MotoGP

OLIVEIRA STUNS STYRIA TO WIN THE 900TH MOTOGP RACE

MEDIA RELEASE/MotoGP – Photos: supplied

A thriller through to the last final corner sees Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira make MotoGP history – and a win for KTM on home turf, Australian Jack Miller came home second from Pol Espargaro.

The BMW M Grand Prix of Styria was already a guaranteed history maker as it hosted the 900th premier class race, but what a race it was. Another Red Flag and shortened sprint to the line gave us a dash of early drama, but more milestones were achieved once again in 2020 as Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira took his first ever premier class victory in serious style. It’s the first premier class win for the Tech 3 squad, the first for Portugal, and the first KTM win on home turf for the factory and for Red Bull. It all went down to the final corner too as the Portuguese rider sliced past the duelling Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and kept it inch perfect to beat both to the line.

On the first start, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took the holeshot from the front row – kind of – but the Suzuki headed wide and was then told to give the place back up. Espargaro was second before a scrappy few corners that saw the Spaniard demoted, before Miller took over at the front from Mir – position change complied with, voluntarily or not – and the number 36 slotted back in ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The two would duel as Miller tried to bolt, but it was Mir who would manage that as he made his way back into the lead and then set the fastest lap. 

Miller and Nakagami just about stayed with him though, as Pol Espargaro and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) dueled it out for fourth in a little clear air. Behind them, Dovizioso had his hands full with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), too. Soon enough though, Dovi pulled away – and a KTM armada of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Oliveira and his teammate Lecuona all slammed past the Yamaha in quick succession, leaving Viñales tenth.

The Spaniard appeared to have an issue and put his arm up once, but then disaster would strike not long after he’d managed to tuck back in and carry on. At Turn 1, the number 12 was forced to do a high speed bail out and he jumped off his machine just in time, the stricken Yamaha then hurtling towards the air fence and catching fire. That caused the Red Flag to come out to do repairs, but Viñales was immediately on his feet –  rider ok and seemingly pretty mad about the incident.

Mir, Miller and Nakagami’s advantage was gone in a sudden puff of drama, and we were heading back to the grid for the quick restart procedure not long after. How would the start shuffle the pack second time around?

Mir got the perfect start from pole, with Miller getting bogged down from third. Pol Espargaro powered away from the line well but ran slightly wide into Turn 1, allowing Miller to regain ground on the run into Turn 2 and 3. Miller, sporting fresh soft Michelin front and rears, was then leading. The GP20’s speed powered the Aussie through. Mir fought back on the exit but the Ducati rider held the inside line for Turn 6, with Nakagami one rider getting a bit beaten up at the start as the Japanese rider dropped to seventh.

Just like they were in the first part of the race though, KTM’s Oliveira and Binder were scrapping away in the fight for P4, with Dovizioso also up with the leading group. Miller then slammed in a 1:23.928 as the pace in the restarted contest heated up, with Mir second but the Spaniard on the same front tyre he’d used to pull clear of the field before the red flags – was it costing him?

With eight laps to go, Pol Espargaro set the fastest lap of the race. The KTM rider then made his move on Mir at Turn 3, before the number 44 was then clambering all over the back of Miller. Pol then attempted a pass up into Turn 1 but he was in deep and wide, allowing Miller to blast straight past and Oliveira and Mir to close in, the Portuguese rider now up into third.

The leading quartet was gapping Dovizioso and Nakagami, and then Dovi was wide at Turn 1 and then again at Turn 9 with six laps to go. It worked for a while as it was a lead group of seven, although Binder then lost touch as the South African ran wide at Turn 1 a lap later.

Pol Espargaro then took the lead from Miller at Turn 9 but he wasn’t able to pull the pin. Next, Mir was wide at Turn 4, allowing Dovizioso to grab fourth as Miller and Oliveira tagged onto the back of Pol’s RC16. The top five were close, but Mir and Dovizioso were dropping off slightly and ultimately couldn’t get in the fight in the final lap.

