Take That Ducati

Take That Ducati

Andrea Dovisiozo posts a perfect job application from the top step of the MotoGP podium in a crash-strewn Austrian Grand Prix.

After confirming he is deserting Ducati and looking for a new home in 2021, Dovi is controlled and emphatic in a race that is red-flagged and re-started after a horrifying crash between Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli.

Jack Miller leads for a long time, but the Aussie is eventually demoted to third just two corners from the final flag when the soft-compound tyres on his Ducati leave him unable to defend against against Alex Rins on a Suzuki.

Dovisiozo wins just a day after confirming he will leave the factory Ducati outfit at the end of the season after tense contract renewal negotiations broke down and claws back to within 11 points of Fabio Quartararo’s championship lead with an emphatic and historic win in the shortened 20-lap sprint.

The victory maintains Ducati’s unbeaten record at the Red Bull Ring and scores the Italian marque’s 50th MotoGP victory.

Dovi rides a perfectly-managed race, fending off numerous attacks from the likes of KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Suzuki’s Rins in the early stages as Miller attempts a breakaway on his alternative soft tyre set-up.

But the gamble fails for the Aussie ace as Dovizioso stalks his way into the lead at half-race distance and cruises to a comfortable back-to-back win at the Red Bull Ring.

“I am impressed with our comeback from Brno, because that was really, really bad,” Dovizioso says, referring to his struggles in finishing 11th at the previous Czech Republic Grand Prix.

“I was able to ride in a smooth way and be consistent. I could decide the pace.”

Mir is stoked to steal second from Miller on the final lap, scoring his first podium and Suzuki’s first of the season.

“It is an amazing day,” he says.

“We have had the pace to be on the podium for a long time, so I am so happy to finish my race on the podium in second position.”

Miller is content to hang onto third – his best finish of the year – and reclaim seventh place on the championship table. He wins the hole-shot in both the original race start and the re-start, leads the opening laps of both stages and brilliantly defends from Mir for almost 10 laps, only to run wide with two corners to the flag.

“We didn’t have any other options,” he says when asked why he chose the soft/soft tyre selection in the re-started 20-lap race.

“I gave it my maximum. I just had to try and do what I did and push away at the start. I just missed second place, but I am happy to be up here on the podium.”

Last-race winner Brad Binder takes advantage of numerous crashes to salvage fourth position from a lowly 17th on the grid, just ahead of Valentino Rossi with Takaaki Nakagami as the leading Honda rider – again – on his year-old machine in sixth.

Among those to throw away big points-paying finishes are Binder’s KTM team mate Espargaro, who is leading the opening section of the race when it is red-flagged. Clearly incensed with dropping back to fourth in the second section he runs wide at turn four and returns to the track right into the path of Tech3 KTM’s Miguel Oliviera – taking them both out.

Suzuki’s Alex Rins also has a shot at victory, overtaking Dovizioso for the lead but immediately losing the front-end and crashing out.

But the biggest incident happens after nine laps from the original race start when Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli – both of whom finished on the podium at the previous race at Brno – knock each other off through the 280km/h kink before the braking area of Turn 3.

As they slide on the grass, both of their bikes continue on at full speed, Morbidelli’s managing to stay upright before ricocheting off the infield barrier and then miraculously and narrowly missing veteran Rossi on the exit of Turn 3.

Zarco’s Ducati barrel-rolls on its side, breaking up as it skips across the circuit on the other side of Rossi’s bike. The nine-time champion literally escapes serious injury by mere millimetres on either side.

Zarco walks away from the incident, but Morbidelli is stretchered away from the scene before walking into an ambulance. His Petronas-Yamaha team later confirms he suffered minor injuries to his hand and shoulder and should be fit to line-up again for next weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at the same circuit.

It is another horrible race for championship leader Quartararo, who can only manage eighth place, while pole sitter – and early-season challenger – Maverick Vinales charges back to 10th after dropping to last position with electrical troubles on his factory Yamaha.

The Spaniard remains third on the leaderboard – 19 points behind Quartararo – while Binder climbs a position higher to fourth, overtaking Rossi with Nakagami just one point behind in sixth.

Austrian Grand Prix
Red Bull Ring

1Andrea DoviziosoDucati
2Joan MirSuzuki
3Jack MillerDucati
4Brad BinderKTM
5Valentino RossiYamaha
6Takaaki NakagamiHonda
7Danilo PetrucciDucati
8Fabio QuartararoYamaha
9Iker LecuonaKTM
10Maverick VinalesYamaha

Championship points:

1 Quartararo67
2 Dovizioso56
3 Binder41
4 Rossi38
5 Nakagami37
6 Miller36