2018 Austria MotoGP Race Result: Just Because It’s Predictable, Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Fabulous Fun

The splendid Ducati Ring set the scene just right with a pleasant 27 degrees, a bit of a breeze and a few photogenic clouds. And the photographers had plenty to capture, as the masterful trio of Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso danced around the track in various configurations but close together, as predicted. In the end, Ducati kept their flag at the top of the castle courtesy of Lorenzo, who just about kept a rampaging Marquez behind to take his third win of the season. Dovizioso was in the mix for most of the race but ultimately could not keep up with the Spaniards and settled for a safe podium.

Dovizioso had made an excellent start to jump ahead of the poleman but before he could make a run for it, Marquez snuck back inside and the Italian just about avoided an early incident. This allowed Lorenzo to move ahead, while Dovizioso dropped back and had to fight off Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow before he could catch up with his favourite duo up front.

Marquez made the first of many block passes on Lorenzo in turn three of lap two to take the lead ahead of the Ducatis, with Crutchlow, Rins and Danilo Petrucci close behind and the rest of the pack not too far either. Despite a disastrous qualifying, Valentino Rossi was up in 11th position by lap two, while Maverick Viñales was losing ground at the start in familiar fashion, dropping to 16th. Dani Pedrosa also dropped some positions at the start following a tangle in turn one and was working to get his hard rear tyre up to speed from 13th spot.

Back at the front, Marquez was the fastest man on track – faster than predicted race pace – and was attempting an escape with the presumed advantage of hard rear rubber. By lap six, the Spaniard had half a second in hand and challenged the Ducatis to come in hard pursuit, while the trio already dropped the rest of the field, led by Crutchlow, over two seconds back. The LCR rider had Petrucci and Rins for company, with Tito Rabat heading a group with Aleix Espargaro, Rossi, Zarco, Andrea Iannone, Pedrosa and Jack Miller another second down the road.

By the end of lap eight, Marquez’s advantage was nudging the one second barrier and while Dovizioso was showing similar pace to the leader, he was having trouble getting past his teammate. Meanwhile, the action was hotting up mid-pack, with Rossi and Pedrosa entertaining some moves in the sizeable battle for eighth position.

The lead trio continued to post nearly identical times at the front but had slowed down the pace to more reasonable mid 1:24s. Marquez’s gap ticked over the one second gap for the first time on lap 12, while Lorenzo was taking the defensive line over Dovizioso, the two Ducatis glued to each other. Nonetheless, two laps later, they were starting to reel in Marquez, bringing down the gap to half a second. Not much was going on behind, with the rest of the pack separated by half-second to one second gaps throughout.

The pace settled halfway through the race but Marquez was yoyo-ing back and forth towards the pursuers, dangling like tempting prey half a second ahead of the red sharks. Lorenzo finally got within striking distance with 11 laps left and there was nothing to pick between the three despite different tyre choices – Marquez on the hard rear, Lorenzo on both softs and Dovizioso on mediums. Lorenzo made a move for the lead one lap later courtesy of the Ducati’s straight line speed and a very eager Dovizioso got a bit too close for comfort, running wide and losing a couple of tenths on the Spaniards. Marquez fought back when he saw a tight gap but Lorenzo retaliated in turn nine later that lap. The Honda man took a breath and bided his time behind Lorenzo while Dovizioso was regrouping, seven tenths down. Crutchlow was six seconds back, with gaps over 1.5 seconds between Petrucci, Rins, Rossi and Pedrosa behind him. Viñales had found some speed but the sizeable gaps meant he advanced slowly to 12th position.

With seven laps left, Dovizioso looked to be the first to show his hand when the Italian could no longer keep up with his two rivals, dropping one second back, into the 1:25s. The three-way became a duel between the two future teammates and Marquez had his sights firmly set on his compatriot’s exhaust. The reigning world champion saw blood red and attacked with three laps to go but Lorenzo resumed the lead on the next straight stretch of tarmac. Despite some rodeo moves in the heat of battle, Marquez retaliated in turn 13 but Lorenzo was back in front as they started the final lap and despite another valiant attempt in turn three, the Honda could not cope with the grunt of the Ducati and the Austrian circuit stayed their playground.

Dovizioso finished a lonely third, seven seconds ahead of Crutchlow. Petrucci grabbed another lonely fifth position ahead of Rossi, who made a decent recovery job having started 14th. Pedrosa got close to the Italian but settled for seventh, while Rins lost steam in the final few laps and dropped to eighth place. Zarco and Alvaro Bautista completed the top ten, with Viñales finishing in an anonymous 12th, behind Tito Rabat.