Heading onto that last lap, it all came down to two KTMs vs a Ducati: Pol Espargaro vs Miller vs Oliveira. Two riders chasing their first win, one chasing their first dry race win. It was Pol Espargaro who begun the lap in the lead and got a good run out of the first corner, but coming into the braking zone, the KTM went very defensive – maybe too defensive. That compromised his exit and Miller was all over him before managing to get alongside the number 44 and make the move stick into the tricky, downhill right-hander.

Miller held firm through the left-handers, but coming up was where the KTM rider was strongest. Pol Espargaro got the run up the hill and managed to slice back up the inside of Miller, meaning everything was going down – once again – to the final corner in Styria.

Getting a better run down into Turn 10, Miller braked late and the Aussie, of course, went for it. And he technically got it done as he got past the KTM – but both headed so wide, the door was wide open behind them. Enter wily Oliveira, who had been calmly stalking the pair, as the Portuguese rider blasted past the two errant machines and straight to the line for his first historic victory, in a historic race.

Miller held onto second to pick up his second Red Bull Ring rostrum of 2020, with Pol  Espargaro forced to settle for P3, although it’s his first dry podium in MotoGP™ after an impressive ride at the front.

Mir came fourth and was a key victim of the restart, but it’s another impressive performance and haul of points for the Spanish sophomore. Dovizioso couldn’t make it two-from-two as the Italian crossed the line 5th, 1.4 from the victory, but the Italian closes the gap to Quartararo as they’re now three points apart. Another unfortunate victim from the red flag was Nakagami, who has to settle for P7 in Styria after looking odds on to picking up a maiden podium. Binder’s late Turn 1 run-off cost him a chance of a top six finish, the Czech GP winner crossing the line in P8, although four tenths clear of leading Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

It was a difficult day for the Iwata factory with Viñales’ crash seeing the Spaniard take zero points from Styria. Quartararo’s P13 finish ultimately keeps him top of the standings, but the Yamaha riders will be happy to see the back of the Red Bull Ring and head for happier hunting grounds at Misano.

10th place went the way of rookie Iker Lecuona, who caps off a fantastic day for Red Bull KTM Tech 3 with his second top 10 on the bounce Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) finished just ahead of Quartararo, with Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) – who started from pitlane in the first race and recently broke his scaphoid – and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completing the points.

It really was another Spielberg stunner, and a truly history-making day. Who would have predicted that? Three points between Quartararo and Dovizioso really spices things up heading to one of the Italian’s home tracks at Misano, and Miller isn’t far off either. From there down to ninth overall, there’s almost nothing in it in one of the most astonishing seasons we’ve seen.

A hard-earned two-week break now sees the paddock catch our breath before Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli awaits. Predict what will happen there at your own peril… but most definitely tune in!

MotoGP™ podium

Miguel Oliveira* – Red Bull KTM Tech 3  KTM – 16:56.025
Jack Miller* – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +0.316
Pol Espargaro – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – +0.540
*Independent Team riders

Miguel Oliveira: “I’m very emotional, there’s so much I want to say but I won’t be able to. Just a big thank you to all the people who have believed in me, there are so many coming to mind right now but starting from my family at home, the team, my sponsors, the Portuguese crowd, thank you so much for your support. History today, for me and my country, and I couldn’t be happier to have done it here and the home of KTM and Red Bull.”

Bezzecchi vs Martin reignites with Moto2™ last lap drama

It’s a first intermediate class win for Bezzecchi as he hunted down his old rival – but Martin had crossed the line first…

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi has taken his first Moto2™ victory in the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria, despite coming across the line in second place behind Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in a dramatic race. The Spaniard took the chequered flag and began celebrating an Austrian double only for the former Moto3™ World Champion to be told in Parc Ferme he needs to park in P2, not P1, after exceeding track limits on the exit of Turn 8 on the final lap. As a result, Bezzecchi stood on the top step of the podium, alongside him Martin and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) as the Australian took third for his second podium.

