News 11 Aug 2016

MotoGP resumes with Red Bull Ring weekend in Austria

Grand prix racing heads to Spielberg for the first time since 1997.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

It’s been three weeks since the roar of the MotoGP World Championship erupted from a race track, fans and riders alike itching for action to begin again. The wait is almost over as the NeroGiardini Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich is here, the world championship heading to Austria for the first time since 1997.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is the only rider in the premier class to have raced in a grand prix in Austria before. ‘The Doctor’ took second in the 125cc race at the old Spielberg circuit.

Since then the track has undergone several changes and is now known as the Red Bull Ring. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) has raced the new layout, back in 2011 when competing in the 125cc German championship. Safe to says his RC213V is a little quicker.

Almost every rider on the grid comes to the circuit with some track knowledge thanks to a two-day private test after the German GP. While times were unofficial, laps in the 1m23s look to be the benchmark around the 4.3km long track. Top-end speed also looks set to be a key feature, Ducati dominating the two-day test as a result.

Neither Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) nor Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) were in attendance at the test and could throw up some big surprises over the course of the weekend. Marquez heads into the second half of the year with some pressure removed, a comfortable 48-point advantage over Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) meaning he’ll leave the Red Bull Ring as the championship leader no matter what happens.

Both Lorenzo and Rossi need wins after struggles in Assen and Germany, neither able to finish on the podium or even finish inside the top five. These are Yamaha’s worst results since the end of 2007. Top end speed has never been Yamaha’s strongest point; Austria could be another tough weekend.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was able to pose a threat to Ducati’s domination during the private test. Both he and Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) are hoping for a dry weekend, the GSX-RR struggling in the past wet races. A focus on electronics during the private test should help them start the GP weekend on the right track.

Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) are the only riders to have not ridden the Red Bull Ring before, Tech 3 not participating in the private test.

Meanwhile, Michele Pirro will make another wildcard appearance riding in red for the Ducati Team.