When Marc Marquez leads a race for a long time, he usually wins it with a comfortable margin, crushing his opponents in the process. But the Austrian GP today provided some of the best moments of this season, as the fight for top spot went down to the wire between Marquez and Dovizioso. The former had to contend with a second place finish and Fabio Quartararo finished in third place.
Marquez had famously said that he would not try anything stupid to win the race and if you have seen him race, you wouldn’t fall for the trap. The spectacular Austrian GP was an example of that. Throughout the race, Marquez was pushing his bike and punishing the Michelins that it was a surprise that there were any tyres left on the front end. Marquez on his Repsol Honda RC213V started from pole position, while Fabio Quartararo started from P2 astride his Petronas Yamaha YZR-M1 and Andrea Dovizioso was in P3 on the grid, on his Mission Winnow Ducati GP19. Though Marquez had a good start, Dovi caught up with him and from there on the battle between them commenced. Right at the first turn, Dovi and Marquez ran wide, giving a window of opportunity to Fabio Quartararo, who quickly assumed command of the race.
Dovi and Marquez were hot behind the tail of Quartararo and with 23 laps to go, Dovi took the lead, with Marquez hunting for first place behind him and Quartararo in P3. The Yamaha was no match for the Ducati and Honda, as both Dovi and Marquez overtook Quartararo easily. Down the grid, Rossi (Monster Yamaha) jumped from 10th place on the grid to fifth place and with Jack Miller crashing out, he took P4, with teammate Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) behind him. Meanwhile, Marquez snatched the lead away from Dovi with 20 laps to go, but Dovi gave his everything, putting the pressure on Marquez and not letting him away from his sight. It was interesting to see two men on two completely different machines put very similar laptimes on the board. The top two put a massive gap between the rest of the pack and Fabio was racing in a lonely and secure P3.
With nine laps to go, Dovi wrestled the lead back from Marquez by overtaking him from inside on the main straight and held on to it, while Marquez had a good long look at the GP19 as it flew past his RC213V down the main straight. There was a lot of close calls, side by side racing and brilliant moves from both Marquez and Dovizioso. With three laps to go, Marquez snaffled the lead from Dovi yet again. Both riders were on the edge, pushing their bikes to the limit. There were more than two occasions where Dovi had a chance to take the lead back but ran wide on all the occasions, giving advantage to Marquez who held on to the lead.
The fireworks that started when the race began were at their peak in the last lap, with some unbelievable racing from Dovi and Marquez. Marquez was leading right until the last corner and you could be forgiven for thinking that Marquez would end Ducati’s reign at the Red Bull Ring and rub it in Ducati’s face by winning the race, such was the display of his racing brilliance. However, Dovi pulled a masterstroke by overtaking from the inside at the very last corner, pulling away from the Honda and crossing the finish line first. The crowd erupted with cheers and the Ducati team members were jumping up and down with joy, as they couldn’t believe what had just happened. It was quick and precise move from Dovi. What a sensational race! Marquez finished on a well-deserved second place, Quartararo finished on P3 bloodying the nose of the Yamaha factory team, as Rossi and Vinales finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Marquez has added 20 points, taking his overall tally to 230 points. Dovi is second with 172 points and teammate Danilo Petrucci is third overall in the world standings with 136 points. The action moves to Great Britain on August 25, with the British GP at Silverstone Circuit.