Martin took the holeshot from second on the grid, with poleman Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) settling into second behind him. EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Augusto Fernandez then became the first faller on the opening lap as the Spaniard tucked the front at the final corner out of fourth place, before rookie Canet then joined him in the gravel, tucking the front after braking a tad too late downhill into Turn 4.

The second of the EG 0,0 Marc VDS riders, Sam Lowes, then crashed out too in a nasty incident at Turn 3. The Brit got it wrong on the brakes and wiped out Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Jorge Navarro (EG0+ Speed Up) in the process, rejoining but the Brit then handed a black flag for his error. Not long after though, his race came to an end with a second crash instead of pulling out of the race due to his disqualification.

Despite the early drama, there were still 15 laps to go when Gardner edged his way past former title leader Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) for second, with Bezzecchi right on the Japanese rider’s tail too – and the number 45 then demoted back to fourth moments later. Bezzecchi got the job done for third into Turn 4, and was on his way.

Five further laps ticked by before Bezzecchi was then able to draft his way past Gardner on the run up the hill towards Turn 3, but the Australian was imperious on the brakes, coming from a postcode further back to somehow get back under the Italian. However, the Aussie’s lunge hampered his drive out of Turn 3 and Bezzecchi took the place back before then tapping the rear of his Kalex to indicate he felt he had the pace to chase down the race leader…

Martin, up to this point, had had a fairly uneventful race… but that was all to change with Bezzecchi putting together the late charge of all late charges. 1.8 seconds was the Spaniard’s advantage before that then became 1.2 seconds with six laps left. In the space of two laps, the advantage was halved to 0.6 of a second and suddenly the former Moto3™ sparring partners were about to go to war in Moto2™ for the first time.

Time was running out for Bezzecchi though, he only had two laps left to find a move on Martin, who himself was desperately trying to respond. The pair entered the final lap with nothing between them and despite all the pressure, Martin came across the line to seemingly clinch a Red Bull Ring double with victory in the Austrian and Styrian Grands Prix.

However, upon review, Martin did exceed track limits by the narrowest of margins on the exit of Turn 8 on the final lap. The Spaniard was consequently was demoted one place, meaning Bezzecchi’s late pressure had paid off and he was a Moto2™ race winner for the first time in his career – a week after Martin achieved the feat…

Gardner was a second adrift of the top two in third, but he secured his second career rostrum as he took his first trip to the podium since Argentina last year. Nagashima will be hoping to reignite his title challenge after taking fourth, his best result since a hat-trick of finishes outside of the top ten. Completing the top five was Liqui Moly Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi as the veteran got back in the mix at the front after some tougher races so far in 2020.

Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge held off late pressure from Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) to take seventh, although Marini extended his World Championship lead out to eight points. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) enjoyed his first top ten Grand Prix finish after fighting past Hector Garzo (FlexBox HP40) in the closing stages to take a commendable eighth place finish, with Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) completing the top ten.

Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing), Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completed the points.

That’s it from Styria, now we take a breath and reset before another triple header – starting at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

Moto2™ podium

Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex 37:12.461
Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – demoted one position 
Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +1.027

Marco Bezzecchi: “It was strange to arrive second and then switch! All the race I was strong but not strong enough in braking to overtake Jorge. I pushed a lot to make the gap and the tyres were a bit on the limit. But i knew that and I said ok I’ll put some pressure on him and maybe he’ll make a mistake. When I came out of T8 I saw he touched the green a bit, I was very close but I thought it was possible… I was very happy for the podium though because the race started in a difficult way, I hit a neutral at Turn 3 and a lot of riders passed me, then I started to overtake and go up the standings, when I found myself in second I checked the board and I was 1.9, 1.6, 1.1… 0.9… but like I said I was on the limit a bit on the front. But I’m incredibly happy, I want to thank my family and my team, they did an incredible job and gave me the happiness to make these results, so I’m very happy.”


