MotoGP Red Bull Ring II Styria Results

© Bruce Allen                               August 23, 2020

Round 5 and It’s Anyone’s Year

Styria, in case you’re wondering, is the Austrian equivalent of Catalunya, a conquered state, many of whose natives still chafe (Spain) or have chafed (Styria) over the centuries. This part of the world has spent most of its ancient history getting run over, by Celts, by Romans, and by various barbarian hordes, ranging from Huns to Ostrogoths, before becoming loyal Franks, etc. Just trying to explain why there are two different consecutive Austrian MotoGP races this year is all.

Same deal as Jerez, Misano, Aragon and Valencia. Twofers. Since the fans are already screwed, the slimmed-down logistics don’t really hurt anyone.

Continued fallout from last Sunday’s demo derby. Johann Zarco must start from pit lane with his slightly broken wrist. Danilo Petrucci has been given an official written warning…gasp…and has been ordered to write, “NON LANCER MAI PIÙ ALEIX SULLA FOTOCAMERA.” 100 times. Sr. Ezpeleta expects hard copies of same on his Spielberg desk by Saturday noon. The crash involving Zarco and Morbidelli, and the ensuing chain of events it caused, made it all the way to CNN.

Screenshot (19)

The new safety fence at Turns 2 and 3.

A little Moto3 action.
A little Moto2 love between Martin and Bezzecchi, before RD got involved.

Practice and Qualifying

Friday

FP1 finished with 21 riders—Zarco had a note from his doctor—within one second of each other. Miller and Dovizioso topped the sheets, but so what? Fabio was faster winning at Jerez II than he was winning Jerez I. (It also appears clear that young Fabio has tracks he likes and others he doesn’t. That will smooth out over time, I suspect. Early in his career I remember asserting there were tracks that were Marquez-friendly. Starting about five years ago it became clear that every track on the calendar had become Marquez-friendly.) The point here is that times this weekend should be faster than last week, what with all the extra practice.

The KTM bikes seem to love Red Bull Ring.

Over in Moto3, Celestino Vietti had his way with Albert Arenas in FP1, while Sam Lowes had a peek at the all time track record in leading a closely-knit cabal of riders in Moto2.

FP2, across the board, didn’t change much. Half the MotoGP riders improved their time, half didn’t. Notables not cracking the top ten for the day included Rossi, Quartararo, Petrucci and Crutchlow. In Moto2, almost all the fast times for the day occurred during FP1. Moto3 saw 17 riders within a second of the leader.

Saturday

In Moto3, it was generally the Usual Suspects in FP3 moving directly into Q2. Tatsuki Suzuki, in P15, was punished for dawdling, a full .022 seconds out of the money, along with Jaume Masia and Darryn Binder. These layabouts would have to glom on to a top four spot in Q1 to even think realistically about a win on Sunday.

MotoGP FP3 continued what has become a trend—a lot of older riders having to go through Q1. Rossi and Crutchlow, for starters. Zarco and Petrucci, starting to go gray around the muzzle. Aleix and Rabat. My boy Joan Mir flogged his Suzuki to the top spot in FP3, possibly announcing his arrival in MotoGP after a silver medal last week here. Irritating, one suspects, for Rossi, trailing Mir by half a second and sitting in P15 heading to Q1. Note: Hot KTM rookie Brad Binder got caught loafing today, too, failing to pass automatically into Q2 by .003 seconds.

Red Bull Ring is not a track where one would expect the Suzuki to perform well. Only ten turns, and one is barely a turn at all, more like a lane change. Compared to, say, Assen with 18 turns, Austria is as close as MotoGP gets to a racing oval.

Sam Lowes, fast in Moto2 all weekend, had a heavy crash during FP3 but emerged shaken, not stirred, in P3, avoiding the blood, toil, tears and sweat of a Q1. But the packed nature of the field left a number of big names heading to Q1, including a surprising number of Italian riders. But just like their Moto3 days with KTM, Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzechi pushed their Kalex machines to the top of the combined F1-F3 sheets on Saturday morning.

Getting into too much detail here. The Q1 sessions were, as usual, desperately fought affairs, as those failing to advance would likely end up in the ass half of the pack. In MotoGP, Zarco and Petrucci crossed over, the Frenchman nursing a titanium screw in his wrist. In Moto2, Somkiat Chantra, The Great Thai Hope, led Tet Nagashima, Hector Garzo and Stefano Manzi into Q2. In Moto3, Jaume Masia, Niccolo Antonelli, Dennis Oncu and Darryn Binder escaped into Q2. The funny part of all of this, to me, is that, especially in the lighter classes, where one starts the race has virtually nothing to do with one’s chances of winning or at least appearing on the podium.

Which is to take nothing away from the best nine minutes in most MotoGP weekends—the last three minutes of Q2 in all three classes. The race for pole, not as meaningful as it perhaps once was, but still something that gets the blood raging in these young men. Moto3 gave us, once the smoke cleared, a front row of Gabriel Rodrigo, Raul Fernandez and Tetsuki Suzuki, with series leader Albert Arenas smirking in P9. In Moto2, we ended up with Aron Canet on pole, joined on the front row by Jorge Martin and Nagashima; series leaders Luca Marini (P12) and Enea Bastianini (P15) would be having an uphill slog on Sunday.

