The 2020 MotoGP World Championship season may only be 3 rounds old but not only has it been unpredictable, it has already torn up every pre-season prediction that was made.

Heading to the Austrian MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring, this weekend is one half a critical moment for the perceived title favourites to kick their challenge into gear, and one-half another opportunity for the all-comers to make their mark.

KTM’s glorious homecoming

The return to the hills of Spielberg in Austria will always be a celebrated affair for local heroes KTM, but this year’s visit could not have occurred a better time.

Brad Binder’s spectacular maiden MotoGP win in Brno saw both himself and KTM ascend into the winners’ circle for the first time, a momentous landmark achieved in relative comfort by winning by a sizeable margin by outlasting his more experienced rivals.

Indeed, if KTM had eyes on a good result anywhere this year, it would have been here at the Red Bull Ring, a venue where it extensively tests and enjoyed one of its best results of 2019 too.

With the Dani Pedrosa-inspired RC16 a notable step forward this season – more than any other bike on the MotoGP grid – and the sweet taste of victory lingering, the only shame is that there will be no fans in attendance to celebrate with them.

Now or never for Ducati?

If KTM far exceeded expectations in the Czech Republic, then Ducati - at least the 2020-spec bikes – fell well below par in comparison.

A best GP20 finish of tenth place for Jack Miller – a stark contrast to Johann Zarco’s pole and podium on the year-old GP19 – will sent alarm bells ringing around the team as they scratch their collective heads to discover why the pace has not only been slumping, but has done so at a circuit on which it usually excels.

That’s what makes this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP so important for the team. With 4 victories from the Red Bull Ring in four short seasons of racing there, it is considered the ultimate Ducati circuit.

It is where Ducati expects its best results, so this year’s performance will take on greater weight of significance. If the good finishes don’t come, it’s hard to see how Ducati can forge a title challenge from here…

Yamaha well place for first Red Bull Ring win

With his ‘tyre-d’ run to seventh in Brno to slow that championship leading momentum right down, Fabio Quartararo did still manage to extend his lead over his title rivals.

To his credit, on a weekend the expected front runners all fell flat – with Andrea Dovizioso 11th and Maverick Vinales 14th – Quartararo at least looked the most convincing title contender in Brno throughout the event, his race day misstep notwithstanding.

While the Red Bull Ring isn’t considered one of Yamaha’s best circuits on paper, with question marks around Ducati’s form, Honda missing its best rider and Suzuki hampered by inconsistency, Yamaha’s quintessential quartet of Quartararo, Vinales, Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi have the strength in pace and numbers to put up a more concerted fight for victory this year.

 

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