Vietti takes first victory in another Spielberg stunner

The Italian escapes the clutches of compatriot Arbolino for his maiden Grand Prix win, ahead of the ever-consistent Ogura in third.

Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) is now a Grand Prix winner, the Italian taking an impressive win in the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria to take to the top step for the first time. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) took second – only just missing out on the win – with Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) as consistent as ever to take third and get back on the box.

Rodrigo got the holeshot from pole, but the Argentinean rider didn’t keep it long as Arbolino wasted no time in slicing through to the front. He led the front row starters – Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), in that order – with Ogura making a good start to slot in just behind them. Initially there was a small slice of daylight back to John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Vietti at the front of the second group, but that didn’t last long.

Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) took the baton and hunted the front down, striking quickly to take fourth from Fernandez once he’d arrived. And then there was a another shuffle as the South African had a wobble, allowing Arbolino, Rodrigo and Suzuki to get that daylight back. Again though, it didn’t last long – with 16 riders line astern in another classic Moto3™ battle.

And so it continued, although it was Vietti and Arbolino who seemed the men in control at the front. There was some drama though, first for the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 squad as a wobble for Deniz Öncü saw him unable to avoid his teammate Ayumu Sasaki – and both went down. After two impressive showings for the squad in Styria that was big disappointment, and the incident split the front group. A leading quartet of Arbolino, Ogura, McPhee and Vietti had a slight gap to Championship leader Arenas and with three laps left, it was all to play for. With two to go, Arbolino and Vietti had managed to emerge with a significant gap to the others – it would be an all-Italian duel for the win.

On the penultimate lap at Turn 9, the title race took another twist as well as McPhee suddenly slid out, losing his chance to fight for the podium and ultimately, second overall once the flag flew…

Up ahead though the final lap was underway and Vietti pulled the pin, crucially holding P1 down the long stretch between Turn 1 and Turn 3. But Arbolino was close and through Sector 3, rising over the brow of the hill, the Honda rider showed a wheel to the KTM ahead. Braking late, Vietti kept the lead into Turn 9 as the last corner approached… and was again a demon on the brakes. Arbolino almost lost the front too – crazy late drama just avoided – allowing Vietti a clear run to the line to claim his first Moto3™ victory.

Just behind, a cracking final lap saw Ogura pick up another podium in 2020 to hunt down Arenas in the Championship standings cutting the gap by three points to 25. Rodrigo picked up an important P4 in Styria, his best result of the season, and there was no double Red Bull Ring victory for Arenas as he was shuffled back into fifth. Binder crossed the line in sixth to claim two P6s at the Red Bull Ring and show some real consistency as 2020 rolls on, although Suzuki finished just 0.038 behind the South African, in seventh.

Fernandez continued his point-scoring streak with a solid 8th place finish, although the Spaniard had a lonely last couple of laps to finish 4.2 off the win. Nearly three seconds behind Fernandez was Stefano Nepa (Valresa Aspar Team) in ninth – his second top 10 of the year – and completing the top 10 was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Sergio Garcia despite a Long Lap Penalty for track limits.

Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) was next up ahead of Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) in P11 and P12, with Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) heading up a huge group as he fought back from a Long Lap Penalty too. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing), Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) were on his tail, the latter just losing out on points.

Now the hard-earned two-week break awaits the lightweight class before another triple-header, and Arenas still holds a significant advantage in the standings, with McPhee suffering his second DNF of the season to drop below Ogura once again. More curveballs will be in store at Misano, so come back for more then!

Moto3™ podium

Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM 37:10.319
Tony Arbolino – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda +0.410
Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda +0.938

Celestino Vietti: “This is the best day of y life, a lot of emotions. I tried to manage the battle in the fist part because last week I was at the back of the group, I was all the race trying to overtake, in 10th position.. it’s very difficult in the last three laps to make a good result. Today we tried to stay in front and on the last lap I tried to overtake Tony, he ovetoook me and we had a battle, like when we were young, and the last lap I tried to make a clean lap, and I… finished first!”


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