Author: Simon Toyne

Lincolnshire Biker and PMF Biker magazine editor, Goodwood (grrc.goodwood.com) motorcycle road tester and reviewer, UlsterGP contributor, Paddock chatter contributor, Bikefan.co.uk editor, Ducati 749S & Aprilia RSV-R Factory owner, full-time sportsbike lover, part-time deer slayer, petrolhead and owner of Write On Media (Writeonmedia.strikingly.com)

MotoGP – Livio Suppo to leave HRC

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Honda has announced that Livio Suppo has decided to leave his role as Repsol Honda’s Team Principal.

Suppo joined HRC in 2010, as Communications and Marketing Director. From 2013 he assumed a dual-role as Team Principal of the Repsol Honda Team and HRC Communications and Marketing Director, giving a precious contribution in marketing, plus team and rider management.

Suppo said: “It has been a real honour to work for HRC over the past eight years. It has been a great professional and human experience, and I will be always grateful to the Company for asking me to be part of it.

“Anyway, after 22 seasons in the motorcycle racing world, I feel that it is time for me to look for new challenges. I leave HRC knowing that in 2018 they will be competitive, because Marc and Dani are very strong and the engineers will as always prepare a good package for them to fight for the championship again. I will never forget all the good days we had together, and one more time I would like to say thanks to everybody in the team and at HRC for sharing these exciting years with me.”

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MotoGP – Pedrosa wins, Marquez takes the title in scintillating finale

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The final race of the season was an epic climax to 2018, with with Dani Pedrosa winning the Grand Prix, his seventh at Valencia across all classes and his 31st in the MotoGP class.

But all eyes were on team-mate Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to see which pilot would take the title.

It was Marquez who got the better start, hustling his way to the front before Tech 3’s Johann Zarco assumed the lead on lap four.

Dovizioso also made a blistering start, forcing his way through the midfield to sit behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Marquez was happy in second – he’d win the title – and stuck behind the satellite Yamaha for 20 laps before making a pass. However, he immediately ran wide in Turn 1, the front wheel closing at full left lock. But Marquez would not be beaten and managed to balance the bike on his knee and his elbow, holding on in the hope the front would come back to him as smoke poured off the front tire. The rear finally gripped and he succeeded in flipping the bike back up again as he headed to the edge of the hard standing on the outside of Turn 1. With something resembling control, he ran off the track and through the gravel, rejoining behind the Ducatis and several seconds behind.

The Ducatis were embroiled in an internal battle of their own. To stand any chance of landing the title, Dovizioso had to get past his team-mate. Lap after lap Lorenzo refused to move over, and then the ‘Suggested Mapping 8’ appeared on his dashboard, the same message which had been shown at Sepang. This was surely the sign that Ducati were ordering Lorenzo to let Dovizioso by, but Lorenzo steadfastly refused to obey.

The same message was sent again just five laps later, and then a lap later it was clear for all to see – Lorenzo’s pit board had an instruction to drop one place, thus allowing Dovizioso through.

The messages kept coming, on both dashboard and pit board, but Lorenzo kept ignoring them, and actually started catching Pedrosa in second, dropping Dovizioso in the process as if to prove a point.

It is this stubbornness which would cost him dearly. He had caught Pedrosa and was starting to push, too hard as it turned out, and lost the front in Turn 5, crashing out.

And just three corners later the title was decided as Dovizioso failed to get his bike stopped on the way into Turn 8, ran straight on into the gravel, and tumbled over at slow speed. Dovizioso remounted his bike, and cruised back to the Ducati garage, where he retired. The title was now Marquez’s, regardless of where he finished.

At the front, the battle continued to rage, with Pedrosa dicing with Zarco for the lead. With four laps left, the Spaniard was clearly quicker than Zarco, and on the final lap he pounced. He was close enough behind Zarco to use the slipstream of the Frenchman to launch himself out of the draft along the straight and grab the inside line as he drew level with Zarco, holding him off on the brakes. The Repsol Honda rider then continued to push while riding defensive lines, and eventually crossed the line to take victory, his second of the season, and scoring enough points to secure the team championship for Repsol Honda.

