Ducati continue their Austria domination as Andrea Dovizioso stormed to victory to take Ducati’s 50th victory after a horrendous accident brings out the red flag.
Pramac’s Jack Miller grabbed the holeshot as poleman Maverick Viñales slipped into second and Andrea Dovizioso got a superb start from fourth to jump Fabio Quartararo. KTM’s Pol Espargaro had a point to prove after last weekend’s tangle in Brno which saw him crash out of the race.
The Spaniard soon found himself leading the race, capitalising on a rare mistake by Quartararo at turn four by lap six. The leading group started to pull away, putting some breathing room between themselves and the rest until a horrific crash at turn 3’s braking zone, bringing out the red flags and a prolonged delay.
Contact between Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco saw their bikes torpedoing towards turn four and the unsuspecting riders coming through the turn. Both the Ducati and Yamaha powered bikes hit the air fence but, due to the sheer speed they were travelling, the bikes careered over the air fence into and then out of turn 3.
Viñales and Valentino Rossi narrowly missed being collected into the horrendous incident as Morbidelli’s bike missed Rossi by mere inches whilst Zarco’s bike just avoided Viñales. Luckily, both riders were physically fine, being declared fit to ride after checks at the medical centre.
The race was shortened to 20-laps after extensive clearing of the track and repairs of the air fencing had been properly carried out. The restart grid was based off the positions held during the previous completed lap meaning Espargaro was set to start from pole. Unfortunately for the KTM rider, his good start was no match for Miller’s as the Aussie flew down the inside of Espargaro before running wide but, using the long straight to his advantage, he held his position.
Miller increased his lead to over a second as a dog fight was underway behind him for the remaining positions. Dovizioso set the fastest lap during lap four as he tried to move away from Espargaro who was desperately trying to keep the Suzuki duo behind him as they exchanged positions. Alex Rins was finally able to make a move on Espargaro and set his sights on catching the Ducati.
After taking a risky gamble on the soft-soft tyre options, Miller was finding himself in hot water as Dovizioso and Rins nibbled away at the gap between themselves and the current leader whilst Espargaro, Joan Mir and Miguel Oliveira were a second behind.
Espargaro’s chance to claim victory at KTM’s home race was rapidly fading and the Spaniard grew increasing inpatient leading to several minor mistakes before heartbreak at turn four during lap 9. Espargaro and Oliveira made contact and both riders ended up in the gravel, thankfully unharmed.
Miller’s cool advantage was soon eaten up and he was face with Dovizioso and Rins breathing down his neck, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce which Dovizoso did, followed shortly by the blue Suzuki machine. Unfortunately, it was an early exit for Rins as the front end slipped and sent him into the gravel at turn six, leaving a three man fight for victory.
Dovizioso seemed to have it in the bag on the final lap but Miller was still trying to hold on to second place ahead of Mir as the young Spaniard nipped away at his heels. Miller’s defensive riding held Mir off until turn nine when he went wide into the exit, allowing Mir to sweep through and claim his maiden MotoGP podium in second position. Dovizoso certainly proved his skills and his worth as he claimed his first victory of 2020 whilst Miller can be happy to add another trophy to the collection with third.
Brad Binder made exceptional progress to go from his qualifying position of seventeenth to finish just off the podium in fourth ahead of Rossi in fifth and highest scoring Honda rider Taka Nakagami in sixth. Danilo Petrucci claims seventh position ahead of Quartararo’s salvage job of eighth and Iker Lecuona in ninth, his best MotoGP result to date.
After early issues in the restarted race which saw him drop back to the pack of the pack with Quartararo, poleman Viñales was able to claw back a tenth place finish. It is still unclear what caused issues for the Spaniard, but he will be hoping for a change of luck coming into the SyrianGP.
Aleix Espargaro finished the day in eleventh ahead of Michele Pirro, who is currently standing in for the injured Pecco Bagnaia, in twelfth, Bradley Smith in thirteenth, Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez in fourteenth and Cal Crutchlow rounding out the points in fifteenth.
After an incredible and terrifying weekend for all the paddock which saw many counting their blessings and thanking their lucky stars, it’s not long before they return to the exact same track that caused them so much trouble before for the inaugural SyrianGP in the Austrian mountains.