SPIELBERG, Austria – Andrea Dovizioso made a stunning last-corner pass of Marc Marquez in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix to maintain Ducati’s run of perfection at the Red Bull Ring.
Ducati has won all four MotoGP races held in Spielberg, with four different riders.
Polesitter Marquez was lightning off the start, but so was Dovizioso. The two race favorites headed into turn one in first and second as Jack Miller got in slightly hot, almost clipping Dovizioso in the process.
Marquez and Dovizioso were incredibly close heading down the straight into turn three as the two made slight contact. Marquez had the inside line, with Dovizioso on the outside as the two fought for first.
Marquez was in hot though, and ran wide, with Dovizioso having to sit his GP19 up. This allowed Quartararo to sweep through to the lead, with Miller and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins getting by Marquez and Dovizioso on the exit of the corner.
Dovizioso then got by Marquez into turn four on the opening lap, demoting the polesitter all the way back to fifth. Meanwhile, Quartararo was getting the hammer down as the rookie took a half-second lead on lap two, but Dovizioso and Marquez started to make up ground as they recovered from a frantic opening lap.
Quickly, Dovizioso was back up to second, with Miller holding off Marquez for the time being in third and fourth.
It wasn’t long before Marquez had dispatched Miller, as the top three started to edge away. On lap seven, Quartararo was like a sitting duck heading into turn one as Dovizioso used the Ducati grunt to blast into the lead. Moments later, Marquez did the same on his Honda.
There was nothing Quartararo could do about the Yamaha’s lack of acceleration as he slipped down to third. Now, Dovizioso and Marquez were sitting first and second.
Marquez threatened to stretch away but the gap didn’t rise above four tenths of a second. It was clear the first half of the lap belonged to Marquez, but Dovizioso was the stronger man in the second part. The laps ticked by and there was nothing between them.
With nine to go, a move was made. Dovizioso powered alongside Marquez as the No. 93 had a quick glare at the Italian heading into turn one.
The Ducati man made the pass stick and it became the 2017 Austrian winner in control.
Tensions were bubbling to boiling point as for the next five laps, Marquez trailed Dovizioso by a scant margin. Shadowing his great rival, where would Marquez choose to pounce?
With three to go, turn seven became the unlikely location as Marquez stuck it underneath Dovizioso to regain the baton, but was it the race-winning move?
Marquez wasn’t pulling clear and heading into turn one on the penultimate lap, Dovizioso went for it. He couldn’t quite make it stick, however, running wide and allowing Marquez to power back past.
Entering the final lap, Marquez had a half-bike length lead as the duo got close heading into turn one. Again, Dovizioso went for it but ran wide, so it was Marquez who led going down into turn three.
The breathless battle came down to the last sector. Dovizioso powered up the hill out of turn eight, and no pass came at turn nine, but then he pulled out from behind Marquez heading into the last corner.
It was a role reversal from 2017 as Dovizioso lunged down the inside and got it stopped.
Dovizioso stood the Ducati up and there was nothing Marquez could do, with the Ducati rider taking the checkered flag and extending Ducati’s winning run to four straight MotoGP victories at the Spielberg circuit.
“I’m so happy, because this victory was really important for me,” said Dovizioso. “Towards the end of the race, I had good right-side grip on the tire, allowing me to successfully attempt that incredible overtaking move at the final corner. My strategy for the race was to be aggressive right from the opening lap, but Marquez was more aggressive than me. He immediately tried to impose his rhythm, but I was always able to respond and in the final stages, I think he had more wear on his tires than me … so I could stay right on his tail until the end and attempt that crazy passing move on him at the final corner.
“I want to thank Ducati and my team, because today we did everything just perfectly.”
Quartararo completed the podium, followed by the two factory Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.
Alex Rins, Francesco Bagnaia, Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci and Franco Morbidelli made up the balance of the top 10.