Round 11 Austrian MotoGP- Red Bull Ring Spielberg
After a weekend of mixed weather conditions race day gave us a dry track. A relief to all after all the drama during the weekend practice sessions. Some crazy crashes were seen across the classes. It appeared that perhaps the mixed conditions in the lead up to the race contributed to riders being unsure as to which tyre choice to make with all 6 versions of the Michelin tyre power slicks lining up on the grid.
The 28 lap race will see 7 right handers and 3 lefts with Ducati being the masters of the Red Bull Ring in both 2016 and 2017 and coming off the back of a Ducati 1-2 at the Czech GP I am guessing that their confidence to do a repeat performance would be high.
As the riders took to the starting grid it was Marquez who had claimed pole the previous afternoon and he was joined by Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo on the front row.
Franco Morbidelli was hit with a three grid place penalty for riding slowly on the race line, disturbing another rider.
As the lights went out it was Dovi out of second that took holeshot ahead of Marquez. However, as they headed through turn four Lorenzo powered through to the front as Marquez and Dovi almost contacted heading through the corner. The front was so tight and Marquez was so close on Lorenzo and was looking very motivated to pass him and pass him he did on turn three of the second lap. Alex Rins started the race with great pace sitting in fourth behind the two Ducati’s and Marquez. His push to the front was halted by Crutchlow and later by Petrucci within the first three laps.
As they headed into the fourth lap Marquez was showing exceptional pace putting in the fastest lap and hence increasing the gap to Lorenzo who was hunting him from second.
As it was predicted the race appeared to be a battle between Marquez and the two Ducati’s’ of Lorenzo and Dovi with the rest of the field struggling to manage the pace of the lead three as Cal Crutchlow in fourth place was over 3 secs behind the lead after 7 laps.
As lap 8 began Dovi who was riding in 3rd put the hammer down putting in the fastest lap and setting a new lap record as he closed in on his teammate Lorenzo, with Marquez maintaining a very healthy lead.
Further down the field Andrea Iannone who was made an error in turn three which saw him drop down out of points contention slotted back in, in 17th place.
As the race reached the halfway point, it appeared that the gap between Marquez in the lead and Lorenzo had lessened by half. What seemed like a cut and dry win for Marquez had turned on its head and we may be in for an epic battle for the top step of the podium.
Over the next few laps Lorenzo increased his pace putting in fastest laps and putting pressure on Marquez and with 10 laps to go Lorenzo made his move across the start finish line to lead the race. Marquez struck back immediately almost contacting with Lorenzo which forced him wide allowing Marquez to regain the lead.
Within the same lap Lorenzo took the lead back as they again crossed the start finish line with 9 laps to go.
It seemed Dovi would really need to get a move on if he intended to challenge for the lead as he dropped 0.510 behind Marquez and with 6 laps to go the gap extended to 1.162 secs.
Meanwhile further down the track, crowd favourite Valentino Rossi who started from 14th was riding in 7th, still with the possibility to claim sixth place and with 5 laps to go that is exactly what he did as passed Alex Rins.
With the race drawing near to an end Lorenzo ran wide in turn three of the 25th lap allowing Marquez to seize on the opportunity and take the lead but Lorenzo was having none of it and in turn 9 Lorenzo reclaimed the lead leaving Marquez a wobbly mess. In the next lap it was again at turn 3 that Marquez attacked, both riders were so close they appeared as one.
As they headed over the start finish line into the last lap, Lorenzo pulled out of the slip stream with possible contact on Marquez to again lead but as they came in again to turn 3 Marquez pulled ahead on the inside of the corner. However, Lorenzo pulled hard on the outside to keep the lead. With only a few laps left Marquez pushed and pushed but it was Lorenzo who held on tight to cross the finish line taking the win at the Red Bull Ring. Marquez missed the win by only 0.130. Dovi completed the podium crossing the line 1.6 secs behind the race winner.
Crutchlow after passing Rins early on in the race was able to maintain 4th place as he passed the chequered flag. Petrucci finished the race in 5th with Valentino Rossi in 6th. Dani Pedrosa made up for some lost time after he found himself down in 14th by the end of the first lap from his ninth place grid start and crossed the line in 7th. After initially looking like he had a chance to fight for a podium spot Alex Rins settled and finished in eighth. Johann Zarco and Alvaro Bautista completed the top ten.
In two weeks’ time racing will head to Silverstone for the GoPro British Grand Prix on August 26th.
1st: Jorge Lorenzo
“It was an incredible race, maybe one of the best of my career, quite simply spectacular! Winning with Ducati on this circuit, where I had never won before, after a close quarters battle with Marquez, has a really special taste. Before the race I had thought about which strategy to use, and I decided to do like Brno, administering the tyre wear well and then attacking in the final part of the race, especially because I was one of the few riders who had chosen ‘soft’ tyres and my riding style allowed me to conserve them until the end. When I found myself fighting against Marquez I knew that it was going to be difficult to pass him, so I decided to improvise by making the best use of the Desmosedici GP’s acceleration and it worked perfectly. Now we’re third in the championship standings, but above all I’m proud and very pleased with the way we’re working because the feeling with the bike is better and better all the time and I believe we can fight for the win in many other races. Now let’s just enjoy this moment with all the team and I’m also very happy for them.”
“It was a risky decision to use the soft rear tyre as the track was much warmer, but I had a great feeling with it and I could stop the bike in a straight line under braking, so I decided to choose this tyre and to manage it in the first 10-laps. I could not manage it that much though as Marc was pushing with the hard rear tyre, but it was enough to stay one-second behind him and save energy and my Michelin tyres until the end. I was catching him lap-by-lap, but the problem was that when I overtook him he stayed there, so I knew I had to fight and I did. The front and the rear stayed good until the end and I am happy with the performance and the win.”
2nd: Marc Marquez
“Today I enjoyed the race a lot because I finished second but really gave it everything. In Brno I didn’t have enough confidence, while here, I tried. I started to push hard from the beginning as I had chosen the hard rear tyre with the target of trying to open a gap early on, because I knew that Dovi and Lorenzo would be very fast at the end of the race, when the tyres dropped. That was our strategy today and for a short while I believed I would be able to carry it out, but soon they caught me again. It was a great battle. I tried to defend, to change my lines, but it was impossible. This is a track where they’re very strong, especially on the straights. In these situations we try to manage at our best, and we also have our very competitive points; we were very strong on braking and entering the corners. For sure we will use those strengths and have our say at other tracks. So far we’ve always been right there, always on the podium, and that’s the most important thing. We lost only five points on Lorenzo and gained more on Valentino, who’s second in the standings. We’re happy with this result; we’ve done a great job here.”
3rd: Andrea Dovizioso
“Well there is a positive and negative point to this weekend. We confirmed we have really good speed and our bike works well in this track, also every track, this is very important for the Championship. The negative is unfortunately it looks like we took the wrong decision on the rear tyre because we have different tyres (to Lorenzo and Marquez) and at the end we lost more, I had to give up 10 laps too early from the end which I didn’t expect. I was very disappointed because I was feeling good, I was good on the braking but unfortunately, I couldn’t overtake Jorge, he was braking very hard, stopping in the middle of the corners and for me it was very hard to overtake him. I couldn’t put myself in a perfect position and that cost me.”
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