Posts Tagged ‘Austrian Grand Prix’

MotoGP Red Bull Ring Results

August 11, 2019

© Bruce Allen. Exclusive to Motorcycle.com

Dovi punks Marquez again in Austria 

In another classic late-race duel between the top two riders in MotoGP, Ducati royal Andrea Dovizioso went through on Repsol Honda savant Marc Marquez in the last turn for a heart-stopping win, his fifth in six close encounters of this kind.  Dovi’s first win since Round 1 in Qatar provided warm fuzzies by the gross for Ducati but had virtually no impact on the championship. The battle for second took a hit, as Dovizioso’s win put 36 points of daylight between him and teammate Danilo Petrucci.

Two streaks were up for grabs today. The first was a possible triple—Germany, Brno and Austria—for Marquez, which no one really wanted to see. The other was an Austrian four-peat for Ducati, to which many folks, including plenty in the grandstands, were looking forward. If one considers that German industrial monolith Audi owns Volkswagen Group, which, in turn, owns Lamborghini, which, in fact, owns Ducati, you could almost call it a home win for the locals, making it four in a row, Red Bull Ring remaining the only circuit on the calendar where Marquez has never won. Take that, scheißkopf. The “forever” part of that previous statement was negated this weekend when Dorna announced a new five-year deal with Red Bull for the Austrian Grand Prix. 

Screenshot (89)

Marquez and Dovizioso entering Turn 10, Lap 28.

Screenshot (92)

Same two riders exiting Turn 10.

Practice and Qualifying 

We learned one thing during FP1—the track record was going to get whacked on Saturday, weather permitting. Less than a second off during FP1, led by Dovizioso, Marquez and Vinales. Miller, Rossi, Quartararo, Rins and Zarco all within 4/10ths of the Maverick. FP2 featured much of the same cast as Act I.

Saturday dawned as summer Saturdays do in Austria, clear and mild. FP3 would separate the lambs and the goats. At the end, the top nine riders were under 1:24. The last-minute maneuvering to avoid having to deal with QP1 left Cal Crutchlow, Miguel Oliveira and Franco Morbidelli disgruntled; Crutchlow, notably, gets a Chernobyl-like Zone of Exclusion around himself for 30 minutes after these things.

Lucky to automatically advance to Q2 along with The Usual Suspects were Valentino Rossi (on his last lap, as per usual), Alex Rins and Pol Espargaro, all of whom would say things went according to plan, all of whom were thanking their lucky stars they could sneak in one way or another. Marquez, late in FP3, on a pair of soft tires, turned a 1:23.251, a tenth off the track record, with Q2 yet to come. Ho hum.

Crutchlow and Pecco Bagnaia managed to advance through Q1, at the expense of rookie Miguel Oliveira, who had been salivating at the prospect of moving his KTM machine on to Q2 for the first time. The following is a recording: “Marc Marquez seized pole and set a new track record at (fill in before releasing) Red Bull Ring on Saturday, obliterating the field in the process.” He was joined on the front row by Fabulous Quartararo and Desperate Dovi and what looked increasingly like another Marquez clambake on tap for Sunday.

The Race

Lap 1 had too many changes to track, but at the end showed Quartararo leading Dovizioso, Rins, Miller and Marquez. Between Lap 1 and Lap 6, where the real action started, things got sifted. Dovi and Marquez went through on a hot and wide Fabulous after Rins had faded. Miller, running 4th, crashed out unassisted on Lap 8, promoting Rossi to 4th and Vinales to 5th. The three Yamahas held onto places 3-5 for the duration, with Quartararo earning his first premier class podium, holding off and showing up the factory riders yet again.

Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, on Lap 6, happily went off on their own for a cage match which would last until the dash to the flag. Two consummate professionals on million-dollar machines fighting for pride, in themselves, their countries, and their employers. For Marquez, consistently finding a way to lose these things would be a concern were he not usually leading his Italian rival by 50 points or so during most of them. After the race he was his usual gracious, intelligent self, but one suspects this whole getting-bombed-by-Dovi-in-the-last-turn thing is starting to get on his nerves.

KTM Bombshell

Over the weekend the Austrian hosts issued a bit of a release concerning their plans for 2020 and beyond. To wit, they would be re-branding all of their Moto3 bikes with the Husqvarna label, apparently in an effort to spur sales of Husky’s world-class dirt bikes. They casually mentioned that they would no longer provide chasses for Moto2 teams, leaving five teams and nine riders high and dry at this point. KTM says it will devote the resources freed up by these changes to building its MotoGP program and defending itself from lawsuits. For Herve Poncharal, with a Tech 3 team in both Moto2 and MotoGP, this was your basic good news/bad news weekend. He’s kind of screwed in Moto2 but life should improve in MotoGP, especially with today’s Moto2 winner, Brad Binder, replacing the hapless Hafizh Syahrin next year in MotoGP.

