Austria MotoGP Subscriber Notes, Part 2: Yamaha's Revival, The Rookies Come Good, And Tolerance For Talent

There was so much to talk about after the Austrian round of MotoGP. The stunning battle and spectacular last lap between Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez, in which Dovizioso emerged triumphant. The bizarre story surrounding Jack Miller's contract and Jorge Lorenzo, a rider who wasn't even present in Spielberg. And to top it all, Johann Zarco's shock announcement he would be leaving KTM at the end of 2019, with no clearly defined plan.

While all of this dominated the headlines, there was so much more going on at the Red Bull Ring that got lost in all the drama. Developments which promise much for the future, both for next year and for the rest of the season. This was a weekend where Yamaha made a comeback, and especially where this year's crop of rookies started to shine.

That Fabio Quartararo should have a good race is no longer really news. The Frenchman has slotted in perfectly to the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, and has shone from the very first weekend. He has had a couple of podiums before, but the podium at the Red Bull Ring should count as something very special indeed. Barcelona and Assen, the two previous races where he got on the podium, are known to be Yamaha tracks. The Red Bull Ring is anything but.

No business being so fast

Perhaps Quartararo was helped by the fact that Marc Márquez ran Andrea Dovizioso wide on the opening lap at Turn 3, opening a hole for him to dive through and run the pace the Yamaha is capable of, without slower bikes getting in the way mid corner. That bought him enough of a buffer that once Dovizioso and Márquez were past, he didn't have to defend quite so hard. Jack Miller helped too, by sliding off behind him on lap 8.

Quartararo had nothing for Márquez and Dovizioso, but then again, neither did anyone else. Once they were past, Jack Miller couldn't pass the Frenchman, Valentino Rossi couldn't get close enough to attempt a pass, and in the end, Quartararo kept his pace to open up a gap. It was an outstanding ride, and not a result they had been expecting. On Friday, the Frenchman had been talking about the top ten as a goal, and being surprised to be top five. On Saturday, he qualified on the front row, and on Sunday he finished on the podium.

Choosing the soft rear tire had made a difference, as the temperature was lower than expected. "With the team, we spoke and we expected that the first laps we will struggle," Quartararo said after the race, "but at the end we never expected to lead the first five laps. Was tough because we chose the soft tire. We never really had the experience of really how to manage that tire. Even when I was leading in corner four and five I tried really to avoid the spinning. When Dovi and Marc overtook me I tried to do my best to stay with them, but I was really on the limit. I could stay but maybe on the last lap my tire was destroyed. So I prefer to let them because today we knew that they had better pace than us. We never expect also to be on the podium, so we are really happy."

He had been worried once Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales started to close on him. "It was tough because when I was in the third position, Vale was at 0.3 I think, so from there I tried to make my pace, to try to keep the tires because we knew that they have a medium," Quartararo said. "But every lap I took one tenth, two tenths, until arrive to two seconds. We could manage between 1.7 and 2 seconds. Was a tough race because I was alone, but we are really happy to finish first Yamaha and of course on the podium."

Yamaha back from the brink

The fact that it was Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales who Quartararo was worried about is telling of its own accord. The Red Bull Ring is the antithesis of everything Yamaha is about – hard acceleration needing maximum horsepower and a minimum of corners where corner speed might matter – and yet Yamahas finished third, fourth, and fifth. Compare the three Yamahas in the top five with Ducati and Honda. The second Ducati was in seventh, the third in ninth. The second Honda was in eleventh, the third in thirteenth. Sure, Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow crashed out, but even if they hadn't, it wouldn't have changed the complexion of the race that much.

What a difference year makes. Compared to 2018, the leading Honda and Ducati were roughly 6 seconds faster this year. The fastest Yamaha – Fabio Quartararo – was nearly 14 seconds faster than in 2018. Rossi himself was over 12 seconds faster than 2018, Maverick Viñales a whole 20 seconds quicker.

Where has the speed come from? Some is from the track, with the grip much better than in 2018. A good deal is from the Michelin tires, which used a slightly softer construction with the same compounds, giving better grip, something which the Yamahas both need and can use. But a lot came from the improvement of the Yamaha itself, from the fact that the improvements in electronics and chassis means the bike can make the tires last. There has been an influx of engineers into Yamaha's MotoGP program, and this is making a serious difference.

