Binder braves wet to win thrilling Austrian MotoGP on slicks
Sunday 15th August, 2021 - 11:23pm
KTM’s Brad Binder has pulled off victory in the Austrian MotoGP by staying on slicks when rain fell in the final laps at the Red Bull Ring.
Binder inherited the lead when he gambled on staying out as the five ahead of him pitted for their wet weather bikes with just three laps remaining.
Francesco Bagnaia, who led for the majority of the race, charged back from 10th with a lap remaining to second at the chequered flag on his factory Ducati.
Fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin similarly rode back up to the podium on his Pramac Racing entry, one week after the rookie had opened his account in the premier class by winning at the same circuit.
Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) was also among the lead bunch to pit at the end of Lap 25 and he took fourth, ahead of Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Esponsorama Ducati), Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM), and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha).
The latter has extended his championship lead to 47 points, with Bagnaia and Mir equal on points in second and third respectively, after Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) crashed out before the rain set in.
Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) finished 11th, having dropped back to eighth before the rain shook things up.
Ominous skies hung over the Red Bull Ring as the 28-lap race got underway, but it took until Lap 8 before the rain flags started flying.
They were soon withdrawn but returned with seven laps to go, and it was then that Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), who was leading at the time, made an error at Turn 3.
He was bailed out by the power of his Desmosedici as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) attempted to capitalise, but lost first position to #93 when he ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 25.
Quartararo braked extremely deep at the top of the hill to nab second at Turn 3, and Martin emerged third by the time they exited Turn 4, with Bagnaia back to fourth.
By then, Miller and Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) had already rolled the dice on a change to their wet bikes from eighth and ninth respectively on Lap 23.
The rain only got heavier after their stops, causing the top five to tighten up before Marquez led Bagnaia, Martin, Quartararo, and Mir into the pits on Lap 25.
Binder opted against that, as did Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) and several others, while Marquez emerged 10th, ahead of Bagnaia, Martin, Quartararo, Mir, and earlier stoppers Miller and Rins.
At that point, there appeared three possibilities for Binder: he would go on to win, he would crash his Red Bull KTM, or he would be run down by one of those who had switched to their wet bike.
Rain continued to pelt down and while the race-leading South African had several nervous moments, including a near-spill at Turn 3 on the final lap, he was continuing to build the gap over Aleix Espargaro.
Binder kept #33 upright to take a second career MotoGP win, at KTM’s home track, even if he would be issued a three-second penalty for exceeding track limits on the last tour of the Red Bull Ring.
Bagnaia looked to have made too many mistakes just before and just after his stop, but cut a swathe on the last lap to finish second, ahead of Martin, Mir, and Marini.
The latter was among those who stayed out and looked like he might take a podium, as did Lecuona, who ended up sixth.
Quartararo finished seventh and Valentino Rossi (Petronas SRT Yamaha) got home in eighth having also run in the top three after the stops.
Alex Marquez (Castrol LCR Honda) took ninth and Aleix Espargaro dropped from second to 10th on the last lap, ahead of Miller, Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM), and Rins.
Marquez was 10th, first of those to have pitted, when he dropped his Honda at the start of the penultimate lap, but remounted and earned one championship point by finishing 15th.
His team-mate Pol Espargaro was 16th and Cal Crutchlow (Petronas SRT Yamaha) last finisher in 17th.
Earlier, the race had developed into a three-way battle between Bagnaia, Marquez and Quartararo.
Bagnaia had taken the lead when pole-sitter Martin ran wide on the opening lap at Turn 4, and held it when Martin made an unsuccessful raid on Lap 6 at Turn 7.
The Pramac rider instead dropped to fourth by the time he exited Turn 9, and soon lost touch with #63, #93, and #20.
Quartararo had a brief spell at the head of the field and, while he lacked the power at Bagnaia’s disposal, the Frenchman tried to make up for it under brakes particularly at Turn 3.
Despite the Red Bull Ring suiting the Bologna bullets, Bagnaia could not shake Marquez or Quartararo, and it was the Honda pilot who finally made a pass on him stick on Lap 25.
Marquez’s spell in the lead was briefer than he would have liked, however, due to the rain which set up a fascinating conclusion to the grand prix.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) did not get that far, crashing out of eighth on Lap 23 at Turn 1.
Zarco was running fifth when he lost the front of the #5 Ducati through Turn 9 on Lap 18, while Enea Bastianini pitted after his Avintia Esponsorama Ducati shed its left-hand side bodywork.
MotoGP now has a weekend off before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 27-29.
Race results: Austrian MotoGP
|1||33||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||40:46.928|
|2||63||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||+9.991|
|3||89||Jorge MARTIN||ESP||Pramac Racing||Ducati||+11.570|
|4||36||Joan MIR||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+12.623|
|5||10||Luca MARINI||ITA||SKY VR46 Avintia||Ducati||+14.831|
|6||27||Iker LECUONA||ESP||Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+14.952|
|7||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+16.650|
|8||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||+17.150|
|9||73||Alex MARQUEZ||ESP||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+17.692|
|10||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+18.270|
|11||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||+25.144|
|12||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+25.193|
|13||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+25.603|
|14||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+30.642|
|15||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+35.459|
|16||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+40.384|
|17||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||+52.950|
|DNF||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||6 Laps|
|DNF||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||10 Laps|
|DNF||23||Enea BASTIANINI||ITA||Avintia Esponsorama||Ducati||22 Laps|
Race winner: 28 laps