It was a fitting end to a spectacular season. Roll on 2018…

 

MotoGP – Desmo Dovizioso takes Malaysia GP win to set-up last round title decider

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Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso gave a riding masterclass in tricky conditions at the Sepang International Circuit, winning his sixth of the season to keep the title battle alive going into the final round at Valencia.

Dovizioso, who started from third place on the grid, didn’t get a perfect start and had to battle with Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on the opening lap. The Italian then caught and passed title rival Marc Marquez on Lap 5, before setting after the leading duo made up of Zarco and Lorenzo.

Dovizioso passed the impressive French rookie on Lap 9, and began stalking his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who was himself looking to take his maiden Ducati win.

The paddock went into overdrive as Dovizioso closed the gap – would team orders prevail? Would Ducati order Lorenzo to pull aside? Would Lorenzo follow that order if it was given?

With 6 laps to go, Ducati played its hand and Lorenzo received a dashboard message from his team stating “Suggested Mapping: Mapping 8”. Many took this to be a coded instruction to let Dovizioso by. It didn’t matter. Just a lap later the Spaniard had a major moment at the final corner, losing the front and saving the bike on his knee as he ran wide, enabling Dovizioso to dive up the inside and take the lead.

The deed was done. Lorenzo effectively rode shotgun behind his team-mate and followed his team-mate home for the runner-up slot. Zarco crossed the line in third, with Marquez in fourth. The result sees the Italian trail the Spaniard by 21 points ahead of the finale in Valencia.

Dovizioso said: “It was a truly perfect weekend: we were quick in every session, both in the dry and in the wet, and today in the rain we dominated. Here at Sepang Jorge and I really had a bike advantage, because our Desmosedici was very fast, and we managed to administer the gap in the best possible way even though track conditions were very difficult because there wasn’t much grip. I’m very pleased for the win which keeps my hopes alive for the title, and even though I know it will be very difficult at Valencia because it’s a track where Marquez always goes well, we’ll be going to Spain with confidence to try and bring home the victory.”

Lorenzo said: “It was a great race that showed the progress we made throughout the weekend. I was really at ease on the bike, and even though I’d have preferred a dry race, when I saw it was raining I changed my mentality and tried to keep focussed, in order to avoid a mistake like Misano. I pushed hard but in the last few laps I was in a bit of crisis with the tyres, especially the front, and had a few scary moments in some corners.

“It wasn’t the right time to do anything stupid and when I almost crashed at Turn 15 and Andrea passed me I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to fight for the win. I know exactly how important a world title is for Ducati, Dovizioso has had a fantastic season and deserves to fight for the championship right down to the last race. In this weekend Andrea has always been faster and I’m pleased for the team for this first 1-2 win of the season, because it means we’re working really well.”

MotoGP – Desmo Dovi wins scintillating wet race at Motegi

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Unprecedented weather at Motegi this weekend had seen every session declared wet – the first time in the MotoGP era – and race day was no exception as the skies opened and a torrential downpour covered the 4,801m Japanese circuit.

With rain in the air, the riders lined up on the grid, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) took pole position after setting the best time in yesterday’s qualifying. As the lights changed Marquez was ahead in the first corner, but was soon passed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). The Spaniard held this position until Lap Two, before Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Racing) took his place at the head of the field. Petrucci then began stretching his lead at the front, as the remainder of the pack got involved in their own battles behind him.

As the race progressed, Marquez closed on the leader and overtook him on Lap 13, before Dovizioso snatched the lead from the reigning World Champion on Lap 19, with what was to be the first of many changes of leadership between the pair as the race drew to a close. Dovizioso’s surge to the front resulted in him setting the fastest time of the day, and the top-two in the championship then went head-to-head over the remainder of the race, before heading into the last-lap with Marquez out in front.