More grip, more speed

"On paper we’re supposed to suffer a lot here in Austria like in the past," Valentino Rossi said after the race. "But from the beginning in FP1 we see something good. We improve, especially the constancy and the grip of the tires. I did a very good start and very good fast laps. I was strong and was able to cover a lot of positions. I was in a good position to fight for the podium but unfortunately the guys in front of me – especially Dovi and Marquez, but also a little bit Quartararo – were stronger than me. So I wasn’t able to go with Fabio."

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When a team leaves a class or expands in a class, are there associated fees (or other forms of explicit or implicit penalties?)

I agree that it is an undeniable fact that talent gives significant lattitude and tolerance for Fenati in MotoGP paddock and that is very sad indeed.  While you argued at the time of his assault on Manzi that a young person who makes mistakes can mature and potentially comeback, to see him return after no real punishment was demoralizing.  No matter how many times he takes the checkered flag or even hoists a championship trophy, this family will not be celebrating.

OMG, get a grip. If anything, the fact that Fenati executed that manouver without crashing the schmuck shows exactly how skilled he is. It was a fitting warning to another rider. This stuff has been going on (and worse) since the beginning of racing. Racers policing themselves. Get off your high horse.

Niccolo Canepa was taken to court in Italy after doing the same brake grab move at a Mugello track day in 2013 where the other rider tumbled to the ground on the front straight and was at risk of being struck by another motorcycle.  If this occured at any track day or race weekend with any organization I've raced with, therider would be blacklisted from future participation at the very least.    No way can that action be considered a skilled manouver, it is assault pure and simple.  The outcome of the move ranges from bad to tragic, so I will remain on my high horse thanks very much.

You sir give me cause to wonder just how far you will go n justifying the unjustifiable. Seriously. ‘Tis yourself that needs to examine the grasp

And your argument is, "what Fenati did was dangerous"? What is your proof of that? The results (nothing more than a pucker) of Fenati's actions support my view on this; that what he did was calculated and expertly implemented. Please refute that (you can't), or my declaration that things like this have been going on since man began to race (you can't). I think as someone not on the track, you should leave policing of the ranks to those intimately involved. Or to put it another way, to apply the standards of behavior from whatever profession you have to this situation is a gross misapplication and does Fenati a disservice. To quote Biaggi, "this is not ballet". The notion that things like this should be left to "race direction" is laughable, and part of a larger problem of the "nanny state" where justice is solely the perview of some external authority, not the responsibility of those whose lives are on the line. 

(^ Not saying what this looks like. Remembering you calling me out re character w an abusive violating shame filled attack. "Give them enough rope...")

Fenati can be offered a path back into the fold of the community. He looks to be back on track. His taking of a penalty long lap when he hadn't been given one after returning said something of conscience and penance.

Ridgidity cementing of a pariah and fascist anti-social/narcissitic violators go hand in hand. Primitive regressive shame/fear struggling. Childish (schoolyard concrete operational development of 7 to 10 yr old, and unhinged rage reaction to it of a toddler). There is also a differentiated humility, grace and sublimation. Luckily for every Fenati brake grab, we also get a 2019 Dovi Austria performance eh?

Wish I could understand what you say. Not that I'm not capable of understanding subtleties in thought, it just that sometimes I can't parse your sentences. If your saying that the race track is no place for petty childish rage filled reactions, I'd say there are so few places in life where such behavior is possible, I welcome it as part of the spectacle. I rue the day when racing becomes too sanitized lest it become as pathetic as footy with people flopping. I firmly believe that quote from Huxley about sports being warfare without the guns and full of pettiness. As far as Dovi's performance, while everyone seems to be falling over themselves over it. Clearly the Lorenzo drama motivated him (perhaps Gigi's intent all along), but by Dovi's own admission he left his brain out of that decision to make the lunge. OMG, putting another racer at risk, how dare he (insert fake shock here).

you can never quantify a loss avoided. So, that the other tider didn’t crash doesn’t mean it wasn’t a redicoulusly dangerous move.

If i swing a bat at someone and miss is that self-policing?

Very unsophisticated argument, mtiberio.  

I sincerely hope that all these posters who believe in a 'one strike and you're out' for this have never made any ill judgements in the heat of the moment when they were young, else we have a lot of hypocrites about Motomatters.

I know I could list at least a dozen things I did in my youth that easily could have resulted in serious injury or death to myself or others and I shake my head at the memories but thankfully, I didn't repeat them. The point being that most of us humans evolve, mature & learn as we grow (not all mind) and until I see evidence to contrary, I believe Romano is doing just that. 

