2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News (Updated)

Michael Scott | August 11, 2019

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News

Sunday

MotoGP Race – 28 laps

Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso laid on a Spielberg thriller in Austria. And for a fourth straight year, in a long battle climaxing in a last-corner shoot-out, it was the Ducati that did it.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News

Dovizioso-Austria-Sun-2019
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso got back in the MotoGP win column Sunday at the Red Bull Ring. (Gold & Goose photo)

Mission Winnow Ducati rider Dovizioso hadn’t won a race since the opening round in Qatar, as Repsol Honda’s Marquez made hay with the championship. But at the deceptively simple drag-strip/hard-braking Red Bull the pair spent the full distance inches apart.

Marquez had most of the leading, and when Dovizioso powered past on the front straight on lap 19, it looked as though the Spaniard had let him by, to measure his final attack. And it came at the start of the final lap.

But, exchanging the roles of the previous year, Dovi didn’t feel like giving up. On the way into the tenth and final corner, he dived inside. And unlike Marquez last year, he was able to make it stick.

“When I arrived there I didn’t feel I had the answer, because I can’t brake in the same place as Marc. But it was the last corner, and I had to try.” If he’d failed, “I would still be second, but I felt so strong in that moment. In the past sometimes I some things that were crazy, and sometimes it worked.”

Marquez had hoped that the latest more powerful Honda might at last take over the Ducati stronghold, but said: “I’m happy because I did a mistake with the rear tyre. I knew immediately from the start that the soft tyre had better grip.” He had gone with the marginally more popular choice of medium rear. “Anyway, I had to try – but Dovi did an incredible job.”

Barely less impressive was rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), who led the first five laps, and then gapped the pursuing factory Monster Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi to take a third podium of his fist season. “Usually you make some mistakes in a race, but I didn’t make any, and that is really precious,” he said.

Rossi spent the final laps fending off his closing team-mate Maverick Vinales, who had his hands likewise full with Alex Rins on the lone Ecstar Suzuki, crossing the line two hundredths ahead.

Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) was seventh, the Moto2 champion’s best yet in his first MotoGP season, almost caught over the line by an equally best-yet rookie Miguel Oliveira’s Red Bull KTM. Close behind, Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) had drawn clear of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) in tenth.

Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) crashed out of the front battle in the early stages; Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was out on only the third corner, in a traffic pile-up behind Pol Espargaro, whose Red Bull KTM had suddenly and permanently cut out.

Dovi regained five points in the title battle, but is still 58 adrift of Marquez’s total of 230. Petrucci has 136, Rins 106 and Rossi 103.

Moto2 Race – 25 laps

Binder-Austria-Sun-2019
Brad Binder broke through to win his first Moto2 race of the season Sunday in Austria. (Gold & Goose photo)

Brad Binder gave his Red Bull KTM team a first Moto2 win of the Triumph-powered era at their home track, hanging on grimly to a start-to-finish lead ahead of a carnage-stricken field.

He won by 0.33 of a second from championship leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex), after the younger brother of Marc had kept his nose clean and avoided most of the collisions that cut away at a lead back that had been eight-strong.

By then, Xavier Vierge (EG-VDS Kalex) had already taken first-time pole qualifier Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX Kalex) down and out of second place.

A bit later it was Marquez’s turn, with an unavoidable coming together with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex), who had been pushing and prodding trying to take the lead from the steadfast Binder. Gardner was also down and out.

A little later Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) was taking a lunge within the front pack, and took rookie Enea Bastianini out of second place, with the furious Italtrans Kalex rider stretchered away.

Spanish Beta Tools Speed Up rider Jorge Navarro came through from 11th on the first lap for third, taking the place ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex).

With Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) dropping to sixth, Marquez’s title lead stretched to 43 points, 181 to 138. Navarro has 126, Fernandez (fifth today) 121, Baldassarri 115.

