Spielberg, Austria

Styria MotoGP Friday Round Up: A Wasted Day, Yamaha's Problems In Mixed Conditions, And Filling Empty MotoGP Seats

In an ideal world, MotoGP teams can use practice to prepare for the race on Sunday. Test tires in FP1, make setup changes in FP2, finalize the setting in FP3 and FP4, then into qualifying to be ready for the race. In an ideal world, conditions are comparable enough through all practice sessions on Friday and Saturday to find the optimal setup choices for Sunday.

But we don't live in an ideal world, of course. Temperature differences and changing conditions leave a lot to a mixture of experience and guesswork. Even then, as long as you have dry weather, you can get pretty close.

That is not the case this weekend in Spielberg, however. FP1 saw excellent conditions: warm, dry sunny. Not too hot, and temperatures not far off optimum for the tires. But rain started in the afternoon, and FP2 was wet, with a drying line as the session went on. Data collected in the morning would be useful for a dry race. Data in the afternoon is contingent on the amount of rain that falls in the case of a wet race, which looks a racing certainty.

Ready for anything?

A wet race would render the data collected on Saturday pretty much irrelevant as well. Saturday in Spielberg looks set very fair, bright, sunny and warm. But the forecast for Sunday is the worst of all worlds: thunderstorms, with a chance of heavy rain.

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2021 Styria Moto2 FP2 Result: Gardner Fastest On Drying Track

After rain affected their colleagues’ FP2 sessions, the surface was drying rapidly by the time the intermediate class joined the action and improvements to FP1 times seemed more realistic. However, it all came down to the final five minutes, when Remy Gardner made the first significant improvement to top the session and climb into third on the combined standings. Sam Lowes also made progress to finish the session second, with Tom Luthi a pleasant but unexpected sight in third place, one tenth of a second off the lead.

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2021 Styria MotoGP FP2 Result: Savadori Sails Away

MotoGP’s second outing around the Red Bull Ring kicked off with rainfall, which made for a slow start to proceedings and drastically reduced chances to make a difference on the combined standings. On the other hand, it improved Honda’s chances to top a session, as Marc Marquez predictably showed the way in the tricky start to FP2, but while the Spaniard rested for the final 10 minutes of the session, track conditions improved enough to allow a time attack.

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2021 Styria Moto3 FP2 Result: Binder Leads McPhee

Moto3 riders were quick to find improvements as the second practice session got underway but the ones who were not in a rush were faced with a rain flag waving with nine minutes remaining. However, the drops of rain were not too significant and allowed enough improvement in the final handful of minutes to demote Romano Fenati from the top spot he held for most of the session. In the end it was Darryn Binder who claimed the session ahead of teammate John McPhee, with FP1 leader Sergio Garcia also sneaking ahead of Fenati, who dropped to fourth.

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2021 Styria Moto2 FP1 Result: Bezzecchi Top Of The Class

Intermediate class riders enjoyed their return to the track after an exceptionally long holiday and the man who enjoyed it most, perhaps because of the fresh MotoGP rumours, was Marco Bezzecchi. The Italian led the way throughout the session and ended it on top, despite a late challenge from Augusto Fernandez. Aron Canet joined the top three late on, two tenths slower than the leader and narrowly ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta.

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2021 Styria MotoGP FP1 Result: Nakagami Demotes Mir

The premier class returned to our screens particularly keen to grab the headlines with an avalanche of news, but all the talk moved to the track come Friday morning. Joan Mir kept the top seat warm for much of the session, while his main rivals were busy exceeding track limits, but Takaki Nakagami eventually managed to snatch top spot by seven hundredths of a second on his final flying lap. With Mir demoted to second, a big group of his compatriots followed closely behind. Aleix Espargaro claimed third ahead of Alex Rins and the Repsol Honda duo of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez.

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2021 Styria Moto3 FP1 Result: Garcia Back In The Limelight

The soundtrack of Moto3 machines could be heard once again in the Austrian mountains after a particularly long wait and the headliner for FP1 changed quite a few times while riders got up to speed. Niccolò Antonelli had settled at the front halfway through the action but a late tumble at turn 6 left him unable to defend his position and rivals rushed to the top. After a remote battle between Sergio Garcia and John McPhee, it was the Spaniard who claimed the morning’s honours, half a tenth faster than the Scotsman.

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Styria MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Rossi's Retirement, Charisma, Safety, Race Lessons, And Slow Healing

It was an odd day today. The moment we heard that there would be an extra press conference to be held by Valentino Rossi, the work of a journalist goes into overdrive. Preparing a story for if he announced his retirement, worrying whether to write an alternative story, for if he had announced he would be switching to Ducati and racing in his own team, putting out feelers to see what people thought the announcement would be. Weighing rumors that he would be doing one thing or another.

The most remarkable thing about today's announcement was that nobody knew which way it was going to go. Normally, decisions of such import leak out; there were rumors that Jorge Lorenzo was going to retire for weeks before hand, Casey Stoner's retirement had been credibly reported at least three weeks before the announcement, and Dani Pedrosa's retirement had been telegraphed for a long time.

Even Rossi's decision to drop long-time crew chief Jeremy Burgess had been leaked to the press a week beforehand. (And in truth, the leak probably forced Rossi's hand, and into making an announcement before the Valencia race, instead of after it. Rossi got his revenge later, however, planting a false story with the same journalist a year or so later.)

Loose lips sink ships

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Valentino Rossi To Retire At The End Of The 2021 MotoGP Season

Valentino Rossi has announced that he is to retire from MotoGP racing at the end of the 2021 season. The legendary Italian has decided to call it a day after 26 seasons in Grand Prix racing, as results were becoming more difficult to come by.

Rossi leaves with an incredible record. The Italian has 423 Grand Prix starts across all three classes, 115 Grand Prix victories, 199 premier class podiums, and 89 premier class wins. He has nine world championships, and seven premier class titles, having won on 500cc two strokes, 990cc four strokes, and 800cc four strokes. He also came within 5 points of winning the 1000cc four-stroke format as well.

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Valentino Rossi To Announce His Future At Styrian GP

Dorna and the Petronas Yamaha team have announced that there is to be an exceptional press conference at 16:15 local time in Austria. While no further information was given, the obvious conclusion is that he will announce his plans for the future at that press conference.

What that future is predictable, though not certain. It is most likely that Rossi will announce he will be retiring from the sport at the end of this year. He insisted earlier this year that he would make a decision in the first half of the season based on his results, and with only two tenth places as his best results, that would point heavily toward the idea of him retiring.

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