Do not adjust your set: that was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) slicing past Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) at the final corner as the Italian turned the tables on the reigning Champion, the hunted turning hunter to keep Ducati’s 100% winning record at the Red Bull Ring intact. After all-out war in Austria, ‘DesmoDovi’ became the first repeat winner since the venue’s return to the calendar in 2016, with the gloves coming off early as a vintage Dovi vs Marquez duel lit up the Red Bull Ring. The Italian has won most of them, but in Spielberg he didn’t play defence. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed the podium after another impressive ride from the rookie, equalling Yamaha’s best result at the track.
Polesitter Marquez was lightning off the start but so was Dovizioso as the two pre-race favourites headed into Turn 1 already locked together, despite Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) heading in slightly hot and almost clipping the number 4 Ducati ahead of him. But all’s well that ends well and this was just the beginning, with the Italian and Spaniard even making slight contact on the run into Turn 3 at 300km/h. Marquez was on the inside and Dovi on the outside, but the number 93 went in hot and ran wide, the Ducati then also forced to sit up. That let Quartararo sweep through to lead, with Miller and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins then also pouncing on the exit and Marquez having another wobble as he gassed it to try and slot back into the pack.
Dovizioso was behind Marquez after the shuffle, but he was back past into Turn 4 as Quartararo started putting the hammer down in the lead. The Frenchman was 0.5 ahead onto Lap 2, but Dovizioso and Marquez started to make up ground as they recovered from a frantic opening lap. Dovi was soon back up to second, with Miller holding off Marquez – for the time being – and fast-starting Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) not far off, ‘The Doctor’ climbing his way up to fifth from P10 in the opening exchanges and initially in the battle for the podium.
Before long, Marquez had dispatched Miller and the top three started to edge away from the number 43, Rossi and Rins. Then on Lap 7, Quartararo was under serious attack: Dovizioso blasted past into the lead, before Marquez shot past the Yamaha moments later. The two were back in front, and the duel was just getting started.
The pin wasn’t yet pulled, however, with the top five remaining within a second and a half before heartbreak struck for Miller as the Australian slid out at Turn 9. Just metres ahead on track, Marquez struck for the lead at the final corner, too, and then the duo started to pull clear. Not by a massive margin each lap, but Quartararo couldn’t match the pace of the Ducati and Honda as another almighty Austrian battle started to take shape.
Marquez threatened to stretch away but the gap didn’t rise above 0.4 seconds, with the number 93 strong in the first half of the lap and Dovizioso the stronger in the second part. The laps ticked by and there was nothing between them, Dovizioso shadowing the reigning Champion. Then, out of nowhere, a move was made with nine to go. Dovizioso powered alongside Marquez, and the number 93 even looked across at the Italian heading into Turn 1. But the Ducati made the pass stick and it was now the 2017 Austrian GP winner in control.
Tensions were bubbling to boiling point for the next five laps, with Marquez trailing Dovi by 0.1, 0.2. The question was not if, but when and where. Then, with three to go, we found out. Turn 7 was the unlikely location as Marquez stuck it underneath Dovizioso to take back the lead, and it settled back into strategic chess until Turn 1 on the penultimate lap as the number 04 went for it. Could he make it stick? Not quite, Dovizioso running wide and Marquez straight back through.
Onto the last lap, there was nothing separating the leaders and again, Dovi went for it at Turn 1 but ran wide, so it was Marquez who led going down into Turn 3. The Italian was close but not close enough around the final lap, and it started to look like the Borgo Panigale factory’s stranglehold on the Red Bull Ring could be under threat. But it was far from over as down to the last sector, with the two glued together once again as the Ducati powered up the hill out of Turn 8. He was close, but no pass came at Turn 9. It was going down to the wire.
Heading into the last corner, the Ducati pulled out from behind the Honda as Dovizioso pulled a Marquez – pushing his machine into the gap and on the verge of creating space rather than using it. It was roles reversed from 2017 as the Italian lunged down the inside, keeping it perfectly pinned to deny Marquez and power towards the line ahead for his second win of the season. With no chance to strike back, Marquez was forced to settle for second.
Behind the duel, Quartararo took the chequered flag in a lonely third to claim his third MotoGP™ rostrum and bank another huge haul of points in his impressive 2019, coming home top rookie, top Independent Team rider and top Yamaha – equalling the Iwata factory’s best result at the track from 2016.
Just behind him, Rossi had been caught by teammate Maverick Viñales and Suzuki rider Rins as the trio battled for fourth, with Rossi ultimately able to pull a tenth or two clear of Viñales as three Yamahas sat in the top five at a tougher track for them. Rins, meanwhile, was only 0.021 off the number 12, the number 42 running it close and only just fended off.
Behind the Yamaha train, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) took P7 and a big haul of points after a much more positive weekend, finishing just ahead of fellow rookie Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3). The Portuguese rider finished as the best KTM on the Austrian factory’s home turf, taking a sensational P8 and some serious scalps.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) will be disappointed with P9 on a Ducati-friendly circuit, with compatriot Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completing the top 10 ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and the second KTM of Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, crashed out of contention on Lap 2 at Turn 3, the British rider hitting the back of Tito Rabat’s Reale Avinita Racing Ducati after the Spaniard had to take avoiding action after a problem for Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) bike.