Despite the last lap loss, Marquez had plenty of reasons to smile as he extended his championship lead significantly, now 59 points ahead of Rossi. Lorenzo’s victory helped him into third in the ranking, although still 71 points behind the leader and one point ahead of his teammate.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 39'40.688
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda +0.130
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +1.656
4 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +9.434
5 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +13.169
6 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +14.026
7 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +14.156
8 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +16.644
9 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +20.760
10 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati +20.844
11 53 Tito RABAT Ducati +21.114
12 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +22.939
13 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki +26.523
14 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +29.168
15 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +30.072
16 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha +30.343
17 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +31.775
18 43 Jack MILLER Ducati +34.375
19 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda +40.171
20 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia +53.020
21 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +53.261
22 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda +54.355
    Not Classified    
  10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati 18 Laps
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I was already thrilled by the grand finale in Moto2, but then the final 3 laps between Lorenzo and Marquez? Great, great fun! pure racing and fighting spirit.

I was puzzled about mid race, when MM had a one second advantage and you could see Dovi giving it all to pass and JL just making sure to shut the door... but then suddenly it was just fabolous. 

I wonder : what if Dovi had passed JL ? He had the same pace, but then when he made that mistake and run wide and  never recovered... 

Looking forward to reading your report David.

Great race!

IMO that was Jorge' best MotoGP ever! He was masterful and fought for that victory like we have never seen. That around-the-outside move after MM dove inside on the last lap was incredible! Especially because of who he owned in that last lap turn. He will win some more this season. Meanwhile, GiGi has done a great job saving Ducati from terminal mediocrity, but it is hard to believe he let a proven world champ leave Ducati for HRC! Instead he has Petrucci to take his seat... Talk about blowing it!

Based on my reading, It was Domenicali that wasn't satisfied with Lorenzo and wanted a change. Gigi wanted to conitnue with him, or at least wait longer before making a decision.

However, Gigi does get the blame for not prioritizing Lorenzo's requests (about the bike) and assuming that Lorenzo just needed to get used to whatever they were providing him because Dovi could win on it.

agreed. You could tell Lorenzo giving Claudio the cold shoulder at parc ferme whenever Claudio was present.

Jorge is now ahead of Dovi in the championship. Honda must be sat in their factory laughing their collective heads off. You've got to wonder what Gigi was thinking openly insulting Jorge in the run up to Mugello, all last year Jorge inched closer and closer to Dovi as the season progressed, then this year he wanted some specific and relatively simple changes to his bike, which took Ducati five races to give him while they questioned everything from his skill to his commitment. Since they gave him the new 'fuel tank' it's three wins, a podium and a shiney contract with Honda from six races.


What would the title race look like if they had just listened to Jorge? I wonder how Marc is feeling about his incoming bed buddy too, he's looking awfully like he wants the top bunk.

Gigi insulting Jorge? I thought that was Domenicali 

It wasn't Gigi sniping Lorenzo, it was primarily Domenicali... the... like... CEO of the company.  Tardozzi has also been publically critical I seem to recall - he is MotoGP Team Manager.

I think the Lorenzo experience just shows up the long term managerial issues that plague Ducati, ones which Gigi has been able to largely cure at the race and engineering team level but not at the boardroom / senior management level.

Absolutely right: Domenicali has the most impressive record of being very unpleasant with his "employees". We should never forget how they treated Stoner...

With Lorenzo we had the perfect storm situation in the sense that Domenicali was extremely disrespectful (the guy still behaves as if he owned those who work for him and treats them like objects) and Lorenzo is probably the most self righteous rider in the paddock. It was bound to explode. And it did. Ironically against both interests.

This has nothing to do with the size of a tank. It's all about two irreconcilable positions. On the one hand Domenicali thinks that he put millions on a guy who by the end of 2017 not only did not deliver but to add insult to injury would not play ball with the rest of the team (remember mapping 8 ?). On the other hand you have a guy who thinks that he is the best and expects to be treated like number one even when his results say otherwise.

 I'm convinced that Lorenzo would not have left had Domenicali shut up in public. But Domenicali cannot shut up it's in his nature to humiliate with cheap shots the people who work for him when he feels they are not up to expectations.

It's a big big shame. And everybody lost. 


Jorge’s results have improved since Gigi’s lil’ chat, so one could argue Gigi played exactly the right card.

