After two difficult races (retirement in the Netherlands and 8th in Great Britain), Fabio Quartararo smiled again this Sunday during the Austrian Grand Prix, which he finished in second position, less than a half-second from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati). The reigning world champion had an almost perfect race on a route favorable to the Ducati (in the first four places on the grid). His main competitor in the Championship Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) having only taken sixth place, the Frenchman saw his Championship lead rise to 32 points over the Spaniard while he still had a 44-point margin over Bagnaia, third.
Wearing harder rubber than his direct opponents, Quartararo managed his effort well after an average first lap (6th after a loop when he started 5th) where Bagnaia took the lead in the race to no longer never let go. On the fifth lap, he took advantage of an error by Viñales to move up to fifth and then on the next one, he got the better of the poleman, Enea Bastianini, at the chicane (a place where he shone a lot by the way) for the fourth place.
Things then accelerated at the end of the race. On lap 17, Jorge Martin missed his braking at the chicane, allowing the Frenchman to pass him to the next braking, at the hairpin. Maintaining big pace, Quartararo pressured Jack Miller for three laps before dropping him off the exit of…the chicane, of course, three laps from the finish. Bagnaia, who had escaped a little (+1”7) was able to keep the lead, with one breath, until the finish line.
An end to the GP all the more impressive from Quartararo as he did it under threat of a penalty from the middle of the race after having received three warnings for not respecting the track limits. “It’s so hard to race like that, blew the Frenchman. I was on the limit, I almost crashed several times but it’s a great comeback and with a few more laps, maybe…”
Behind, Johann Zarco had a difficult first lap (9th) then was hampered when Bastianini left the track at the start of the race. But the Pramac rider was able to take his Ducati to 5th place, helping his compatriot through the Championship by overtaking Aleix Espargaro three laps from the finish.
The next Grand Prix, that of San Marino, will take place on the Italian track of Misano, on September 4th. And last year, like this Sunday at the Red Bull Ring, Bagnaia won ahead of Quartararo.
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