The 2019 Austrian GP will live long in the memory after another breathtaking Dovizioso vs Marquez battle, and it’s the Italians who emerge victorious again. Can they repeat the feat in Silverstone next time out? Two weeks will tell us.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder battled to his first Moto2™ win of 2019 in the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, getting the job done in style on home turf for both KTM and team sponsor Red Bull…and on his birthday no less. The South African held off a hard-charging Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) as the Championship leader sliced through from P11 on the grid, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completing the podium.
Binder took the holeshot from second on the grid and quickly began to bolt and break clear, settling into an early lead of just under a second. Behind, poleman Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) dropped down slightly into third behind Xavi Vierge (Marc VDS EG 0,0), who made a great start from the third row, before the Japanese rider then hit back for second. The first bout of drama then hit as Vierge tried to retaliate into Turn 3 but went down, collecting Nagashima to make it an early heartbreaker for the polesitter.
That left an almighty scrap for second place and by Lap 8 it was heating up. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) were battling it out like a last lap showdown and it was the Australian who was able to emerge ahead, then setting after Binder and closing him down.
Gardner’s first attempt to grab the lead failed after he ran wide at Turn 1, the Australian then trying again but again running wide. With seven to go Gardner again got his front wheel in front, but Binder forced him the long way round into Turn 3, with the inside line seeing Binder hold on.
Meanwhile, Bastianini and Marquez were closing in and Gardner ran wide for a third time at Turn 1. This time, as he rejoined, the Aussie clipped the rear wheel of Marquez and crashed out as Marini managed to tag onto the back of the fight at the front. Sadly for the Italian, he also went down not long after…collecting compatriot Bastianini and leaving a duel for the win out front.
It came down to Binder vs Marquez and the Championship leader pushed the South African to the limit, shadowing him round a close final lap. But Binder held firm, taking his first win of the season on a perfect day for it. Marquez took second but extended his Championship leader out to beyond 40 points, with Navarro putting in another solid ride to complete the podium in third having avoided the carnage.
FlexBox HP 40 teammates Lorenzo Baldassarri and Augusto Fernandez came home fourth and fifth respectively, with second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) having a tough day at the races in sixth.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin created more home glory at the Red Bull Ring after he took his best rookie result yet in seventh, a quarter of a second ahead of American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona. Rounding out the top ten were Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) after a solid comeback from P16 on the grid for the German, and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who started P15.
Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who started third, had a tougher Sunday but impressed to take P12, just behind Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team).
Romano Fenati’s (VNE Snipers) 2019 reboot is complete after the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, with the Italian veteran producing a sensational ride to claim his first win since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix. The number 55 was pitch perfect to finish just over a second clear of teammate Tony Arbolino for a VNE Snipers 1-2, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) locking out the final place on the podium.
Despite plenty of rainfall in the morning, the track had mostly dried for the Moto3™ race as every rider went for slicks. There remained plenty of wet patches on the grid, however, and off the line it was Fenati who got the better of polesitter McPhee, with Arbolino slotting into second at Turn 1 to make it a VNE Snipers 1-2 on the run down to Turn 3. At said corner, Arbolino immediately pounced to take over in the lead and the trio of Arbolino, Fenati and McPhee started to pull the pin and create a gap to the chasing pack.
On Lap 2 the front three were well clear of fourth place Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), with the gap up to 2.7 seconds despite Fenati and Arbolino exchanging the lead of the race as McPhee looked on. On Lap 7, Arbolino told Fenati to stick behind him, but the number 55 was soon back through and with the gap to the chasers up to over four seconds, it seemed set to remain a three-way fight for the win.
The lead had changed again but on Lap 9 Fenati took over again, then setting a 1:38.4 to stretch his lead to over half a second. It seemed the veteran was in the groove in the tricky conditions, and Arbolino and McPhee were also starting to come under pressure from those behind as Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) started to close in.
By then, Fenati was setting fastest lap after fastest lap and his lead was creeping up to the two-second mark. Vietti and Masia were also on fastest lap pace as the duo started to eat into the 3.3-second advantage McPhee and Arbolino had, with the latter two getting closed down half a second a lap.
With four to go, it was game on for the podium battle. A lap later Vietti set the fastest lap and Masia stuck with him, with Fenati still over 1.5 seconds up the road. Masia then made a move stick on Vietti at Turn 3 as the Spaniard eyed a first podium since Mugello but after attempting a move up the inside of McPhee on the penultimate lap, the number 5 went down. And then there were three.
Fenati crossed the line with just over a second of breathing space for his first win since 2017 and Italy’s 250th win in the lightweight class, keeping incredible composure throughout despite the tough conditions – and a lot of pressure. Behind him, it was Arbolino from Vietti from McPhee on the last lap, with the trio line astern into the final corner and everything coming down to the drag to the line, but Arbolino was just able to keep second by a handful of thousandths. He took second, with McPhee able to pip Vietti to P3 by just by 0.015.
Five and half seconds back, Marcos Ramirez got the better of Leopard Racing teammate Dalla Porta as the two finished fifth and sixth respectively, meaning Dalla Porta retakes the Championship lead after title rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) finished P10. Seventh went the way of Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), the Kazakh rider picking up his best Moto3™ result as he edged out Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and the aforementioned Canet to the line.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was an early crasher at Turn 1, with Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) crashing twice – riders ok.
Dalla Porta now takes a one-point lead over Canet to the British GP. and Arbolino’s second means he’s out of the picture in third overall, only 42 off Dalla Porta. But Sunday in Austria belonged to one man: Fenati. After an incredibly tough year, ‘FennyFive’ is back on the top step to equal Enea Bastianini’s Moto3™ podium count of 24. Can he produce more of the same at Silverstone in two weeks’ time?
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