Moto3 – 23 laps

Fenati-Austria-Sun-2019
Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda) was another first-time 2019 winner in the Moto3 class at the Red Bull Ring. (Gold & Goose photo)

Tricky conditions after wet warm up meant an officially Wet Race, but with everyone on slicks, looking for the dry line, coming off a grid massively reshuffled by overnight penalties for 16 riders.

Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda) made the most of it, escaping over the closing laps to win by just over a second from a growing battle for second.

For most of the race it was between his team-mate Tony Arbolino and pole starter John McPhee (Petronas Honda). But in the closing laps they were joined by Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM) and Jaume Masia (Bester Capital KTM).

Masia paid the price, running onto a damp patch and falling with just over a lap left. The remaining three were side by side over the line, with Arbolino less than one hundredth ahead of McPhee, and rookie Vietti off the podium by a similar margin.

Marcos Ramirez took fifth ahead of Leopard Honda team-mate Lorenzo Dalla Porta, but with erstwhile points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) in tenth, he regained a one-point championship lead, 155 points to 154. Arbolino is next on 113, then Antonelli (ninth today) 105 and Ramirez 89.

Saturday

The march of Marquez continued at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, as the championship leader’s quest to overturn Ducati’s dominance at the simple but scenic circuit in the foothills of the Styrian Alps.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News

Marquez-Austria-Sat-2019
Marc Marquez won the pole Saturday at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. (Gold & Goose photo)

The Repsol Honda rider claimed his seventh pole position of the season and the 59th in his career (a premier-class record) by a relatively enormous gulf of four tenths of a second.

A fraction more than the same time interval covered from second qualifier (Fabio Quartararo) to the 12th and last in Q2 (Danilo Petrucci).

Marquez’s 1m 23.027 was a new all-time track record, but not quite good enough for the Spaniard. “I was going for 1’22 – but I made a mistake and ran wide at Turn 10,” he smiled.

Marquez’s pace has been devastating all weekend; but Petronas Yamaha rider Quartararo again showed his one-lap prowess is astonishing for a rookie. Second place was the class rookie’s was his sixth front-row of his first season, including three times on pole.

He pushed Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Ducati to third by four hundredths, but the front row – his first since round two in Argentina – was an aim achieved. “It is very important to be on the front row here … a little far from Marc, but we will see,” he said.

Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) made it two Yamahas in the top four, leading row two at a track where last year the M1’s poor performance triggered a humiliating public apology by the team.

Alongside him, Moto2 champion Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati), not only the class rookie’s best yet, but a celebration of a settings breakthrough in Brno tests for his 2018 Desmosedici, after a sluggish and crash-hit start to his first MotoGP year.

Taka Nakagami (LCR Idemitsu Honda) completes row two on last year’s RC213V; Alex Rins heads the third on the lone Suzuki, from Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) and second LCR rider Cal Crutchlow.

Crutchlow and Bagnaia had come through from Q1.

Valentino Rossi’s qualifying jinx did allow him straight into Q2, but kept him near the back, leading row four from Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) and Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), whose final attempt to improve ended in a harmless crash.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) was best of the rest, missing a first shot at Q2 by two tenths of a second, when he was displaced at the death by fellow class rookie Bagnaia.

Moto2

Nagashima-Austrai-Sat-2019
In Austria, Tetsuta Nagashima earned his first Moto2 pole. (Gold & Goose photo)

Pole first-timer Tetsuta Nagashima looked almost bewildered after his record-breaking run. The ONEXOX Kalex rider’s previous best grid position had been

seventh, but now nobody could match his time, set early in an increasingly hot final session of the day.

“I don’t know what to say, but I felt good with the bike from Friday,” he said. “My first pole is good, but tomorrow is more important.”

His closest challenger was Brad Binder, in only the second race on the all-new Mk3 version of the Red Bull KTM. Although still at the beginning of finding settings, the track’s simple layout helped him match his best grid of the season.