Also, we know nothing about the lead up to the tank shape issue. Jorge has had a year and a half to sort it in testing yet only mentioned it recently, and it may have been part of a never ending litany of demands at which point Gigi and co have said “Enough, just ride the damn bike, the same bike that won all those races last year”.

20:20 hindsight makes fools of us all. 

Nice line on the “bunk mates”, had a good laugh at that, lol.


Dovi can't quite keep himself from blaming JL for his poor performance. Couldn't get around... burned up tires trying to pass... Boo hoo. Did he congratulate JL in parc ferme, like JL did to him last week? I didn't see it. Bitter pill to finish 3rd? Shouldn't be, should be quite familiar.

I'm pretty sure Dovi did congratulate Jorge in parc ferme, as I commented to my wife that they are able to be respectful and civil to each other there after the race even if, a few days ago, they were publicly critical of each other. They will never be good mates; at least this side of retirement, but it's good to see mutual respect for great fellow racers. What a race; worth sitting up until 01:00 hours to watch here downunder.

They did congratulate each other. But Dovi couldnt hide his frustration. Complaining how he couldnt overtake Jorge etc. Initially I thought it was because of this race result, but then it struck, he has managed 2 wins and now Jorge has 3 wins so far this year. So basically your teammate is suddenly better. how he plays that, we need to see.

Fabulous Marc, but when other bikes are at the Honda level (or even a little lower) other fabulous riders win the race. Conclusion: as I was saying before someone strongly disagreed, there are at least five pilots capable of Marc's victories, had they had his Honda. 

down playing the talent of MM a tad and over estimating the Honda a smidge more.  Dani Pedrosa has not been competitive this year and he hasn't suddenly forgotten how to ride a Honda.  Given the current form of the riders I would have to say that you could probably expect MM, JL, and possibly VR and AD to be competitive on the Honda.  Managing tyres is a major factor in todays MotoGp and these 4 seem to have cracked it.

that Dani Pedrosa is a victim of the switch to Michelins. Like you said, he hasn't forgotten how to ride a Honda. His situation this year sort of reminds me of Toni Elias and Bridgestones. Give him the right tires and he's a race winner. Otherwise he's way down the order.

The "current form" of riders seems to be those who have figured out: (1) Michelin's philosophy, when putting together rubber/carcass combinations and (2) how they suit their style and the bike they're racing. Then they are able to successfully race said combination right after the Moto2 race has laid down a layer of Dunlop rubber. 

No doubt they would, and also CC and MV (leave alone Pedrosa, evidently struck by other problems and other bike). 

It was like watching him ride the Derbi in his 250cc heyday, Yasuni and all. Agressive and controlled. I enjoyed it. He sure made the softs front and rear work for him brilliantly. Hardly a poor performance from Dovi mtberio. A podium 1.6 seconds off the winner and 8 seconds ahead of fourth...poor performance not! Marc and Dovi did what they could with their respective tyre selections and Jorge topped out and good on him. Thats all. I'll be more convinced about Jorge's Ducati resurgence when we see him do the same at Silverstone in mixed and ever changing conditions. Nevertheless, a usefull, ruthless and fantastic ride by #99. Rossi's 2nd place standing in the title chase is now under serious threat. Marc has the 2018 title very much under clutch so to speak and that's about Marc's prowess rather than Honda's, truth be told to power.

What a race! Whatever Honda is paying Marc, it ain't enough. Without him, the WC would be a dog fight between Ducati and Yamaha, with Honda being nowhere! And how in the hell did Ducati manage to 'screw the pooch' so bad in dealing with Jorge? It seems inconceivable to me that they would handle the situation, in the manner they did. 

BTW....be nice to see Marc on the bullet!

I'm not sure the world is ready for Marc Marquez on a Desmosidici, it can be scary enough watching him on the Honda.

Great turn of phrase by the way 3B43

Ducati, the press and many commentators here were too quick to criticise JL. If many were to believed, he'd lost his bottle, couldn't ride in wet conditions, should stay at home in mixed conditions and couldn't get to grips with the bike in the dry.

I'm not a 'fan' of the guy but while many were giving up on him, including Ducati management he never gave up on the task of getting on top of the bike. I admire that in him.

Austria was one of the best performances I've seen JL and MM put in and I can't help but wonder if JL has a tinge of regret about his early decision to take the Honda offer?

JL has been exploiting the Ducati's strengths beautifully since Mugello.  The Honda's braking strength vs. the Duc's accelertion made for fantastic racing.  

