Miguel Oliveira claimed his maiden win in the premier class and for Red Bull KTM Tech3 in a stop-start second AustrianGP.
Dark clouds threatened to make the second AustrianGP even more dramatic than last weekends. As the riders filed onto the grids, necks were craned skywards to check for any ominous droplets and everyone prepared for what they thought would be a flag-to-flag race but, despite the darkening skies, the day remained dry.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir got an incredible getaway from third after grabbing the holeshot from Pol Espargaro to lead the race but Australian Jack Miller didn’t beat around the bush, sweeping up the inside of Espargaro at turn two, snatching the lead from Mir who was forced to drop one position after running wide and gaining an advantage during the opening lap.
AustrianGP winner Andrea Dovizioso made a great start from his qualifying position in ninth to move up to sixth by lap two whilst his Ducati counterpart Miller held off the charge of Mir and Taka Nakagami after the Japanese rider got the better of Espargaro to get within the leading pack.
With a point to prove, Mir worked his way back to the front of the pack to lead by lap five. The Suzuki man lead for nine incredible laps before another terrifying incident brought out the red flags at lap 17.
Maverick Viñales was struggling to make any moves in the right direction from the very beginning but it became apparent by lap 14 that the Monster Energy Yamaha rider was having issues as he continued to drop back through the pack, holding his hand up to warn the following riders.
Though the Yamaha rider tried his best to continue, by lap 17, it was too much for him to control, causing him to take evasive action. At turn 1, Viñales jumped from his M1 machine, sending it careering into the air-fence, deflating it and destroying the bike which burst into flames. Luckily, Viñales was able to walk away from his terrifying crash unharmed but, whilst the smouldering remains of the Yamaha were recovered and the air-fence was replaced, the race was red-flagged.
After a short delay and a shortened race, the lights went out for the second time. Mir got off to yet another fantastic start from pole position but he was being hunted down by Espargaro who fired off the line but ran wide into turn one allowing Miller to regain some ground and, on his fresh Michelin rubber, it wasn’t long before Miller snatched the lead from the young Spaniard. It seemed that the Suzuki rider had made an error continuing with his front tyre from the original race whilst others opted to new tyres.
As the laps ticked down, Dovizioso came under pressure to bridge the gap between himself and the leading pack of four, pushing him to make uncharacteristic mistakes, running wide at turn one and again at turn nine as he tried to remain in contact with the lead group whilst also being chased down by Nakagami.
It was a dog fight between Espargaro and Miller for the lead as the Spaniard took the lead away from Miller. Mir ran wide at turn four, letting Dovizioso through into fourth whilst Miller and Oliveira hunted down the Factory KTM rider. By the last lap, it was a KTM vs Ducati and elbows were well and truly out. Espargaro lead but an extra defensive move in the braking zone of the first corner compromised his exit, allowing Miller to power through and slide up alongside him as they went in to the downhill right hander.
Espargaro got the run up the hill, swerving inside and underneath Miller. Miller went underneath Espargaro on the run down to turn 10, both running wide and allowing the ever-patient Oliveira to swoop past the duo and claim a maiden victory for himself and his ecstatic Red Bull KTM Tech3 team. Miller held on to second place ahead of Espargaro who claimed his first dry weather podium in third.
It was a heartbreaking second-half of the race for Mir as the Suzuki man marginally missed out on the podium in fourth whilst Dovizioso claimed fifth ahead of Alex Rins in sixth. Nakagami took a somewhat disappointing seventh position after his front-row start ahead of Binder in eighth, Valentino Rossi in ninth and Iker Lecuona in tenth position.
After an eventful triple-header, a well-deserved two-week break ahead of the next upcoming triple header.
Full results here.