MotoGP Spielberg: Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo

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Three in a row makes perfect reading for Pecco, but Quartararo takes Yamaha’s best Spielberg finish after a stunning charge to second. Fabio looks to protect his championship lead as Bagnaia slowly chomps away at his points lead heading into the San Remo round… Report: MotoGP.

Friday
After a mixed FP1 led by Miller and by a margin, the big stories of the day in terms of combined timesheets came in FP2, with conditions much improved and allowing some solid dry track time, as well as time to attack for a provisional place in Q2.

The majority of the field improved their FP1 times from the get-go as a busy opening to the second session of the weekend played out, with the threat of rain and automatic places in Q2 places on the minds of the teams. Initially, Bagnaia climbed to the top of the table and was shadowed by Quartararo, before Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) then went fastest. The times were going to continue to drop, however.



By 20 minutes to go, Quartararo was the pacesetter from Rins and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the top 10 covered by less than half a second. But clouds were drawing in and with 10 minutes left on the clock, there was a big rush in pitlane to head out on fresh soft rubber as light rain began to fall. And that spelled bad news for second in the title race Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), as the Spaniard sat outside the top 10 in P11.

The number 41’s first effort placed him in P6 while Martin and Zarco shot up to P1 and P2, with Miller improving but staying P3. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) then crashed unhurt between the penultimate and final corner, as Martin, Miller and Zarco exchanged P1 in quick succession.



Ducati had locked out the top six with four minutes to go as Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) climbed up the table, but Bastianini’s lap time was then chalked off. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) were then well inside the top 10, before Quartararo leapt up from P11 to P4 to spoil the party. Bastianini found time again to pounce into the top 10, and that pushed Aleix Espargaro out – leaving the Championship challenger with some work to do on Saturday.


MotoGP Spielberg Friday Top 3 (Full Results Here)

1 Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati –  1’29.837
2 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.024
3 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – +0.029


Saturday
For the first time in his MotoGP™ career, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) will launch from pole position after leaving it late to snatch Q2 top spot from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in a fantastic CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich Q2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completes the front row of the grid as Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) have to settle for second and third row starts, respectively.

Q1
For the first time since the Americas GP, Aleix Espargaro found himself in Q1 and with both Quartararo and Bagnaia looking in fine form, progression into Q2 was all that mattered. And it was the title-chasing Spaniard who set the first couple of benchmarks, with younger brother Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) slotting into P2 just 0.045s behind.



Luca Marini’s (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) best effort on his first run put him third as the top three sat 0.068s apart with seven minutes of Q1 left. Drama then unfolded at Turn 2B as both Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) crash in quick succession, thankfully both riders were ok, as Aleix Espargaro improved his lap by a couple of tenths to strengthen his grip on a Q2 spot. But it wasn’t over yet.

Marini was on a flyer as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) pounced to P2, but Marini lost time in the second half of the lap and couldn’t beat his Ducati counterpart to the second promotion spot. With no one else threatening the top two, Aleix Espargaro was safe and joining him in Q2 was Italian GP polesitter Di Giannantonio.

Q2
Miller slammed in the first benchmark – a 1:29.164 – but the pace was upped on the second flying laps. Espargaro went top with a 1:29.032 before Miller bounced back to set a 1:28.898, the fastest lap of the weekend so far. Espargaro’s lap was then cancelled so the Spaniard dropped to P5 behind Bastianini, Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Quartararo and Bagnaia P6 and P12 respectively – the latter yet to set a time after running wide at the new Turn 2 chicane.

Pecco was the first rider to emerge on a fresh set of soft Michelin rear rubber and pounced straight up to P2 to make it a factory Ducati 1-2, 0.101s splitting Miller and Pecco. The in-form Italian was then at the summit of the times by 0.102s after a storming second effort, with Quartararo only able to grab P5. That soon turned into P6 as Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) went P5.



As the clock ticked down, a beast was on the prowl. And sure enough, Bastianini was able to beat Bagnaia’s time by 0.024s to claim his first premier class pole position to front a Ducati armada at the spearhead of the grid. 