Q2 in MotoGP was the wild, wild west, as, one after another, at least eight riders spent time on the historical footnote known as the “provisional pole.” According to the PDFs on the MotoGP site, the suddenly relevant Pol Espargaro would start Sunday on his first pole since his Moto2 swan song in Valencia in 2013. Takaa Nakagami, another Great Japanese Hope on the LCR Honda, took his first career MotoGP front row start in P2, while Johann Zarco, of all people, “wound up” in P3, stiff upper lip and titanium screw firmly in place. Due to the unfortunate events last Sunday in the MotoGP race, Zarco would be starting Sunday’s race from pit lane, which is why “wound up” is in quotes. Zarco’s eviction from P3 allowed, respectively, Joan Mir, a wounded Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins to move up a spot. Along with everyone else in the field, of course, but it might make a difference with this lot, as rows one and two are always a nice place, if you’re entertaining thoughts of, well, winning.

The youth movement in MotoGP—once more, with feeling—continued in qualifying. (Someone please remind me to define younger and older riders this coming week. To be considered a young rider, for example, one must have less than three years of MotoGP experience or be under, say, 25 years old. Then crunch the numbers.)

On the first four rows there were three veterans and nine youngsters. Of the remaining ten riders, take away Pirro and Bradl, you have three young riders and five crusties. Marc Marquez, according to my thinking, is now an older rider. Were he on track he would smooth the numbers. And, as a reminder, if he were on track, he is the one who owns the track record around here, and he was about half a second faster last year than Pol is this year. Just sayin’. The fact that he is toast for 2020 is immaterial.

Race Day

You just can”t have too many aircraft pictures.

Once again, Moto3 failed to disappoint. More lead changes than one’s brain can process. 12-man lead groups. The primary combatants today included young Celestino Vietti (another from Valentino Rossi’s stable of young Italian riders), Tony Arbolino, Ai Ogura, John McPhee, and Gabriel Rodrigo. Series leader Albert Arenas, lacking the pace to compete for the win, hung around the backboard, picked up a few rebounds, and came away still leading the 2020 series, as follows:

1        Albert ARENAS       KTM             106

2        Ai OGURA               Honda          81

3        John MCPHEE         Honda           67

4        Celestino VIETTI     KTM             66

5        Tony ARBOLINO     Honda           60

6        Tatsuki SUZUKI      Honda           59

The Moto2 tilt was a bit of a replay from 2018, when Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzecchi used to fight each other every round on their KTM Moto3 machines. Martin appeared capable of getting away today, but the Italian gradually moved up the field until he was in P2 and threatening. The last couple of laps all I saw was Martin defending and Bezzecchi attacking until they ran out of time, Martin crossing the line a few tenths ahead of his old rival. Almost immediately, Race Direction called down to say that, due to Martin having ‘exceeded track limits’ on the final lap, with both wheels just barely in the green, he was demoted one spot, handing the win to Bezzecchi, who gratefully accepted it. Australian Remy Gardner snagged third today, his second grand prix podium. The Moto2 standings after six races looks like this:

1        Luca MARINI                     Kalex            87

2        Enea BASTIANINI             Kalex            79

3        Jorge MARTIN                  Kalex            79

4        Tetsuta NAGASHIMA        Kalex            68

5        Marco BEZZECCHI            Kalex            65

6        Sam LOWES                    Kalex            59

The main event, featured, for the second consecutive week, a red flag event in the premier class. On Lap 17, with Joan Mir comfortably leading a group including Jack Miller, Pol Espargaro, Takaa Nakagami and Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales, minding his own business in, like P13, lost the brakes on his Yamaha M1, jumped off at around 130 mph, went all ragdoll rolling across the macadam, and watched in horror as his bike hit and popped the air fence and caught fire, taking yet another engine with it.

The second race, a 12-lap affair, gave us one of the great finishes in recent MotoGP history. The last lap started with Jack Miller desperately holding off Pol Espargaro, squarely in win or bin mode, with sophomore Miguel Oliveira lurking in third, hoping for something to happen in front of him. Sure enough, at Turn 10, the last turn on the last lap, Miller and Espargaro both went hot into the turn—shades of Dovi and Marquez last year—opening the door for a cutback from Oliveira and his first premier class win.

In a year lacking a Marc Marquez, we have now seen four different winners in five races. Virtual parity in all three classes. The top six in the premier class:

1        Fabio QUARTARARO         Yamaha          70

2        Andrea DOVIZIOSO         Ducati           67

3        Jack MILLER                    Ducati           56

4        Brad BINDER                    KTM             49

5        Maverick VIÑALES            Yamaha          48

6        Takaaki NAKAGAMI           Honda           46

This is good stuff. Four manufacturers in the top six, with Suzuki right on the verge. The paddock now gets two weeks off until the next pair of races, these at Misano, on the 13th and 20th of September, with Catalunya on the 27th. The hits just keep on coming.