But clearly they require different riding styles.  Can JL adapt a hard-braking style to use the Honda?  I'm not sure that Marquez can be beat on a Honda.

I said the championship was over after 4 rounds this year.  Honda improved the bike and when Marc has a bad day he is 2nd or 3rd.  Unless he causes a massive high side the championship is over.  One hand on the championship already.  He could take two races off and still be leading.  I think the only thing left to settle is what round he clinches at.  PI most likely.

And I predicted Tito woulnd’t win the championship this year.  Seems we both really went out on a limb :)

Imo the last few races have been getting to much like the old days. Dominated by two manufacturers. The whole thing seems to be going f1 style

To see Ross Braun there was ironic 

2 m9nths ago the series was the best ever. What's happening 

As a motorsport fan of some 40 years (both 2 and 4 wheel) it pains me to say it (as once a fan of both disciplines), but MotoGP is as far removed from F1 as is possible.

A concept that prevents one performance vehicle from following another at speed, is as broken a racing concept as there can be. F1 is broken beyond repair.

All credit to Dorna, the current regs make for some of the best racing I have seen in my 40 years following the sport. All MotoGP needs in order to improve the spectacle even more, is for the poorly performing participant manufactures to pull their fingers out and rise to the challenge set down by the current leaders, instead of resting on the lorrels of their previous accomplishments. Oh, and for Kawaski, BMW et al to stop dicking around in WSB and start showing off their alleged engineering prowess in MotoGP.


There were more manufactureres dominating the last few years? When Rossi was winning it was Yamha. When Lorenzo was winning it was Yamaha. When Marc was winning it was Honda. When Ducati is also winning and Honda is also winning we got 2 manufacturers winning. And Yamaha on a good day is not far behind so that's almost 3...and also F1 is not being dominated by one manufacturer anymore. It's between Ferrari and Mercedes and super close. Pendulum swining like crazy in both ways. One of the best championships in a while!

What a great sport where you can just enjoy the race and not having to be on anybody's side. Just enjoying UNBELIEVABLE riders, with infinite willingness to win, great talent, professionalism and "technique", they are so close to perfection... just they cannot be closer... it doesn't exist.

In a corner in the last 1/2 laps, I find that MM93 was considerate with JL99 by slowing down at the exit of the corner just a tiny bit enough to do not require JL99 getting of the track because of the lines taken by both (kind of situation with VR46 time ago). I liked to see that MM93 took that consideration and didn't decide the race on that corner.

About MM93 I would recommend to watch the spanish TV's interviews of MM93 he is an open book when he speaks.

For everybody that doesnt like JL99's character (like me in the past) I would recommend to watch a documentary about JL99's early life... I find even a miracle with such a personal tough life to do not have become kind of those boxers that they cannot handle their success...

Unfortunate situation what Ducati's CEO caused. He behaved like the typical tycoon that owns a football team and decides who plays. Happy to see all the Ducati team very positve.

I'm unhappy for Ducati which I have tons of respect for and I would like to see them winning a championship. For the championship is going to be great. JL99 will continue having a good and going for the championship.


Lorenzo put on a real show at the end with a pretty aggressive Marquez yesterday.  Marquez seemed to give Lorenzo everything Jorge might have wanted, and Lorenzo responded splendidly.  The last 3 laps were reminiscent of the 1st 15 or so laps of Laguna Seca '08 which was epic (recall, Stoner crashed and still finished comfortably in second, so severe was the duel with Rossi).  Thrilling end to the race.

The acceleration, if not the top speed, of the Honda is likewise very, very impressive.  I'm not sure who has the better bike right now - the Ducati is probably easier to ride , but that Honda when really handled is something else.  HRC got something really right.

I know that track emphasizes it, but it seems like Yamaha really, really has lost the plot.  I saw Rossi unable to out-pull a KTM, I think, out of one corner - that's just bad.

Really looking forward to Jorge on a Honda vs. Marc next year.  I'm guessing the atmosphere of mutual respect will not last very long, and it should make for some maybe even overly interesting encounters.

i think we underestimate the challenge these guys face.There is no defineable limit here.Its a fuzzy edge and MM has perfected riding on it.I think he has reflexes like no other.I truly beleive he could win on a ktm in a flag to flag race.In fact i think if they were al on the same imperfect bike he would crush them all.I would LOVE to see him on a 2 smoke.

