A tactical last corner pass by Miguel Oliveira to steal victory at the death was only the latest in a series of thrilling finishes at the Red Bull Ring since 2016, but was perhaps the most spectacular.
Oliveria’s shook win came in a red-flagged Styrian Grand Prix after Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro both ran wide at the final corner on the run to the flag.
Emerging from it all was a shrewd Oliveria who becomes MotoGP’s latest race winner in the 900th race in Premier Grand Prix Motorcycle racing.
Grabbing the holeshot from the line was Suzuki’s Joan Mir but another fast start by Miller gave the Aussie the prime run into Turn 1 and was able to capitalise when Mir ran off the road at the opening turn.
A brief exchange for the lead with Takaaki Nakagami was the only disruption for Mir who retook the lead from Miller at Turn 10 and establishing a tidy margin before the red flag was waved just 12 laps from the chequered flag.
The reason being a scary brake failure for Maverick Vinales who was forced to leap from his Yamaha at Turn 1 while traveling well over 200km/hr. The bike continued on its unrestrained path before bursting into flames as it hit the airbags that line the catch fencing.
It is the second red flag in back-to-back rounds at Austria and the second involving Vinales as the Yamaha rider leaves the Styrian countryside rightly shaken.
A restart on Lap 16 followed after the clean-up while Vinales gingerly made his way to the medical centre. But this time it was Mir who shot into the lead over Miller and defended the position into Turn 1.
Miller tucked his Ducat behind the Suzuki rider and reclaimed the lead with a lunge at Turn 4. The Australian was able to use the red flag stoppage to fit two brand new softs when Mir only had one unused medium tyre left.
Pol Espargaro had been running a lonely third from the restart while ehind there was a battle intensifying between Brad Binder, Oliveria and Andrea Dovizioso.
Espargaro, who only 24 hours earlier had taken KTM’s maiden MotoGP pole position, then mustered enough performance to catch and overtake Mir with 7 Laps remaining which in turn allowed Oliveria to get by the Suzuki rider one tour later.
At the penultimate corner, Espargaro launched a raid on Miller, but ran slightly wide and allowed the Pramac rider to draw alongside into the final turn.
A struggling Mir then made an unforced mistake at Turn 4 to gift fourth to Dovizioso while Miller, Espargaro and Oliveria diced for the lead.
The KTM held the lead at the start of the final lap with a lurking Miller patiently sitting behind waiting for a move at the final two corners.
Miller got the run off the penultimate corner and muscled his way past Espargaro in a desperate lunge for victory but forced himself and the KTM wide on the exit.
This allowed Oliveria to come for and score an incredible maiden MotoGP victory while Miller consolidated second.
Mir made amends for his earlier mistake and got back past Dovizoso on the final lap, Desmo Dovi splitting the two factory Suzuki’s with Alex Rins finishing seventh.
MotoGP will have a fortnight away from the track before returning to action with a doubleheader at Misano starting September 11.
|Maverick VIÑALES||0 Lap|