Behind Bastianini, Bagnaia and Miller, 2021 Red Bull Ring race winner Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) will start from P4 ahead of reigning World Champion Quartararo, who is once again the first non-Ducati rider in the standings. Zarco will start sixth alongside his compatriot, with a trio of Spaniards making up the third – including Aleix Espargaro. Viñales and Mir finished 7th and 8th in Q2 with Espargaro’s lap time cancellation for exceeding track limits at Turn 8 causing him to start from 9th.

Di Giannantonio, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed the Q2 running order in P10, P11 and P12 with just 0.7s covering the top 12.


MotoGP Spielberg Front Row (Full Results Here)

1 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) – Ducati –  1’28.772
2 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.024
3 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.109


Sunday
For the first time in his career, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is a hat-trick hero after leading from start to finish in a tense CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. But that was far from the full story as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) put in a stunning charge to take second and Yamaha’s best result at the Red Bull Ring, putting in one of his performances of the season. On a day made for convincing rides, the two key title rivals both more than delivered. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) likewise impressed, completing the podium for another big and increasingly consistent haul of points.

In front of over 90,000 jubilant fans the lights went out for the MotoGP™ race and Bagnaia grabbed the holeshot from Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miller slotted into P3 and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) held station in P4. Quartararo got a decent start but at the end of the first lap, Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) passed the Frenchman to demote the Championship leader to P6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), meanwhile, didn’t get a good getaway after his holeshot device didn’t engage but the number 41 recovered to P7 by the beginning of the second lap.

Elsewhere, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out at Turn 4 on Lap 1 and it was later confirmed the 2020 World Champion suffered ligament damage in his foot, declared unfit.

Back at the front, the leading Ducati quartet quickly pulled themselves over a second clear of Viñales, who, in turn, had stretched his advantage over Quartararo to half a second. It wasn’t line astern in the lead group though. Miller overtook Bastianini at Turn 3 and Martin then had a successful bite at the cherry, only for Bastianini to snap back at Turn 1 on Lap 5. Viñales then made a mistake down at Turn 4, the Spaniard dropped behind Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) before drama unfolded up the road.



Bastianini looked like he had a problem going into Turn 3, and Zarco did an excellent job of taking avoiding action as the Italian slowed right down through no fault of his own. The polesitter then ran straight into the gravel a few seconds later at Turn 4, and later headed back into pitlane as Bastianini was forced to retire.

That saw Bagnaia and Miller open a one second advantage over Martin, and Quartararo was a further 1.3s away in P4 with Espargaro and Viñales P5 and P6. Martin was digging deep and on Lap 11 of 28, the Spaniard was right with his Ducati stablemates. Quartararo was still 1.4s behind the third of the GP22s and had main title rival Espargaro 1.1s adrift, as Bagnaia set a personal best lap to gain a 0.6s lead over Miller.

On Lap 14, Quartararo set his personal best lap of the race and the reigning Champion was now 0.6s behind Martin. The latter then made a mistake at the chicane with 12 laps to go and was forced to give the position up to Quartararo, but did Martin then have a problem? He raised his hand coming out of Turn 4 to signal he might have but he was back at full speed soon enough.

The situation with eight laps to go was this: Bagnaia boasted a 0.9s lead over teammate Miller, who was now hearing Quartararo’s YZR-M1 swarming all over the back of his GP22. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had picked off Aleix Espargaro for P5, and Espargaro was coming under pressure from Zarco and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Martin was still in P4, 0.6s away from Quartararo. That 0.6s gap soon became 0.3s though, with Martin now the fastest rider on track.



With four laps to go, a sensational move at Turn 2B saw Quartararo carve his way past Miller up into P2. Miller just held off Martin for P3 as Quartararo saw Bagnaia 1.5s up the road at the beginning of Lap 26 of 28. Starting Lap 27, Quartararo had clawed 0.2s back and by the last lap, it was under a second as the Yamaha rider homed in.

