This week reigning MotoGP king Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) moves from the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno to the Austrian Alps, where he aims to continue building his points advantage in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.

The Spanish youngster finished third in last Sunday’s Czech Republic Grand Prix, just 0.368 seconds behind the winner, the eighth-closest podium in 70 years of premier-class GP racing. That result – his eighth podium from the first ten races – increases his championship lead to 49 points, with nine races remaining. Marquez and his MotoGP rivals stayed at Brno for a one-day test on Monday, so by the end of this weekend’s Austrian GP, they will have spent seven days out of ten aboard their machines.

Brno was Marquez’s 100th MotoGP race and it showed him at his best: he worked intelligently throughout practice, played a perfect strategy during the race, rode hard for the win and when victory proved just out of his reach, made sure he finished on the podium to collect another valuable haul of championship points.

Marquez has scored five wins, two seconds and one third so far this year, with two no-scores. The impressive podium consistency of the record-breaking youngster and his RC213V have given him an important advantage in the championship, but this weekend his strategy will be the same: go all out for the win, but if that’s not possible, finish on the podium. The target is straightforward: a historic fifth MotoGP crown in six years in the class, at the age of just 25.

Last year Marquez came within 0.176 seconds of victory at the Red Bull Ring, where he fought to the final corner with eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso, who also came out on top last Sunday. The Austrian venue, which only joined the MotoGP World Championship in 2016, is situated in a picture-perfect Austrian Alpine valley and has a somewhat spartan layout of just ten corners: seven right-handers and three left-handers. Braking and acceleration performance are therefore the most important factors, so these will be the main focus for Marquez, his crew and his HRC engineers.

Marquez – who in April and May scored his first victory hat-trick since 2014 – is delighted with the performance of the 2018 RC213V. No wonder then that Honda also leads the MotoGP Constructors World Championship, chasing a seventh title in eight years.

Fellow HRC rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) was also in the podium battle at Brno. The 32-year-old Briton eventually finished the race in fifth place, just 2.6 seconds behind Marquez, which brings him to the Red Bull Ring full of confidence.

Crutchlow finished 15th in both the 2016 and 2017 Austrian GPs. In 2016 his race pace was fast enough for a top-five finish, but he suffered a hefty ride-through penalty for fractionally jumping the start. Last year he ran off track more than once while trying to pass slower riders, which consigned him again to 15th at the finish. This season the former Supersport World Champion is riding more consistently than ever, usually fighting with the lead group and taking four top-six finishes from the last five races, once again thanks to HRC’s superb development work on the RC213V.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) hopes that he will be able to show the promise he showed in the early stages of the Czech Grand Prix weekend. The 32-year-old former 125cc and double 250cc World Champion was the fastest man at Brno after the first two practice sessions but he had a more challenging time in the race, lacking good rear grip for much of the 21 laps. He finished in eighth place, only seven seconds behind the winner. Last year Pedrosa took a superb third-place finish at the Red Bull Ring after fighting through from eighth on the grid.

Reigning Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) is currently fighting to be 2018 MotoGP Rookie of the Year. At Brno he battled with and beat his number-one rival for the title, Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin. Going into this weekend’s race Morbidelli stands just two points behind Syahrin in their duel. The Italian’s last race was particularly impressive since he was coming back from a broken hand that had kept him out of the previous two races at Assen and the Sachsenring. Morbidelli has good form at the Red Bull Ring, where he won last year’s race and finished a very close second in 2016.

Honda’s second rookie Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) had a tough weekend at Brno, which wasn’t particularly surprising because he was still recovering from his ride to second place in the previous weekend’s Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan. The 26-year-old from Chiba didn’t find it easy to readapt from an endurance-spec CBR1000 superbike to an RC213V MotoGP machine and his race was further complicated when he had to avoid a pile-up on the first lap. Last year Nakagami finished sixth in the Austrian Moto2 race.

Last year’s Moto2 series runner-up Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) finished third in the 2017 Austrian Moto2 race and this weekend the Swiss rider hopes that the track will deliver his first points in a challenging debut season in the premier class. Last Sunday Luthi finished just one place outside the points for the third time this season.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez 93

“We come from a good test in Brno, where we found several positive things. We’ll try some of them at the Red Bull Ring and see how everything works. Austria is another track where Dovizioso and Lorenzo are strong, but we were also strong there last year so we’ll see if it comes down to the last corner again! We’ll try to be fast from the start of the weekend and then fight up at the front. Actually, it will be the second time this year for me at the track, after the unbelievable experience we had with the F1 Toro Rosso test run last June! On the way to the Red Bull Ring, we stopped in Vienna to attend an event dedicated to safe motorcycling riding on the roads, which is something I believe is very important. People sometimes forget how vital it is to wear the proper gear and not drink before riding, and anytime possible I try and give my inputs about the importance of being fit and lucid before riding.”

