On 14th August 2016, after six years since Philip Island in 2010, Ducati gets their first win in Moto GP, and it is quite overwhelming!
Ducati’s trouble in getting to the stop step of the podium is hardly a primetime story, and that their motorcycle has been the most difficult to race on is a well-known fact as well. Until now that is. No rider since Casey Stoner has been successful on that bright red motorcycle on the grid. Even the dream get-together of Valentino Rossi and Ducati did not nearly produce the results everyone of us expected (or at least hoped for).
But we have heard and read enough of that already. This time, though, it is a different day and different story – Ducati Wins Again!
And the rider who brought them this much-awaited win is someone who many thought was least likely to do so, someone who doesn’t enjoy a reputation of a “safe rider”. And how could he when he carries the nickname “Maniac Joe”. Yes, he’s Andrea Iannone and he brought Ducati their first win in six years.
Controlled Maniac for the first time!
Andrea Iannone displayed exemplary discipline and incredibly smart riding, possibly for the first time in the highest class of MotoGP, and look where he got.
Ducati’s were incredibly fast all weekend and for the first time, it was becoming clear that the Italian company would actually pull this one off. But as the temperature rose, competition from other teams increased and the margin of Ducati dominance decreased. The Qualifying 2 was intense and the last few laps from the top riders were some of the best we have seen.
Just when everyone was expecting Ducati to take the first two positions on the grid, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi split the two Ducatis and they ended up occupying 1st and the 3rd positions on the front row. Row 2 was headed by Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the current world champion, and he led Honda’s Marc Marquez (who’s heading the championship standing right now).
Red Bull Ring – the Fastest Circuit in MotoGP
The Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria, has been declared the fastest circuit on MotoGP calendar. With race bikes spending more than half their time full throttle in more of straights than in corners, the Red Bull Ring appears to favour machines with better top speed, and it does. And did we mention that it is an extremely beautiful track as well? The location is simply breathtaking with plateaus of greenery surrounding the track.
If Ducati ever had the best chance of capitalizing on the basis of the track layout, this was it, and they did phenomenally well to do that. However, they did receive some fierce competition from the two Yamaha factory riders – Rossi and Lorenzo. But the race wasn’t won on the top speed alone, it required good strategy to manage the fuel and the tyres, both of which proved to be the key ingredients in deciding the outcome.
After the race, both Ducati riders – Iannone and Dovizioso – who finished 1st and 2nd respectively, acknowledged along with their team that conserving fuel was their bigger target in the first part of the race and so the selected map was tuned to deliver better fuel efficiency and slightly less power, but it was still enough to keep them ahead of the pack. This says so much about Ducati’s massive power!
In the second part of the race, the race winner Andrea Iannone mentioned that he changed the map settings for more performance and this helped him in keeping his lead for the remainder of the race.
The tyres and fuel conservation were the key and Ducati did the best job than the rest. Dovizioso had done the same but there was one major difference between him and Iannone – tyres. Iannone made the last minute change to the softer rear tyre while everyone else remained on the hard option. This was a gamble and while all of us predicted that the softer tyre will go out sooner given the high speeds riders will be carrying, what happened was the complete opposite for the race winner.
Iannone had more grip in corners than Dovizioso while there was no problem on the straights for both of them. Dovizioso specifically mentioned that he lacked grip on the right side of the tyre which prevented him from attacking Iannone as much as he wanted to.
Ducati vs Yamaha
Both Ducatis were in front right from the beginning of the race, even though the Yamaha riders gave them a tough fight especially Lorenzo who stuck himself in second between the two Ducatis earlier in the race. Although, once he got relegated to third, he couldn’t challenge for the second and first position again, but he was able to defend his position from Rossi throughout the race.
From then on, it was a fight for the win between the two Ducatis and for the third place between the two Yamahas. Iannone and Dovizioso swapped positions and in the end, Iannone prevailed for the win. On the other hand, Lorenzo and Rossi ran identical pace and Rossi just didn’t have any more power to launch a serious attack on his teammate. Lorenzo finished in third and Rossi in fourth.
Marc Marquez Fought off Maverick Vinales to finish Fifth
Marc Marquez had an intense crash on Saturday in which he had a “minor” dislocation of his shoulder. It was “fixed”, but it was still very much injured and Marquez rode a brilliant race to finish fifth and successfully fought off Vinales who stayed on his tail throughout the race.
Marquez stayed with the leading four earlier in the race but he slowly started slipping back. In the end, he finished 11.8 seconds behind the race winner. Maverick Vinales finished in the sixth position.
MotoGP 2016 has entered into its second half with the Red Bull Ring race, and it was truly worthwhile to watch. Personally, my favourite rider in blue finished off the podium and that’s a sad feeling, but seeing Ducati win again was very nice to watch indeed. Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati racing team boss, must be a proud man. He took the charge of the team in 2015, launched an all-new GP15, and while it may have taken a bit long, it has been totally worth the every drop of sweat of effort they have put in their motorcycle.
Roll-on rest of the races, we can’t wait. After this round, Marc Marquez leads the championship at 181 points while Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are at 138 and 124 points respectively.
Image courtesy: MotoGP.com