Jorge though... I think he might have stalled out in that regard. ;)

If he was a teenager at the time i would agree but he was 22/23 years old. 

I'm glad you had your act all together at 22. Personally between 19-24 years old is the most invincible I have ever felt in my life and did the most stupid stuff... and also have some of the best memories. :D Honestly, I didn't truly start to feel like a responsible adult until I was 36 or so. Wasn't Marco in his 20's when he took out Hector @ Mugello? Did you think he deserved punishment then? Not trying to start a flame war... I'm honestly curious. 

racing was never much cop and a lot of the other features of that period were pretty poor too. It did leave some very grand edifices though. Morally, it was pretty corrupt. I am pleased about Fenati in more ways than one. I am a metaphorical million miles from him, but pleased. He has got his act together. He’s a young man and perhaps it could still all go wrong. However, second chances are a positive feature of human kindness and Fenati has grabbed his firmly and decisively. Long may it continue and serve as a good example.

Great stuff, David!


"...But a lot came from the improvement of the Yamaha itself, from the fact that the improvements in electronics and chassis means the bike can make the tires last. There has been an influx of engineers into Yamaha's MotoGP program, and this is making a serious difference..."


"They brought a fender" - Valentino's summary of Iwata's efforts after the 2018 Brno Test.

As for Moto2: What is the allure for factories to spend vast sums to build the world's best Triumph Triple? And having done so to then race it on tires that have no relevance to your efforts in MotoGP? Moto2 has has morphed from being a truly independent class where riders could become specialists on the smaller packages and spend their entire career at that level,  (i.e., the old 50cc/80cc, 125cc, 250cc/350cc days) to simply being a shuttle bus to move riders from Moto3 to MotoGP. That being the case, why not let the specialist chassis makers handle it and avoid the unwanted expense (and dilution of effort) of trying to make someone else's engine go around corners and over bumps? Sentimentality aside, there are currently no Yamahas, Suzukis, Ducatis, Hondas, or Aprilias in Moto2 for a reason: The technology is not directly transferable to the big stage (at least with Moto3 you can run, and develop, a 1/4 scale MotoGP motor, at least within the limits of reduced RPM and and engine management technology).

If you want to just have the best shuttle bus (and therefore the pick of the litter when it comes to new talent), then you may be far better off tossing your Euros at a few premium Moto2 Teams to make sure the path from Red Bull Rookies/Moto3 Junior WC all the way to MotoGP is smooth and uninterrupted, and sod who's name is on the Moto2 chassis, as long as "Red Bull" is written large on the fairings in the Winner's Circle. Because, at least from where I sit, the role of a Moto2 Team is no longer as much about building a better Triton ("Oi, this'll wow the lads outside the Ace Cafe"), but to act as part of a cohesive Rider Management Enterprise. The most valuable asset of any top Moto2 team is not their technical knowledge (though you still have to field a bike with a shout, and then tune it) but rather the stack of signed young rider contracts they control. That KTM/Red Bull have ditched the former, and maybe improved their position with regards to the latter, is a path forward that I cannot criticize them for. In fact...well played. Cheers.


Agree on Moto2.  Mfr's should be allowed to run THEIR engines, period.  Set the displacement and let them put their motors in.  Want to keep costs under control, limit the engines per year.

Getting away with stuff (aka Fenati)...  the most talented riders have ALWAYS got away with it.  Cue Argentina 2018 and Marc Marquez.  He should have been black flagged, period.  Or a stiff penalty for the next race.  You choose.  Then the previous weekend the incident with him and Rins.  Marquez slowed on the racing line. Rins went through anyways.  Then you have Marc down pit lane, bike to bike, touching Rins and pushing him around mentally.  Yeah, a very far cry or different planet than reaching over and mashing a brake lever after some piss poor riding, but shouldn't be done.  Marc is one of the best if not the best ever but there are limits.  Argentina was an embarrassment to the sport.  Fenati is a kid.  Deserved stiff punishment, got some, perhaps deserved more in some people's minds, but didnt' deserve permanent banishment.  Marc on the other hand, no penalties.  It's inconsistent to say the least.

...Jinx. I really hadn't thought about your points on M2, but I can't argue with any of them.  IF....the team's (HRC, Ducati Corse, etc) took over M2, the training/pathway into MGP might be better served + you've have a better success rate.  If you look at the M2 WC and how they've done in MGP, the success rate is rather POOR! MM can't be used as any example...he's a freak!