Repsol Honda Team
Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow 35

“I look forward to racing this weekend in Austria and once again trying our best to do a good job and get a good result. I don’t like the track, because I don’t think it’s a good track for motorcycles, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be trying our best, like always. We are coming off a good result at Brno and off some good results at Mugello, Barcelona and Assen, so we will keep working the same way and focus on the race from Friday morning.”

LCR Honda Castrol
Dani Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa 26

“A day of testing after the Czech Grand Prix gave us the chance to work on our bike set-up, to try and sort out the issues we’ve experienced in the recent races. We were able to be fast and consistent, and now we’ll see if that was down to the better track conditions, or if the changes we made there have actually improved our base setup. The Red Bull Ring will be good to check that, as it’s usually a demanding track for us, so to have a good feeling there would be very important. We’ll also have a special Michelin rear tyre there, so we’ll see how it goes putting everything together. Weather will also be a key for the race.”

Repsol Honda Team
Franco Morbidelli

Franco Morbidelli 21

“It is great to be going back to Austria this weekend because in Moto2 I was always fast there and it will be an interesting challenge to ride a MotoGP bike on such a fast layout. It is a very simple layout but that makes it quite tricky because there is not a lot of an opportunity for the rider to make the difference with only ten corners. It will not be easy because the track has a lot of straight sections. Our package is strong but I would say our weak point is top speed and for me this makes this race probably the most difficult of the season. The track also features a lot of hard braking zones and this is where we must capitalise because the Honda works very well from this point of view.”

EG 0,0 Marc VDS
Takaaki Nakagami

Takaaki Nakagami 30

“We had a positive test in Brno after the race and we gained useful data for the next race in Austria. Spielberg is a track I like in Moto2 but it’s going to be different now riding a MotoGP bike. As always we use Friday’s sessions to understand my feeling on the bike and find the best set-up for me. Brno was not an easy one for me so I aim to be back at 100 percent at Spielberg. The target is always the same: finish the race in the top ten.”

LCR Honda Idemitsu
Thomas Luthi

Thomas Luthi 12

“I’m looking forward to being back in race action so quickly after a positive weekend in Brno. The Austrian track is a special one with a lot of right corners but it is also a power track and that may work against us on this occasion. I feel confident because the Brno test this week allowed me the chance to focus on improving my riding technique and I understood a lot that I am looking forward to implementing this weekend in Austria.”

EG 0,0 Marc VDS
Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich

Red Bull Ring – Spielberg, Austria

MotoGP 2018, Round 11

Rider Standings
Sunday, 5 Aug 2018 - Open world standings grid
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Marc MARQUEZ 93 SPA 181 Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 Valentino ROSSI 46 ITA 132 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO 4 ITA 113 Ducati Team Ducati
4 Maverick VIñALES 25 SPA 109 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
5 Jorge LORENZO 99 SPA 105 Ducati Team Ducati
6 Johann ZARCO 5 FRA 97 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Danilo PETRUCCI 9 ITA 94 Alma Pramac Racing Ducati
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW 35 GBR 90 LCR Honda Castrol Honda
9 Andrea IANNONE 29 ITA 81 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
10 Jack MILLER 43 AUS 61 Alma Pramac Racing Ducati
11 Alex RINS 42 SPA 58 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
12 Dani PEDROSA 26 SPA 57 Repsol Honda Team Honda
13 Alvaro BAUTISTA 19 SPA 51 Ángel Nieto Team Ducati
14 Pol ESPARGARO 44 SPA 32 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
15 Tito RABAT 53 SPA 30 Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
16 Hafizh SYAHRIN 55 THA 24 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
17 Franco MORBIDELLI 21 ITA 22 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
18 Aleix ESPARGARO 41 SPA 17 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
19 Bradley SMITH 38 GBR 13 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
20 Scott REDDING 45 GBR 12 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
21 Takaaki NAKAGAMI 30 JPN 10 LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda
22 Mika KALLIO 36 FIN 6 KTM Test Team KTM
23 Karel ABRAHAM 17 CZE 4 Ángel Nieto Team Ducati