Italian Andrea Iannone has snapped Ducati's six-year absence from the top step of a MotoGP™ podium with a brilliant victory at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
After seeing off the early attacks of Movistar Yamaha men Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, polesitter Iannone and teammate Andrea Dovizioso dominated the 28-lap race around the blisteringly fast circuit – just as the pundits had predicted after the pair came out on top in a test session just a few weeks ago.
Iannone moved into the lead on lap two and was then passed by Dovizioso on lap 10. Dovi kept the lead until lap 20, but next time around was passed by Iannone who held onto first place until the flag to bring up his maiden MotoGP™ win and Ducati's first since Aussie Casey Stoner at Phillip Island in 2010.
Moreover, the last Ducati 1-2 in MotoGP™ was also at Phillip Island, in 2007 when Stoner won the race ahead of Loris Capirossi.
In a nice touch, Stoner was watching on at the Red Bull Ring as Iannone produced the breakthrough win, as was Aussie five-time world champion Mick Doohan who was the last winner at Austria way back in 1997 – but on his trademark Honda machine…
“I am really very happy, because in my opinion we did an incredible race," said Iannone, who will leave Ducati at the end of 2016 to make way for Lorenzo. "I started off quite slowly and tried to stay up front without ever pushing too hard, because I knew that in the final stages I could have had a bit less pace than everyone else, having opted to start with the soft rear tyre, while all the others made a different choice.
"I ran the whole race keeping a bit of margin and my bike was really perfect. I think that we did a great job over the entire weekend and I’d like to thank my team, all of Ducati and my crew chief Marco Rigamonti who have helped me improve so much in these last four years."
While the Ducati pair was in a class of its own, Lorenzo and Rossi also pushed each other the whole way, with the former returning to the podium after a recent lean trot.
Lorenzo also trimmed Marc Marquez's championship lead to 43pts, with Marquez finishing in a fighting fifth after dislocating his shoulder in a bad crash in FP3.
Aussie Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda) didn't compete after suffering hairline fractures in his T6 vertebrae and right wrist in a Sunday warm-up crash, but hopes to be fit to compete at next weekend's round 11 at Brno.
"This is not the way I wanted to start the second half of the season but that's the way it is," said Miller. "It's a shame it didn't work out for me today but I'll keep giving it 100 per cent and now I'm hoping to be fit to race in Brno next week, as I really like that track. I banged my foot and that's a bit sore, as is my wrist and vertebrae with the small fractures but hopefully I can heal quickly."
The top 10 at the Red Bull Ring was completed by Maverick Vinales (Ecstar Suzuki), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), Scott Redding (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
- Andrea Iannone, Ducati, 39m46.255s
- Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati +0.938s
- Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha +3.389s
Australian: DNS Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
Pole position: Iannone, 1m23.142s = 186.9km/h
Fastest lap: Iannone 1m24.561s = 183.8km/h
Championship top 3
Marquez 181 • Lorenzo 138 • Valentino Rossi 124
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) continues to ride the wave of supremacy after bringing up yet another win, ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40).
Using his unique mixture of aggression and patience, Zarco made his way to the front and then began a breakaway with nine laps remaining to take another incredible victory – making him the most successful French rider in world championship history.
Zarco is now 34pts (176 to 142) ahead of Rins, while Briton Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2™, 121) had a bad day at the office as he crashed twice and is now seemingly out of world championship contention.
While Zarco was well out in front, the last lap was a doozy behind as Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) was shuffled back to fourth behind Morbidelli and the fast-finishing Rins.
Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) were fifth and sixth, while Australia's Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2™) was 19th after being as high as 14th in the early stages.
"I made a good start and had a really good first couple of laps," said Gardner." I felt I was riding well but I was struggling a little with being passed down the straights and having to make a lot of time up on the brakes. I was in the hunt for 12th until (Xavi) Vierge passed me a bit too aggressively which put me off the track and I lost a load of time and about six places.
"I managed to close the gap but by then it was too late. The result doesn't reflect how fast I was or the final position that me or the team deserved but we are all satisfied with the steps we made so we go to Brno in a few days confident of putting it back into the points!"
- Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport, 37m34.180s
- Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia, 0,0 Marc VDS +3.058s
- Alex Rins, Paginas Amarillas, +3.376s
Australian: 19. Remy Gardner, Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2, +29.115
Pole position: Zarco, 1m29.255s = 174.1km/h
Fastest lap: Zarco, 1m29.497s = 173.6km/h
Championship top 3
Zarco 176 • Rins 142 • Sam Lowes 121
In yet another titanic battle, Spanish rookie Joan Mir (Leopard Racing KTM) took his first Moto3™ win, ahead of runaway championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda), Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing KTM) and Phillip Oettl (Schedl Racing KTM) – the five separated by just 0.600 seconds after 23 laps.
An elated Mir said: “Incredible! What can I say about this weekend – it was perfect right from the first free practice. We worked a lot with the team and thanks to them because we worked well together and this is the result.”
With no Romano Fenati on the grid following the Sky Racing Team VR46 team’s suspension of the Italian, Binder’s only real title rival on track was Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro. After a difficult qualifying, the Spaniard fought back from 17th into the top six with some incredible lap times before taking a fall at turn three and finding himself out of contention.
Binder's lead over Navarro is now 67pts.
- Joan Mir, Leopard Racing KTM, 37m23.235s
- Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM, +0.279s
- Enea Bastianini, Gresini Racing Honda, +0.431s
Pole position: Mir, 1m36.228s = 161.5km/h
Fastest lap: Philipp Oettl, Schedl GP Racing KTM, 1m36.557s = 160.9km/h
Championship top 3
Brad Binder 179 • Jorge Navarro 112 • Romano Fenati 93
Next round: Brno, Czech Republic August 19-21
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