2020 Austrian MotoGP - RACE RESULTS

Andrea Dovizioso has secured his first MotoGP World Championship victory of 2020 with a calm and composed performance in an incident-filled Austrian MotoGP, just 24 hours after it was confirmed he will exit Ducati at the end of the year.

The Italian called upon his reputation for metronomic consistency to construct a well-thought out race, taking on and defeating all-comers to secure his third straight win at the Red Bull Ring, one that launches him back into title contention.

A hugely eventful race, among the incidents was a huge crash for Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli at Turn 3, which resulted into both bikes flying back onto track and almost wiping out Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

From the start, a demon getaway from Jack Miller saw him get the better of pole sitter Maverick Vinales early on, followed by Dovizioso, Pol Espargaro and Joan Mir.

As ever at the Red Bull Ring, the early laps were a hive of activity with various changes for position but Miller held out well up front until lap eight when Espargaro – having stalked his way up to second place – got the better of the Australian to take the lead in KTM’s home race.

Almost simultaneously though, MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo was slipping to last position after running off at the tricky Turn 4 right-hander.

However, on lap 10 the race was stopped by Zarco and Morbidelli’s spectacular accident. Prompted when Zarco swept across to defend from Morbidelli between the Turn 2 kink and the slow 90-degree Turn 3 right-hander, the Italian instead struck the Ducati from behind.

The impact sent both bikes onto the inside gravel trap, with Morbidelli’s Yamaha spiralling and breaking up as it came to rest on the apex of the corner. Zarco’s Ducati however stayed upright with the throttle pinned, clipping the inside barrier before flying across the track again, incredibly between the smallest of gaps between Vinales and Rossi’s Yamahas.

Though he needed help initially, Morbidelli was able to get up and back to the pit lane but is reported with a hand injury, while Zarco could also walk away. Rossi’s look of shock in the pit lane, meanwhile, certainly told its own story…

With the race shortened, Espargaro began from pole position this time only for Miller to get into the lead at Turn 1. Espargaro responded into Turn 3 but Miller was out front by the end of the ‘new’ first lap, the Australian pumping in three fastest laps to stretch his advantage.

Allowing the pack to stretch out, soon the front pack was an all-Ducati and Suzuki affair with Dovizioso shadowing Miller, with Rins – benefitting from a huge start that lifted him from eighth to fourth in one corner – followed by Mir.

With 12 laps remaining, Dovizioso went for a move on his fellow Ducati rider in what would ultimately prove the race-winning pass. However, this was not before Rins briefly snatched the lead into Turn 5 with 10 laps remaining, only to fold the front instantly and throw all of his hard work away.

The incident was the last incentive Dovizioso needed to push on, managing his advantage all the way to the chequered flag to claim his 15th career MotoGP at the most fitting of times as he prepares to leave Ducati because he doesn’t feel valued by the team.

Indeed, with Miller set to become Ducati team leader now, his cause wasn’t aided by throwing away second with two corners remaining when he ran deep defending from Mir.

As such, Mir took second to record his maiden podium in MotoGP on his debut in Austria having missed last year’s race through injury. Miller completed the top three on a redeeming day for Ducati.

Elsewhere, there was a bittersweet feeling for KTM as Brad Binder put in a storming ride to finish fourth from 17th on the grid, the South African showing again his race pace is a match for the front runners.

However, it could have been better after Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira were involved in a collision that eliminated them while fighting over fourth. In a rather similar looking clash to that of Espargaro and Zarco a week earlier – Espargaro running deep and pulling late onto the racing line only to find Oliveira right there on it – this time both crashed.

While Espargaro publicly blamed Zarco for the Brno crash, a furious Oliveira certainly knew who he thought was to blame.

After recovering from his earlier shock, Rossi brought it home for fifth place, heading off top Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami, while Danilo Petrucci scored his best finish of the year in seventh even if it was well down on his team-mates.

Benefitting from the restart, Quartararo made hay when he could to get back up to eighth position to just protect his shortened series lead, the Frenchman helped by Vinales finishing in tenth after apparent clutch issues on the restarted lap one dropped him to last.

Between them, Iker Lecuona scored his first top ten finish in ninth place, while Aleix Espargaro, Michele Pirro, Bradley Smith, Alex Marquez and Cal Crutchlow completed the points’ paying positions.