With the second consecutive weekend of MotoGP at Red Bull Ring in Styria, Austria, the drama just keeps on going. The fifth round of the 2020 MotoGP was won by Miguel Oliveira of Red Bull KTM Tech 3 in a final round, last corner overtaking manoeuvre from Jack Miller of Pramac Racing and Pol Espargaro of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, but that’s only half the story.
Lowering clouds were threatening rain when the race started, the 900th MotoGP with the winner promised a BMW M4 by race sponsors BMW. The field remained in close touch in the initial stages, with a battle for the top three places with Joan Mir of Team Suzuki Ecstar, Jack Miller of Pramac Ducati and Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda Idemitsu.
Behind them were Pol Espargaro and Alex Rins of Team Suzuki Ecstar, duking it out for fourth a short way behind. Drama ensued with 12 laps to go as Maverick Finales, riding the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1, slowed with left hand raised.
What transpired was the Spaniard had lost the brakes on his motorcycle, and as he headed into turn 1, he leapt off the bike at 200 km/h. The bike careening into the air fence and catching fire, red flags were brought out and a race halt was called.
As there were insufficient laps run to declare a race, a restart was called causing teams to rush about changing tyres and revising fuel loads. This effectively meant the Grand Prix of Styria would now become a 12-lap sprint to the finish, winner take all.
The restart saw riders in the positions they had at the end of the first race when the red flag was waved, with Mir getting a perfect start from pole position. The second half saw a scrap between Miller and Espargaro as the played a game of tactics and strategy with breath taking overtaking moves.
At start the final lap, Pol Espargaro was leading, with Miller nipping hard at his heels, Oliveira tagging along in third. Going through the circuit, Miller decided to make his move in turn 10, scene of many a famous overtake, diving on the inside of Pol Espargaro.
This made both Miller and and Pol Espargaro run wide, allowing Oliveira who held his usual racing line, to sneak in and grab the win. Miller held on to second place while Pol Espargaro had to settle for third.
Indeed a race to remember, the Grand Prix of Styria is Oliveira’s and Tech 3 racing team’s maiden MotoGP win. In the world championship standings, after five races, Fabio Quartararo of Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team leads the table with 70 points, three points ahead of second place man Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati Team.
Third is Miller with 56 points, followed by Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM, who took his first MotoGP win at Brno, with 49 points and Vinales in fifth just one point behind. With the season close to half concluded, there are now five racers with a chance of winning the MotoGP World Championship, where the previous five races have seen four different race winners and 11 riders stepping up to the podium.
The MotoGP circus takes a two-week break before moving to Misano in Italy for back-to-back racing the weekends of 13 and 20 September. The circus then moves to Barcelona on 27 September for the eighth MotoGP round.
Coming with diverse and extensive experience in heavy engineering, Mohan enjoys making anything with wheels go fast, especially motorcycles. His weapon of choice is the Desmoquattro engine, and he has a penchant for anything with a dash of Italian design. Strangely enough, he insists he’s a slow rider.