With rain still falling, Dovizioso lined up a successful pass at the 90° corner, only to see Marquez come past him straight away, before the Ducati-rider again got the best of the Honda-mounted man to take victory at the end of a scintillating race. Marquez crossed the line in second and saw his title-lead cut to just 11-points, with three races remaining. Petrucci finished third and had the distinction of taking the First Independent Rider honours.

Dovizioso said: “It was a difficult race because at the start there wasn’t much grip and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike but I never gave up, not even when I was losing ground, and this made all the difference.

“Marc was really quick and he tried right until the end, but there were some places where I could attack and he also made a small mistake on the last lap which gave me a chance to catch him again and try and pass him at Turn 11.

“I knew that he was going to attack me in the final two corners but I was prepared for this, I closed the door on him and he had to go a bit wide to pass me. It was absolutely vital to win here and I’m really so pleased for the whole team and for the championship.”

The race was watched trackside by 52,439 fans who braved the awful weather and they were treated to battles throughout the race that almost matched the excitement at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) took fourth, just ahead of team-mate Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), both recording their best results of the season so far. Lorenzo was sixth, followed home by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). Zarco took eighth and continues to lead both the Independent Team Rider and Rookie Championships. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was ninth, with Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) rounding out the top-ten.

BSB – Haslam crashes, Shakey takes title in dramatic end to series showdown

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Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne clinched an unprecedented sixth BSB championship title in dramatic style at Brands Hatch, as the title fight went down to the wire in the final race of the season.

The last race of the season started with Leon Haslam and defending champion Byrne separated by just two points after Byrne won race two and Haslam finished tenth, ahead of the crucial decider at the Kent circuit.

On the opening lap James Ellison had taken the advantage from Christian Iddon and Michael Laverty. The title contenders were in formation, with Josh Brookes in fourth ahead of Haslam and Byrne, but the Australian knew he was still in contention and he was pushing to move through the field.

At the front Iddon took the lead, but on lap six Haslam’s title hopes ended in heartbreak as the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider suffered brake failure on Lap Six.
The ‘Pocket Rocket’ had to jump off the bike at 172mph at Hawthorns and subsequently sustained a broken right wrist, right thumb and left ankle. He heroically returned to the grid for the championship celebrations at the end of the race to congratulate Byrne on his title victory before heading to the medical centre.

The crash brought out the BMW Safety Car and when the race resumed Brookes was instantly on the attack and took the lead into Paddock Hill Bend which he held to the finish, but in the closing stages Jason O’Halloran charged through into second to push Ellison back to third.

Byrne ended the race in eighth place but it was enough to seal his sixth title as he defended his title for the first time in his career, finishing behind Laverty, Iddon, Peter Hickman and Dan Linfoot.

Speaking after the race, Byrne said: “I really don’t know how I feel to be honest because I came here thinking I’m 33 points behind Leon and he’s such a tough competitor that I never envisaged being able to pull back 33 points, but what I did envisage was coming here to do the best job I possibly could this weekend and try and win three races.

“That’s never a given in BSB because it’s really, really difficult to win, but after we won the first race and pulled back some points and then there was only two points between us and I had a bit of a game plan for the final race of the day and that was to keep an eye on my pit board to see where Leon was and basically remain a place or two in front of him.

“That may sound a little bit arrogant or aloof but it was basically my way of making sure we came away from this weekend as champions.

“I knew he was starting on the fourth row and when he came past me on the start I thought “seriously, what sort of a start did you get?” but it was perfect because I was sat in fourth or fifth with Leon right in front of me and I felt absolutely cool with that because I knew towards the end of the race I’d be really strong,

“I sat there quite content, trying not to use to much tyre and following him around making sure nobody was going past me, and then as we went down into Hawthorns Leon didn’t get on the brakes or whatever happened and jumped off his bike and it really threw me, I’m not going to lie. I spent a couple of laps afterwards thinking “hold on a minute, we are supposed to be fighting for a championship, we can’t fight for a championship if you’re in there”.

“I’m gutted for him, I genuinely mean that because he’s been a really tough competitor last year and this year, and for him to come here with 33 points lead and leading the championship seems a bitter pill to swallow.

