News 14 Aug 2017

Dovizioso edges Marquez in thrilling Austrian grand prix victory

Miller records DNF in challenging weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) staged a showcase of the best of the sport, coming right down to the wire in a thrilling Austrian edition of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.

Almost side-by-side over the line, it was ‘DesmoDovi’ who took his third win of the year – with Marquez just keeping it on track for second in signature style. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completed the podium, coming back from a Q1 hurdle on Saturday to make big points gains in the standings.

Polesitter Marquez took the holeshot, before a stunning move from Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) saw him cut inside second-placed Dovizioso and then take Marquez on the exit – an incredible second ahead over the line at the end of Lap 1.

Marquez slotted into second as Dovizioso threatened, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) a big mover – into fourth past teammate Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).

There was early heartbreak for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who was forced to retire as his rear brake was damaged in an early incident – before Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was then also forced in. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), who suffered a big wheelie off the line, was next to enter pitlane after a warning light on the dash.

Back in the battle, Viñales had run wide into turn one to lose some ground and came back on track from the run off, with Lorenzo at the head of the race then being reeled in by Marquez. Soon, Marquez was the man to misjudge an apex – turn three – with Dovizioso quickly pouncing to take over in second.

Meanwhile, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) had moved up to tag onto the front four, with Pedrosa the next man to join the party – making a train of five behind Lorenzo in the lead. Marquez then struck back against Dovizioso, with 18 laps to go and everything still in the air.

Some stunning action then shook up the lead as Lorenzo headed deep, Marquez cut inside – and Dovizioso then blasted past both as the three machines were almost neck-and-neck. But Marquez struck back, before an almost replica replay of the earlier trio saw Zarco run deep, Rossi pounce – and Pedrosa take both. Then it was Rossi’s time to run wide – off at turn one and dropping back into seventh as he made his way back on track.

At the front, Marquez and Dovizioso had begun to pull away, and everything settled into what felt increasingly like the calm before the storm – and was proved exactly that.

Swapping places whilst keeping the pace searing, the two men fought it out until the end. Dovizioso, ahead as they crossed the line for the final lap, kept everything inch perfect as he waited for the move he knew would come. Marquez, for his part, couldn’t make a much-used turn seven move this time around, and the corners were counting down.

Almost a flash of unified colour around the penultimate corner, breath was held as the moment arrived – and so did Marquez. Lunging for the inside on the final corner and then sliding out just wide, the reigning champion was spectacular – but it wasn’t quite enough, with his Italian rival cutting back inside to cross the line for his third win of the year.

Pedrosa completed the podium after some solid pace, taking Lorenzo and at one point in striking distance of the lead. The number 26 also moved to within only two points of Rossi in the standings. Zarco took fifth after holding off Viñales and coming home top Yamaha, with Rossi crossing the line in P7.

Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) had a stunning Sunday comeback to take eighth, able to pull clear of another impressive performance from Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) in ninth after the Frenchman also made it through directly into Q2.

Despite early heartbreak for Pol Espargaro, there remained something impressive to cheer for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at their first home GP – with wildcard test rider Mika Kallio riding a superb race into 10th. The second consecutive top 10 finish for the Austrian marque, the Finn was also only a tenth off Baz in ninth.

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was P11, ahead of Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in P14. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completed the points scorers after a tough race. Australian Jack Miller (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) failed to finish the race as a crash on lap 20 ruled him out of the remainder.

Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took his seventh Moto2 win of the season at the Red Bull Ring, staying calm under pressure and fending off teammate Alex Marquez and key championship rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) to then pull away before the flag. Marquez and Lüthi had a dogfight for the podium, with the rider from Cervera taking P2 after some seriously close racing.

Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) came home ahead of Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) in P4 after a late charge, with Australian Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) crossing the line in an impressive 15th position.

Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) took a supreme Moto3 victory from P10 on the grid, fighting his way through to the front and then uncatchable for his second consecutive victory at the venue – becoming the first rider in the lightweight class since Valentino Rossi in 1997 to win seven or more races from the first eleven.

Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) took an impressive second at a track he considers akin to a home venue, with Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) pushing through the pain barrier to stage a stunning comeback from injury in P3.

Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) took fourth after some impressive pace, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) not quite able to repeat his Brno heroics and completing the top five.

The MotoGP World Championship now heads to Silverstone in Great Britain for the 12th round of the series, slated for 27 August.