SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA (Reuters) - Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso won an action-packed Austrian Grand Prix which was halted for 20 minutes after Franco Morbidelli’s Yamaha collided with the Avintia Ducati of Johann Zarco in Spielberg on Sunday.
The red flag came out immediately when Morbidelli and Zarco came together at turn three, with their cartwheeling bikes missing Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales by inches as the two Yamahas navigated the turn.
Both riders walked away from the crash relatively unscathed and MotoGP said they were taken to the medical centre for a check-up where they were declared fit as the race restarted with 20 laps.
Dovizioso, who said on Saturday that he would not be renewing his contract with Ducati, took the chequered flag after race leader Alex Rins of Suzuki crashed with 10 laps to go to keep the team’s perfect record at the Red Bull Ring intact.
Ducati have won every race since the circuit was introduced on the calendar in 2016 and it was the Italian rider’s third victory on the track having won in 2017 and 2019 while it was Ducati’s 50th premier class win.
“Very, very strange (race) for many reasons. To start twice was strange,” Dovizioso said.
“It was not that easy to start the ‘second race’ with perfect energy but I was able to manage the race because I had a few corners where I was able to be a bit faster. I was so strong in braking and could decide the pace.
“If Rins didn’t crash, I think it would have been very difficult to beat him.”
However, the manufacturer lost out on a one-two finish when Joan Mir capitalised on Jack Miller’s mistake on the penultimate corner of the final lap as his Pramac Ducati went wide to give the Suzuki rider second place and his first podium in MotoGP.
Miller started well off the line on both occasions but struggled for grip on his soft front tyre towards the end of the race and the Australian said that he had no other options with no medium tyres left.
“I just had to... push away at the start and see what I could do,” Miller said. “I’m happy to get the podium but I missed second, I made a slight error when Mir came up on the inside... But hats off to him.”
KTM’s Brad Binder finished fourth while Rossi, who had started 12th on the grid, moved up the field and put the near-death experience of the crash behind him to finish fifth.
Pole sitter Vinales had a poor start and had issues with his bike as he finished 10th while world championship leader Fabio Quartararo, who made a mistake early in the race to rejoin at the back of the field, recovered to finish eighth.
Dovizioso’s victory saw him leapfrog Vinales into second in the overall standings and reduced Quartararo’s lead at the top to 11 points after four races.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar
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