Another front-row first-timer and grand prix rookie excelled. Twenty-year-old Thai rider Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Kalex), already twice in the points, had not qualified higher than 19th in his first GP season, but had already set his best lap when he proved his pace by closely tailing championship leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex).

Marquez, looking for a sixth win in seven races, ended up only 11th, but times were whisker-close, the top 18 of Q2 all inside one second.

Class rookie Enea Bastianini led an all-Kalex second row, from title challenger Thomas Luthi and early points leader Lorenzo Baldassarri; Jorge Navarro’s Speed Up in eighth was sandwiched between two more Kalexes, with Xavi Vierge seventh and Remy Gardner ninth; and Luca Marini’s similar bike completed the top ten.

Moto3

John McPhee will start from the pole in the Moto3 race Sunday at the Red Bull Ring. (Gold & Goose photo)

Track records were smashed in the morning, and close times put the top 15 inside one second. But the times weren’t the last word for the Moto3 starting grid, with penalties from Friday fiddling with the two front rows, and fears of further adjustment should there be more riders punished overnight.

Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda) looked impregnable in his first pole since 2017, after coming through from Q1; but while Petronas Honda rider Ayumu Sasaki was second fastest and compatriot Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) fifth, each will drop back 12 places on the grid; while Alonso Lopez, who was 12th, will start from pit lane as a consequence of mid-race fisticuffs with EG Honda team-mate Sergio Garcia in Brno last week.

This promoted third-fastest Jaume Masia (Bester KTM, also through from Q1) to second, and Scot John McPhee (Petronas Honda) to the front row. Unlike his companions, McPhee had set his time alone, rather than in the big slipstreaming gang.

Slipstream can be worth up to 0.8 seconds a lap, but the loitering carries a big risk of a 12-position penalty, and race stewards will be scrutinising footage overnight.

Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) will lead row two from compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) and Brno pole started Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda), who had broken the track record in the morning.

Erstwhile points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) heads row three, Sterilgarda KTM rider Aron Canet, who regained a narrow lead at Brno, is at the far end of the fourth.

Saturday News

Lorenzo to Yamaha?

Now rumors suggest Jorge Lorenzo may be talking to Yamaha. (Gold & Goose photo)

No sooner had the paddock absorbed the shock of “Lorenzo back to Ducati” rumours than fresh and equally plausible whispers emerged of another potential switch for the currently beleaguered new Repsol Honda rider … a return to Yamaha instead.

Lorenzo won all three of his premier-class championships and all but xxxx of his race victories with Yamaha, before abandoning the factory team for two years at Ducati in 2017 and 2018.

His sensational switch to Honda this year came after he had already rejected a chance to join the new Petronas-backed satellite Yamaha squad. Yet the changed status of the 32-year-old now make rumours of talks with the team for 2021 more plausible.

Lorenzo took almost one-and-a-half seasons to become fully competitive on the Ducati, by when he was already getting ready to leave. His switch to Honda has been even more difficult, with not a top ten so far; made all the worse by a string of injuries that began before the start of the season. His problems were compounded most recently with double back fractures before the summer break in practice at Assen.

Lorenzo rumors impacting Miller

Jack Miller’s move to the factory Ducati team may be in question with Jorge Lorenzo’s talks with the team. (Gold & Goose photo)

Jack Miller, whose expectation of imminent contract renewal with Ducati has been thrown into confusion by the Lorenzo rumour, revealed in an emotional press briefing in Austria that the news had hit him “like a ton of bricks”.

He had found out only on Thursday, but said that while others had known earlier, he wasn’t stressed.

“I don’t think that Paolo [Campinoti, Pramac team owner] will allow Jorge in this box.”

He continued: “I’m just trying to put it all to bed and get that contract in my pocket. I think I’ve done a good enough job this year.” But if it went wrong with Ducati for 2021 he was confident he could find another MotoGP berth.

