardner tucked the front into Turn 1, promoting Schrötter to third as a consequence and the German left with a comfort buffer of over one and a half seconds to Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in fourth. The Brit didn't hold that position for long though, with Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge diving past, and the pair had company from resilient rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) too as he put himself in contention for another top five finish. The quartet was completed by the recovering Bezzecchi and they certainly didn’t assist their podium chances as the melee continued for the next couple of laps.

A near highside for Lowes then dropped him to sixth as that battle continued, but at the front Martin had pulled the pin. Over a second clear of Marini after the Italian’s pressure failed to pay off, it looked his to lose and sure enough, the Spaniard cruised to the line for his first Moto2™ win, although the reality was far from as easy at it looked. Marini took second and the points lead given Bastianini scoring a 0, with Schrötter holding steady in third for his first podium since the 2019 German GP.

The fight behind remained absolutely raging however, with Lowes vs Vierge vs Bezzecchi lighting it up. The Briton went defensive into Turn 3 and consequently sacrificed all of his drive down the back straight, and then on the final lap, Bezzecchi got his elbows out down the back straight in an attempt to get past Lowes. The squabbling didn't halt Lowes' progress in the final half a lap though, and he was able to pounce on a late Vierge mistake to take fourth, ahead of both the Spaniard and Bezzecchi, who finished in that order. Liqui Moly Intact GP's Tom Lüthi got the better of Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in a fierce fight for seventh, before the top ten was completed by Canet and podium finisher last time out, Tennor American Racing's Joe Roberts, in a solid ride for the American.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) took P11, ahead of a stunning storm through the pack from replacement rider Dominique Aegerter (NTS RW Racing GP) as the Swiss rider came home in 12th. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) completed the points.

That's a wrap for the intermediate class in the Austrian GP if not Austria, with Marini in the driving seat now and Bastianini looking to bounce back. Tune in for more next weekend, but more than anything, we wish Hafizh Syahrin a speedy recovery.

Get well soon Pescao!
Moto2™ podium
1 Jorge Martin - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Kalex 19:24.723
2 Luca Marini - Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex +2.195
3 Marcel Schrötter - Liqui Moly Intact GP - Kalex +4.782

Source: Dorna Sports

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