Sudden Silliness

Jack Miller, clearly jacked off about getting jacked around by Ducati concerning his bike and contract for next year, let it be known that his current employers are in discussions allegedly trying to re-acquire Jorge Lorenzo for the Pramac team next season. This rumor, which, if true, would set off a chain reaction in the paddock, appears to be getting put to rest, as the counter-rumor, that Ducati brass were flying in on Sunday to anoint the young Australian for another year, gained traction. The whole thing—Lorenzo to Pramac, Lorenzo to Petronas Yamaha (??), Miller to WSBK, Quartararo to Repsol, Tinkers to Evers to Chance—sounded fishy from the outset. Perhaps the salient point is to establish some interest between the parties in contracts that will begin in 2021.

You Say Tranches, I Say Tranches 

After Brno: 

Tranche 1:  Marc Marquez

Tranche 2:  Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi

Tranche 3: Maverick Vinales, Aleix Espargaro, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami

Tranche 4:  Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, Pecco Bagnaia

Tranche 5:  Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat, Andrea Iannone

After Austria: 

Tranche 1:  Marc Marquez

Tranche 2:  Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi

Tranche 3: Maverick Vinales, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, Pecco Bagnaia

Tranche 4:  Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, Aleix Espargaro

Tranche 5:  Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat, Andrea Iannone

I’ve left Dovi in #2 because he’s just come off two of the best Ducati tracks on the calendar with his deficit to Marquez unchanged. Leaving Oliveira in #4 due to one solid outing; he needs to show me more. Cal Crutchlow is wearing me out, as is Aleix Espargaro; tired of making excuses for these guys. As they say in the dogsledding business, no matter where you’re harnessed, if you’re not the lead dog, the view’s pretty much the same.

On to Silverstone

Two weeks to the British Grand Prix, two weeks of listening to guys like Matt and Steve hammer on about Cal Crutchlow’s home race and the irrational exuberance of Sam Lowes. I will post some notes at Late-Braking MotoGP about the sensational Austrian Moto2 and Moto3 races later this week. In the meantime, as previously noted, we shall ignore MotoGP until such time as they see fit to provide us with a scrap of competition for the 2019 trophy.

A Little Local Color

MotoGP 2016 Austrian Grand Prix Results

August 14, 2016

© Bruce Allen.  Exclusive to Motorcycle.com.

Iannone wins; Ducati 1-2 first since 2007

By any measure, today’s Austrian Grand Prix was an eventful race.  The starting grid featured an all-Italian front row for the first time since Motegi in 2006.  Andrea Iannone, late of the factory Ducati team, won his career first premier class race, several whiskers in front of teammate Andrea Dovizioso.  Ducati bikes finished 1st and 2nd for the first time since Phillip Island in 2007.  But once the celebration dies down, the Bologna factory may need a reality check, as explained below.

First Things First

The practice sessions on Friday and Saturday made it seem like the world had been turned upside down.  Maverick Vinales, on the Ecstar Suzuki, and the factory Ducatis dominated the proceedings in cool weather, while the Aliens of the factory Honda and Yamaha teams were loitering in the middle of the pack.  Marc Marquez trashed his RC213V early in FP3 and got a free helicopter ride to the local hospital to have his shoulder and head examined, pronouncing himself fine a bit later.  “Fine,” in this instance, meaning only a dislocated left shoulder and a near concussion.

A bracing Qualifying 2 saw the top four places change completely in the final 30 seconds of the session.  Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Rossi and, finally, Iannone topped the timesheets, with Rossi having owned it for roughly two seconds.  Ducs finished 1st and 3rd, Yamahas 2nd and 4th.  Repsol Hondas in 5th and a discouraging 12th for Pedrosa, a full second off the pace.  Suzuki Ecstars in 6th and 9th.  Overall, the factory Ducatis must have felt gratified; the Yamahas relieved; the Hondas (with a wounded Marquez) lucky, and the Suzukis disappointed, especially Vinales, who was a blur during the first three practice sessions before backing off in FP4.

Confusion at the Start

Moments before the red lights went out, four back markers jumped the start, including WSBK defector Stefan Bradl, satellite Ducati pilots Yonny Hernandez and Hector Barbera, and malcontent Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.  Three of the four took their ride-through penalties like men.  Barbera, lacking some spatial awareness (Pitboard?  What pitboard?) and with a faulty “Call Home” light on his dashboard, failed to realize his sin until he was black-flagged around Lap 11.  Jack Miller, who had pronounced himself fit for the first time this year on Friday, suffered his third fall of the weekend during the morning warm-up and was held out of the race with hairline fractures to his wrist and several vertebrae, a mudhole in his chest, his customary limp back in place.  Those of us who thought his win in Assen was a fluke are being proven right.  Monty Python fans worldwide are starting to call Miller The Black Knight.

