Spielberg | Red Bull Ring – World champion Marc Márquez aimed to be in the lead at the end of the MotoGP race with a Ducati to fight for the victory. That it would be Jorge Lorenzo’s and he would not be within striking distance in the last corner, was a bit surprising for him…
The Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso managed the best start with his Desmosedici GP (tyres front and rear: medium) at the MotoGP race from Austria. But already in Turn 3 Marc Márquez overtook him inside. He cut him so much that Dovi lost much speed to avoid a collision. Jorge Lorenzo used the duel in front of him to move past both. Due to the manoeuvre Dovizioso fell also briefly behind the Suzuki EcstarTeam Rider Alex Rins, who came from the 10th starting place forward.
It was now one after another. In lap 2 Marc positioned himself in the “Remus” (Turn 3) at the top and set himself apart from the others “fastest lap” one after another. The Ducati factory team was able to follow him, while the rest of the field had been in a respectable distance. Crutchlow, Petrucci and Rins fought in the rear bitterly for the 4th place, which was also about the top position of the riders from Independent Teams.
Marc left all the others in the dust on his Honda RC213V (tyres front: medium, back: hard), with the target of finally winning for the first time the Grand Prix of Austria. Ducati could not withhold him. He drove up to a half-second faster per lap than the second-placed Jorge Lorenzo and managed to pull ahead about a second. Dovi pressure more on Jorge in the meantime and but could not pass him and therefore got kept back.
From the tenth lap on, the Ducati riders could reduce the distance to Márquez again. This distance settled after a couple of rounds on half a second. The distance to the rest of the field had increased at this stage of the race already on more than five seconds. Jorge could catch up with the fastest lap to Marc eleven laps before finish and the battle for victory started. One round later, he became the lead at the end on the start-finish line. The fierce fight for the victory between the two pilots was now in full swing. Andrea made a slight mistake in breaking in the corner and had to go wide. Therefore a small gap to the two leading riders opened up.
In the lead, Jorge Lorenzo was able to make the best use of the superior engine performance and braking stability of his Ducati Desmosedici GP (tyres front and rear: soft) in order to easily set himself apart from Marc. Eight laps before the end, both Ducati drove two tenths of a second faster than the factory Honda. In the last five laps, the two Spaniards and team-mates of the next year at Honda then delivered a fascinating exchange of blows. Dovi could no longer hold the pace and felt almost two seconds behind the duo. Marc was getting closer to his compatriot, a mistake by Jorge when braking from Turn 3 allowed him to lead the race again, three laps before the end.
With the Desmo power of his Ducati Jorge came out of Turn 8 closer to Marc, to pass him in the subsequent corner by an aggressive maneuver. Marc was shaken back and forth on his Honda, like on a rodeo horse, but remained firmly in the saddle. In Turn 3, Marc was again in the lead, the exchange of blows and thus the suspense increased immensely. At that moment it did not look like as Márquez maneuvered for the World Cup, he rather went for the victory. On the start-finish straight Jorge passed again, this time with a slight body contact at over 300 km/h.
In the last lap in Turn 3, Marc’s new attack failed. By driving outside, Jorge prevented Marc from cutting his line and with accelerating out of the corner he was this time way ahead. Marc came a little closer then, but could not manage to get so close to his front man as last year in the last lap, in order to be able to start a final all-important attack. And so also in the third race after the return of the motorcycle World Championship to Styria a Ducati won – “Austria is Ducati Land”. This time in front of officially 206,746 enthusiastic spectators on the entire race weekend. Jorge Lorenzo is already the third Ducati winner here in Spielberg within last three years, after Andrea Dovizioso last year and Andrea Iannone in 2016.
As in Brno, this race has shown, that it is very difficult to win for the reigning world champion and current championship leader Marc Márquez on routes where the engine power is decisive. Ducati is currently barely to beat with his Desmosedici GP on such tracks. In two weeks, MotoGP will head to Silverstone in the UK. I am already curious to see how the current tournament between the two Ducati factory pilots and the Honda factory driver will proceed.
Text and photos: Armin Hoyer | ARMIN ON BIKE – arminonbike.com