...and driveways were paved with rubies, there would be an option for non-standard Moto2 engines. Sadly, I know of no such place.

1) There is no way that the MotoGP Mfg's will sign up for the expense of developing a new engine package to power the shuttle bus.

2) Two of the MotoGP Mfg's are not even flush enough to have a support team in MotoGP. Aprilia can barely eat lunch without someone losing and eye or a finger. They do not need a bigger challenge.

3) While you could cut one cylinder off a MotoGP Yamaha or Suzuki and arrive at a 750cc triple, this is not so easily accomplished with a V-4 as your starting point. Without a common cylinder (i.e., same bore/stroke for all three classes), this is economic suicide. You could go to 500cc twins to solve this issue, but that is not the test of rider ability needed (see #6, below).

4) The current regulations let all the MotoGP players continue to whistle past the graveyard. They all accept Triumph as an engine supplier because, well, it's a Triumph. And nobody calls it a Triumph anyway, they identify the bikes by chassis supplier. It's an acceptable and mutually agreed upon illusion for all concerned.

5) Without switching to Michelins for Moto2 (and probably tossing in carbon brakes), there would still be a huge disconnect between Moto2 and MotoGP. And why penalize Dunlop, who have been great at supporting the sport at all levels for a very long time (even if it is currently a Goodyear/Sumitomo run enterprise).

6) The purpose of the Moto2 class, from a MotoGP perspective, is equivalent to your University finals. I.e., we know he is a smart lad, but let's see how he handles the final exams before we make an offer. Having each rider take a separate exam ( a Honda exam vs. a Yamaha exam vs. a Suzuki Exam...and so forth) just muddies up the waters. If you are an brand-specific ace on your Moto2 Honda, and as it happens there are no available HRC seats for a few years, would you not have been better off as a generalist (i.e., standard Triumph package)? And what happens to gifted riders when they wind up on this year's turd? As things currently stand, a Team can switch chassis suppliers. Not easily, but doing so would be a day at the beach compared to dropping an engine supplier because, like MotoGP, there would be a limited supply of the stuff that works.

7) None of the current Moto2 chassis specialist has the capacity to support multiple engine layouts and configurations. Just getting the latest swingarm for the standard Triumph package is hard enough. If the Mfg's have to supply everything, then you would have near-as-doesn't-matter MotoGP budgets required for Moto2.

While I hate to say "never" ain't never going to happen, hence the rationale behind KTM's decision. Cheers.

PS - My heart is with you all. I am still hoping for that lager to rain down. But until it does I make sure I know the way to the pub. Cheers.

The ideal can rob us of appreciating/enjoying the good. I have plenty of ideals, and get a bit romantic. Moto2 bar-bashing of similar equipment (opposite of polite era = Moto2) is fun. Very full grid. I like this yr better than last, step in the right direction. Given the near death experience middleweight/Supersport bike production and sales have had, and dwindling of Supersport production race bikes available...this looks like a healthy class. It would be preferable to see more projects of smaller teams (diversity is interesting), so sad to see Tech3 and KTM go rather than add a few more. Speed Up makes a rare appearance, NTS sucks. KTM needed more resources in there to get closer to Kalex, and has folded this hand.

That said, there are TWO Moto3 bikes. Two. And it is spendy. We are lucky to have four solid MotoGP bikes and one on the way, indeed. I for one enjoy having so many Moto2 bikes on similar pace. The racing is good. The R6 Cup isn't holding your attention over in WSS is it? Nope. How "into" the Moto3 Honda and KTM bike battle are you? How much of your awareness is there while watching Moto3 racing?

I prefer KTM bolster MotoGP with that Moto2 budget given the choice. It would have been nice to see Binder on a Kalex. Watching Moto2 for the racing and the riders primarily. The 765 Triple is a fantastic powerplant. I enjoy seeing what looks close to an ideal racing motorcycle for me personally (hence I have a 675R that will get an overbore motor build when it needs a refresh, dream 250GP handling out of the box, stock lacks a bit of top end but is GSXR750-like up through midrange). There are bigger fish to fry than this shortcoming of diversity in bikes.

Our MotoGP era post "two garages win everything, Honda makes the rulebook" is that bigger fish, and it is sizzling nicely. This is the prototype show. Moto2 is support. The Spec engine helps support the riders and racing for MotoGP. Manufacturers have their hands full w MotoGP and all their various other racing (production bikes, plus Moto3...did I mention that was TWO bikes?!).

