Styrian MotoGP Preview: The safety awareness edition

With the Austrian MotoGP still fresh in everyone's minds - some more so than others - we're back again to finish what we started with the Styrian MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring
Styrian MotoGP Preview
Styrian MotoGP Preview

It would have been hard to ignore the events of Sunday’s dramatic Austrian MotoGP heading into the next round regardless of where it was held, but the fact we are back just a few days at the Red Bull Ring means there will be one subject – at least initially – dominating the headlines.

That’s not to say it’s the only topic making the news as we look ahead to the 2020 Styrian MotoGP…

Here is what to look out for…



The final word on rider safety

Rider safety, respect and awareness will not be far from everyone’s lips as the Styrian MotoGP gets underway this weekend as the sport continues to reel from last weekend’s alarming events during the Austrian MotoGP.

Of course, we’re back at the same circuit just to sharpen the focus further and it’s likely every rider will be canvassed for their opinion on ‘that’ incident between Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli, not to mention Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

The FIM will attempt to have the final word on the outcome with Zarco and Morbidelli with regards to how riders should conduct themselves in potentially precarious situations and there will also no doubt be some questions with regard to ensuring circuit safety too. As it stands, Zarco has been apportioned blame and given a pitlane start penalty for his next race, a punishment that will prompt its own debate no doubt...

Regardless, while things could definitely have been much worse on Sunday and while accidents do indeed happen, last weekend’s incident is a stark – and mercifully injury-free – reminder of the risks taken when the riders take to the track every weekend

As every ticket says, motorsport is dangerous. Stay safe, everyone!

Styrian MotoGP Preview: The safety awareness edition

Can KTM re-grasp missed opportunities?

One team that will be pleased to be getting a second opportunity at the Red Bull Ring this weekend – with exception to Ducati – is KTM, which will be keen to come good on the promise, if not the results, it showed, last weekend.

Pol Espargaro had the pace for at least a podium on Sunday before the red flag stop held him back, but even then his collision with stablemate Miguel Oliveira no doubt raised some awkward questions back at base in what was an eerily similar incident to that he suffered with Zarco just a weekend earlier.

While Espargaro was vocal in his opinion last time, it was Oliveira that was rather more candid about the Spaniard on this occasion…

On the flip side though, Brad Binder’s lacking experience told initially at the Red Bull Ring, but in race trim he was circulating lap times with the best. Expect the South African revelation to be more of a threat this weekend.

Styrian MotoGP Preview: The safety awareness edition

Are Yamaha playing down technical gremlins?

With Marc Marquez almost certain to be mounting his comeback charge next time out in Misano, this is a strong chance for Yamaha and Fabio Quartararo especially to make the most of his absence.

An indifferent weekend last time out for the Frenchman saw him struggle with braking issues, which coupled to Maverick Vinales’ problems are just the latest in niggling technical gremlins seeping into the Yamaha challenge.

While for now they have resulted in a drop of points rather than DNFs, it’s concerning that Quartararo expects similar issues this weekend.

With the Red Bull Ring not exactly proving Yamaha’s strongest venue even at its best, can it afford to let precious points slip by the wayside before its biggest rivals returns to test it to the limit?

IN PICS: Rossi and Vinales’ frightening near-miss in Austrian MotoGP

The 2020 Austrian MotoGP is set to become a race that will go down in infamy not only for the frightening incident that’d befall Franco Morbidelli, Johann Zarco, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales at the Red Bull Ring, but also for the lucky escape the quartet all managed.

An incident that has grabbed headlines around the world as numerous angles on television replays reveal just how close Rossi and Vinales especially were to being caught up in a much more serious accident, it’s a stark reminder of the risk that comes with motorcycle racing.

Mercifully, Rossi and Vinales escaped unhurt after Morbidelli’s Yamaha and Zarco’s Ducati catapulted across them as they rounded the tight Turn 3 left-hander, while Morbidelli and Zarco also got away with cuts and bruises from the violent impact that kick-started the chain of events.

This sequence of images showing Morbidelli’s Petronas SRT Yamaha spiralling towards the apex were captured by one of the eagle-eyed photographers stationed at the Red Bull Ring and they emphasise just how close Rossi and Vinales were to being caught up in a ferocious incident – a fact not lost on Yamaha MotoGP boss Massimo Meregalli.

“We’d watched a very serious accident happen in Moto2 earlier today, and the incident in Turn 3 in the MotoGP race rivalled it. These were both heart-in-the-mouth moments for all spectators, but especially for the riders. We are so thankful that all riders involved are relatively okay.”

“We were very lucky, this is the most important, added Vinales. "We're good. These things can happen in races, there's always that risk.

“I didn't see anything, honestly. I just heard the scratching sound of crashed bikes and then I felt the impact of Johann's bike hitting the wall. Then, when I looked, I saw one bike coming towards me and I covered my head and the bike jumped up. For sure we were very lucky today, someone saved us, and this is the most important.”

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