Austria’s Red Bull Ring will host a double header of consecutive races that could shape the 2020 season, with the current title leader Fabio Quartararo being aboard a bike in the Yamaha that traditionally does not agree with the Spielberg track.
Yamaha have already had some struggles, with their well-publicised engine issues meaning most of their riders have already used their allocated 5 engines at some point throughout this season. However, not much was expected of them last season with their engines being the slowest, and Quartararo still managed to get a podium. It may be further reaching to expect the same for them these weekends, and they’ll be looking to take important points rather than aim to win.
Ducati traditionally go very well at Austria, with Andrea Dovizioso besting Marc Marquez in a straight fight the last two races at the track. However neither Dovizioso or team mate Danilo Petrucci look capable of featuring at the front, so the onus will be on Jack Miller to uphold Ducati pride. Pecco Bagnaia could have also had a say had he not broken his tibia at Brno, but unfortunately the chips have been set down and Michele Pirro is in the frame to replace him.
KTM will come to their home track as MotoGP race winners for the first time ever, and have always been very strong at home. Brad Binder could stake a claim towards the championship as he impressively won in Brno to insert KTM into the discussions on race winning machines. Pol Espargaro will be a man possessed at Austria after feeling aggrieved that a potential win was lost after coming together with Johann Zarco at the same race, and will be keen to show it is not just Binder who can win on the machine. We could also see Miguel Oliveira spring a surprise after coming off his best result ever at Brno. Keep an eye on the Tech 3 man throughout the weekend.
Honda are in trouble, make no mistake. Their two main hopes are both injured, with Marc Marquez definitely out for at least the first race and probably the second. He will again be replaced by Stefan Bradl. But this has not helped their cause with the Repsol Honda riders qualifying in the final two spots for the first ever time at Brno. Taka Nakagami looked like he would be the man to lead the team with an impressive 4th at the Andalucia GP, but then proceeded to undo it all by finishing 8th at Brno after an awful qualifying. Honda may look good this weekend with their straight line speed, but make no mistake they have work to do.
Suzuki have underwhelmed so far this season, but much of that is down to team leader Alex Rins ruining his season before it started, destroying his shoulder at the Jerez GP and being forced to miss the race, and Joan Mir underwhelming massively. Mir can do much better but it isn’t clicking for him right now. Suzuki need to get themselves gathered and take advantage of the new Michelin tyres that seem to suit inline-4 machines. Austria does not seem to be the place they can do that, but solid points would be extremely welcome for both riders.
Aprilia proved they have a rocket of a bike in the early laps at Brno, but tyre conservation seemed to be an issue as Aleix Espargaro slipped down the order from a high of 2nd place. Bradley Smith is unfortunately not featuring at the front as he struggling to get back into race mode after expecting to start the year as a test rider before Andrea Iannone’s suspension. Austria however could springboard them to the top, as the bike is an incredibly fast machine in a straight line. You cannot help but feel they are looking at KTM enviously and would like to catch them, and it would be sweet for them to do it at the home of their rival.
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