Styrian GP: Stunning victory for Miguel Oliveira
After Brad Binder’s win two weeks back in Brno, we have a new winner in Austria
Today’s MotoGP race marks the 900th premier class race and fittingly, it had all the ingredients to make it a memorable one. And the way Mir on the Suzuki led the race initially, everyone would have bet their money on him, as he bolted ahead from pole position and rode a brilliant race until an incident with Maverick Vinales brought the red flags out. Maverick Vinales’ Yamaha M1 would have revved his heart to its limits today at the Red Bull Ring. Before we get into the details of yet another edge-of-the-seat race, let's congratulate the top group. Winning his first premier class race was Miguel Oliveira of KTM Tech 3, becoming the first Portuguese rider to win a MotoGP race winner, that too on the 900th premier race. In second place was Jack Miller of Pramac racing, his second consecutive podium at the venue and rounding off the top group was Pol Espagaro of KTM Racing. It was a good day at the office for KTM with a 1-3 finish today. How many would have thought that a KTM Tech 3 rider would take the race win today?
The Red Bull Ring is gaining quite a reputation for throwing surprises and shocks and today was no exception. 12 laps into the race, with Mir in the lead, Takaaki Nakagami (Honda IDEMITSU) in P2 and Miller in P3 respectively and the others not far behind, Maverick Vinales, at more than 240kmph, let down the anchors which did not stop his bike as he approached turn 1. Immediately, he ejected himself from his bike at around 220kmph as the bike without brakes went straight into the air fence, crashed and caught fire, while Vinales slid down the track into the runoff area, at a safe distance from the burning bike. He was unhurt. To say that he was dejected would be a huge understatement and god bless him for having the instinct and reflex to jump off his bike as soon as he realized that his brakes had failed – even a couple of seconds late would have caused him serious injuries the way that bike crashed at more than 160kmph. Even before the red flag incident, he was having some mechanical issues with the bike and he dropped to P13. After his crash, red flags came out as it was mandatory in case of any damage to the air fence. It was a short pitstop though and after 5 minutes, the race restarted again.
Two consecutive podiums for Miller
The restarted race was limited to 12 laps and the teams were doing some quick changes to the bikes like changing tyres and other minor changes. Jack Miller opted for soft tyre compounds on his bike while Mir opted for medium tyres. Mir, Nakagaami and Miller occupied the top three positions on the grid in the restarted race and as the lights went out for the second time in the premier class, Mir lost out the lead quickly to Miller as he blazed ahead with the soft tyres on his bike. Pol was climbing positions gradually as he took P2 from Mir with 8 laps to go. With just 5 laps to go, Pol became the race leader with Jack Miller in P2 and Miguel Oliveira in P3. Oliveira rode a brilliant race hunting down his opponents one by one (Dovi, Binder, Mir) in the final laps of the race. As the race was coming to a close with a few laps left, the battle for P1 was between Pol Espargaro and Jack Miller. Will the former be able to hold on to the lead and can latter put enough pressure on Pol to get the lead back? Questions, questions.
From leading the race to P3...Pol Espargaro
The lead exchanged between Pol and Jack till the final corner, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats. Just as the final corner approached, both the top two riders, fighting for the top spot, went wide and left the door wide open for Miguel Oliveira. Oliveira, seeing the window, pulled off a double overtake and crossed the chequered flag first! What a win for the Portuguese man, as he won the 900th premier class race on his KTM Tech 3 bike, on the circuit in the backyard of KTM! Miller and Espargaro had to settle for P2 and P3 after the tussle, while Mir took P4 and Dovizioso took P5. Ducati is no longer unbeatable at the Red Bull Ring as KTM broke the winning streak for Ducati that was going on from 2016. Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) finished in P7, while Nakagami (Honda IDEMITSU) and Binder (KTM) took P8 and P9 respectively. It was sad to see Nakagami in P7 in the restarted race in what could have been a potential podium for him in race 1. It was not a great day for Yamaha as Rossi was the only rider to finish in the top 10. At the end of the race, Jack Miller acknowledged that it was Mir's race today and had it not been for the crash, he would have won it for Suzuki. Miller's pic goes on the cool wall for us.
The race is not over until it is over! Last lap, last corner stunner from Oliveira and the podium order from left
Fabio Quartararo still leads the championship with 70 points but if Yamaha does not pull their socks and sort out the mechanical issues, they could lose the chance to win the championship. Three points down is Dovi with 67 points in second and Jack Miller in third place with 56 points. Binder is in fourth with 49 points and the others are not too far off with Miguel Oliveira in P9 in the championship with 43 points. We are looking at 8 or 9 riders in contention for the championship which is still very unpredictable, looking at the twists and turns of the 2020 season. Who is your favorite rider and constructor to win the 2020 championship?