“After the press conference yesterday I was getting calls from other manufacturers so there are definitely other options.”

More 2020 seats being filled

Dennis Foggia is one of the Moto3 riders moving to Honda next season. (Gold & Goose photo)

Confirmed for Moto3 next year: current KTM riders Jaume Masia and Dennis Foggia will switch to Honda, after signing up with Leopard Racing. Both are considered rising stars, and Foggia is one of several Rossi discoveries.

Leopard Honda took Danny Kent to the title in 2015, and Joan Mir in 2018; and this year Lorenzo Dalla Porta is disputing the lead with KTM rider Aron Canet. Dalla Porta is off to Moto2 next year, but second Leopard rider Marcos Ramirez – winner in Catalunya and second in Germany – is looking for a ride.

Dalla Port will join Enea Bastianini in the Italtrans team, displacing Andrea Locatelli. Also in Moto2, Swiss rider Jesko Raffin will take the place of Steven

Odendaal alongside Bo Bendsneyder in the NTS team. Odendaal expects to find a ride in World 600 Supersports.

Marquez switch to carbon-fiber chassis complete

Honda’s carbon-fibre-clad chassis development seems to have achieved maturity, with lead rider Marc Marquez switching to the black-spar bikes exclusively for practice and qualifying at the Austrian GP.

The flex-adjusted unit appeared first at the start of the European season on test rider Stefan Bradl’s bike at Jerez, with Marquez testing it the next day and several times since, often during free practice.

Each time he explained that it performed well and was sometimes faster, but he preferred to race the more familiar aluminium chassis, because he knew it well and it would not give him any nasty surprises. After Brno, however, he had a chance for extended tests, and has now apparently made up his mind.

Honda technical manager Takeo Yokoyama, speaking at Brno, said that “from Jerez we have been trying something like this. We have modified it already four or five times. We are studying what is the benefit of this material, and once we know more, all riders will have it.”

At Austria, Cal Crutchlow also had a version at his disposal, but from Friday was using the original all-aluminium one.

Mir injury update

Joan Mir is hoping to return to action in two weeks. (Gold & Goose photo)

Injured Suzuki rider Joan Mir will remain in hospital in Barcelona until at least Monday, with doctors keeping him under observation after diagnosing severe pulmonary contusion after his heavy crash at Brno tests last Monday.

While he sustained no fractures, the impact was bad enough for him to be helicoptered to hospital in the Czech Republic, then transferred to the Spanish Dexeus hospital in Spain by a medical flight.

He is under the treatment of Dr Angel Charte, who also fills the role of MotoGP medical director, and said: “Although the lungs are functioning well and have stood up to analysis, there is still that heavy bruising which requires hospital rest and observation.”

Mir is expected to be back in action for the British GP in a fortnight.

Friday MotoGP

Marc Marquez’s mission to destroy continued without mercy on the first day of practice at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. The championship leader led both of today’s sessions, at the short and simple circuit at Spielberg.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News Marc Marquez Friday
It was tight, but Marquez got up on Friday.

This year’s faster and better-braking Repsol Honda looked ready to pose a real challenge to the track where Ducati has dominated – at least in Marquez’s hands. The next-best Honda was in fact a 2018 version, the LCR Idemitsu bike of Takaaki Nakagami, placed fourth.

The usual concern about changeable weather meant that today’s top ten could determine tomorrow’s Q2 candidates. Today was hot and sunny, but thundershowers are forecast for the rest of the weekend, and the weather is always changeable in the scenic sub-Alpine location.

The margins were small … the top 17 were within one second of Marquez’s 1m 23.916s, but only one other inside 1:24 – and it was the supposedly speed-challenged Monster Yamaha of Maverick Vinales.

Andrea Dovizioso’s Mission Winnow Ducati was just outside, but on a morning time; than Nakagami.

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) was fifth, with Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) next, still barely three tenths off the lead.

