Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in Austria

2022-09-13 02:22
Three in a row makes perfect reading for Pecco, but Quartararo takes Yamaha's best Spielberg finish after a stunning charge to second

For the first time in his career, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is a hat-trick hero after leading from start to finish in a tense CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. But that was far from the full story as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) put in a stunning charge to take second and Yamaha's best result at the Red Bull Ring, putting in one of his performances of the season. On a day made for convincing rides, the two key title rivals both more than delivered. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) likewise impressed, completing the podium for another big and increasingly consistent haul of points.

In front of over 90,000 jubilant fans the lights went out for the MotoGP™ race and Bagnaia grabbed the holeshot from Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miller slotted into P3 and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) held station in P4. Quartararo got a decent start but at the end of the first lap, Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) passed the Frenchman to demote the Championship leader to P6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), meanwhile, didn’t get a good getaway after his holeshot device didn’t engage but the number 41 recovered to P7 by the beginning of the second lap.

Elsewhere, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out at Turn 4 on Lap 1 and it was later confirmed the 2020 World Champion suffered ligament damage in his foot, declared unfit.

Back at the front, the leading Ducati quartet quickly pulled themselves over a second clear of Viñales, who, in turn, had stretched his advantage over Quartararo to half a second. It wasn’t line astern in the lead group though. Miller overtook Bastianini at Turn 3 and Martin then had a successful bite at the cherry, only for Bastianini to snap back at Turn 1 on Lap 5. Viñales then made a mistake down at Turn 4, the Spaniard dropped behind Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) before drama unfolded further up the road.

Bastianini looked like he had a problem going into Turn 3, and Zarco did an excellent job of taking avoiding action as the Italian slowed right down through no fault of his own. The polesitter then ran straight into the gravel a few seconds later at Turn 4, and later headed back into pitlane as Bastianini was forced to retire.

That saw Bagnaia and Miller open a one second advantage over Martin, and Quartararo was a further 1.3s away in P4 with Espargaro and Viñales P5 and P6. Martin was digging deep and on Lap 11 of 28, the Spaniard was right with his Ducati stablemates. Quartararo was still 1.4s behind the third of the GP22s and had main title rival Espargaro 1.1s adrift, as Bagnaia set a personal best lap to gain a 0.6s lead over Miller.

On Lap 14, Quartararo set his personal best lap of the race and the reigning Champion was now 0.6s behind Martin. The latter then made a mistake at the chicane with 12 laps to go and was forced to give the position up to Quartararo, but did Martin then have a problem? He raised his hand coming out of Turn 4 to signal he might have but he was back at full speed soon enough.

The situation with eight laps to go was this: Bagnaia boasted a 0.9s lead over teammate Miller, who was now hearing Quartararo’s YZR-M1 swarming all over the back of his GP22. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had picked off Aleix Espargaro for P5, and Espargaro was coming under pressure from Zarco and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Martin was still in P4, 0.6s away from Quartararo. That 0.6s gap soon became 0.3s though, with Martin now the fastest rider on track.

With four laps to go, a sensational move at Turn 2B saw Quartararo carve his way past Miller up into P2. Miller just held off Martin for P3 as Quartararo saw Bagnaia 1.5s up the road at the beginning of Lap 26 of 28. Starting Lap 27, Quartararo had clawed 0.2s back and by the last lap, it was under a second as the Yamaha rider homed in.

Martin, up the inside of Miller, then suddenly crashed unhurt at Turn 1, giving Miller an easy ride home to P3. But could Quartararo do anything to stop Bagnaia from winning? Not quite, but he wasn’t far away. Pecco took victory but by just 0.4s to make it a hat-trick and reduce the gap to the Frenchman to 44 points, although Quartararo's ride was a headline-maker in itself.

Fourth place for Marini is the Italian’s best result in the premier class to date, and he eventually held off Zarco in fifth by less than half a second. 2.4s further behind was Aleix Espargaro who sees his disadvantage to Quartararo grow to 32 points heading to Misano, but on a tough weekend for the Spaniard, it could have been worse from P9 on the grid.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) gave KTM a P7 on their home patch and it was another solid Sunday ride for the South African, as he and Rins were separated by a tenth on the line. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) claimed P9 ahead of Martin in 10th, the latter able to remount after his last lap tumble at Turn 1.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Viñales, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) rounded out the points positions at the Red Bull Ring.

