As well as boasting one of the youngest podiums we’ve ever seen in the premier class, the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria also saw five manufacturers finish in the top five for just the third time ever in the MotoGP™ era.
Jorge Martin’s (Pramac Racing) debut win in the premier class was claimed with such measure and class of a rider who looks like he’s been riding his Ducati Desmosedici GP21 for a lot longer than six races. The Spaniard didn’t put a wheel wrong and even an on-song reigning World Champion in the form of Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) couldn’t do anything about Martin picking up what looks to be one of many 25-point hauls.
Behind the Ducati and Suzuki came World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who did his title aspirations no harm whatsoever by finishing third. The Yamaha starlet’s advantage atop the standings is now a healthy 40 points. The Red Bull Ring, a place where the Yamaha will struggle? Not in 2021 apparently.
MotoGP™’s latest ‘Sunday rider’ is Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). In every session leading up to the race, the South African finished no higher than 15th. He qualified 16th. However, at the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon – after passing Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and then Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) on the last lap – Binder crossed the line in P4. Simply outstanding from the 2020 Czech GP winner.
So that made it four manufacturers in the top four, and with Nakagami able to fend off Zarco, the Japanese rider’s best result of the season made it five factories in the top five. Ducati, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM and Honda. We didn’t need it, but it’s yet more proof that MotoGP™ competition is as close as ever.
The last time we saw five manufacturers finish in the top five was at Brno in 2008. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi won from Ducati’s Tony Elias, with Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi claiming the final step on the rostrum ahead of Honda’s Shinya Nakano and Kawasaki’s Anthony West.
In 2007, we saw this feat happen for the first time. One of the all-time classic battles played out at the Catalan GP between Casey Stoner, Rossi and Dani Pedrosa. 0.3s covered the trio at the finish, with Stoner on the Ducati edging out Rossi’s Yamaha and Pedrosa’s Honda. Suzuki’s John Hopkins claimed a lonely P4 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that year, with Randy de Puniet putting his Kawasaki inside the top five.
The finest of margins make the difference in MotoGP™, and it’s an absolute spectacle that all six factories are now closer than ever in terms of performance. Will we see all six inside the top six soon? Don’t count it out.