“I hadn’t actually won a race since we were here in July and that never happens. BSB is so tough right now that it’s really, really difficult to win. We’ve ended up champions so I’m super, super happy to have defended the title. That’s the one thing I wanted to do and we’ve got that done now so it’s going to be a nice winter.”

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race Two result:

Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati)

Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +0.524s

James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.406s

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +6.073s

Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +8.147s

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +10.424s

Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +11.216s

Michael Laverty (McAMS Yamaha) +11.547s

Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +15.053s

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +18.531s

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Race Three result:

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha)

Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +0.687s

James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +0.857s

Michael Laverty (McAMS Yamaha) +1.929s

Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +2.144s

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +5.254s

Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +5.281s

Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +6.512s

Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +6.923s

Richard Cooper (Bennetts Suzuki) +7.628s

2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:

Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 637

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 634

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 631

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 578

Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 567

Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 562

WSBK – Ducati back to winning ways as Chaz Davies wins Race Two at Magny Cours

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After being hampered by a technical issue in Race one, Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies bounced back with a dominant win in Race Two at the eleventh round of the WSBK Championship at Magny Cours, the team’s eighth overall win of the season.

In tricky conditions, with a light rain falling intermittently on different sections of the track, the Welshman built his win (the 27th of his career) in the early laps, when he was the only rider capable of lapping in the 1:38 mark after a blistering start from 11th position.

Newly-crowned world champion Jonny Rea endured a miserable race, and he was forced to retire after Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty high-sided off in front him on Lap One, striking and damaging the rear of his Kawasaki.

It made no difference to Davies though, who stormed into the lead past Alex Lowes on Lap Three. Davies quickly built a lead while Lowes battled for position with Leon Camier, only for the MV Agusta rider to be forced out with a mechanical issue on Lap Nine, which lined up a Pata Yamaha second and third with Michael van der Mark completing the podium.

Speaking after the race, the Welshman said: “Saturday’s racing was bitter, but today was sweet. This is the best way to put behind us a couple of tough races. I woke up feeling really motivated and I think it showed in the opening laps, as I was making passes and got to the front pretty quickly from 11th position.

“It wasn’t an easy race though. The rain was on and off throughout, and it was hard to tell where the wet patches could be. It was a matter of pushing hard but not too much, just enough to keep the gap in check, and that’s what we did. Now we’re looking forward to the last two races, the hunt for second position in the championship is still open and we can be fast both in Jerez and Qatar.”

 

BSB – Guintoli becomes tenth different race winner as Haslam holds the advantage ahead of Brands

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Sylvain Guintoli celebrated his first victory of the in a race two thriller at Assen as Bennetts Suzuki team claimed its first victory with Josh Brookes and Leon Haslam returning to the podium ahead of the Brands Hatch title decider.

Haslam claimed the Race One victory at the Dutch track after an epic six-way scrap for supremacy with Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne scything his way through the order.

On the opening lap James Ellison lead from Haslam, Christian Iddon and Dan Linfoot, but Guintoli was soon in the mix as he moved into third on the Bennetts Suzuki at the end of the third lap.

Byrne had started 16th on the grid, but he was forcing his way through the pack and by the sixth lap was up to fifth as the leading pack of Ellison, Haslam, Guintoli and Byrne started to trade blows at the front of the field.

Guintoli hit the lead on the tenth lap as he dived ahead of Ellison with Haslam and Byrne in close contention, but the McAMS Yamaha rider wasn’t second for long as he repaid the move to reclaim the position at the front of the field.

Byrne had moved up to third as Guintoli moved back ahead of Ellison, but Haslam was determined and he moved into second before taking the lead on lap 14 to put the JG Speedfit Kawasaki back ahead. As Haslam took the lead the pack shuffled with Ellison up to second ahead of Guintoli with Byrne in fourth as Josh Brookes and Bradley Ray closed in.Haslam was edging an advantage but the fight wasn’t over until the line as Byrne made a decisive last lap move to put himself ahead of Ellison, but in turn the McAMS Yamaha rider had come under attack from Guintoli.

