The Italian brand places seven drivers in the first eight positions in free practice for the Austrian GP
Since the redesigned Red Bull Ring returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016, Ducati has turned this circuit at the foot of the Alps into its private garden. The first to win was Andrea Iannone and he was followed by his namesake Andrea Dovizioso, who took three wins between 2017 and 2020. Jorge Lorenzo also set up his Lorenzo’s Land flag in 2018 and Jorge Martín took his first last year, and so far, only win in the queen category. All with Ducati, who have taken six wins in eight MotoGP races at this track. Eight times in six years, and the last two times there was a double date in Austria because of the pandemic.
Every time the championship lands on this track, Ducati is the big favourite. And the reason can be summed up in two words: power and traction. The two great virtues of the Italian motorcycle. It’s a track with very few corners (just 11, the fewest on the calendar) and some of them have you practically coming to a standstill, so you have to react immediately to the first gasp. And if that wasn’t enough, the first part is a sequence of three straights where the Italian bikes have always reached the highest top speeds. If Ducati had built the track of their dreams, it would look a lot like this Red Bull Ring. But late last year, the circuit undertook a renovation of its layout. A chicane was built in the middle of the second straight to reduce speed on one of the black spots of the World Championship. Would this small change succeed in disrupting the established order?
It doesn’t seem, according to what was seen on the first day, when Ducati signed the best day of his life in free practice, placing seven of its eight riders in the top eight: Johann Zarco, Jack Miller and Jorge Martín in the first three positions; and Pecco Bagnaia, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi and Enea Bastianini between fifth and eighth. Only the championship leader, Fabio Quartararo, alternated in fourth place. After one lap and on dry land, the Ducati look unbeatable on this track and if the weather is good today, the battle for pole looks set to become a Ducati Cup.
And Aleix Espargaro? Our trick to win the MotoGP title hasn’t had a great debut, 11th and behind his teammate Maverick Vinales. In the two practice sessions on Friday, he was not particularly nice in that new chicane which he skipped several times. But the Catalan was confident in his chances, bearing in mind that he knows where his weakness lies. “I’m doing really bad,” he commented about that new section of the track. “I don’t understand how to do it and until my last lap I couldn’t do it properly. There I came very close to the best and only finished three tenths. If I improve on this point, I could perfectly be the first,” he added.
After missing the last two races due to a broken femur, Pedro Acosta got back on his Moto2 in Austria. He still bears the consequences of the injury, although his biggest handicap is that he did not play sports for two months and his hours shortfall was noticed on the first day. Nothing to do with his teammate and category leader, Augusto Fernández, who finished third behind Asian drivers, Somkiat Chantra and Ai Ogura. The Spaniard is looking for his fourth consecutive win in 2022, a streak that only Toni Elías has achieved in 2010 in Moto2 so far.
The Moto3 riders have been most affected by the changing weather conditions that we always have in this part of Austria. The morning FP1 was played in the rain and in the afternoon the fastest in FP2 was the Italian Dennis Foggia, the last winner of the category at Silverstone and the main rival in the championship of the Spaniards Izan Guevara and Sergio García, who did not have a very have clear first day (12th and 13th respectively). To remedy this, he has painted Ducati red on the first day of free practice and today’s qualifying session, which will form the grid for this Austrian Grand Prix.
Source: La Verdad