The Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich was full of action and surprised with a dramatic ending when rain started to play a key role. Fabio Quartararo had brilliant pace in the dry and was fancying his chances to claim a place on the podium, but a heavy shower towards the end of the 28-lap race let his hopes evaporate. However, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider's spectacular efforts today were still rewarded with a seventh place and 9 crucial championship points.
There was a lot of tension on the grid with spots of rain falling as the riders settled into their starting positions before the race. Little did they know what was in store for them.
Quartararo had a decent start from second on the grid, but a big wobble in Turn 1 made him lose some momentum. He had to make his Yamaha as wide as possible in the busy opening lap, while white flags signalled that the riders were allowed to swap bikes. The Frenchman crossed the finish line for the first time in fifth place. He temporarily lost a place to Jack Miller but retaliated and set a fastest lap of the race thus far, a 1‘24.471s, on lap 3. His 1‘24s-pace allowed him to quickly pass Johann Zarco at the start of lap 5, and he then put his head down to close in on the three front riders.
The 22-year-old showed he completely trusts his YZR-M1 with various brave overtaking manoeuvres. By lap 8, Quartararo was leading the race while rain flags were waving all around the Spielberg circuit, but the battle for the lead continued. Francesco Bagnaia had the edge on the long straight. The number-20 rider went wide at Turn 1 and lost a bit of time, but quickly resumed his hunt for victory. With rain flags withdrawn on lap 11, the Yamaha man was keen to resume the fight for first. Though Bagnaia was picking up the pace, El Diablo stuck with him and responded by again setting another fastest lap of the race, a 1‘24.451s, in an effort to take over first position, but there were rivals with other ideas.
With nine laps to go, Quartararo went wide in Turn 3 trying to defend second place from Marc Marquez. Three laps later, rain flags came back out and soon the front group consisted of six riders. The Yamaha man was fancying his chances for the win and recovered from fourth to second place, but with three laps left, rain started chucking down. Five of the six leading riders, the Frenchman included, all dove into the pits.
Quartararo re-joined the track in fourteenth place. With some riders still out on slicks or making their pit stop, the riders who opted for wet tyres were able to swiftly move up the order. The championship leader ultimately crossed the line in seventh place, 16.650s from first, extending his lead in the standings by 7 points.
Today‘s results see Quartararo heading the championship standings with a 47-point advantage and a 181 points total. Maverick Viñales, who was suspended from the Austrian GP, dropped to seventh in the standings, with 95 points. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP stays in first place in the team standings with 276 points. Yamaha is now in second place in the constructor championship with 209 points.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in two weeks‘ time at the Silverstone Circuit for the Monster Energy British Grand Prix.