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HomeLatest NewsBagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in a tense finish in Austria

Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in a tense finish in Austria

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Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in a tense finish in Austria

Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in a tense finish in Austria
Bagnaia holds off charging Quartararo in a tense finish in AustriaThree in a row makes perfect reading for Pecco, but Quartararo takes Yamaha’s best Spielberg finish after a stunning charge to second.

For the first time in his career, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is a hat-trick hero after leading from start to finish in a tense CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. But that was far from the full story as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) put in a stunning charge to take second and Yamaha’s best result at the Red Bull Ring, putting in one of his performances of the season. On a day made for convincing rides, the two key title rivals both more than delivered. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) likewise impressed, completing the podium for another big and increasingly consistent haul of points.

In front of over 90,000 jubilant fans the lights went out for the MotoGP™ race and Bagnaia grabbed the holeshot from Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miller slotted into P3 and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) held station in P4. Quartararo got a decent start but at the end of the first lap, Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) passed the Frenchman to demote the Championship leader to P6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), meanwhile, didn’t get a good getaway after his holeshot device didn’t engage but the number 41 recovered to P7 by the beginning of the second lap.

Bagnaia Holds Off Charging Quartararo In A Tense Finish In Austria
Three in a row is an exclusive club

Elsewhere, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out at Turn 4 on Lap 1 and it was later confirmed the 2020 World Champion suffered ligament damage in his foot, declared unfit.

Back at the front, the leading Ducati quartet quickly pulled themselves over a second clear of Viñales, who, in turn, had stretched his advantage over Quartararo to half a second. It wasn’t line astern in the lead group though. Miller overtook Bastianini at Turn 3 and Martin then had a successful bite at the cherry, only for Bastianini to snap back at Turn 1 on Lap 5. Viñales then made a mistake down at Turn 4, the Spaniard dropped behind Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) before drama unfolded further up the road.

Bastianini looked like he had a problem going into Turn 3, and Zarco did an excellent job of taking avoiding action as the Italian slowed right down through no fault of his own. The polesitter then ran straight into the gravel a few seconds later at Turn 4, and later headed back into pitlane as Bastianini was forced to retire.

That saw Bagnaia and Miller open a one second advantage over Martin, and Quartararo was a further 1.3s away in P4 with Espargaro and Viñales P5 and P6. Martin was digging deep and on Lap 11 of 28, the Spaniard was right with his Ducati stablemates. Quartararo was still 1.4s behind the third of the GP22s and had main title rival Espargaro 1.1s adrift, as Bagnaia set a personal best lap to gain a 0.6s lead over Miller.

On Lap 14, Quartararo set his personal best lap of the race and the reigning Champion was now 0.6s behind Martin. The latter then made a mistake at the chicane with 12 laps to go and was forced to give the position up to Quartararo, but did Martin then have a problem? He raised his hand coming out of Turn 4 to signal he might have but he was back at full speed soon enough.

The situation with eight laps to go was this: Bagnaia boasted a 0.9s lead over teammate Miller, who was now hearing Quartararo’s YZR-M1 swarming all over the back of his GP22. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had picked off Aleix Espargaro for P5, and Espargaro was coming under pressure from Zarco and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Martin was still in P4, 0.6s away from Quartararo. That 0.6s gap soon became 0.3s though, with Martin now the fastest rider on track.

With four laps to go, a sensational move at Turn 2B saw Quartararo carve his way past Miller up into P2. Miller just held off Martin for P3 as Quartararo saw Bagnaia 1.5s up the road at the beginning of Lap 26 of 28. Starting Lap 27, Quartararo had clawed 0.2s back and by the last lap, it was under a second as the Yamaha rider homed in.

Martin, up the inside of Miller, then suddenly crashed unhurt at Turn 1, giving Miller an easy ride home to P3. But could Quartararo do anything to stop Bagnaia from winning? Not quite, but he wasn’t far away. Pecco took victory but by just 0.4s to make it a hat-trick and reduce the gap to the Frenchman to 44 points, although Quartararo’s ride was a headline-maker in itself.

Fourth place for Marini is the Italian’s best result in the premier class to date, and he eventually held off Zarco in fifth by less than half a second. 2.4s further behind was Aleix Espargaro who sees his disadvantage to Quartararo grow to 32 points heading to Misano, but on a tough weekend for the Spaniard, it could have been worse from P9 on the grid.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) gave KTM a P7 on their home patch and it was another solid Sunday ride for the South African, as he and Rins were separated by a tenth on the line. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) claimed P9 ahead of Martin in 10th, the latter able to remount after his last lap tumble at Turn 1.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Viñales, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) rounded out the points positions at the Red Bull Ring.

The title race momentum was definitely swinging towards Bagnaia and arguably still is, and coming up next is the Italian’s home race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – a track he knows like the back of his hand and a track where Quartararo has serious form too. With what was expected to be one of the toughest tracks of the season for Yamaha seeing El Diablo cede only five points and Quartararo, Espargaro, and Bagnaia now split by just 44, it’s very much game on in San Marino…

Bagnaia Holds Off Charging Quartararo In A Tense Finish In AustriaMotoGP™ PODIUM
1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 40’10.260
2 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +0.492
3 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +2.163

Bagnaia Holds Off Charging Quartararo In A Tense Finish In Austria
…and so is that of Yamaha’s podium finishers in Austria

Francesco Bagnaia: “It was long, very long, it was a long race. To be calmer and careful, we chose to use the soft front, but it wasn’t the correct choice for me at the finish of the race, but I’m very happy, very happy. I made too many mistakes in the first part of the year so it was the time to be smarter. When I looked at the gap, I tried to be very constant with the lap times, because I was sure my pace was good enough to open this gap. In the last two laps, I just tried to be as calm as possible because the front tyre was closing everywhere. So, I’m very happy. Again, this weekend we have done an incredible job, so I’m very, very happy with my team; they have done an incredible job yesterday, so I’m very happy. We move on to Misano and I’m really looking forward to being there again.”

Bagnaia Holds Off Charging Quartararo In A Tense Finish In Austria
Miller just keeps taking those top finishes

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