At KTM’s and the sponsor’s home circuit, Red Bull KTM satellite team rookie Miguel Oliveira was an impressive seventh overall, and sixth in the afternoon session; with factory-team rider Pol Espargaro scraping into the top ten. Team-mate Johann Zarco was 15th; second satellite rider Hafizh Syahrin 21st and last, after a heavy tumble in the morning.

Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) was eighth; then Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda).

Valentino Rossi narrowly missed the top 10, also faster in the morning than in the afternoon; one ahead of Alex Rins, the only Suzuki rider, with team-mate Mir absent injured.

Lorenzo’s Repsol Honda substitute Stefan Bradl was 16th.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday MotoGP

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday Moto2

The Red Bull Ring’s drag-strip straights meant that the torquier 765cc Triumph-powered Moto2 bikes for the first time smashed the old 600cc records first time out; while times were even closer than the other classes.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News Brad Binder Friday
Binder banged home the best time right before his bike broke.

The top 24 riders were within one second of Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder, whose record 1m 29.029 came at the end of the session, only for the rider to stop before he was a quarter of the way around his slow-down lap with a mechanical failure.

Binder was riding the all-new KTM, the third version of the new Triumph-powered bike, which made a disappointing debut a week ago at Brno.

The simple track, however, meant that even the older KTM’s were in some sort of contention, with American Racing team rider Iker Lecuona seventh overall, on a time set in the morning.

In between the pair were four Kalexes and one Speed Up. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX Kalex) was second, veteran Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) next, then Jorg Navarro’s Beta Tools Speed Up.

Rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) was fifth, with morning leader Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) sixth, without improving his time.

Behind Lecuona, a trio of Kalexes completed the top ten: Marcel Schrotter, Luca Marini and Somkiat Chantra.

Remy Gardner (Kalex)M was 14th, American Racing’s KTM rider Joe Roberts – back from injury at Brno – was 29th.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday Moto2

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday Moto3

The same weather strictures applied to Moto3, and the afternoon session had the same usual search for slipstreams at a track where a good one can make as much as one second’s difference over a lap – and with the top 19 within one second, a big difference to the position.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Celestino Vietti
Vietti made it a good day for the Sky VR46 team with the fastest Friday time in Moto3.

Rookie Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM) snitched top spot by a few hundredths at the death from John McPhee (Petronas Honda); who had himself taken if away from long-time leader Tatsuki Suzuki (SUC58 Honda).

Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Honda) was fourth, from Jakub Kornfeil (Redox KTM, on his morning time) and Toni Arbolino (Snipers Honda).

Championship leader Aron Canet (KTM) was 14th, second-placed Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Honda) 11th.

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday Moto3

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News—Friday News

 

Is Lorenzo Going Back To Ducati?

Jorge Lorenzo may have been absent from the Red Bull Ring, but the triple MotoGP champion stole the headlines anyway.

A rumor that surfaced on the Italian GPOne website had gained such traction in the short break after the Brno GP that it was the major talking point: Jorge Lorenzo to rejoin Ducati!

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Jorge Lorenzo
Lorenzo’s rubbish season with Honda is making for all kinds of rumors…

With the Spaniard not there and lips sealed both at Ducati and at the satellite Pramac team, facts were hard to come by. Opinions were easier, particularly from Jack Miller, the rider most affected by this possibility.

Miller had been expected to stay with Pramac Ducati next year, but the contract signing – in his case directly with Ducati – had been deferred over the summer break, supposedly for budgetary reasons, with the factory obliged to supply a fourth factory bike, one more than this year.

I thought we were just waiting on paperwork,” said the Australian, on the eve of the Austrian GP. “But it seems it’s not like that.

“The last I heard prior to this weekend was that they were working on the budget … but we will see now.

“For sure I heard there is some truth behind these rumors.” He added, to the amusement of his colleagues at the press briefing: “I guess we’ll just have to wait for Jorge to come back from the Maldives or wherever he is to see where we are.”

