Wednesday, October 5

Bagnaia and Quartararo win, Aleix Espargaró loses


Bagnaia lifts the trophy accrediting him as the winner of the Austrian GP. / Reuters

Austrian GP

Indisputable victory for the Italian in Austria, where only the MotoGP leader stood up to the Ducati and the Spaniard, sixth, dropped out of the fight for the title

From the first free practice, Ducati marked territory on a track that is very conducive to Italian motorcycles. On Friday they captured seven of the top eight positions. On Saturday they monopolized five of the first six places on the grid. And on Sunday, in the race, they were four out of five. And that Jorge Martín fell on the last lap. At the Red Bull Ring there would have been a red monologue if it weren’t for Fabio Quartararo who always remained embedded in the Ducati arsenal. “To be second here I had to do qualifying laps throughout the race,” commented the French driver, who recognized that he had done his best race of the season and that he came out of Austria stronger. Of course, he implored help from Yamaha to stop the advance of the Ducati. “Nobody knows what I’m going through,” he said.

There is little doubt that without Marc Márquez on the track, Fabio Quartararo is the greatest talent in MotoGP. Just as there is none left that today the Ducati is by far the best motorcycle and that Pecco Bagnaia is the strong man of the Italian brand. He has won the last three races in a row, something that had only been within the reach of a good handful of legends in the MotoGP category: Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez, the last to achieve it in 2019 .

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Bagnaia led the race from light to flag. He started second on the grid and the round strategy came out for Ducati, who had asked their riders for “common sense” before the race. In the first laps the Italian driver was escorted by three drivers from the same brand: Miller, Martín and Bastianini, although the latter had to retire on lap 5 with tire problems.

Everything was heading towards another recital of Italian motorcycles, but the figure of Quartararo emerged, who was scratching tenth by tenth until hooking to the wheel of the leading trio. He first got rid of the Madrid driver, when he made a mistake at the new Red Bull Ring chicane. And four laps from the end, in that same corner, he signed the overtaking of the day to Miller, where nobody had tried it until then. “I didn’t expect my bike to get in there,” confessed the Australian rider. With three laps to go, Quartararo launched himself in pursuit of Bagnaia, but lacked time to attempt to launch the attack.

Despite losing 5 points, the leader comes out stronger from the Austrian event, in a circuit where the winner hoped to put a Ducati between him and the French. Right now there are 44 points that separate Quartararo from Bagnaia, heavily burdened by his irregular first half of the season, where he added four zeros. But he reaffirms himself as the main rival for the title, something that the French rider has been warning about for a long time and that he recalled again in Austria: «He has five victories, more than anyone else this year, and in this part of the season he is clearly the strongest”.

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Bad day for the Spanish

And despite everything, the second classified is still Aleix Espargaró, although he is now 32 points behind Quartararo. The rider from Granollers was crossed over the weekend. He had been dragging a heel injury, he fell again on Saturday and, to make matters worse, his bike had a technical failure at the start and he lost many positions. Although he ended up coming back to sixth position, the final part of the race was very long with the rear soft tire on the canvas and he had to defend the position from behind with Binder and Álex Rins. A sixth that leaves little loot of points, but of which Aleix was very proud: «Today I didn’t have the pace of the best and I couldn’t do more. It’s a shame that Pecco and Fabio finished first and second, but personally I’m left with one of the best races this season.”

Austria has been the poorest weekend of results for Spanish motorcycling. Overall, since he only added one podium (third in Moto3), but also in the premier class. He could have been saved by Jorge Martín, who rode in podium positions for almost the entire race but ended up crashing on the last lap when he desperately tried to overtake Miller. “I had to try it,” the Madrid native justified himself. Maverick Viñales also failed, who started the race in front but ended up fading away (thirteenth) due to the soft rear tire. And the Hondas of Álex Márquez (fourteenth) and Pol Espargaró (sixteenth) were wrecked again. Although the worst unemployed of the day was Joan Mir, who had a brutal fall in the first lap that caused a double fracture in his right foot. This Monday he will undergo more tests in Barcelona to see if he can play the next appointment at the Misano circuit in two weeks.


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