Reigning MotoGP king Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) and world number-two Andrea Dovizioso fought an epic duel for victory at Red Bull Ring today, racing side by side around MotoGP’s fastest racetrack in Austria’s Alpine foothills.
The Spaniard and Italian battled like heroes all the way to the finish line, Dovizioso squeezing past Marquez at the very last corner to win by two tenths of a second.
Marquez had started from pole position, sharing the front row with Dovizioso and third-place finisher Fabio Quartararo, who led the first few laps. Then Dovizioso took the lead, followed by Marquez, who soon after moved ahead to lead most of the 28 laps, allowing Dovizioso past in the closing stages to examine the Italian’s strong and weak points.
With three laps remaining Marquez attacked again, retaking the lead and then riding the ragged edge for the last few laps, commencing the final lap just 0.02 seconds ahead. But he didn’t have enough rear traction, having chosen the medium rear tyre, which didn’t grip as well as the soft tyre in today’s cooler conditions. Dovizioso raced with the soft rear.
The 26-year-old Spaniard stayed ahead all the way to the final corner, where Dovizioso risked everything to get in front once more. He made it through, the gap so close that Marquez’s front-brake protector got caught up with Dovizioso, nearly causing him to crash, so he lost the corner-exit drive that might have allowed him to challenge Dovizioso on the dash to the finish line.
Marquez’s willingness to ride so hard when he went into the race with a 63-point championship lead showed the mettle of the dazzlingly talented youngster who only races with one aim: to win. His first defeat since June’s Dutch round takes him into round 12 in Britain with a comfortable 58-point advantage.
Yesterday Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) achieved his best MotoGP grid slot, riding his 2018-spec RC213V. The 27-year-old from Chiba qualified a super sixth fastest and had high hopes of following that with another strong race result. The Japanese rode well once again but didn’t have the outright speed of his rivals’ machines and finished 11th, less than two seconds outside the top ten.
HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) contested his fourth MotoGP race of the year and his third as substitute for the injured Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), who plans to return to action at the British GP later this month. The 29-year-old German achieved his fourth consecutive points score, crossing the line in 13th position, gathering vital data and information for HRC.
Briton Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) was very much out of luck today. On only the second lap of the race a rival’s machine cut out and suddenly slowed at turn three, the 33-year-old Briton making contact with another bike in the resulting traffic jam and crashing out. It was a bitter blow for the three-times MotoGP winner who believed he had the pace to fight for a podium finish.
The MotoGP paddock now heads across the English Channel for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 25.