MotoGP is the bomb-diggity.

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16 Responses to “MotoGP Red Bull Ring II Styria Results”

  1. prakasit Says:

    Thanks for such an early post Bruce. I am kinda glad Sayed doesn’t frequent this site. His crowing about KTM would be unbearable.
    Also thanks for the shout out of a Thai rider. Somkiat – def.: worthy of accolades bestowed upon him.
    Us rice field dwellers got to stick together.
    Also, the commenters on here are infinitely better than those on crash dot net.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The orange buell guy Says:

    Can’t wait to watch this year after the black Friday sale.

    Like

  3. Vrooom Says:

    Looking at the Motogp site they are showing “race 1” and “race 2” which had me confused, they hadn’t done that for other red flag races that i recall. I gotta say that KTM has solved a ton of problems and is competing at the top, to my surprise. Pol’s comments in the off season didn’t lead me to much hope that way. Nakagami has been a pleasant surprise.

    Like

  4. Starmag Says:

    Thanks for the short ancestral history. Another great race. Kudos to KTM satellite MO. And Pol for not gravel dancing.

    MIRage got kind of screwed by the red flag as did Pol Exasperated last week. I think I’m with those who are calling for riders to go back out on the same tires they came in from the red flag with unless it’s a safety issue. They both were estimated not to win with the tire grip they had left, but I say let them try. Riders pitting and then spooning on softs doesn’t seem fair.

    As for Top Gun, I know it was do or probably die tasting the barricade, but 140mph is about as fast as I have been on my ZRX. I just can’t imagine slipping off the side on purpose at that speed. And not getting hurt. Other than not getting hurt, luck is not on Top Gun’s side this year, as usual.

    Antman has got to be having kittens just sitting at home.

    For the ultimate in irony, I had a friend who is a Rossi fan tell me this week that Antman wins too much. lol. No self awareness at all.

    Like

  5. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    Great review, Bruce. I am once again bitterly disappointed by Top Gun, although his ejection today was about as dramatic as any F-14 action. I feel my for my guy Mir, and whoever chose to leave his used medium front tire in place for the restart should be severely paddled. It was a good win for tech3 KTM though, given the dramatic last lap crash that took out both their Moto3 riders from podium contention.

    Like

  6. Dale Mensch Says:

    I find it interesting that of the race winners this year so far, only one is returning to the same team next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Old MOron Says:

    If you want to see the difference between class and no class, look at how Mir reacted to the red flag today and compare to Pol’s reaction last week. Oh well, you have to have a little luck on your side to get the win, and Mir didn’t have it today. As Mad4theCrest says, whoever sent him out on the same front tire, should get a big boot up the arse.

    Really happy for Tech3. Herve seems to be a great guy, happy for him and Miguel.

    What a race! I was hoping for rain because I like the way precipitation shakes things up. But this race was great (and shaken up) without the rain.

    Poor Vinny, on top of everything else. Considering how his bike was on fire, he’ll probably have to start form pit lane in the near future. Yamaha are like to need a sixth engine for him.

    Speaking of Yamaha, WFT is wrong those piano tuners? They seem to have the worst bike on the grid now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mad4TheCrest Says:

      I wonder if all the Yamahas are running lower rev limits to counter the reliability issues. That wouldn’t explain the clutch and then brake issues that Vinales is experiencing, though. His year so far reminds me of the last year Ben Spies spent on the factory Yamaha GP team – one mechanical problem after another, including overheating brakes, if I am remembering correctly.

      Like

      • Old MOron Says:

        All of the Yams had braking issues. Think of how many times Quarty ran wide during practice because he couldn’t get his bike stopped. Seems that Brembo offered updated brakes for this race, but Vinny chose note to use them.
        https://www.crash.net/motogp/news/942962/1/yamaha-why-vinales-used-standard-brakes

        Just the same, the Yams do seem to be something of a mechanical mess this year. I seem to recall reading about them running lower revs, as you mentioned. If they are down on top speed, they’ll have to make that up on the brakes. I would expect them to have trouble at Le Mans.

        Like

  8. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Miguel Oliveira … “If you bastards would stop running me into the gravel, I could win a MotoGP race”.

    The rest of the grid … “LOL”

    Miguel Oliveira …

    One of the unluckiest riders in the field this year finally caught a break, and what do you know.

    You have to feel for Mir and Nakagami, who were having the race of their careers at the front until Maverick hit the eject button (which was amazing, BTW How does a mortal simply “step off” a bike at over 200km/h?). Binder was looking pretty threatening right before the flags came out too. That would have been a very, very interesting finish had all tires been equal.

    Pol rode the wheels off that KTM. Those were some entertaining last laps. Dovii in fifth, the points keep racking up.

    My two main men 1-2 in Moto 2. And another top 10 for Tatsu in Moto 3. That was a good weekend all round.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. vassilg Says:

    Motorcycle racing is lot more then late breaking, early acceleration and being brave. Two consecutive races in same condition with different outcome. I wonder why Dovi and Rins “forgot” how to ride fast?

    Liked by 1 person

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