Dovizioso stuns Marquez on final corner
The pair swapped the lead repeatedly over the closing laps and Marquez looked set to finally break Ducati's Red Bull Ring dominance, only for the Italian to launch a perfect block-pass at the very final corner to notch the win again.
The two swapped the lead at the front several times as they sized each other up
Dovizioso began his charge with eight laps to go, overtaking into Turn 1 using the power of the GP19.
Marquez then made his bid for victory with two laps to go at the only circuit he is yet to win at on the current race calendar, diving smartly up the inside around Turn 7 before defending his position at Turn 9.
But on the last lap, last corner, Dovizioso, using the softer rear tire Michelin had to offer, dove inside Marquez, who was on the harder medium tire, made the pass stick and powered to the checkered flag.
Dovi then got by Marquez into Turn 4 on the opening lap as the polesitter was demoted to P5. Meanwhile, Quartararo was getting the hammer down as the rookie took a 0.5 lead onto Lap 2, but Dovizioso and Marquez started to make up ground as they recovered from a frantic opening lap. Dovi was back up to second, with Miller holding off Marquez for the time being in third and fourth. Just behind was the fast-starting Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), ‘The Doctor’ climbing his way up to fifth from P10 in the opening exchanges to be in the battle for the podium.
It wasn’t long before Marquez had dispatched Miller as the top three started to edge away from the Pramac man, Rossi and Rins. On Lap 7, Quartararo was like a sitting duck heading into Turn 1 as Dovizioso used the Ducati grunt to blast into the lead. Moments later, Marquez did the same on his Honda. There was nothing Quartararo could do about the Yamaha’s lack of acceleration as he slipped down to third. Now, Dovizioso and Marquez were sitting first and second.
Was Dovizioso then slowing the pace down? It was hard to tell but the top five found themselves split by just 1.3 seconds, as the race would then end prematurely for fourth-placed Miller. The Australian slid out at Turn 9 on Lap 8 and just ahead of him, Marquez was through at the final corner. Then the duo started to pull clear. Not by a massive amount each lap, but Quartararo couldn’t match the pace of the Ducati and Honda as we set ourselves up for another almighty Austrian battle between the two leading contenders in the MotoGP™ World Championship.
Marquez threatened to stretch away but the gap didn’t rise above 0.4 seconds. It was clear the first half of the lap belonged to Marquez, but Dovizioso was the stronger man in the second part. The laps ticked by and there was nothing between them, Dovizioso attached to the back of Marquez coattails. With nine to go: a move was made. Dovizioso powered alongside Marquez as the number 93 had a quick glare at the Italian heading into Turn 1. The Ducati man made the pass stick and it was now the 2017 Austrian GP winner who had control.
Tensions were bubbling to boiling point as for the next five laps, Marquez trailed Dovi by 0.1, 0.2. Shadowing his great rival, where would Marquez choose to pounce? With three to go, we found out. Turn 7 was the unlikely location as Marquez stuck it underneath Dovizioso to regain the baton, was it the race-winning move? Serious questions were being asked of Dovizioso, but he was answering them. Marquez wasn’t pulling clear and heading into Turn 1 on the penultimate lap, Dovi went for it. Would he make it stick? Not quite, Dovi ran wide to allow Marquez to power back past.
Onto the last then and there was nothing separating the leaders. Marquez had a half a bike lengths lead as the duo got so close heading into Turn 1. Again, Dovi went for it but ran wide, so it was Marquez who led going down into Turn 3. Dovi was close but not close enough as Marquez led the Ducati around the final lap, was the Ducati stranglehold on the Red Bull Ring about to be broken? A breathless battle came down to the last sector. Dovi powered up the hill out of Turn 8 – he was close. No pass came at Turn 9 but then, Dovi pulled out from behind Marquez heading into the last corner. It was roles reversed from 2017 as Dovi lunged down the inside, and he got it stopped! Dovi stood the Ducati up and there was nothing Marquez could do, Ducati and Dovi were in dreamland as Marquez’ quest to win the Austrian GP ended. A scintillating scrap came to a close in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Further back, Rossi had been caught by teammate Maverick Viñales and Rins as the trio battled for fourth. Ahead of them, Quartararo took the chequered flag in a lonely third to claim his third MotoGP™ rostrum, with Rossi holding off Viñales as three Yamahas sat in the top five at a track that has never suited the YZR-M1. Rins was 0.021 off Viñales in sixth as two rookies picked up their best premier class results behind. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) pocketed P7 to finish as the second-best Ducati, while Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) finished as the best KTM on the Austrian factory’s home turf – a sensational P8 for the Portuguese rider. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) will be disappointed with P9 on a Ducati-friendly circuit, compatriot Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed the top 10.
Andreas Dovizioso 04
"I really didn't prepare that corner [for a move], it's not really a corner for my style, for my bike to enter [well] there," he said.
"I started very aggressive, but Marc was more aggressive than me. But he lost the front on the exit [of Turn 3] and I came back again at Turn 4, and that was very important.
"When Marc overtook me he tried to push, make a gap, but his rear tyre dropped too much, and in the end I had a chance to fight to the last corner because he didn't have the same grip as me on the right [of the tyre].
"On the braking he was better, but with that grip I was able to stay with him and make that crazy last corner [move].
"I really didn't prepare for that, but I did the corner before perfectly and I was a bit inside and I thought 'OK, if I'm going long, I will be second no problem'.
"But I stopped the bike in the right way. I'm so happy for Ducati because we needed that, we need this victory, we needed this victory in this way."
Marc Marquez 93
“I’m happy because today we made a mistake with the rear tyre, immediately I saw all the soft tyres had better grip and even their consistency at the end was better than us. Even like this I tried because I’m Marc and I need to try! The second place is good, we missed in the last corner with a lot of sliding but Dovi did an incredible job. Still we are able to leave here with a 58-point lead so we will keep continuing like this. Even when we are not in the best shape, we are able to finish like this which is positive overall.”
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