Jorge Lorenzo exercised patience before winning a head-to-head stoush with Marc Marquez to claim victory in the Austrian MotoGP.
Andrea Dovizioso was the only other rider in contention, as expected, but played a bit part role for the final 10 laps after running wide as factory Ducati team-mate Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Marquez battled.
Dovizioso led the race initially, but only as far as Turn 3 when Marquez came down the inside.
They nearly touched and the pack fanned out behind, allowing Lorenzo to pick up first position.
Marquez made a block pass stick on the #99 Ducati at the same corner a lap later and reeled off a succession of fastest laps.
The top three quickly dropped fourth-placed Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) but it appeared that Lorenzo was holding up Dovizioso and allowing Marquez to get away.
The Honda rider’s lead peaked at just over a second nearing the halfway mark of the 28-lap race, at which time Lorenzo, who opted for soft compound tyres front and rear, began to respond.
Marquez’s advantage had just about been wiped out on Lap 17 and Lorenzo went past #93 at Turn 1 on Lap 19, when Dovizioso outbraked himself and ran on.
However, Marquez fought back to re-pass up the other end of the climb at Turn 3, when the two may have just made contact.
Lorenzo and his Ducati outgunned #93 on the run to Turn 9 to lead again before the end of the lap, and they rode away from Dovizioso over the next few laps.
Marquez stalked his future team-mate until Lorenzo handed top spot back when he couldn’t get turned into Turn 3 on Lap 26.
Lorenzo squeezed past again at Turn 9, causing Marquez to nearly fall, but the championship leader wasn’t going to merely settle for second position and succeeded in another block pass at Turn 3 on the penultimate lap.
He ran in first into Lap 28 but ceded that in a straight line before they got to Turn 1 again.
Lorenzo then dealt with the Turn 3 block pass by opening the steering and decisively launching off corner exit to ultimately win by 0.130s.
“I didn’t expect that Marc would be so quick at the beginning, he really wanted to push to open the gap, so I needed to push but at the same time save a little bit of tyres,” explained the race winner.
“Then, 10 laps to the end, I decided to attack. But Marc was there, he was always there, and I knew he wanted to try.
“I was stronger in some areas of the track, especially the uphill in fifth gear, but he was very strong in (Turn 3) in braking, so he always overtook me.
“But in the last lap he didn’t expect that (I would stay on) the outside and accelerate so it was a little bit of a surprise for him.
“Then I pushed at the limit, risking so much on the braking, but I did it and I finish with this victory, one of my best victories in MotoGP.”
Dovizioso finished more 1.526s further back, while Crutchlow passed Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) at Turn 10 on Lap 1 and remained fourth thereafter.
Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) finished fifth from Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha), who started only 14th but was displaying best-of-the-rest pace outside of the top three in the latter stages of the race.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), Rins, Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha), and Alvaro Bautista (Nieto Ducati), rounded out the top 10.
Maverick Viñales’ shocking weekend continued when he ran as low as 16th for several laps before eventually taking the chequered flag in 12th on his Movistar Yamaha.
Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was running 12th when he dumped six positions on Lap 15 in an incident unseen by television, and that was where the Australian would finish.
Lorenzo’s win puts him back ahead of Dovizioso in third in the championship, as Marquez extended his lead over Rossi to 59 points.
Round 12 takes place in Britain on August 24-26.
Race results: Austrian MotoGP
|1||99||Jorge LORENZO||ESP||Ducati Team||Ducati||39:40.688|
|2||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+0.130|
|3||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+1.656|
|4||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+9.434|
|5||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+13.169|
|6||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+14.026|
|7||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+14.156|
|8||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+16.644|
|9||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+20.760|
|10||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+20.844|
|11||53||Tito RABAT||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+21.114|
|12||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+22.939|
|13||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+26.523|
|14||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+29.168|
|15||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+30.072|
|16||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+30.343|
|17||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+31.775|
|18||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+34.375|
|19||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+40.171|
|20||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+53.020|
|21||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+53.261|
|22||12||Thomas LUTHI||SUI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+54.355|
|DNF||10||Xavier SIMEON||BEL||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||18 Laps|