The title race momentum was definitely swinging towards Bagnaia and arguably still is, and coming up next is the Italian’s home race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – a track he knows like the back of his hand and a track where Quartararo has serious form too. With what was expected to be one of the toughest tracks of the season for Yamaha seeing El Diablo cede only five points and Quartararo, Espargaro, and Bagnaia now split by just 44, it's very much game on in San Marino...
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Quartararo, Bagnaia, Miller
MotoGP™ PODIUM
1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) - Ducati - 40'10.260
2 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) - Yamaha - +0.492
3 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) - Ducati - +2.163

FULL RESULTS
Francesco Bagnaia: "It was long, very long, it was a long race. To be calmer and careful, we chose to use the soft front, but it wasn’t the correct choice for me at the finish of the race, but I’m very happy, very happy. I made too many mistakes in the first part of the year so it was the time to be smarter. When I looked at the gap, I tried to be very constant with the lap times, because I was sure my pace was good enough to open this gap. In the last two laps, I just tried to be as calm as possible because the front tyre was closing everywhere. So, I’m very happy. Again, this weekend we have done an incredible job, so I’m very, very happy with my team; they have done an incredible job yesterday, so I’m very happy. We move on to Misano and I’m really looking forward to being there again."
Three in a row is an exclusive club
...and so is that of Yamaha's podium finishers in Austria
Miller just keeps taking those top finishes
Ogura vs Chantra: a Spielberg duel for the ages
The Japanese rider just pips his teammate to take the Championship lead by a single point after a spectacular showdown in Austria
Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and teammate Somkiat Chantra put on quite a show at the Red Bull Ring. Escaping together in a duel at the front, Ogura led for much of the race before a last lap attack from his teammate, but the Japanese rider was able to fight back and take his second Grand Prix win. With it, he also takes the Championship lead. Chantra returns to the podium after proving the protagonist of a classic, with Jake Dixon (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the rostrum to make it three in a row.

Ogura nabbed the holeshot as Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up) wrested second from Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at Turn 2a. Fernandez came under further attack in the opening stages, shuffled all the way back to eighth when Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) went past at Turn 3 on Lap 2. Ahead, Chantra ran in third, from Dixon, Acosta, and Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).

Lopez overtook Ogura for the lead later that lap at Turn 9, but handed it back when he ran wide on Lap 4 at Turn 4. The Spaniard also ceded second exactly two laps later when Chantra came in hot under brakes, making brief contact on his way through. Meanwhile, Vietti had taken fifth from Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

On Lap 7, Dixon ran long at both Turns 3 and 4, dropping all the way back to eighth and promoting Fernandez back to seventh. The Briton’s first ‘moment’ also gave Vietti a look at Lopez, but those two drifted to 1.5 seconds behind the leading Honda Team Asia duo before the VR46 took over as the rider on the chase.

Acosta passed Lopez for fourth on Lap 13 but when they both had messy runs through the chicane on Lap 14, bottling up the pack, Fernandez capitalised with a double pass up the hill at Turn 3 to take up fifth ahead of Canet, Dixon, and Lopez. However, the KTM Ajo rider lost that spot to Canet on Lap 15 and was back to seventh when Dixon made a move at the chicane on Lap 16.

Meanwhile, Vietti had been racking up fastest laps to catch up to second-placed Chantra. He looked likely to go past eventually until disaster struck on lap 17, when he crashed at Turn 3. The incident handed Chantra a five-second buffer over third place and while Vietti remounted, last of the 26 still running, he would eventually retreat to pit lane and retire.

With Ogura first and Fernandez sixth after the Vietti crash, the race leader was in the live World Championship lead by two points. While Chantra was latched onto his rear wheel with more than half a dozen laps to go, the world waited to see if he'd attack...

Whether he saw "P2 OK" on the pitboard or not, Chantra decided to go for it. On the final lap at Turn 9, the Thai rider struck and made it through cleanly enough. But Ogura is Ogura, as Chantra is Chantra, and the Japanese rider sliced straight back through to take the win and the Championship lead by a single point.

Dixon and Fernandez had got back up to fourth and by the time they started the last lap, but the former was not done yet. Dixon made one unsuccessful attempt to pass Acosta midway through the final lap, but then got the job done at Turn 10 to snatch the final podium place.

For Acosta, fourth was still a commendable result in his comeback race, while Fernandez’s Lap 24 overtake of Canet means he is only a point behind Ogura with seven races left this season. Canet did take sixth, with the top 10 rounded out by Lopez, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Albert Arenas (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team), and Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP).

The rest of the points finishers in 11th through 15th respectively were Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40), Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP), Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), while Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) were among the nine DNFs. They had been eighth and ninth when Dalla Porta was slow off Turn 3 on Lap 18 and Arbolino, with nowhere to go, crashed into him. As for Vietti, he is still third in the standings, but now 27 points off top spot... tune in for another twist at San Marino!

Source: Dorna Sports

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