One of Ducati’s problems is that second Pramac Ducati rider Pecco Bagnaia has been guaranteed a full factory bike next year, while double podium finisher Miller clearly not only deserves one but also expects one as a condition of staying on.

But should he not stay, there are few other options, and the rumor mill, rather implausibly, even linked him with a move to World Superbikes to replace the departing Alvaro Bautista.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Jorge Lorenzo 1
Let’s see just how strong at Silverstone.

Much more of a stumbling block is Lorenzo’s current two-year contract with HRC; so if there is any truth that Lorenzo is in talks with Ducati, it makes more sense if it were for 2021.

Should he move, this would free a seat at Repsol Honda. This would put close friends Cal Crutchlow and Miller in competition for the seat, with third Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami another candidate.

Lorenzo is out of action after suffering two fractured vertebrae in a pre-race crash at round eight at Assen and is scheduled to return for the British GP at Silverstone in a fortnight.

His first season with Repsol Honda has been marred by injuries that started even before the beginning of the season, with his attempts to adapt to the Honda and the bike to himself constantly interrupted. His best race finish was 11th at Le Mans.

However, in his previous two years at Ducati, he took until the second third of his second season before becoming a reliable front runner and race winner.

Team-mate Marc Marquez’s response to rumors that he might abandon Honda was laced with acid. Lorenzo was a champion, and “when you arrive in a project like this [Honda’s], it is because you want to win the championship. I only know he has one more year of contract after this year.”

 

Alex Marquez to Petronas?

The silly season spread to Moto2, with the younger Marquez the center of speculation. Alex has dominated the past half-dozen races and leads the championship. He is earmarked for a MotoGP future, but this is something his current EG-MarcVDS team cannot offer him, after sacrificing their entry following a financial scandal in the middle of last season.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Alex Marquez
Offers are flooding in for Alex Marquez these days.

He has been with the team since he joined Moto2 in 2015, and a contract renewal has been offered.

But the 23-year-old is considering a new offer from the all-new Petronas team, whose current rider Khairul Idham Pawi has been stricken with injuries.

The large Petronas outfit also has a MotoGP team – the satellite Yamaha squad, and hopes of moving up to that might entice Marquez to jump ship.

 

Mir Out of Austria

Second Suzuki rider Joan Mir was out of the Austrian GP, unfit after suffering a thumping high-speed crash at Monday tests at Brno.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Joan Mir
Mir’s monster stack has forced him out of Austria this weekend.

The 21-year-old Spaniard appeared to have had brake failure going into the fast turn one and landed heavily as his bike vaulted the crash barriers onto the service road on the far side of the large gravel trap.

Mir was helicoptered to hospital, but while he suffered no fractures a heavy blow to his chest was enough for him to be sent on to Barcelona for further observation.

The cause, however, was not brake failure, according to Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio, though he declined to elaborate, saying only that “there was some technical problem on the bike.” Parts had been sent back to Japan for investigation. “We are analyzing and checking the data”.

This left an electronic or mechanical failure with the throttle as the most likely culprit. Electronically, a throttle-blipping or anti-wheel-locking program might have kept the throttles open, or alternatively, they could have simply been jammed open by debris or another reason.

 

Quartararo’s Bike Best of The Monday Heroes

Fabio Quartararo’s satellite Petronas Yamaha was the best of what Jack Miller called “the Monday heroes” at the Brno tests, narrowly heading a trio of Yamahas at the top of the timesheets. His time of 1m 55.616 was inside the race lap record, but a full second short of Marquez’s track best time.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Fabio Quartararo
Quartararo’s pace was on point in the Brno test.

The 20-year-old French one-lap wizard was one hundredth quicker than factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales; who was better than a tenth clear of second Petronas satellite teamster Franco Morbidelli, so that Yamahas dominated the entirely imaginary grid.

