Winner the previous weekend on the soft rear tyre, Andrea Dovizioso expected to be even stronger after switching to the medium for the start of Sunday's Styrian MotoGP.

The Ducati star had been impressed by Pol Espargaro's race-leading pace on the medium before a huge accident for Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli brought out the red flags on August 17.

After the restart, Dovizioso took victory on the soft rear (Espargaro having run out of new mediums) but then carefully studied the medium during practice for the follow-up Styrian weekend.

But the Italian was in trouble from the start.

"The first part of the race was really bad. A very, very strange situation because we worked a lot [with the medium]. We did really a very long run in practice, and everything worked very well. I felt really good for the race," Dovizioso said, before intimating that something was wrong with the tyre:

"From the first lap the tyre didn’t work in a normal way and lap-by-lap it became very, very bad. So I’m pretty sure there was something… We already spoke with Michelin. They really have to study. We have to study.

"We will see what will come out. I don’t want to say too many things because we have to analyse and try to understand something. But everything worked very bad."

Dovizioso spent much of his race time on the medium rear in sixth place, slipping to eighth by lap 16, when red flags came out after brake failure for Maverick Vinales.

"I was lucky because with the red flag I was able to change the tyre and start to work in a normal way. So I was able to stay in the first group," said Dovizioso, who switched to the soft rear for the 12-lap sprint.

Despite Ducati's impressive top speed - which had helped the factory claim every Red Bull Ring victory since 2016 - and Dovizioso's renowned braking ability, the Italian made slower than expected progress through the field.

"Unfortunately I couldn’t overtake the riders because I started in the third row, and everybody was really fast," he said.

"When you are behind, you are not able to brake in the normal way. Here in Austria it’s even bigger because when you brake there is only one line, and with the slipstream and the temperature of the tyre it’s impossible to stop the bike.

"So my good point was the braking, but when you are following riders you are not able to brake in the place that you want. And on the exit of the corners I’m still bad, and it's the reason why I couldn’t prepare the overtake, because I couldn’t exit with the same speed as the rider in front of me."

The last lap began with Dovizioso in fourth place, with a chance of the podium and perhaps even victory.

"I pushed at the maximum until the end, but I did a mistake in the last lap in Turn 3 because it was the only place where I can gain, and I wanted to reduce the gap to Oliveira because it was there. But I brake too late and I went wide."

Oliveira went on to win the race when Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro held each other up as they battled at the final turn.

While Ducati's winning streak has ended, Dovizioso has closed to within just three points of Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo and the world championship lead.

But while the unpredictable nature of the season so far has been thrilling for the fans, not knowing what to expect from one track to the next isn't a good feeling for Dovizioso.

"Yes, the situation in the championship is good but when you make a lot of ups and downs you have the feeling that you don’t have the control of the situation," he said. "So I don’t have a good feeling in this moment because I don’t feel we have the situation under control to push in some tracks or not.

"Every day and every race you can make a lot of ups and downs. This has never happened to me and to us in the last four or five years. I’m struggling with that and I’m very disappointed about that, because nobody - from the first round until now – has been consistent. I think it’s something unusual.

"So, I don’t have the answer and I don’t like that. But we will see…"

Quartararo won the opening two rounds, but hasn't been on the podium since.

Brad Binder then took a shock debut victory for KTM at Brno, before Dovizioso and Ducati triumphed in Austria 1, followed by a second KTM win with Oliveira on Sunday.

The top seven riders in the standings are covered by one race win (25 points).

 

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