Marco Bezzecchi takes his second victory of the season whilst Jorge Martin rides through the pain to take third.
The hills were alive with the sound of a championship battle as pole man Bezzecchi scrapped it out with a fresh from injury Martin to take the top step in Austria, extending his championship lead by 12 points.
Martin put in a superhuman performance to bring his Honda-powered machine back in third. The Spaniard, who was lying in the gravel only nine days ago, fought tooth and nail for the last step on the Austrian podium after scrapping it out with Albert Arenas and Jaume Masia for the majority of the race. Martin was shown in tears after removing his helmet in Parc Ferme, a combination of pain and sheer elation, and the extremely emotional rider simply described his weekend as ‘difficult to explain, lots of emotions… to be here, unbelievable’.
Leopard Racing’s Enea Bastianini made a scorcher of a comeback to finish in second after dropping back to 16th during the opening stages of the race. Bastianini took advantage of the mistakes of others including a clash between rookie Masia and Martin to swoop into second position. He stated, when interviewed, he was ‘really, really happy‘ with the result but ‘the start was not the best feeling. (He had to) push a lot (as you) pass one rider and two pass you but (he) saw Arenas go large and thought push, push, push!’
Race winner Bezzecchi rode a faultless race, maintaining his lead throughout bar a late charge from championship rival Martin with only three laps remaining where the pair exchanged first and second place multiple times until he regained his position at the front. Bezzecchi described his race as ‘very good, very happy, very good pace and rhythm‘ before going on to thank his team, KTM and the VR46 academy. The victory will only add to the young Italian’s amazing weekend after it was announced he will be graduating to Moto2 next season with Tech3.
Championship rivals Bezzecchi and Martin shared a beautiful moment of sheer respect and appreciation for one another as the pair completed their cooldown lap. A classy display from the young pair.
Arenas finished the day in fourth. The Spanish rider had been running in second place during the start of the 23 lap race after getting a superb start to jump ahead of Martin but he was unable to retain the position throughout the race, being pushed wide by Martin with 21 laps remaining and then running wide during the closing laps to allow Bastianini through. The Le Mans winner put in a spectacular performance through the entire weekend but it wasn’t meant to be.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta made up six places to finish in fifth position. The Leopard Racing rider had routinely been setting fastest laps during the race, delivering a circuit record 1.36.307 lap with only three laps remaining, but he was unable to move any further forward and had to settle for fifth and 11 well-earned championship points. Unfortunately, it was heartbreak in sixth position. Rookie Jaume Masia had been battling hard in second against Jorge Martin when he was pushed wide by his countryman, allowing Bastiniani through into second and dropping him back into sixth position. The Bester Capital Dubai rider was visibly devastated by the outcome after such an amazing morning session. The incident was investigated but was ruled a racing incident.
Ayumu Sasaki took his season-best finish in seventh ahead of RBA BOE Skull rider Gabriel Rodrigo in eighth. Rodrigo started the race sixth, moving into the top three during the opening few laps of the race but he was unable to maintain his position after a mistake four laps in saw him drop two places and fail to regain his original performance. Tony Arbolino held onto fifth position for as long as he could, putting a gap of 1.123 between himself and the rest of the pack but he was unable to up the pace and had to settle for ninth.
Aron Canet had a shocker of a race, dropping six places in seven laps to 10th where he finished. The Spaniard will have to find something special for the BritishGP to keep his ever fading championship hopes alive. Another rider who will be looking for something special is Fabio Di Giannantonio. The Italian rider also had a horrendous weekend, qualifying in 16th and only managing an 11th place finish, a far cry from the victory of last week in Brno.
From the back of the grid to a 12th position finish, John McPhee’s performance was unquestionably outstanding. The Scottish rider had been running in eighth position towards the end of the race, 22 places up from his qualifying position but, after another rider made contact with him and pushed him wide, he dropped back to 12th.
CzechGP podium finisher Jakub Kornfeil finished in 13th ahead of Moto2 bound Philipp Oettl in 14th. Kornfeil was one of a couple of riders who received a penalty for exceeding track limits and was forced to drop one position. Marcos Ramirez was the last of the point scores in 15th position. Kaito Toba brought his Honda-powered machine back in 16th ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing rider Adam Norrodin in 17th and his countryman Tatsuki Suzuki in 18th. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Darryn Binder’s unfortunate season continued as he finished out of the points again in 19th alongside wildcard Ai Ogura in 20th position. Kazuki Masaki is still trying to find his feet with his KTM machine and finished in 21st.
Italians Niccolò Antonelli and Nicolo Bulega’s disappointing seasons continue as the pair ended in 22nd and 23rd respectively. The VR46 academy riders have both struggled for various reasons, Bulega’s struggles mainly being down to his sheer size rather than his abilities whereas Antonelli’s inconsistent qualifying performance has largely hindered him. Rookie Alonso Lopez received a warning for exceeding track limits but narrowly missed a penalty, the Spaniard finished in 24th ahead of Vicente Perez in 25th. Perez was not as lucky as Lopez and received a one place penalty with 10 laps remaining for several off-track expeditions.
Dennis Foggia failed to hold onto his 15th place qualifying position, dropping 11 places to 26th ahead of Stefano Nepa in 27th and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat in 28th. Austrian wildcard Maximilian Kofler was the last of the finishers as he brought up the rear in 29th. Andrea Migno was the only crasher of the day after running wide at turn 10 resulting in a high side crash. A disappointing end to a disappointing weekend for the Italian rider.
Full results here.
As the weather cools and we prepare to move to Silverstone in two weeks time, things stay spicy at the top of the championship standings with only 12 points separating Bezzecchi and Martin.
Can Bezzecchi hold on to his narrow lead or will Martin snatch it back from the Italians grasps?