Pol Espargaro takes third, and Brad Binder eighth, at hard fought #StyrianGP
Red Bull KTM toasted their second MotoGP victory in the space of two weeks with Miguel Oliveira’s brilliantly judged first-ever success at the Red Bull Ring for the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria. The 25-year old not only claimed the first win for his Red Bull KTM Tech3 team in MotoGP but also for Portugal. Pol Espargaro fought for the checkered flag until the last corner and scored his second career podium in 3rd place. KTM had all four RC16s in the top ten; more than any other brand. Celestino Vietti posted KTM’s second Moto3 victory in a row.
A second Grand Prix in the space of seven days took place in the picturesque but challenging setting of the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. Espargaro set off from Pole Position for the fifth outing of the season. The Spaniard launched from P1 for what was the first Pole for the factory (and the rider) in less than four terms in the premier class of MotoGP and just four years after KTM had announced their MotoGP plans and ambitions at the same circuit.
An accident midway through the 28-lap spectacle produced the red flag for an air fence to be repaired at Turn 1. The 900th premier class race was restarted with a 12-lap distance and with all four KTM RC16s hunting the leading group. Espargaro surged to the front and engaged in a thrilling duel with Jack Miller on the last circulation. Miguel Oliveira was also extremely close and poised to make the most of any mistake. When Espargaro and Miller ran deep into the final turn Oliveira read the situation to perfection; powering past to claim the checkered flag on what was his 150th Grand Prix start. The result was also noteworthy for Red Bull KTM Tech3, representing their maiden triumph in the premier class in just their second campaign wearing KTM colors.
Brad Binder secured 8 points for 8th position and remains 4th in a very close world championship table. The South African rookie was again very quick to make ground with the front-runners. Iker Lecuona charged to 10th. The Spaniard ended a positive fortnight at the Red Bull Ring: he notched his best ever MotoGP classification the previous Sunday with 9th and then his second top-ten result at the Styrian event.
KTM are 3rd in the Constructors standings, just 6 points away from the top. Their excellent progress as the youngest manufacturer at the highest level means they now concede their concession status and will join their rivals in terms of testing, wildcard and engine limitations. An achievement in itself. Oliveira’s success ended Ducati’s clean sweep at the Red Bull Ring since 2016.
“Anyone can win those kinds of races! Pretty crazy. I was fighting with Jack until the last corner and Miguel was able to profit but that’s racing. It was a beautiful race. Anyway, we made the podium, we are up here and I’m super-happy.”
“It was a good race. The first one was going really well and I was slowly catching up ground. To get up to 6th was already great. I felt really, really good. Unfortunately with the red flag and the restart I didn’t make the best decision with the tires and really struggled to stop, even running off at Turn 1 but I was able to come back to 8th. All-in-all we should be happy. I gave my best out there and the bike was fantastic. The team worked really well and I’m super-excited for the next race. I think we can do a good job at Misano.”