Alex Rins (Suzuki) was next, from Crutchlow’s Honda and Rossi’s Yamaha, with the old man of the grid testing new bodywork and a new engine, both part of the factory’s recovery plan for 2020.

Marquez placed eighth; Dovizioso and Miller 12th and 13th.

More important than the positions, however, were the bits and pieces.

The factory Yamaha riders had 2020 prototype parts to test, including revised aerodynamics and an updated engine. The latter was still lacking in horsepower, but another revision is expected for post-Silverstone tests at Misano.

Dovizioso’s comments were of “a few parts” with some improved cornering performance.

Quartaro had a fresh upgrade for Austria this weekend: carbon-fiber forks, which he had tested at Brno. Factory rider Vinales has been to and fro with carbon and steel forks.

 

Testing, Testing at Honda

Also at the Brno tests, Honda riders had time to get more information on the carbon-reinforced chassis, with Crutchlow getting his first experience on the unit, and another version, with a smaller patch of bonded-on carbon-fiber now also appearing at the Austrian GP.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Marc Marquez Brno
More carbon bits on Marquez’s Honda at the Brno tests, including swingarm and chassis components.

The aim is “revised chassis stiffness”; which essentially means improving lateral flexibility while retaining stiffness for braking. This gives the tires (and the rider) an easier time at high lean angles. At the same time, it allows the carbon swing-arm to be stiffer, to avoid the chain derailing issues suffered at the first two races.

Adding specifically directional stiffness by bonded-on carbon suggests that more general stiffness has in turn been removed from the aluminum chassis beams.

At Austria, for the first day of practice, all Honda riders had versions available: Marquez one of the larger- and one of the smaller-patched chassis; while Crutchlow and Bradl had a pair of the smaller versions. Crutchlow at least, however, reverted to the standard chassis.

 

Yamaha and Rossi at Brno Tests

The second technical briefing in succession gave Yamaha, Ducati and KTM technical chiefs their chance to avoid revealing any interesting secrets, a week after Honda, Aprilia and Suzuki’s turn at Brno.

2019 Austrian MotoGP News and Results Valentino Rossi
Better, but not good enough was Rossi’s thoughts on the new prototype Yamaha.

Yamaha project leader Takahiro Sumi spoke of the struggle to regain momentum after a disastrous 2018. We have improved the bike, but the top speed gap is more, and this is our biggest issue,” he said.

Having lost direction with the changes to control electronics and the switch to Michelin tires, it was easy for small problems to escalate, so that it was important to focus developments.

“We are still in a crisis moment, and focused on the fundamental performance of the bike,” he said.

Asked about Rossi’s comments on the still-slow prototype at Brno tests, he said: “We brought an engine and some parts for 2020, but this is a very first prototype.” More was to follow.

KTM technical director Sebastian Risse praised the input of new test rider Dani Pedrosa, “most helpful in engine and electronic areas”. The advantage was that details could be worked on, then a more comprehensive package offered to active riders.

On the problems faced by beleaguered star signing Johann Zarco: “We have still not found the way. Pol (Espargaro) and Mika (Kallio – test rider) focus more on rear grip, and it is clear you have to force our bike a lot to get the most from it. Other riders want something that is easier to ride.” So far, they hadn’t got one.

 

More motors, please

Should the current freeze on engine development be dropped – to allow one or more update during the season?

2019 Austrian MotoGP Results and News Rabat
Everyone would like more motors, even the Avintia Ducati boys here.

It was introduced to limit costs, but Ducati Technical Director Davide Barani had a different view … that allowing updates might actually be less expensive.

“At present, maybe you have to arrive at the beginning of the season with more than one option and throw one of them away. It may be better and have some benefit on costs to be able to continue development.”

As a “concession team”, KTM is free from this restriction.

“We use our concessions a lot,” said Risse. “We are now using our third engine spec of the season.”

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.

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