The laps Fabio Quartararo did immediately after he lost the lead were critical to his third place, pulling him away from Rossi behind who proved later in the race to be extremely tough to pass, at least for a rider without a straight-line speed advantage. Losing out to Rossi in the middle of the race would have given Quartararo the battle he has been waiting before between himself and The Doctor, but it may well have cost him the trophy he picked up as a result of his superior pace.
Rossi pointed to his rear tyre choice being the reason he missed out to Quartararo. The Italian had not been comfortable with the soft tyre throughout the weekend, neither over longer runs nor in a time attack, so his choice was a straightforward one to make. However, as Marquez, the Italian suffered with grip, and this was especially evident in his loss of time to teammate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) behind in the final ten laps. Rossi was able to hold off his Spanish rivals, though, and in the end it was a positive race for the Italian and Yamaha, who notably improved in Spielberg compared to twelve months ago.
Whilst Vinales was unable to pass Rossi in the final part of the race, Alex Rins was equally unable to pass Vinales. Once again, though, it had been the first part of the race that had cost Vinales a shot at the podium; losing out to Rossi on lap two meant he had to come up against that particular road block later in the race, and it proved one he could not overcome, finishing fifth in front of Rins – the #42 unable to do anything about either of the factory M1s despite Suzuki’s power gains over the winter.
Nearly eight seconds back of Rins was Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), who took his best result in MotoGP with seventh place courtesy of, partly, the Ducati’s strength in Austria and, partly, of improvements made by the #63 and his team at the Brno test.
Just behind Bagnaia was Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), the pair coming across the line in a similar fashion to last year’s Moto2 race, where they duelled for the win. The Portuguese saved the face of KTM, after Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) retired on lap two with a mechanical problem. Espargaro was looking good for a top ten, and Oliveira took over when his machinery let him down – important in KTM’s home race and especially with the announcement of Johann Zarco’s departure from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at the end of this season.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) finished a disappointing ninth. Since the summer break the Italian’s form has been disappointing, and Austria was no different; beaten in Ducati’s strongest circuit by three rookies on satellite bikes, one being a KTM and another a Yamaha, as well as the sole factory Suzuki and the factory Yamaha pairing. Fortunately for Petrucci, his contract is already signed for 2020.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed a difficult weekend aboard his satellite Yamaha with a top ten, rounding it out ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who probably did not help his chances of a 2020 RC213V for next year with an eleventh. Johann Zarco was twelfth, although that was not enough for him to decide to continue with KTM next year, whilst Stefan Bradl scored points once more for Repsol Honda Team in place of Jorge Lorenzo, who should be back in Silverstone. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was fourteenth ahead of Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) who completed the points.
Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was the final classified rider, one lap down in sixteenth after a mistake on lap twenty-five when he was nine seconds off his own pace of mid-1’25s, before two laps over twenty-five seconds off the pace when he went a lap down.
When Pol Espargaro’s bike expired on the second lap in the middle of the slowest corner on the track, turn three, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) was the unfortunate victim. The Brit had nowhere to go but into the back of the Spaniard who was unable to get off the line in time, and the #35’s race was over pretty much before it began.
Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) went down the lap after, and had to be hospitalized. There was concussion for the Malaysian, but he is expected to be okay for Silverstone.
Jack Miller Crashed out of fourth on lap seven. His fastest lap remained as the third-fastest of the race until the flag, a sign of the Australian’s potential. With the rumours circling around Miller’s future over the weekend, it was perhaps not ideal timing for the #43 to drop out of a race, but he was okay and his Pramac contract for 2020 is now signed.
The final retirement was Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing), who dropped out with eight to go.
Featured Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/Yamah Racing