Marquez, hurt but not injured, approached the race in damage control mode.  The lead group materialized early, consisting of the factory Ducati and Yamaha teams.  With Marquez settling into fifth place and Vinales into sixth, Dani Pedrosa showed up out of nowhere in seventh; these three riders would hold their respective spots all day.  The action, and plenty of it, would be amongst the front four.

The setting was ripe for drama.  The factory Yamahas had recently experienced two rounds of hell on wheels, a “black period” in Lorenzo’s words.  Rossi had crashed out at Assen and finished eighth in Germany, while Lorenzo had a tenth and a 15th to show for his last two rounds.  The Ducs, meanwhile, started the race with bad history and completely different tire configurations, Iannone opting for softer options on the front and rear than Dovizioso.  With the track as hot as it had been all weekend, a number of viewers, myself included, suspected The Maniac of being overly aggressive in this choice.  We would be proven wrong.

Racing Gods Wore Red Today

The first quarter of the race featured a lot of jostling, a verb we seldom use, as all four riders took faint, uncommitted runs at one another.  By Lap 7, the Ducatis had established a slight margin over the Yamahas, who were trailing but well within striking distance.  For most of the next 13 laps, the order consisted of Dovizioso, Iannone, Lorenzo and Rossi.  Anyone who had watched the race in Argentina early in the season suspected this alignment would not last.  Iannone’s reputation as a destroyer had many of us expecting the worst for the Bologna factory’s representatives.  These expectations were magnified by his tire choice.

Iannone proved everyone wrong.  He went through cleanly on Dovizioso on Turn 9 of Lap 20, cementing the final finishing order in the process.  The expected challenge from Rossi never materialized; he appeared satisfied to simply finish in front of Marquez, unwilling to flirt with disaster by trying to go through on Lorenzo.  Lorenzo appeared capable of challenging Dovizioso and probably would have at any other circuit.  But the Red Bull Ring is just too fast, the fastest track on the calendar.  The superb handling of the YZR-M1 never came into play today.  At the end, the lone remaining challenge left to the four riders was the same as it always is—beat your teammate.  In this, Iannone and Lorenzo prevailed.

In their post-race comments to Dylan Gray, Dovizioso sounded like he had finished 13th, so great was his disappointment at not having been able to track down perhaps his least favorite rider on the track.  Lorenzo, on the other hand, was jubilant, having emerged from the “dark days” and taken five points out of Marquez.  Now, if he can take five points out of Marquez every round through Valencia, he will only lose the 2016 title by three points.  An unlikely prospect, to be sure, as Marquez is a quick healer, and there is a chance of rain between now and November.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 

Early in this writing, I alluded to the notion that today’s celebration in the Ducati garage should be tempered slightly by the context in which it was earned.  Certainly, with 100 races between today’s win and their last at Phillip Island in 2010 a celebration is justified.  But consider:

  • The circuit layout was ideal.
  • The weather was ideal.
  • The Michelins were superb.
  • Marc Marquez was off his game.
  • Jorge Lorenzo, coming out of his funk, trailed Iannone by only 3.4 seconds at the finish.

Certainly, a win is a win is a win.  I’m just sayin’ that it was facilitated by a confluence of conditions unlikely to repeat themselves until, well, next week at Brno, with Phillip Island another more remote possibility.  Ducati has put themselves back in the winner’s circle.  To assert they’re all the way back is premature.

The Big Picture

So the top five riders for the season remain unchanged. Iannone and Dovizioso leapfrogged their way into Tranche 2 past Pol Espargaro who, now sitting eighth, remains the top satellite rider on the grid, and Hector Barbera, who got KO’ed today.  Scott Redding, the top Brit finisher today in eighth place, remains the top Brit for the season, completing the top ten.

Eugene Laverty, the Urgent Ulsterman, was running comfortably in 11th place when disaster struck in the last turn of the last lap, when he crashed.  Based upon his lap time, it appears he hoisted the bike on his shoulders and carried it across the finish line, finishing 18th but doing nothing to hurt his merit for a premier class ride somewhere next season.

One of our readers, who had predicted an all-Ducati podium, was closer to being right than I expected.  This same reader is, at this moment, expecting me to crack wise on Cal Crutchlow.  Sorry to disappoint, but I’m confident Cal will come out with something in an interview today or tomorrow far more embarrassing than anything I could dream up.  Something questioning the parents’ marital status at the time of his birth of the wanker who claimed he jumped the start of the Austrian Grand Prix.  In a gesture of conciliation, I have decided to ignore Cal’s scurrilous 15th place finish today and promote him to Tranche Four.

At MO, we are determined to keep things fair and balanced.