The return of the racing dwarf – Dani Pedrosa, who is only 158 cm tall, on the KTM on the track, on which he covered more laps than any other MotoGP rider and made a comeback with a wildcard, which was particularly popular in his home country of Spain.

MotoGP Grand Prix of Styria again with bad scenes

In the twentieth year of MotoGP, which had replaced the 500 cc World Championship in 2002, things went anything but what they wanted for the hosts from the start. While Fabio Quartararo kept a white vest and was the only rider in the MotoGP field to qualify directly for Q2 for the Styrian GP, a debacle was already looming for KTM in FP3. As the best of the oranges, wildcard driver Dani Pedrosa was only twelfth and Binder, as the best of the four works drivers, was only in 15th place ahead of Oliveira, Lecuona and Petrucci. Such a defeat on the home circuit in Spielberg in front of an almost full house and with no audience restrictions, that was like a punch in the pit of the stomach for those responsible for KTM. But in MotoGP, a scene happened after a few laps that pushed such topics into the background for a while.

No matter whether in Most, in the WorldSBK on the same weekend or in Spielberg – the pictures were alike and in the second year of the corona pandemic you could think that this is a new age. It is not only virologists who stand up on the neck of their necks when looking at such images, because doctors and other hospital employees, for example, may have to spoon out the soup for this.

A queasy feeling when looking at the grandstands and the slopes around the track
Every virologist might have turned his stomach when looking at the pictures from the broadcast of the MotoGP Grand Prix in Austria. Apparently, almost only experts seem to realize that Covid-19 can also be carried and passed on as a tested, vaccinated and recovered person. But Austria has had its very own and very stubborn attitude towards it since the Ischgl superspreader disaster, also because the government would like to stay in power. Lockdowns, however, cost votes and that is why, from the point of view of virus experts, governments in almost all of Europe are surrounded by madness. But back to sport and there was quite a lot on offer on this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, which was partly threatened by rain and impaired. Joan Mir crashed in FP4 after the Suzuki driver had made a confident impression. However, as fifth in FP3, he was definitely qualified for Q2 and therefore did not need to be put off by it.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) as second in the World Championship on the lightning-fast Ducati GP-21, he was of course one of the top favourites for the podium – the fast and very personable man from Cannes has been waiting for his long-earned MotoGP victory for many years.

Starting list of all classes at a glance

It was only thanks to a punishment for a so-called “track limit offence” that Enea Bastianini missed the sensation with a best time in Q1 on the two-year-old Ducati. Because the time of the fast Italian was cancelled, a KTM made it into Q2, but Miguel Oliveira was last there and therefore only starts from 12th place. With that, of course, the disaster for the oranges on Saturday was finally complete. In addition, there was a threat of bad weather on Sunday, which meant the second drama for the organizers. Of course also for all riders who have little or no MotoGP experience on wet tracks, including Fabio Quartararo.

Another drama after a few laps

The horrific images from the first race of 2020 were immediately in mind when the debris from Zarco and Morbidelli’s bikes missed the heads of Rossi and Viñales by a hair’s breadth. The crash of 2021, at practically exactly this point, where the two were almost killed at the time, was also tough. The images looked like scenes from a plane crash, but luckily no driver was seriously injured. Nevertheless, it took forever before the MotoGP race could be continued again. What happened again this time is of course oil on the fire of the criticism of many sceptics of this beautifully situated, but extremely unfortunate route. The mistake already happened when the Telecom company A1 from Austria bought the former Österreich-Ring and then literally defaced it. The efforts of Red Bull Austria and Europe boss Dietrich Mateschitz largely failed to turn the facility into an event centre after the purchase, because politics thwarted his plans. In the end, the layout, which was very unfavourable for MotoGP, remained and a lot could not be implemented.

There was no getting through here – the place shortly after the terrible corner, called Turn 3, which repeatedly leads to discussions. Despite promises to the contrary to the drivers, almost nothing has been done for additional safety, as Cal Crutchlow emphasized at the press conference. It is precisely on this dubious and controversial course that there is now another double race instead of the Finnish GP.

