|Austrian GP: Bagnaia produces a masterclass performance to seal another lights-to-flag victory at the Red Bull Ring. Bastianini finishes tenth
Francesco Bagnaia annihilated the opposition with another superlative victory in the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, round 10 of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship. As in yesterday's Sprint victory, the Ducati Lenovo Team man led from start to finish in the 28-lap race, never once putting a foot wrong, and taking the chequered flag with a margin of five seconds over his closest pursuer, Brad Binder (KTM).
After powering away from pole, the Italian was shadowed by his South African rival for the first third of the race, but constantly lapping in the low 1'30s from mid-race meant that Pecco could gradually pull away at the rate of a few tenths per lap to clinch his fifth win of the year and boost his points lead to 62 over Martin (Pramac Racing), seventh today.
Bagnaia's sixteenth MotoGP victory (the fifth out of the ten GPs already held this year) was also Ducati's 78th overall in the premier class, while it was the fourth so-called 'Grand Slam' (pole position, victory, fastest lap and leading every lap) for Pecco after Algarve '21, Jerez '22 and Mugello '23.
Starting from P13 on the grid, teammate Enea Bastianini was involved in a five-rider battle for sixth and eventually secured a top-ten finish, closing in P10.
Ducati, which scored its eighth win in ten races at the Red Bull Ring, placed four riders in the top 5, with the VR46 Racing duo of Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini third and fourth, respectively, ahead of Gresini Racing's Alex Marquez, fifth.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1st
"Sincerely, I'm very happy. I had a very good start, got in front immediately and tried to manage as much as possible. In the first phase, I was just trying to figure out how many riders could stay at that pace in the low 30s, and I tried to be a little slower than what was possible. The last few laps were very difficult for the rear tyre because it no longer had any traction and was spinning a lot. We managed to do an incredible job all weekend, the engineers and my team gave me everything I asked for, and this was the result. For sure, the second part of the season will now be very tough, but we will try to be calm and enjoy every moment like we did this weekend. If we can continue like this, we can have some good results."
Enea Bastianini (#23 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 10th
"I have to say that we did a good job this morning, I immediately felt at ease with the change we made; instead, this afternoon, it didn't happen in the race because the sensations were very similar to yesterday. The front blocked a lot, unfortunately, my grip dropped immediately after two laps. I couldn't do anything anymore, I got to the end, and the tyre was finished. I feel we are on the right track, the potential is certainly there, this morning, I made the lines as I wanted, and I had grip. The problem is that things that happen that you don't understand always lead to a bad result, so it was the same today."
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
"Pecco was superb here, he didn't do anything wrong. For everything else, he repelled the attacks in the first laps, and then he was simply superior. As for Enea, it is clear that he still needs more time and more races to get back to the form that he showed last season. The road is still very long until the end of the season; we have just completed the tenth of the twenty races we have to do, and, as was demonstrated last year, we must never say it's over until the end."
The MotoGP World Championship now heads to Barcelona for the eleventh round of the championship, the Gran Premi de Catalunya, which is scheduled from 1st-3rd September.