MotoGP Austria preview – round 11 at the Red Bull Ring

Ian Marsden
Marc Marquez leads the championship after Brno - EPA

The MotoGP teams make the relatively short hop from Brno in the Czech Republic to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for round 11 of the 2018 championship. After a tactically astute race in Brno, Honda's Marc Marquez extended his championship lead to 14 points over Maverick Vinales in second on his Yamaha.

Andrea Dovizioso remains third but with his lead over Valentino Rossi in fourth reduced to just one point. Along with his team mate Marquez the other big gain at the sharp end of the championship was made by Dani Pedrosa, who courtesy of his second place finish reduced the deficit to Rossi from 16 to 9 points. Pedrosa’s second place finish was his 150th career podium in Grand Prix, becoming only the third rider in history to achieve this after Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.

Rossi in Czech Republic Credit: MARTIN DIVISEK /EPA

Rossi may have finished on the podium at 26 different circuits in the premier class, one short of the current record set by Mick Doohan but he is yet to achieve a podium at the Austrian circuit. The Italian did however achieve his first ever Grand Prix podium finish at the Austrian Circuit, then known as the A1-Ring in the 125cc class 21 years ago in 1996. The Red Bull ring is also the only circuit of the calendar where Pedrosa is yet to record a top three finish in the premier class.

By contrast Vinales will be looking for his 50th career Grand Prix podium in Austria.

Vinales in Brno Credit: Mirco Lazzari gp /Getty Images Europe 

The win in Brno means that Marquez has won back to back races for the first time since he was victorious in Aragon and Japan last year. He has not won three or more races consecutively since he won the opening ten races of 2014. His current sequence of four podium finishes his longest since he finished on the podium at the final race of 2015 and the first four of 2016. Incredibly Marquez’s pole position for Sundays race was his 41st from 82 MotoGP race starts – a 50% success rate. His nearest rival of the current grid is Jorge Lorenzo with a 23.5% of his race starts been from pole position.

Marquez may have extended his lead in the championship at Brno, but with only 31 points separating the top five riders after the first ten races 2107 continues to be the closest top 5 since the current points scoring system was introduced in 1993.

MotoGP standings

1 Marc Marquez (Honda) 154 points

2 Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 140

3 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 133

4 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 132

5 Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 123

6 Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 88

Moto2

Despite an 8th place finish in Brno Franco Morbidelli continues to lead the 2107 Moto2 World championship, but with nearest rival Thomas Luthi taking the win Mornidelli’s lead is now reduced to 17 points ahead of this weekends race. Luthi has now finished on the podium in 5 of the last six races, and in 8 of the ten races to date.

Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi in Brno Credit: Petr David Josek /AP

Morbidelli by contrast has 6 podium finishes to date, all race wins. Whereas Luthi’s win at Brno is his only win to date this year. Both riders performed solidly last year in Austria with Morbidelli finishing second and Luthi fourth. Morbidelli is the only current Moto2 rider to have stood on the podium at the Red Bull Ring.

The top six continues to be dominated by machinery using the Kalex chassis, the only exception being the KTM machine of Miguel Oliveira in fourth place.

Moto2 standings

1 Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 182 points

2 Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 165

3 Alex Marquez (Kalex) 133

4 Miguel Oliveira (KTM) 133

5 Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) 87

6 Mattia Pasini (Kalex) 73

Moto3

In Moto3 Joan Mir took his sixth win of the season at Brno, extending his lead over Romano Fenati at the top of the championship to 42 points. Mir’s six wins from the opening ten races is the highest number in the lightweight class since 1997 when Valentino Rossi won eight times in the first ten. Mir tasted victory for the first time in Grand Prix at the Austrian circuit last year when he started from pole position for the first and only time so far in his career.

Romano Fenati and Joan Mir in the Czech Republic Credit: MICHAL CIZEK /AFP

Fenati, who finished second for the fourth consecutive race in Brno is the only rider in the class to achieve this fete. The podium finish in Brno places Fenati third in the Moto3 podium standings with 21, two behind Alex Rins with 23 and one adrift of Maverick Vinales with 22.

The Czech was the eighth time from this seasons ten races that Honda locked out the podium. Last year Honda had only three riders finish in the top ten. Not surprisingly Honda machines fill the top five places in the championship.

1 Joan Mir (Honda) 190 points

2 Romano Fenati (Honda) 148 

3 Aron Canet (Honda) 126 

4 John Mcphee (Honda) 93

5 Jorge Martin (Honda) 89

6 Marcos Ramirez (KTM) 88