MotoGP Austria: Three in a row for Bagnaia

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia claimed three wins in a row for the first time in his MotoGP career - the first Ducati rider to secure the achievement since Casey Stoner in 2008 and the first Italian since Valentino Rossi - after a dominant ride at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday.

Bologna teammate Jack Miller was in the hunt for the entirety of the race before reigning champion Fabio Quartararo arrived to take second in the closing stages. Ducati celebrating a double podium and top independent honours thanks to Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini in fourth.

The rain continued to threaten but not yet arrive as MotoGP lined up on the grid ahead of the AustrianGP. Conditions prompting a raft to tyre changes ahead of the 28-lap race as the hard front, medium rear proved the most favourable Michelin options.

Gresini’s Enea Bastianini celebrating his maiden premier class pole position ahead of a swarm of Ducatis with just Monster Energy Yamaha’s Quartararo interrupting the Bologna factory’s hold on the top six, from the middle of row two.

Lights out and Bagnaia swept through to hold the holeshot from Bastianini and Miller with Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales up to sixth. Johann Zarco suffering a disastrous start as the Frenchman fell to 12th with Suzuki’s Joan Mir crashing out at turn four for his sixth DNF of the past nine races.

Vinales bettered his former teammate for position as the first lap concluded, with Aleix Espargaro bringing the second RS-GP the other side of Quartararo as Zarco recovered to eighth. Marini and the remaining Suzuki of Alex Rins completing the top ten from last year’s hero Brad Binder on the KTM. His younger brother Darryn scorching his way through the pack with an impressive start on the WithU RNF Yamaha to 13th from 21st on the grid.

Factory Ducatis were firmly in charge as lap five played out with Bastianini and Martin battling for both position on track and their place in the red team for 2023 from third and fourth. Vinales running wide and drooping back through the pack as he returned to the action in eighth. Zarco was the next to struggle as the Pramac dipped again to ninth before a technical issue destroyed Bastianini’s race. The Italian initially struggling on track before running straight through the gravel and retiring the GP21 as Remy Gardner crashed the Tech3 KTM out at turn four.

Miller was challenging for the lead as lap eight began before Bagnaia maintained control. The pair inseparable and over a second ahead of the quickly advancing Martin with Quartararo leading the Aprilias of Espargaro and Vinales from fourth.

LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami was the next to succumb to Spielberg with a sector three fall as Martin arrived on the wheels of Miller out front. Quartararo running a second and a half behind the podium sitters but as the fastest man on track the gap was shrinking quickly as half distance approached.

Bagnaia checked out for a six-tenth lead with 16 laps to go as Martin looked to reel in Miller in the battle for second. Marini capturing Vinales for sixth as Binder crashed the M1 out of the points.

The MotoGP Champion was firmly in the mix two laps later as just four-tenths separated him from podium contention. Martin now the same distance back from Miller as Quartararo was from him. The M1 through for third as lap 17 began after Martin ran wide at the chicane.

Vinales’ difficult day continued as the Spaniard dropped to ninth behind Zarco and Rins with Binder maintaining his top ten position. Rookies Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio sitting on the fringes as the South African dispatched the RS-GP further.

Marini captured a fading Espargaro for fifth with eight to go as Quartararo sat on the wheels of Miller in the fight for second. Bagnaia pushing his leading advantage to over a second as the pace continued to intensify in the low 1’30’s.

Martin was back in the hunt as the podium battle continued to play out. There-tenths covering second to fourth with four laps to go as Miller dropped briefly to the back through the new chicane before regrouping for third seconds later at turn three. Monster Energy’s Franky Morbidelli the next to crash at turn two.

Three laps to go and Bezzecchi was into tenth as Vinales dropped further. Zarco the next to capitalise on the other Aprilia teammate for sixth with Binder taking a look of his own and Rins sat behind in ninth.

Marin crashed at turn one after a move on Miller as the final lap fired up. Marini enjoying an unexpected promotion to fourth as the Pramac regrouped in tenth.

Bagnaia secured the victory by half a second from Quartararo with Miller completing another double Ducati podium in third as Marini claimed top independent honours for the Bologna factory in fourth. Zarco and Espargaro rounded out the top six from Binder, Rins, Bezzecchi and the crestfallen Martin. Di Giannantonio, Miguel Oliveira, Vinales and Alex Marquez collected 11th to 14th with Andrea Dovizioso collecting the final point on his penultimate race of his world championship career.

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Picture: GeeBee Images