MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso wins chaotic Austrian Grand Prix

Andrea Dovizioso pushed himself up into the MotoGP title fight with a superb victory at the Red Bull Ring, just 24 hours after confirming his departure from Ducati at the end of the season.

Like Jorge Lorenzo did in 2018, Dovizioso showed Ducati exactly what they’ll be missing in 2021 by winning his third Austrian GP in five years. As smooth as ever, the Italian was able to overcome the challenges of Jack Miller, Alex Rins, Joan Mir and, in the early stages, Pol Espargaro. 

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Dovizioso was joined on the podium by Joan Mir, who clinched his first-ever top three in the premier class. The Suzuki rider managed to get the better of Jack Miller on the final lap of the race. There may have been two Suzukis on the podium, however Rins lost the front whilst taking the lead of the race at turn five with 10 laps remaining. 

The race was split into two parts after a horrific accident involving Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli. The riders had completed nine laps when the duo would collide, causing fans around the hold to hold their head in their hands with disbelief and shock. 

Zarco had got the drive coming out of turn two and was ahead of Morbidelli. However, the Frenchman would sweep across into the path of Morbidelli heading up the hill to the tight 90-degree turn three. Morbidelli had nowhere to go and hit the back of the Ducati.

Both riders, and their bikes, were sent off onto the gravel trap. The big issue was that their bikes were not slowing down. Both the Ducati, upright and moving at some speed, and Yamaha spiralled back across the track, narrowly avoiding Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

The onboard footage shown afterwards showcased just how fortunate the two factory Yamaha riders were. The look on Rossi’s face in his pit garage afterwards tell you everything you need to know about what he’d just experienced. 

Both Morbidelli and Zarco somehow escaped any serious injury, physically at least, whilst Rossi and Vinales were able to make the restart – with mixed fortunes. 

Rossi ended the race as the top Yamaha rider in fifth, but Vinales was forced to limp home in 10th after his Yamaha suffered a clutch problem at the restart. 

The restart benefited Brad Binder, who continued his fight through the field from 17th on the grid, to finish fourth. The South African, winner at Brno last week, has never been around the Red Bull Ring on a MotoGP bike before, so this was yet another impressive performance by the rookie. 

Things didn’t go quite so well for Pol Espargaro after the restart. The Spaniard had used all of his medium rear tyre allocation and was forced to use a soft tyre at the restart. Espargaro ran wide at turn four, with Tech3 KTM’s Miguel Oliveira attempting to take advantage on the racing line. The pair collided and both were forced to retire. Oliveira was visibly frustrated with his KTM teammate in the aftermath. The incident was very similar to the clash between Espargaro and Zarco at Brno last weekend

Takaaki Nakagami was the shining star for Honda once again, coming home in sixth spot for LCR. Danilo Petrucci secured his best result of 2020 in seventh, ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo in eighth. Iker Lecouna finished ahead of Vinales in ninth. 

Elsehwhere, Aleix Espargaro was 11th on the Aprilia, ahead of Pramac Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro. Bradley Smith (13th), Alex Marquez (14th), Cal Crutchlow (15th), Tito Rabat (16th) and Stefan Bradl (17th) completed the classification. 

Dovizioso’s victory moves him to within 11 points of Quartararo in the championship standings. Vinales drops to third overall, 19 points behind the leader.