The BMW M Grand Prix of Styria is going to see every rider find improvements, meaning we’re set for another unpredictable weekend of MotoGP™. That’s the opinion of the riders who faced the media in the pre-event Press Conference, with Austrian GP race winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) being joined by World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), 2020 Red Bull Ring podium finishes Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).
The riders may be attacking the same piece of asphalt this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to see the same result. Dovizioso beat Mir by 1.3 seconds on Sunday but the Italian isn’t taking it for granted that he’s going to have the upper hand again at the Styrian GP. Dovizioso has a wise head on his shoulders and knows that other riders and teams are going to be making strides forward, with the data gathered from the Austrian GP – including him and Ducati.
“We try something new every time we do a race. You can understand a lot of things, more so than the practice sessions, so it's normal for everyone. I think that we showed a really good speed in the race, but I still don't feel good mid-corner and on exit,” said Dovizioso, when asked whether or not he’ll be trying some different settings in order to try and gain more speed around the Red Bull Ring.
“We have to be better, and especially because we can bring that to upcoming tracks. Some competitors will be stronger this week because they couldn’t get the result last time and so they will be hungry and like everyone, they will have seen things in the race. For sure, the weather will decide things. I think it will be hot tomorrow and maybe Sunday not so much, but I think it will be a different weekend.”
One of those looking to be stronger is Quartararo. An eighth place finish less than a week ago saw Dovizioso cut the gap to 11 points between the leading duo in the title fight, with the 21-year-old explaining how he thinks the title race is wide open.
“For me it’s wide open but again to have a second race in Austria, Andrea is super fast here and in all the next tracks, of course I think he’s one of the main contenders but many manufacturers are there. I think the top five were four manufacturers so everybody is there and I think it’s quite fun. We will try to make our best this weekend, we had good pace last weekend so we want to work a little bit better so we are fighting with the podium guys,” noted the Frenchman.
One to look out for this weekend in Binder. The South African described the opening day of the Austrian GP as “a complete mess” as the Czech GP winner struggled to get accustomed to the Red Bull Ring on his RC16. However, Binder found something during Warm Up and having started P17, the KTM star ended up claiming P4 in the race. Now, having learned a lot from the previous weekend, Binder is confident he can hit the ground running from the get-go in Styria.
“Jeez, the Friday was a complete mess. I spent more time on the access roads I think,” joked Binder. “But I kind of expected it because very time I’ve come to a new track its been super tough to find all the markers, stop the bike wheelie-ing and where to go and how to do it properly. Also the weather and not riding in some of the sessions didn’t help because it made it difficult to make the steps forward. Saturday wasn’t good qualifying 17th, but Sunday morning I felt much better and made a small step compared to what I did in qualifying and for the race I knew starting so far back would be super tough.
“After getting an alright start I just tried to start chipping my way through and see what the other guys were doing. I leant a lot in these two races, to finish fourth was a shock for sure. I think when I was in 8th place I didn’t pass anyone again… so it was a strange race for sure. The good thing is we really know now after this race we know the points I need to improve on, and I expect I can do a better job from the beginning this time around.”
But while acknowledging he’ll be an improved Binder in Styria, the number 33 knows that the competition will also be finding improvements from last weekend. “I think the most important thing is I can really use the laps wisely know. When I’m on track I have a good base to work from and we can try and improve from there.
“Last Friday it was chaos, if I ended up doing 10 clean laps during the whole day that was is. But it’s always like this after a race for everyone though. I expect everyone has found something, seen where they need to improve and I’m looking forward to a good race in Austria.”
Miller was also quick to point out that everyone will be going faster this time around. The Australian claimed his first rostrum of the season at the Austrian GP and says he can’t fault the bike around the Red Bull Ring at all, but he’s going to “have to find something extra” to repeat – or better – the P3.
“Yeah after the previous two Grands Prix after crashing out of a decent spot in Jerez and never finding our feet in Czechia, we needed that little shot in the arm,” said Miller. “All weekend seemed to be pretty good and we were able to capitalise on Sunday. Despite the restart, despite having the changed tyres and all that, I kept level-headed and went out and did my work. The bike is working really well here, I can’t fault it. Much of the same this weekend hopefully. All the other boys will be faster again so we’re going to have to find something extra.”
Rossi added that he and the team “have a lot of data” to try and reel in the top group this weekend, while Mir admitted that he was able to study the Ducatis of Dovizioso and Miller – giving him and Suzuki valuable information ahead of the Styrian GP.
“Yes we have a good base, a competitive bike, but we lost a bit in sector 1 and sector 2 and then in 3 and 4 we recovered a little bit of time and I was behind the Ducatis a lot of laps and I was able to study the strong and weak points and for sure I have good info for this race.”
Yes, we’re competing on the same track. But as we saw in Jerez, the result isn’t guaranteed to be the same – far from it in fact. Okay, Quartararo won both races at a canter with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) second in both, but plenty of drama unfolded. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will start as one of the favourites for victory, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) out to make amends for his crash in Austria.
Dovizioso and Ducati aren’t taking it for granted that they’ll be collecting another first place trophy on Sunday afternoon, and there’s good reason for that. MotoGP™ in 2020 is outrageously unpredictable. The competition for the win and podium places is going to be seriously close again in Styria – we can’t wait.
Tune into FP1 on Friday morning at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) to see who takes the initial advantage in Styria, as we gear up for the 900th Motorcycle Grand Prix.
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