Last year MotoGP™ returned to the Red Bull Ring in front of a sell-out 90,000 crowd and the magnificently situated 2.684 miles circuit is ready to welcome back the championship for the NeroGiardini Grand Prix of Austria on Sunday.
Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow once again spearheads the British MotoGP challenge in the 28 lap race round the undulating track. Riding the LCR Honda he finished fifth in the Brno race after a tremendous last lap battle with Valentino Rossi. He’s ninth in the World Championship on equal points with Danilo Petrucci and two points behind Jonas Folger in seventh place.
The other three British riders arrive desperate for points after a disappointing Brno. It’s a massive race for Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith and his Austrian KTM team. It’s the first time they have raced as a full factory team at their home grand prix. It’s a big couple of weeks for Smith, who finished ninth last year, with his home race, the Octo British Grand Prix next on the calendar.
Scott Redding finished one place in front of Smith last year and is looking for a change of fortune as he fights for his grand prix future. The Gloucestershire rider looked superb in the wet on the Pramac Ducati in Brno but the track dried and he slipped to 16th.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes also needs a moral boost after finishing 18th in Brno to kick-start his MotoGP debut season on the Gresini Aprilia.
Oban – based Scotsman John McPhee bounced back to form in Brno with a hard earned Moto3™ sixth place. Riding the British Talent Team Honda he moved back to fourth place in the championship. British Supersport Champion Tarran Mackenzie makes his Red Bull Ring debut in the Moto2™ race riding for the Kiefer Racing Suter team
DID YOU KNOW
• Last year Austria staged a motorcycle grand prix event for the first time since 1997.
• The first Austrian grand prix took place in 1971 at the Salzburgring circuit, which hosted grand prix racing on a total of 22 occasions.
• At that first Austrian GP in 1971 Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta) won the 500cc race, finishing more than a lap ahead of second place finisher Keith Turner. Agostini also won the 350cc race, with the other classes being won by the following riders: 250cc – Silvio Grassetti (MZ), 125cc – Angel Nieto (Derbi), 50cc – Jan de Vries (Kreidler).
• The last occasion that a grand prix event took place at the Salzburgring circuit was in 1994, when Mick Doohan won the 500cc race with a race average speed in excess of 194 km/h (120 mph)
• Due to the high speed nature of the Salzburgring circuit, and the limited amount of run-off provided, it was considered too dangerous for continued use for grand prix racing.
• The current circuit has hosted two previous grand prix events prior to last year – in 1996 and 1997, when named the A1-Ring.
• Before last year Valentino Rossi was the only current rider to have to have raced previously at this circuit in a grand prix.
• Rossi’s third place finish in the 125cc race in Austria in 1996 was his first GP podium finish. He again finished on the podium in the 125cc race in Austria in 1997, this time in second place just 0.004 seconds behind Noboru Ueda.
• Last year in Austria Andrea Iannone won for the first time since he moved up to the MotoGP class in 2013 and gave Ducati their first win since Casey Stoner won the Australian GP in 2010.
• The Austrian GP last year gave Ducati their first one-two finish in a MotoGP™ race since the Australian GP in 2007, won by Casey Stoner from Loris Capirossi.
• The Austrian race last year was the first time that Italian riders have taken the top two places in a premier-class GP both riding Italian bikes since the Finnish 500cc GP at Imatra in 1972 won by Giacomo Agostini, on a MV Agusta, from team-mate Alberto Pagani.
• The average speed of the MotoGP™ race in Austria last year was 182.4 km/h. This is the highest average speed for a grand prix race since Mick Doohan won the 500cc German Grand Prix in 1994 at the Hockenheim circuit at an average speed of 203.8 km/h.
• All three riders who started on pole at the Austrian Grand Prix last year went on to take the race win.
MARQUEZ BRINGS THE FIGHT TO DUCATI AT THE RED BULL RING
Fresh from his victory in Brno, MotoGP™ Championship leader Marc Marquez takes on the might of Ducati at the Red Bull Ring in the NeroGiardini Grand Prix of Austria on Sunday. Marquez prised open a precious 14 point lead after his Brno victory as he takes on Ducati at the 2.684 miles undulating circuit. Last year Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso brought the Italian factory a one-two, at the first race for over a decade at the circuit and Dovizioso in particular will be looking to go one better as he attempts to close the 21 points deficit he has on Marquez in the title chase.
Dovizioso’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished third behind the two Ducatis last year but riding the Movistar Yamaha. His replacement Maverick Vinales was back on the podium for the first time for two months in Brno where he finished third. He is still second in the World Championship 14 points behind Marquez who was fifth in Austria last year, one place in front of Vinales. Dani Pedrosa was seventh last year but arrives in Austria in good form. His third place at Brno on the Repsol Honda pushed him just nine points behind Valentino Rossi in the championship standings. Rossi is the only current rider to have competed on the old A1 circuit and he held onto fourth place in the championship after finishing fourth in Brno. The Movistar Yamaha rider was fourth in Austria last year.
Johann Zarco won the Moto2™ race last year and returns on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha after a fantastic start to his MotoGP career. The Frenchman is sixth in the championship 11 points in front of his equally impressive team-mate Jonas Folger. Alex Rins finished third in that Moto2 race last year and he returns as a MotoGP rider. He finished 11th in Brno riding the Ecstar Suzuki after missing so much of the season with a broken wrist.
It’s a massive weekend for the Austrian KTM team who bring in test rider Mika Kallio to join Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith.
Moto2™ Championship leader Franco Morbidelli saw his championship lead slashed to just 17 points by Brno race winner Tom Luthi in the six lap dash. The EG O.O. MarcVDS rider will be hoping for no rain on Sunday and points to his second place last year. His team-mate Alex Marquez and KTM rider Miquel Oliveira are tied in third place. Brno pole setter Mattia Pasini crashed out of the race and is sixth behind Pecco Bagnaia.
Last year Spaniard Joan Mir won his very first Moto3™ grand prix in Austria last year. He returns on Sunday in the form of his life, chasing his seventh win of the season riding the Leopard Racing Honda. His Brno win gives him a 42 point lead over Romano Fenati who was second in Brno. Aron Canet was third and is third in the Championship in front of John McPhee who bounced back to form with a sixth place.
BT SPORT 2
Friday 11 August: 8.00 – 15.00
Saturday 12 August: 8.00 – 15.15
Sunday 13 August: 7.30 – 15.00
Highlights Monday 14 August 19.00
talkSport2 will also have live commentary of the race on Sunday.