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The MotoGP from Styria at the weekend was reminiscent of the Freetech Endurance championship race at Teesside Autodrome earlier this year, not because of the fantastic performance seen by the Suzuki Factory riders, but because there was a massive, lap three bonfire. The Pedrosa/Savadori crash that saw the red flags come out was a whopper and, it has to be said, was probably caused by Pedrosa’s early exuberance. Anyway, that’s by the by. Once the mess was cleaned up, the race was restarted and this is how we think the various riders performed…
Young Jorge didn’t really put a foot wrong for the whole 27 laps. Actually, that’s not strictly true, as we definitely saw him put his wheels on the green a few times. It was enough to get him a track limits warning, but not enough for a long lap penalty. Good job really, because if he had, he might not have become the 115th different person to win a MotoGP race. You’ve got to give it to the lad, to win a MotoGP race in your first season, on a satellite bike, is some going. His speed and consistency would have been impressive for a seasoned, battle hardened MotoGP warrior, so it was bloody impressive for a rookie. It’s full marks for Jorge Martin, well done señor.
Joan Mir would have scored 9 out of ten for a near faultless ride, but he looses a point for his team mate’s crew chief telling me just last week that Suzuki wouldn’t have a rear rideheight squat device ready for the MotoGP in Styria. Despite that, it was good to see the world champ near the sharp end. It was also good to see him putting a fairly hard one on Marc Marquez; firm but fair. He rode a strong race and I thought he was going push Martin all the way, but he didn’t. What he did do was get himself up to third in the championship, though.
I don’t think anyone expected a Yamaha rider to win the MotoGP race at Styria, so I’m guessing Yamaha HQ would have been fairly happy with a podium form Fabio. And that’s exactly what he got, finishing in a lonely, but respectable, third. I say lonely, it was lonely at the end. But he did a smashing job of fending off Jack Miller on his streak-of-lighting Ducati. I’m guessing Jack would have pushed Fabio to the end, if he didn’t lose the front and crash. But I also think Fabio would have held him off to the end. A well-deserved podium for the championship leader sees FQ20 increase his championship lead to 40 points (ahead of Zarco). Nicely done.
Nobody really got excited about Brad Binder until the last lap of yesterday’s race, but he pulled something out the bag at the 11th hour and got everyone worked up. Particularly Nakagami and Zarco. I doubt they were expecting a last minute flash of Orange to steam passed and take fourth place. But it did. It’ll have done his championship a world of good but, perhaps more crucially, it’ll have taken points of Zarco allowing Quartararo to extend his championship lead even more.
Once again, Knackers was the first Honda home. There’s definitely an argument to say he ought to be on a factory machine. But I suppose there’s also an argument to say he’d be wise to stay where he is; on a bike that’s probably as good as the Repsol bike, but without the pressure.
It looked like Zarco was going to salvage fourth from a difficult weekend. If he had of done, I’d have scored him a strong 8/10. But he didn’t. The fact that he let Binder and Knackers through on the last lap will be a source of serious frustration to the Pramac team. And I’m assuming that seeing his rookie teammate stand on the top of the podium will be a source of serious frustration to Zarco himself. Well, you know what to do about it, Johann; you’ve just got to ride faster, mate.
Alex Rins looses two points for his own crew chief telling me a big fat porkie pie last Friday. “There’s no way we’ll have the rear ride-height device for this weekend,” he said. He speaketh with a forked tongue. At least it looked like he was putting the new tech to good use at Styria. And at least he actually managed to finish the race… I was starting to get a little bit concerned about ‘Alex Bins’.
There was talk of MM93 being back up to peak physical fitness for the MotoGP round at Styria, and threats of a return to his dominating ways. That’s not really what we saw. What we did see was a Marquez that looked so desperate to get to the front, he didn’t mind who he bashed into on the way. There were some hard moves that, if you ask me, were a little too hard. Maybe he was struggling with his fitness after all. Perhaps he was struggling to get his Honda stopped. Maybe it just wasn’t his day. I’m not sure, but I don’t think he’ll be too thrilled with 8th place.
We didn’t see a lot of Alex Marquez in the race, but he was definitely there. He didn’t have what it takes to beat his older brother, but I’d say he’s probably reasonably pleased with a top ten finish. I would be, if I was him.
There aren’t many people I’d give full marks to, for finishing tenth. But there aren’t many people that could finish tenth after not racing a MotoGP bike for nearly three years. Dani Pedrosa can, and did. He was gifted an extra position thanks to Bagnaia exceeding track limits on the last lap, but that’s all part of it, isn’t it? But next time Dani, try not to start a bonfire in the middle of the track and cause an hour delay, ok? Thanks in advance.
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