Yamaha back? Jr Suzuki Team, big sponsor? KTM making those next steps? Yes! Prefer a full grid of competitive diverse prototype Middleweights as well? Of course. Moto2 w the Triumph triple and great racing that develops/preps well for the big league? Okey doke.

The racing business is results driven. Both Zarco (KTM contract) and KTM (Moto2) officially giving up on the same race weekend for the same reason proves this. A month ago someone at KTM (maybe Pit, I don't remember) said that Moto2 should be the easiest class to win. Spec engine, electronics and tires - all one has to do is get the frame right and a strong rider will be competitive. And yet recently they looked like they were flailing. Binder wins heroically at Austria (the drag strip circuit with the least amount of turns on the calendar) on the old frame with the new fairing. Now Pit says that they can't keep enough good people to dedicate to a specific project. KTM was getting too strung out in their GP projects so now they are putting more eggs in their Motogp basket. Hope it works for them 'cause a couple more years of middling results would really suck considering the energy drink with it's own air force is funding the project. Fortunately for them their Motogp bike is similar in some respects to the Honda's and KTM's test rider has more Honda Motogp experience than any other.

"the greater the perceived talent, the greater the tolerance". Nothing hints at Marquez and his penchant for rubbin' (or running into) other riders more than that statement. He said in the presser that he likes touching when talking about how Dovi touched him in the last corner. Well then who touched who? Nobody said Marquez owned that space above his right bar end. It was his choice to stick it there in front of the space where the Ducati's rear axle nut was headed. Technically Dovi was ahead on track so...

Fenati's brake grab was one little snippet of the entire story that was his race on that day with Manzi and the rest of the Moto2 field. We don't know the whole story. We view from afar. Only the rider knows his perspective of what happens. Just as Rossi and Marquez are the only ones that know whether Rossi kicked Marquez or Marquez got tangled up in Rossi at Sepang '15. These riders use their bikes and bodies to stake their territorial claim to a terrain that is constantly in motion. Intimidation and bullying is common. Also there is respect which we viewed in the Motogp race last weekend. But giving another rider's brake lever a squeeze is akin to sliding your hand up his girlfriend's skirt at a party. Even though there were zero consequences at the physical level the behaviour was considered abhorrent. And it is the reaction to the behaviour that was so visceral. What Fenati did clearly goes against the rules. We have a rulebook for how we celebrate destructiveness in peculiar ways. It's kinda funny. 

...And now Danny Kent got dropped on the spot by MV Agusta in BSB after an arrest in England ? After winning the Moto3 title against some seriously good competition (incl Quartararo om the same bike) that guy has had a wobbly path. Recently here some of us were just discussing "poor Danny Kent's" unfortunate career since his championship.

They sure are strict in the UK relative to some other places, if the reports are right. An older man (68) saw Kent's brother running from someone's flat and tackled him on the sidewalk. Danny arrived from behind and dragged the guy off. Police were called, and "a kitchen knife was on the ground" Kent had been carrying. Unclear if he weilded it against the man, or assaulted him. Sounds like it was just that he was carrying it around.

This, and that they were running from having just "collected a debt" from the flat. Kent was convicted and sentenced to a few MONTHS in prison (won't have to serve them all w good behavior).

Wow. Huh. More drama, misdoings, and consequences. Barbera btw committed domestic violence and is still riding (jerk). We all seem to have forgotten Dani's boating license cheating, and forgiven his taking out Nicky in '06. Things move along.

The reports in the UK, which are not extensive, are that the person who seems to have 'tackled' them is 63 - still fairly old for tackling 'thugs'. Kent's sentence was 'suspended' for 12 months, which means he serves no actual time if doesn't re-offend within a year. Given the story and the mood in the UK around knives at present (and the laws) it sounds as if he was just dumb enough to get involved, be carrying the knife (allegedly for work purposes), and then 'dropping' it. All very messy, very damaging to him and another young person who didn't think twice before acting on instinct.

Being sacked from his BSB MV Agusta ride seems harsh and is a blow that will take some time to recover from. As an ex-world champ he might never recover in a professional sense. His ex-employer may know more than is public knowledge, but if his or the dealer/factory reaction was also a knee-jerk and harsh perhaps they or someone else might re-consider, Fenati-like, for next year.....Kent now has a criminal record which, in the modern world especially, could have all sorts of long-term effects on his travel and employment.