Jorge Martin and his masterpiece

With the second MotoGP pole position after the second race in Losail, the young Spanish rookie started from pole position for the second time. Of course, you have to take into account that he can drive without pressure. Jorge Martin drives without pressure and can attack freely, while others like Zarco, World Championship leader Quartararo, Bagnaia and Miller like Suzuki ace Joan Mir always have to keep one eye on the title fight. Only the reigning world champion was able to pressure the sensation man of the Grand Prix of Styria in the beginning. Jack Miller, however, stopped Fabio Quartararo for a long time, which is why the pole sitter lost touch with the leading duo early on. When the Yamaha ace finally passed the Australian, he could no longer close the gap forwards. The name with the same first name as world champion Lorenzo, on the other hand, obviously didn’t care what was happening behind him. He drove an unbelievably strong race, did everything right and won a lot.

Johann Zarco before the start of the first of two races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg – the Frenchman had opted for a soft tire and in the end no longer had a chance to defend himself against the approaching Binder and Nakagami. But he defended his second place in the World Championship as the best of Ducati’s title contenders.

Ducati with a lot of light and also shade

We bet on Johann Zarco early on, when almost everyone was only talking about Miller and Bagnaia, you can also check it on our site. While the Australian and the Italian had failed to prove that they could consistently fight at the front since their promotion to the premier class, the fast Frenchman had already proven this several times. Should it continue like this, the Ducati leadership will have to be ashamed of having passed him over a year ago when choosing the cast for the factory team. Except for his team-mate, however, the man from Cannes was once again the best of the Reds and, above all, placed above Bagnaia and Miller. With his third crash after Portimão and Assen, the latter only proved that he lacks the consistency to be a serious contender for the title. Just like “Pecco” Bagnaia with rank 11, who is far too often overshadowed by Zarco and now dropped back to P4 behind Mir in the intermediate championship ranking. This can hardly be excused on the clearest “Ducati route” in the calendar.

Jack Miller in front of his Ducati in the gravel trap – with crash number three in the eleventh race of the season, the situation for the Australian begins to become more and more worrying. Like his former Pramac Ducati colleague Francesco Bagnaia, the pressure in the works team seems to be too great for the likeable man from Down-Under.

The many losers in the first of two races in Spielberg

Except for the drivers on the podium, Brad Binder, Takaaki Nakagami and Johann Zarco, there were mainly many losers. Alex Rins finished seventh ahead of the Marquez brothers, but the “Inspector Gadget of MotoGP” will hardly ever live up to his claim to be the best man at Suzuki in 2021. Despite a long recovery break, Marc Marquez is apparently only a shadow of himself. Rank 8 for the most successful of the active Spielberg drivers is a disgrace. After his Sachsenring victory, one should refrain from making excuses, as they are constantly being heard and read by various commentators and supposed experts. Whoever wins the German GP is fit enough and after a six-week break, over 17 seconds behind the leaders is a disaster for him. With places 9 and 10, however, his brother Alex and his former team-mate Pedrosa kept the damage within limits. Except for Bagnaia and Rossi, the drivers can be satisfied to have scored points until the 15th. Oliveira and Aleix Espargaró were innocent of their elimination because their bikes unfortunately couldn’t make it over the distance.

The result of the MotoGP Grand Prix of Styria

The situation in the world championship after round 10

How it goes on – the combined calendar of MotoGP and WSBK

At the moment, the races in Texas and Malaysia in particular are questionable, but this was foreseeable for a long time. The first provisional calendar from the beginning of November 2020 from FIM and Dorna already looked like a bad April Fool’s joke. Therefore, we are facing a patchwork in which there are currently six collisions between MotoGP (visible in red letters) and WorldSBK. If the damage for the near-series World Championship was still small due to the time difference in Portugal with Estoril, it was correspondingly greater in the Czech round. Only because of the postponement of the second run of the WSBK on Sunday, which was decided at the beginning of the week, the TV stations had the opportunity to broadcast at least this race live. For fans, drivers, teams and sponsors of the Superbike World Championship, this was of course a disaster. First, there is now a second event in Spielberg and hopefully this time it will go without destroyed bikes, fire and smoke.

Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© MotoGP).