Spielberg, Austria – Ducati team star Andrea Dovizioso took his third win of the season in spectacular style at the Red Bull Ring, holding off a kamikaze last-corner move from Honda’s reigning champion Marc Marquez at the climax of a race-long duel that will go down in history as a classic.
With younger brother Darryn still nursing a broken thumb, it was up to Brad Binder to fly the South African flag, with a solid seventh - the first non-Kalex rider home - in the Moto2 race.
Polesitter Marquez took the holeshot, before a stunning move from Ducati Team rider Jorge Lorenzo saw him cut inside second-placed Dovizioso and then blitz Marquez on the exit, top put him almost a second ahead at the end of lap 1.
Marquez slotted into second, with Dovizioso all over him as Valentino Rossi passed Yamaha Factory team-mate Maverick Vinales for fourth. Marquez soon began reeling in the Ducati – only to misjudge the apex in Turn 3 and run wide, whereupon Dovizioso pounced to grab second.
Yamaha Tech 3 star Johann Zarco then moved up to tag onto the front four, with Dani Pedrosa on the second works Honda next to make a train of five behind Lorenzo in the lead.
Marquez then struck back against Dovizioso; as Lorenzo headed deep, Marquez cut inside - and Dovizioso then blasted past both, only for Marquez to strike back again. Seconds later Zarco ran deep, Rossi pounced - and Pedrosa dived past both of them. Then it was Rossi’s time to run wide at Turn 1, dropping him back to seventh.
At the front, Marquez and Dovizioso had begun to pull away, swopping places a number of times as they fought it out to the line. Dovizioso was ahead as they started the final lap, keeping everything inch perfect, preventing Marquez from using the classic Turn 7 move.
The Honda rider dived for the inside on the final corner, but just couldn’t hold it, as Dovizioso cut back inside to cross the line 0.178s ahead. Pedrosa completed the podium after passing Lorenzo in the closing stages, with Zarco fifth, after holding off Vinales and Rossi to come home as top Yamaha.
Ducati privateer Alvaro Bautista put up an impressive ride to take eighth, as did Lorenzo Baz on the first of the two Aprilias, while Mika Kallio gave the KTM crew something to cheer about at their first home Grand Prix with a solid ride into 10th on the brand new RC16, just behind Baz.
Franco Morbidelli took his seventh win of the season, staying calm under pressure and fending off team-mate Alex Marquez and key championship rival Thomas Luthi, who put up a dogfight for the remaining podium positions, with Marquez taking second after some seriously close racing.
The best start from the front row saw Morbidelli into the lead, before drama hit the pack and two separate incidents saw nine riders sliding out of the race. Ahead of the melee, Luthi moved through into second and then set about catching up as the leading four – Morbidelli, Luthi, Marquez and polesitter Mattia Pasini began pulling away.
Morbidelli held firm ahead of team-mate Marquez in the early stages as Luthi looked for a way through from third. Pasini then dropped back from the lead trio after running wide, but held fourth as Miguel Oliveira (KTM) pounced on Francesco Bagnaia at Turn 3 to take fifth. Meanwhile Takaaki Nakagami closed in on Brad Binder (KTM) and Isaac Vinales for seventh, before Vinales crashed out of contention.
Luthi and Marquez continued their battle royal, swapping paint and closing in on Morbidelli to within three tenths as Marquez kept cool under immense pressure from behind - but then the tables began to turn as he began to pull away.
An incredible charge from Oliveira into potential podium contention came to a high-speed end as he suddenly highsided out, leaving the fight for the win as a trio. Three soon became two, however, as Luthi ran deep at Turn 3; Morbidelli crossed the line in clear air for win No.7 of the season as Marquez took a comfortable second and Luthi followed them home.
Bagnaia came home ahead of Pasini in fourth after a late charge, with Nakagami and Binder fighting it out for sixth; Nakagami got the best of that duel by less than two tenths. Jorge Navarro took an impressive eighth as another rookie in the top ten, with Dominique Aegerter (Suter) ninth and an impressive comeback from Hafizh Syahrin seeing him complete the top ten.
Joan Mir (Honda) took a superb win from 10th on the grid, fighting his way through to the front and then uncatchable for his second consecutive victory at the Red Bull Ring – and became the first rider in the lightweight class since Valentino Rossi in 1997 to win seven or more races from the first eleven.
Philipp Oettl (KTM) took an impressive second at a circuit he considers akin to a home venue, with Jorge Martin (Honda) pushing through the pain barrier in a brave comeback from injury to finish third.
Privateer KTM team-mates Gabriel Rodrigo and Juanfran Guevara got good starts from the front row, with Guevara into the lead, only to be passed by John McPhee (Honda) in Turn 3. Then factory KTM rider Bo Bendsneyder moved through as the early scuffle held championship leader Mir back. Soon, however, he began to claw his way back through the field, joining McPhee, Martin, Bendsneyder and Rodrigo at the front – but Oettl had other plans, creating a classic Moto3 freight train at the front as he brought some company along for the ride.
Mir then began to pull a gap as the front group battled among themselves, until Bendsneyder went into Turn 1 too hot and took McPhee out with him. With Mir clear in the lead, Oettl was able to stay ahead of the lead group for the final few laps to take his first weather podium, while as Martin fought it out with Livio Loi (Honda) and Aron Canet (Honda) for the final rostrum place.
Martin completed a hard-fought fairytale return to the grid, riding through the pain barrier to finish third. He was hardly able to walk in parc ferme afterwards, his leg far from healed after his crash at the German GP. Loi showed impressive pace in fourth, with Canet not quite able to repeat his Brno heroics and completing the top five.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) took sixth, with polesitter Rodrigo seventh for a good haul of hard-earned points to add to his impressive qualifying pace of late. Adam Norrodin (Honda) was another to convert promising pace into a great result, finishing eighth, while one of headline performances of the day came from rookie Jaume Masia (KTM), standing in for the injured Darryn Binder, who ran as high as second at one point before finishing ninth in an impressive Grand Prix debut, just ahead of Enea Bastianini (Honda), who completed the top 10.