Martin, up the inside of Miller, then suddenly crashed unhurt at Turn 1, giving Miller an easy ride home to P3. But could Quartararo do anything to stop Bagnaia from winning? Not quite, but he wasn’t far away. Pecco took victory but by just 0.4s to make it a hat-trick and reduce the gap to the Frenchman to 44 points, although Quartararo’s ride was a headline-maker in itself. 

Fourth place for Marini is the Italian’s best result in the premier class to date, and he eventually held off Zarco in fifth by less than half a second. 2.4s further behind was Aleix Espargaro who sees his disadvantage to Quartararo grow to 32 points heading to Misano, but on a tough weekend for the Spaniard, it could have been worse from P9 on the grid.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) gave KTM a P7 on their home patch and it was another solid Sunday ride for the South African, as he and Rins were separated by a tenth on the line. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) claimed P9 ahead of Martin in 10th, the latter able to remount after his last lap tumble at Turn 1.



Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Viñales, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) rounded out the points positions at the Red Bull Ring.

The title race momentum was definitely swinging towards Bagnaia and arguably still is, and coming up next is the Italian’s home race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – a track he knows like the back of his hand and a track where Quartararo has serious form too. With what was expected to be one of the toughest tracks of the season for Yamaha seeing El Diablo cede only five points and Quartararo, Espargaro, and Bagnaia now split by just 44, it’s very much game on in San Marino…



Francesco Bagnaia: “It was long, very long, it was a long race. To be calmer and careful, we chose to use the soft front, but it wasn’t the correct choice for me at the finish of the race, but I’m very happy, very happy. I made too many mistakes in the first part of the year so it was the time to be smarter. When I looked at the gap, I tried to be very constant with the lap times, because I was sure my pace was good enough to open this gap. In the last two laps, I just tried to be as calm as possible because the front tyre was closing everywhere. So, I’m very happy. Again, this weekend we have done an incredible job, so I’m very, very happy with my team; they have done an incredible job yesterday, so I’m very happy. We move on to Misano and I’m really looking forward to being there again.”



MotoGP Spielberg Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 40’10.260
2 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +0.492
3 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +2.163


Moto2
Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and teammate Somkiat Chantra put on quite a show at the Red Bull Ring. Escaping together in a duel at the front, Ogura led for much of the race before a last lap attack from his teammate, but the Japanese rider was able to fight back and take his second Grand Prix win. With it, he also takes the Championship lead. Chantra returns to the podium after proving the protagonist of a classic, with Jake Dixon (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the rostrum to make it three in a row.

Ogura nabbed the holeshot as Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up) wrested second from Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at Turn 2a. Fernandez came under further attack in the opening stages, shuffled all the way back to eighth when Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) went past at Turn 3 on Lap 2. Ahead, Chantra ran in third, from Dixon, Acosta, and Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).

Lopez overtook Ogura for the lead later that lap at Turn 9, but handed it back when he ran wide on Lap 4 at Turn 4. The Spaniard also ceded second exactly two laps later when Chantra came in hot under brakes, making brief contact on his way through. Meanwhile, Vietti had taken fifth from Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

On Lap 7, Dixon ran long at both Turns 3 and 4, dropping all the way back to eighth and promoting Fernandez back to seventh. The Briton’s first ‘moment’ also gave Vietti a look at Lopez, but those two drifted to 1.5 seconds behind the leading Honda Team Asia duo before the VR46 took over as the rider on the chase.

Acosta passed Lopez for fourth on Lap 13 but when they both had messy runs through the chicane on Lap 14, bottling up the pack, Fernandez capitalised with a double pass up the hill at Turn 3 to take up fifth ahead of Canet, Dixon, and Lopez. However, the KTM Ajo rider lost that spot to Canet on Lap 15 and was back to seventh when Dixon made a move at the chicane on Lap 16.

Meanwhile, Vietti had been racking up fastest laps to catch up to second-placed Chantra. He looked likely to go past eventually until disaster struck on lap 17, when he crashed at Turn 3. The incident handed Chantra a five-second buffer over third place and while Vietti remounted, last of the 26 still running, he would eventually retreat to pit lane and retire.

