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15 days ago
By motogp.com

Bagnaia on a roll, Quartararo under pressure: Austria awaits

The Italian armada arrives on successful turf as KTM race at home, Aprilia aim to keep the roll going and Quartararo faces some pressure

A few races ago, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was starting to become the runaway favourite for the 2022 crown, but since his error at Assen and then a tougher race at Silverstone, both of which were won by Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), the momentum has most definitely turned. Now the paddock heads to the Red Bull Ring and serious winning turf for Ducati, it could be another pivotal chance for Bagnaia to continue cutting that gap - especially as it's often been tougher Sunday turf for Yamaha.

"We need to look at Pecco" - Bagnaia form worries Quartararo

There is a new chicane to contend with, however, and that leaves lap records behind and adds an extra challenge to the weekend ahead. Still, the venue has seen many a Ducati win and for a handful of different riders, so the factory remains the favourite. With Bagnaia on form, teammate Jack Miller fresh from the podium, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) already a winner at the track and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) back up into the battle at Silverstone, there is a long list of hopefuls and it doesn't even stop there, with the likes of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) likewise quick and eager to make their mark.

Heroic ride not enough for A. Espargaro: "No excuse for P9"

Another factory eager to keep the pressure on Quartararo is Aprilia. Aleix Espargaro didn't manage to capitalise on the number 20's P8 at Silverstone as he took ninth, but after a huge highside on Saturday left him racing with a broken heel, that became a job well done in difficult circumstances as he only lost one point to the Frenchman. And there was still an Aprilia on the podium...

After speed before bad luck in Germany and then third at Assen, his first rostrum finish with Aprilia Racing, second at Silverstone and only four tenths off Bagnaia was quite a statement from Maverick Viñales. The trend says the next step should be the top one, but it's far from a simple task in MotoGP™. Can Top Gun do it, in his 200th Grand Prix and at a poetic place to get back on top?  The Aprilia remains as serious a threat as ever, and at the very least it may be a good weekend to chip away more points from Yamaha for both Noale machines.

A Spielberg epic awaits MotoGP™'s heroes in Austria

Meanwhile, KTM are racing at home and will have big aims for the weekend. The tougher season continues but there have been solid moves forward, and both Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and teammate Miguel Oliveira have won at the venue, in two very different styles. With the grandstands full of orange and a new chicane for everyone, will the hills be alive with a podium challenge from the Mattighofen factory? They'll certainly be pushing to the limit to try and get in that battle for the first time since the first couple of races. For Tech3 Factory Racing Team it's also a big weekend as rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez fight to continue scoring points and moving forward - and Pit Beirer also recently intimated we'd get a Tech3 2023 rider announcement this weekend too.

Suzuki will also want more from the Red Bull Ring. The Hamamatsu factory have form there and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) even more so, with the circuit having been the scene of his first win in the World Championship and the number 36 seeming to have figured out a few secrets to being fast in Styria. For teammate Alex Rins the same could be said of Silverstone and the number 42 spent much of the race at the front, but after fading in the latter stages he'll be looking to bounce back. Qualifying remains a challenge for both Suzuki and KTM, with the riders often charging forward on Sunday, so that will likely be a focus too as the new chicane creates a new lap record, likely on Saturday afternoon.

Mir laments latest error after 5th DNF in 8 races

Finally, for Honda there is some big news: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will be back in the paddock. The number 93 isn't riding or racing again just yet, but he'll be on hand as the Japanese factory continue to focus on developing the new RC213V. Already in contact from home, now the eight-time World Champion will be on site as Stefan Bradl and Pol Espargaro aim to take the Repsol Honda further into the points, as do Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol).

MUST-SEE: Marquez drops biggest hint yet on racing return

Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is now officially on a roll as the Spaniard backed up his win at Assen with another at Silverstone, the second in a row from only his second ever Moto2™ pole. Heading into the Red Bull Ring he is now the Championship leader and with a 13-point cushion in hand over Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) as Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) falls from first to third.

Moto2™

Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is now officially on a roll as the Spaniard backed up his win at Assen with another at Silverstone, the second in a row from only his second ever Moto2™ pole. Heading into the Red Bull Ring he is now the Championship leader and with a 13-point cushion in hand over Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) as Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) falls from first to third.

Moto3™

When Sergio Garcia (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) was crashed out of the British GP, it seemed like a huge goal had suddenly appeared in front of teammate and closest challenger Izan Guevara. However, it wasn’t too long after that dramatic twist that another appeared as Guevara likewise found himself in the gravel, and likewise through no fault of his own. Compounding that, their two closest rivals in the standings – Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) and Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – came through to capitalise to perfection in a 1-2. So what awaits in Austria?

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