As Byrne held second, Ellison went for a last corner move on Guintoli to hold onto the final podium spot with the Bennetts Suzuki rider relegated to fourth ahead of Brookes and Ray.Peter Hickman held off Showdown rival Jake Dixon for seventh place with John Hopkins and Jason O’Halloran completing the top ten ahead of Linfoot, Mossey and Richard Cooper after Christian Iddon crashed out unhurt.

Race Two was just as dramatic as Byrne hit the front of the pack from Haslam and Ellison on the opening lap, with Guintoli, Brookes and Iddon in close contention. However instantly the riders were jostling for positions and by the third lap the Bennetts Suzuki of Guintoli was at the front and ahead of Haslam.

Haslam instantly fought back though to try and recapture the lead but as the pack streamed across the line for the fourth time Byrne led Ellison with Haslam and Guintoli next up with Brookes ready to make his attack.

By lap seven Ellison had edged into the lead on the McAMS Yamaha at the final chicane, but Byrne was pushing hard and two laps later he regained the position with Guintoli holding third ahead of Haslam and Brookes.

The five riders were trading blows for the positions and Haslam then moved ahead of Ellison to claim third as Guintoli then took the lead. On lap 16 the leading pack were all side by side as they entered turn one; Byrne and Haslam came off worst as they drifted wide and allowed Guintoli, Ellison and Brookes to emerge ahead.

Guintoli then held the advantage but Ellison was under attack and Haslam made a move on the penultimate lap to move second, but Brookes wasn’t done yet. The Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha rider waited until the final lap to make a pass; the Australian lunging ahead into second place to maintain second place in the overall standings.
Ellison held off Byrne who finished fifth for the Be Wiser Ducati team with Hickman edging ahead of Dixon to claim sixth place ahead of Iddon, Linfoot and Ray.

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race one result:

 

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)

 

Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.992s

 

James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +2.591s

 

Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +2.655s

 

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +2.717s

 

Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +2.814s

 

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.865s

 

Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +8.210s

 

John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +11.000s

 

Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +15.666s

 

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, race two result:

 

Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki)

 

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.589s

 

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.873s

 

James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.315s

 

Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.410s

 

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +7.605s

 

Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +9.221s

 

Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +9.450s

 

Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +9.502s

 

Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +15.012s

 

MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship standings:

 

Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 612

 

Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) 580

 

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 579

 

Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 558

 

Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 549

 

Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 526

WSBK – Three is the magic number as Rea makes history at Magny Cours

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Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea made history at Magny-Cours at the weekend, claiming an unprecedented third WorldSBK championship following his 50th WSBK career win.
The polesitter, who dominated the race from beginning to end, said: “To be honest I can’t sum up my emotions. I just feel super proud of my team and Kawasaki.
“It has been such a team effort, and even though I’m the guy who rode it over the line, there have been so many people involved to make it possible. Every season is different and special in its own individual way.
“2015 was a seamless year, I joined a high-level team with a well-developed bike. I jumped on a bike that was ready to win and we won. 2016 was possibly more special because we had a completely new ZX-10R, and I’m really proud of my team for the constant development.
“We had a lot of success last season and although we didn’t score as many points, we were able to understand the bike and it was a lot more difficult, so it was a lot harder.”
Rea has now won 35 races for Kawasaki since ending his long-term relationship with Honda three years ago, and he was keen to stress how important teamwork has been to his achievements.
“This season we showed the strength of the team, the manufacturer, the strength of Pere [Riba]. We went through some hard winter tests and we worked through the problems, and were able to go out and win at Phillip Island.”
There are still four races remaining in the 2017 season, but the 30-year-old is already switching his attention to next year.
“2018 as a whole looks uncertain, and we need to understand how the bike will work with some new regulations.
“Winter testing will be so important, and when we turn our attentions to 2018, I am 100% confident in my team and Kawasaki that we will always give our 100%.”

MotoGP – Repsol Honda duo dominate Aragon

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a fantastic one-two result at the Aragon Grand Prix.

The duo, starting from the second row of the grid, Marquez on a hard-hard Michelin tyre combination, Pedrosa on medium-medium, fought their way forward to take the squad’s seventh double podium of the season.