With Ogura first and Fernandez sixth after the Vietti crash, the race leader was in the live World Championship lead by two points. While Chantra was latched onto his rear wheel with more than half a dozen laps to go, the world waited to see if he’d attack…

Whether he saw “P2 OK” on the pitboard or not, Chantra decided to go for it. On the final lap at Turn 9, the Thai rider struck and made it through cleanly enough. But Ogura is Ogura, as Chantra is Chantra, and the Japanese rider sliced straight back through to take the win and the Championship lead by a single point.

Dixon and Fernandez had got back up to fourth and by the time they started the last lap, but the former was not done yet. Dixon made one unsuccessful attempt to pass Acosta midway through the final lap, but then got the job done at Turn 10 to snatch the final podium place.

For Acosta, fourth was still a commendable result in his comeback race, while Fernandez’s Lap 24 overtake of Canet means he is only a point behind Ogura with seven races left this season. Canet did take sixth, with the top 10 rounded out by Lopez, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Albert Arenas (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team), and Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP).

The rest of the points finishers in 11th through 15th respectively were Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40), Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP), Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), while Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) were among the nine DNFs.

They had been eighth and ninth when Dalla Porta was slow off Turn 3 on Lap 18 and Arbolino, with nowhere to go, crashed into him. As for Vietti, he is still third in the standings, but now 27 points off top spot… tune in for another twist at San Marino!


Moto2 Spielberg Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – Kalex – 39’07.133
2 Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – Kalex – +0.173
3 Jake Dixon (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team) – Kalex – +7.854


Moto3
Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) directed a true Spielberg masterpiece in the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, with the number 71 overcoming two Long Laps to slice back through the field from outside the top 20 and take the win. His second victory of the season, it was some statement. Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) came a very close second as he homed in to within 0.064, with David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) completing the podium.

Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) took the early lead from the front row before Sasaki took over at the front, but number 71 was quickly given his notification to do his double Long Lap given for causing the collision at Silverstone. He dropped back into the classic freight train and made his way forward again, and then repeated the feat with some fastest laps all set one after the other. As low as P24 at one point, by Lap 10 the Japanese rider was back into the top six, and by 11 to go he was back in the lead.

Suzuki was on his tail as Öncü held third and Izan Guevara (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar) vs teammate and points leader Garcia raged behind in the group. Drama then hit with 7 to go for Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as he crashed out, leaving nine riders in the front group before it split into two groups of four; Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) fading slightly in the last few. Sasaki, Suzuki, Öncü and Muñoz were the first, with Garcia, Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), Guevara and polesitter Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the second.

Starting the final lap, Sasaki led Suzuki, with Öncü fending off Muñoz. The first mover was Muñoz as he got past Öncü, and the Turk locked on to fight back. But the four were absolutely on the limit, and in the end the tension stayed high but the positions remained the same. Sasaki just, just stayed ahead to the line as Suzuki tried to draft but couldn’t, the Husqvarna rider able to complete the fairtyle – from the lead to 21st and back to the lead, holding on for victory.

Muñoz was able to keep third and take another impressive rookie podium, with Öncü forced to settle for fourth but maintaining his record of big points hauls in 2022 – and his record of being the sole scorer in every race. Garcia finishes in fifth place to gain a few points on teammate Guevara, who took P7. Moreira split the two in another impressive show of speed from the rookie Brazilian, and Holgado, from his first pole, was P8 and just 0.035 behind Guevara over the line.

John McPhee (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) took ninth ahead of Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power), with both passing Ortola. A second behind the Spaniard, Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) had a tough day at the office, taking P12 and only a few points. Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) completed that group and the points scorers in Spielberg.

Sasaki struck back in style on Sunday, and he’s now fourth overall – only 55 off the top and six behind Foggia. What will San Marino bring? We’ll find out in two weeks!


Moto3 Spielberg Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) – Husqvarna –  39’03.516
2 Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) – Honda – +0.064
3 David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) – KTM – +0.292


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