JL is ruthless.The passes he has put on MM in the last 2 races made me wince.In fact how mark stayed on when JL sat him up was worth watching in itself.The process JL has put himself through cant be taken lightly.He is on a completely different bike to the one he taught himself motogp on.But he has slowly learned how to ride it.I think he will adapt to the Honda more quickly,though we may see just how difficult the Honda really is.The biggest challenge is will Honda develop a bike for him.We may see a real quandary develop.I have laways thought that honda has had a perfect team set up.A world champion in the making and a no 2 who is fast enough to win at any time,but not so fast he consistently beats your number 1.JL and Rossi are to close.MM and JL may be too close.

My closing thought is,watch out for MV if Yamaha get the bike right..The other bloke to watch is Alex Rins.Still not quite sure on JZ.

What a sport motogp is at the moment.Rivetting!

.. Imperfect or not, being on the same motorcycle is a different thing and levels the playing field like no other condition can. In that situation, the engine won't be the winning or losing factor unless it fails in a race for a particular racer. The results will be decided who can setup the bike better for him and choose the best tyres for a given condition - much like the same way, but like I said, without the worry of another racer having a better engine than yours - and that is a big relief in itself.

These top 5 racers will be awefully closer in that situation, that's what I feel.

Too many I feel are burying MV25. Last year he showed his quality when the tires suited him. This year he's still showing pace later in the race. Eventually he'll come around, the bike will get sorted and he'll be back at the sharp end. His competitive fire needs a little moderation, but not too much, it got him here in the first place.

Also enjoying seeing Rins stick his nose in, but he seems to be a different sort. Will be interesting to watch.

And more quality young riders on the way... lucky us!

Any multivariable optimization surface has local minima and maxima. You only hope the mountain that you chose to climb has a higher peak than the mountain your competition chose to climb. Ever since Ducati made Casey Stoner ill by forcing him to to ride that narrow focused POS, I have despised Ducati, and that is tough view for an Italian-American. Somewhere along the way, some computer geek given the input that the desmo will always have an HP advantage over non-desmo (everything else being equal), decided that the way to win races was to win the drag race/braking duel into the next corner. This is an anethema to me and opposite what Motorcycle Racing should represent IMHO. Having Dovi, "the last of the late brakers" (yea, tell it to Lorenzo) giving input probably didn't help. Whether they can give the bike the corner speed Lorenzo wants without destroying its other positive qualities depends on how high up the local maxima they are chasing goes. I remember Smith commenting a few years ago while riding the Yamaha that the Honda base setup worked better at more tracks. If Ducati want to win titles, they cant have bogey tracks like Philip Island. Yamaha? They should consider a diffferent mountain, like V4 if they haven't already.

Yo Berio, CS27 was sick from dairy, lacking enzymes to break down milk sugar. It would ferment in him, causing secondary fatigue and cramping. That pre-Gigi Duc? He rear-wheel blasted that thing around tracks in a way unheard of, along w a Bstone tire that held up on braking AND mega horsepower. Cause and effect simply don't do what you are saying.
Lorenzo isn't a demon braker, he is a don't brake corner speed carrier. Dovi is a brake dueler. Lorenzo is changing of late, defying assumptions, and freshly aggressive, so generalities hedged.
The new Duc is as balanced a GP bike they have made. Most think best on grid. Bogey tracks seem to be disappearing. The old Duc did not have much range of adjustment of set up. This one does.
Yamaha is just fine, and the 2019 will be back to expectation. Minor errant engine spec, and late to get the Magneti Marelli staff to optimize championship electronics.
Your ire is better aimed at Aprilia.

Shrink, not disputing the press reports of lactose intolerance. As a Doctor, you should know that stress can induce all manner of allergies, auto-immune disorders and intolerances. I maintain it is the stress of riding the Ducati that induced Stoners illness. All roadracers have to deal with what I call, "normal mammilian fear response". Some like Rossi and Marquez seem to deal with it quite well, even feeding off of it. Other great riders, like Stoner and Lorenzo deal with it differently. Just because someone can ride a motorcycle fast, it doesn't mean they enjoy doing it. By his own admission, when Lorenzo dreams about motorcycles, he says its a nightmare. Given Stoner's early retirement, I have to believe that he understood and internalized all to well the dangers of the sport. As far as Lorenzo's braking goes, when Brembo publishes braking data, invariably Lorenzo is shown to be more of a demon that Dovi. I understand he releases earlier. It seems he knows quite well what Keith Code used to teach, you have a dollar of traction, you want to spend it cornering or braking.