Spielberg bei Knittelfeld, Austria - After Ducati's dominant display at the Czech Grand Prix, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo arrive at the Red Bull Ring hoping to further trim the huge advantage of runaway MotoGP leader Marc Marquez.
Dovizioso won at Brno with team-mate Lorenzo second and Marquez only third for Honda - but Marquez' five wins and eight total podium finishes in 10 races this season mean he is still comfortably in first place in the Riders' standings, 49 points clear of Yamaha legend Valentino Rossi, who was fourth at Brno, and 68 ahead of Dovizioso. Lorenzo is fifth, another eight points behind.
Brno was a circuit where Ducati had struggled and were without a victory since 2007, but Spielberg has been a happier hunting ground since the track returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016. That year, Ducati swept the top places as Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso finished first and second. In 2017 the lead changed hands twice in the final corner as Dovizioso edged Marquez to win.
"For us the Red Bull Ring is a very favourable track," said Dovizioso, who added that he hoped the aerodynamic choices made in the Czech Republic would work as well in Austria. "I'm expecting to see Marc and our other rivals stronger than last year."
'Ideal circuit for Ducati'
Lorenzo, who will switch to Honda after the 2018 season, was also looking forward to Spielberg
"For us to arrive in Austria after the 1-2 in Brno is fantastic," he said. "There couldn't be a better scenario for Ducati, if I had to indicate an ideal circuit for us."
Honda and Marquez responded after the Czech race by setting the fastest time in a test day on Monday at the Brno circuit.
"Austria is another track where Dovizioso and Lorenzo are strong," Marquez said, "but we were also strong there last year so we'll see if it comes down to the last corner again!"
KTM leads Moto2 and Moto3
Even though Marquez has a comfortable lead in the Riders', Honda is second in the Constructors' table behind Yamaha because Dani Pedrosa is struggling in 12th.
"A day of testing after the Czech Grand Prix gave us the chance to work on our bike setup," said Pedrosa, "to try and sort out the issues we’ve experienced in the recent races."
In Moto2, KTM's Miguel Oliveira and Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) are duelling at the top of the standings with Marc's younger brother Alez Marquez, also Kalex-mounted, a distant third. Victory in Brno gave Oliveira the momentum and a two-point lead.
Italian Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) took a three point lead in the Moto3 standings when he finished sixth in Brno while Jorge Martin (Honda) was back in Barcelona after a breaking a hand in practice. On Thursday, the Spaniard was passed fit to ride in Austria.