NeroGiardini Austrian Grand Prix 2016

Posted on Aug 08, 2016 by Nick Harris


Austria welcomes back MotoGP™ with a sell-out
The MotoGP™ World Championship makes a welcome return to Austria after a 19 year absence in front of a sell-out crowd at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. The NeroGiardini Austrian Grand Prix at the 2.684 miles circuit near Spielberg heralds the start of a hectic second half of the 18 round season, with the final nine races in just 13 weeks.
British MotoGP stars Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding didn’t want the summer break to start after superb results in the last two rounds of the championship. Isle of Man based midlander Cal Crutchlow was a brilliant second on the LCR Honda in the rain at the previous round in Germany. Gloucestershire – based Redding was just pipped for a second successive podium to finish fourth, after a third place in the Assen rain on the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati. Both face the second half of the season with great confidence, as does Irishman Eugene Laverty.
Laverty, the Pull and Bear Aspar Ducati rider, has scored world championship points at every one of those first nine races. He’s the best placed British rider in the Championship in 10th place. Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith faces the second part of the season determined to turn round a disastrous first half. The Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider is 16th in the world championship after such a superb season last year. He has struggled with the new Michelin tyres and electronics but is confident he can turn it round in the final nine races with the team, before joining the Austrian KTM team next year.
It’s a massive Moto2™ race for Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes as he challenges for the world title. The Federal Oil Gresini Kalex rider has slipped to third place in the title chase 30 points behind World Champion and championship leader, Frenchman Johann Zarco. With two races in the space of seven days it’s crucial that Lowes gets back to winning ways if he’s going to catch the Frenchman and pull back the five-point advantage of second placed Alex Rins.
Another rider who enjoyed the summer break was 22 year old Scotsman John McPhee after a morale boosting sixth place in the wet Moto3™ race at the previous round in Germany. A new Mahindra gearbox in the Peugeot MC Saxoprint machine at last enabled McPhee to fight for a podium finish for the first time this season. He faces the second half of a difficult season with some real confidence.

Did you know?
• In 2016 Austria will stage a motorcycle grand prix event for the first time since 1997.
• The first Austrian grand prix took place in 1971 at the Salzburgring circuit, which hosted grand prix racing on a total of 22 occasions.
• At that first Austrian GP in 1971 Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta) won the 500cc race, finishing more than a lap ahead of second place finisher Keith Turner. Agostini also won the 350cc race, with the other classes being won by the following riders: 250cc – Silvio Grassetti (MZ), 125cc – Angel Nieto (Derbi), 50cc – Jan de Vries (Kreidler).
• The last occasion that a grand prix event took place at the Salzburgring circuit was in 1994, when Mick Doohan won the 500cc race with a race average speed in excess of 194 km/hr.
• Due to the high speed nature of the Salzburgring circuit, and the limited amount of run-off provided, it was considered too dangerous for continued use for grand prix racing.
• The current circuit has hosted two previous grand prix events – in 1996 and 1997, when named the A1-Ring.
• Valentino Rossi is the only current rider to have to have raced previously at this circuit in a grand prix.
• Rossi’s third place finish in the 125cc race in Austria in 1996 was his first GP podium finish. He again finished on the podium in the 125cc race in Austria in 1997, this time in second place just 0.004 seconds behind Noboru Ueda.
• All of the six grand prix races (2 x 125cc, 2 x 250cc, 2 x 500cc) that have taken place at this circuit have been won by Honda mounted riders.
• The Red Bull Ring is the 27th circuit to hold a MotoGP race since it replaced the 500cc class as the premier-class of motorcycle grand prix racing in 2002. Austria is the 19th different country to host a MotoGP race.

Marques holds massive half time advantage
Marc Marquez starts the second half of the 18 round MotoGP™ season with a commanding 48 point lead as he steps into the unknown at the NeroGiardini Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. The Spanish Repsol Honda rider arrives at the first Austrian Grand Prix for 19 years having only ridden a road bike round the 2.684 mile circuit fresh from the summer break and a superb win at the previous round in Germany.
It’s a massive race for his pursuers who must close that big gap at the next two rounds, on Sunday and Brno in the Czech Republic just seven days later. The last two races have been a disaster for the Movistar Yamaha team with World Champion Jorge Lorenzo really struggling in the rain and team-mate Valentino Rossi crashing and struggling with tyre changes. Lorenzo still holds second place with Rossi a further 11 points adrift in third. The Italian is the only rider on the grid to have competed at the circuit previously and took his first ever grand prix podium here 20 years ago when he finished third in the 125 cc race.
The big threat for the top three will come from Ducati in the 28 lap encounter around the circuit which is quick and only boasts nine corners with seven left handers. The Ducati team of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone excelled at the recent test at the track and have a real chance of giving the Italian factory their first win in the post Casey Stoner era. That’s also good news for the satellite Ducati teams including Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci in the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team and the impressive Hector Barbara at Avintia racing.
After the last two wet races the likes of Maverick Vinales on the Ecstar Suzuki, Pol Espargaro riding the Monster Tech3 Yamaha and Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa will be hoping for some sunshine. Others such as Cal Crutchlow who was a superb second on the LCR Honda in Germany and Redding who was fourth might fancy another flag to flag encounter.
Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco is on track to retain his title before joining MotoGP next season. The Frenchman has won three of the last four races to open up a 25 point lead over his two challengers Alex Rins and Sam Lowes who will both join him in MotoGP next year. Spaniard Rins has not won since Le Mans and is just five points in front of Lowes whose only win came in Jerez. Jonas Folger bounced back to form with a second place at his home German Grand Prix while Takaaki Nakagami will be looking to repeat his maiden grand prix win in Assen.
It’s a big weekend for the Austrian KTM factory and they will be looking to South African Brad Binder to get back to winning ways to defend his 47 point lead in the Moto3™ World Championship. Binder finished on the podium at the first seven races before hitting problems in Assen and the Sachsenring but still holds that comfortable advantage over Spaniard Jorge Navarro who returned to action in Germany after breaking his leg in a training accident. If it rains look no further than Malaysia teenager Idham Khairul Pawi who has won twice in the wet, including the last round in Germany riding for Team Asia Honda. If it’s dry it promises to be just another massive head to head battle with the likes of Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia joining in the fun after already winning races this year.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 12th August 08.00pm – 15.00pm (practice)
Saturday 13th August 08.00am – 15.15pm (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 14th August 07.30am – 15.00pm (warm-up and races)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 15th August 20.00pm – 21.00pm

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