The race got off to a dramatic start, with poleman Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) quickly passed by the fast-starting Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), as the Ducati man led into the first corner and took the race to the rest of the field.

The Ducati racer led for the next 15 of the 23-lap race, with Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – who was returning to competitive racing action just 24-days after breaking his right leg in two places – all in close contention.

Lorenzo came under scrutiny from Marquez, before the reigning world champion made his move on lap-16. Once in the lead Marquez pushed all the way to the line and finished almost a second ahead of his nearest rival, a result that increased his championship lead to 16-points.

Pedrosa made his way from sixth on the grid – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process – to follow his team-mate home, and once he had created enough heat in the tyres he was able to produce fast laps and push his way towards the front of the field. Lorenzo made up the trio of riders on the podium as he steered his machine to third. The choice of Michelin compounds was certainly evident on the podium as soft, medium, and hard rear versions were used by the top-three collectively.

Pole-setter Viñales was the next across the line after the top-three, following a spirited fight with his team-mate Rossi. Sixth – and the first independent rider – went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), as he equalled his best result of the season so far. Dovizioso came home in seventh to consolidate his second position in the championship, with Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in eighth. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth and strengthened his lead in the Independent and Rookie of the Year title chases. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-ten.

Marquez’s 60th career win is also his fifth this year and his ninth podium of the season (the seventh out of the last eight races), helping him to pull a small gap of 16 points over Andrea Dovizioso and 28 points over Maverick Viñales, his two closest pursuers in the title chase.

Marquez said: “I’m very very happy with this victory because it was a tough race. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling totally comfortable with the bike, and today I was struggling again except in the warm-up; I don’t really know why. Anyway, racing at one of my favourite tracks, close to my home and in front of my fans, gave me extra motivation. I pushed hard and in some corners I just clicked the off-button in my head, even if I crashed twice yesterday. I saw that Viñales and Dovi were struggling a bit and knew it was the moment to push, so I did.

“There were a few scary moments, once when I was trying to overtake Valentino; he was tighter in that corner than I was expecting, and to avoid a clash I released the brakes, only to realise that Lorenzo was right there. So I went off the track, and at that moment I cooled down a bit, even if I continued to try and close the gap. Once I passed Lorenzo, I had to keep going as I saw that Dani was coming very fast. Anyway, that’s the Marquez style. Of course it’s important to think of the championship, but the situation now requires that we give it everything. So we’ll try to continue with the same motivation and mentality race by race, giving our 100 per cent.”

MotoGP – Dovizioso wins dramatic race in Austria to keep title dream alive

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Andrea Dovizioso scores a fantastic win in the Austrian Grand Prix to move into second place in the championship. Jorge Lorenzo had a good race to finish fourth

Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso produced a spectacular ride to keep his championship ambitions alive at the Red Bull Ring circuit near Spielberg, fending off an attacking Marc Marquez to take the win in a sensational last lap duel.

The Italian rider, who started from the front row of the grid after going second quickest in qualifying, rode a tactical race to always stay in the leading group, carefully managing his tyres before taking the lead on Lap 18.

Dovizioso was then passed by Marquez but was back in the lead again on Lap 22 and he held on to that position until the chequered flag, despite a sensational last-ditch attempt by the Spanish rider in the final corner.

Thanks to the 25 points’ haul for the win, his third of the season, Dovizioso has moved into second place in the overall championship standings, reducing the gap from leader Marquez to just 16 points.

Dovizioso said: “It was a crazy race, but to be honest the whole weekend was incredible, and in particular the final curve of the last lap, but I managed to remain clear headed and was aware that Marquez was going to try and pass me.

“It was a very difficult situation because if Marquez had closed the door coming out of the corner, he would have forced me out and passed me. Instead I was able to resist his attack and I went on to win! I’m very satisfied with the way we managed the entire weekend with my team: understanding the right choice of tyres was really difficult but we did it.

“We had a great race, we’re making up points in the championship, and we’ve got all the right cards to fight for the title.”