Red Bull KTM experienced the rough with the smooth at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Brad Binder scored 4th position and moved up to the same ranking in the MotoGP standings while Iker Lecuona posted his first finish with 9th place but there was disappointment for Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira who both crashed while fighting in the top five. In Moto3 Albert Arenas used his KTM RC4 to win while Jorge Martin registered his very first Moto2 victory.
The first of two home Grands Prix centered on the relentless and spectacular Red Bull Ring, with the layout requiring high speed, strong acceleration and precision in the heavy braking zones. Summer storms provided some difficult wet/dry and mixed conditions throughout practice and qualification but Pol Espargaro was able to clock the fastest lap-time in two of the four sessions across Friday and Saturday and lined-up 5th on the grid.
The MotoGP race on Sunday was halted prematurely with Espargaro leading the field after eight laps. A crash between Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli meant the track had to be cleaned and the grid reformed. Espargaro had run out of effective tire options and was running inside the top five when he collided with the impressive Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider Miguel Oliveira. The contact at Turn 4 put both RC16s out of action.
Czech Republic Grand Prix winner Brad Binder had made fantastic progress from 17th on the grid and after a fall for Alex Rins the South African moved into 4th spot. He defended his position from Valentino Rossi all the way to the line. Five places back fellow rookie Iker Lecuona reached the checkered flag for a well deserved top ten classification.
Brad Binder: “Today was much better than we expected. I was happy with 4th position, I have to say. It was tough at the beginning because I was able to make up places and it was a shame about the red flag but it did give me an opportunity to restart from higher up on the grid. I didn’t pass too many riders after the restart but there were a lot of crashes. On one hand I’m quite satisfied but then I was also pretty lucky. Things turned out well but let’s work again for next week.”
Iker Lecuona: “The race was truly difficult but, honestly, I’m very happy: it’s the first race I could finish in MotoGP. I lost a bit of ground in the beginning but after the first two laps I improved. I had a good pace. I went to overtake some riders and was close to the points. After the restart, I just focused on not losing positions. My pace was very good. I was fighting all race long with many riders and managed the gap to Fabio Quartararo. In the end, I’m really, really happy.”
Pol Espargaro: “In the first race we were so strong and I was even able to go away and take a gap over Dovi but then we stopped. We didn’t have the proper tire for the second race and I paid for that. I knew I would have only three laps before the rear tire would drop. I was wide - because I was going wide in all the corners - and Miguel in that place was a little bit wide as well. I was opening the throttle outside and so was he on the inside, he couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see him so we collided. This is exactly what we call a race incident. It is what it is. I felt I had the best bike, an amazing bike in the first race. So, I’m looking forward to racing here again next week.”
Miguel Oliveira: “This is a tough result. We showed a lot of speed today and I think we would have been able to get a very good outcome for the team. Unfortunately, Pol was struggling to stop the bike and I saw he was going wide in a few corners, so in turn four I saw he went really, really wide, therefore I just went on the inside. Normally, when a rider goes out, you try to take advantage of it and somehow, he returned very quick and we both collided. There is no way I could have avoided the crash. It’s a shame but we have another chance next week, so we start to focus on that.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “This GP was like a rollercoaster. Pol had the first race under control. He had the right tire, the lead and the right plan. So, the crash destroyed that rhythm but we are really lucky that nobody was seriously hurt and that was a very positive thing. Pol did not have his race tire for the restart so he was not as strong and we don’t quite know what happened with him and Miguel but is was very unlucky. Brad finished the weekend in a great way after his starting position. 4th was a decent result for a rookie in his first time out at the Red Bull Ring and the same can be said for Iker. We are super-happy for him. We have always seen his potential and he just needed to bring the bike home. Overall KTM had a great weekend, especially through the other classes as well.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez started from Moto3 Pole Position for the second time in a week and for the second time in his career. The Spaniard followed countryman and KTM RC4 rider Albert Arenas in the first laps with Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncū and Ayuma Sasaki also in the large front-running group. The race was eventually won by Arenas by four hundredths of a second and he now has a 28-point lead in the series. Celestino Vietti (5th), Darryn Binder (6th), Öncū (8th and a personal best in his first GP season) and Fernandez (9th) were the other KTM racers in the top ten.
Albert Arenas: “Not easy but I really enjoyed the last lap. It was a hard race with many touches with the Tech3 guys. I’m really happy with how I managed the race. I didn’t have any expectations during the laps, I concentrated on defending my position and being comfortable. I was on the limit, but it was worth it today. Thanks to KTM and everyone to help make this possible.”
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin started from Moto2 Pole Position and controlled a restarted race to bag his first triumph in the category for only his second term in the intermediate class.
Jorge Martin: “I'm very happy with how this weekend went. After many races, we are finally back on top of the podium. It was a tricky contest, as we had to stop for the red flag and repeat the start after waiting around for a while. I am satisfied with our performance throughout this Grand Prix. We must continue in this same way, taking continuous steps forward and be prepared for another round next weekend."
MotoGP stays in Austria and at the Red Bull Ring for BMW M Grand Prix of Styria next weekend.
Results MotoGP myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich 2020
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati 28:20.853
2. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +1.377
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +1.549
4. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM +5.526
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha +5.837
9. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +14.117
DNF. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3
DNF. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM
Results Moto2 myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich 2020
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 19:24.723
2. Luca Marini (ITA) +2.195
3. Marcel Schrotter (GER) +4.782
DNF. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo
Results Moto3 myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich 2020
1. Albert Arenas (ESP) KTM 37:25.323
2. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda +0.049
3. John McPhee (GBR) Honda +0.447
8. Deniz Öncū (TUR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.083
9. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.136