The Red Bull Ring in Austria is new territory for the majority of the MotoGP class as it returns to the MotoGP calendar for the first time in 19 years.
It means that as the riders return from a well-earned summer break they with a challenge ahead of them where they will have to quickly learn the best approach to the eleventh round of the season.
At the pre-race press conference, new father Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) were present alongside championship leaders Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), and Movistar Yamaha teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Majority of riders completed a test at the Red Bull Ring
Immediately after the tenth round of the MotoGP at the Sachsenring where riders competed in a wet to dry German GP, the majority of the teams made their way to the Red Bull Ring for two days of testing.
Both Crutchlow and Dovizioso were present, but Pedrosa was not; the rider has to settle with the experience he gained from filming with Honda earlier on in the season with a road bike.
Double the reason to celebrate for Crutchlow
The tenth round of the MotoGP season resulted in a second place finish for British rider Crutchlow. His race strategy paid off and left him in hot pursuit in the closing stages of the race where he powered through to the end overtaking anyone he came across.
Crutchlow finished the summer break with his best result of the season so far; he claimed second and was quick to phone his heavily pregnant wife at the time Lucy who was at their home after missing only her second race in nine years.
Celebrations continued for the Honda rider as over the break Lucy gave birth to their first child Willow; to celebrate her arrival, Crutchlow who was beaming at the pre-race press conference, was showing off his helmet which he has had designed for the Austrian GP as a tribute to his new daughter.
Crutchlow concerned about the Austrian GP
Having tested after the German GP Crutchlow admitted at the press conference that he thinks, “It could be a difficult weekend for us.”
Being aware of the difficulties they may face at a new track he spoke of how during the test the LCR Honda team “focused on working a=on the electronics and things like that”. Remaining optimistic about the eleventh round of the MotoGP Crutchlow admitted “we also have strong points like in the braking zones, so we’ll see!”
German GP a change in fortune for Dovizioso?
It was hopefully a turn in fortune for Italian Ducati rider Dovizioso who finished third after the German GP. He has claimed several DNFs so far, some as a result of others wiping him out, and hopefully claiming a podium spot was a sign of things to come.
Ducati well suited to the Red Bull Ring
Dovizioso and the Ducati Team were present at the two day test at the Red Bull Ring after the tenth round where Ducati appeared to dominate; six Ducatis made it into the top ten on the unofficial timesheet.
At the press conference Dovizioso declared, “The track suits our bike a lot” The Italian rider said, “Our bike is very fast on the straight and strong in acceleration.”
Italian still focused on task in hand
Dovizioso said they “confident for the weekend” however he admitted “the race is always different because you have to work on every detail to be fast over 28 laps.”
Dovizioso also pointed out the fact that “the tyres will be different to the test”. French manufacturers Michelin are the new suppliers to the MotoGP field after they took over from Bridgestone this season and so they have used every opportunity possible to develop their tyres for the elite class.
Ahead of the race during Free Practice and Qualifying Dovizioso said, “We’ll have to try it (the tyres) to see how our speed is compared to the test.”
New experience for Pedrosa
Pedrosa is heading to the Red Bull Ring with his only experience being that of the filming he and his teammate Marquez completed earlier in the year on road bikes. Speaking about the circuit he said, “The first time it’s very impressive.”
Describing the circuit he said, “The track has two parts to it almost,” and talked about how “it’s a long time at full throttle”. He heads into the tenth round knowing “the key will be to have a fast bike and keep the gas open as much as possible.”
Also discussing the Michelin tyres he said, “It looks like there will also be a new tyre since the test to improve durability, so we will have to see.”
Open playing field
Only Rossi and Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller are thought to have raced at the circuit before. Rossi raced there almost 20 years ago aboard an Aprilia and since the track has undergone ‘refurbishments’.
Miller competed in a German championship but it is almost as if the Austrian GP will provide a level playing field in the middle of the season; let’s hope the rain holds off!