2016 Austria Moto2 Results from Red Bull Ring
Johann Zarco joined Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2009, competing in the former 125cc two-stroke class. His first win was not until the Japanese Grand Prix in 2011, Zarco claiming the 125cc-class victory for Derbi.
Zarco joined the then-new Moto2 class in 2012, but didn’t have much luck while competing on Motobi, Suter or Caterham Suter machinery. Things changed drastically for the 26-year-old in 2015 when he began piloting Kalex machinery; that year, he won eight races, earning the Moto2 title. This put France on the GP map.
And so far in 2016, Zarco is at it once again; ahead of round 10 at Austria’s Red Bull Ring – the newest addition to the GP schedule – Zarco had claimed five podiums, including four wins. He made that five Sunday in Austria, becoming the first Moto2 rider to win at the track. His victory not only bumped up his points lead, but also solidified his position as the most successful French GP rider in history with 14 total wins. He has double the amount of victories ahead of fellow French riders Christian Sarron, Olivier Jacque, and Arnaud Vincent, all tied with seven.
Joining Zarco on the Austria Moto2 podium were Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40), respectfully.
Johann Zarco says: “I had a good feeling throughout the weekend. It was a bonus to have the pole position but it was a sign – that I feel strong and can do really well. With the used tyre I was with the best pace, so when I started the race the first corner wasn’t so easy and I lost 4 or 5 positions. Then, to pass my opponents in braking wasn’t so easy.
“So I had to stay calm and just think ‘with the used tyre I can do it’. Even when Morbidelli escaped, I was thinking I could catch him and step-by-step my feeling was getting better. So I could stay calm and gain positions, and with around 10 laps to go I was with Morbidelli and I knew I had to make a gap, but again step-by-step because it’s not so easy to make a big difference. I’m happy to have crossed the line with a big margin, and another back flip was great in front of the Austrian fans!”
This was the first time GP visited Austria in 19 years; following is the official report courtesy of MotoGP:
It was an Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1-1 over the line at the end of Lap 1, as Morbidelli got the best start from P2 and Alex Marquez leapt up from a P5 grid spot to tail his teammate. The lead group became a 5-way battle with Morbidelli leading Schrotter, Luthi and Zarco, but the points leader remained patient and came through to the lead with nine laps to go – leaving the group to fight over who would complete the first podium at the Red Bull Ring.
Zarco played his hand perfectly after losing the lead into turn 1, as the Frenchman stayed patient and used his unique mixture of aggression and patience to make his way through. Pushing Alex Marquez wide as he began his assault, the Ajo Motorsport rider kept his focus throughout the fight for the lead, before breaking away with 9 laps to go and heading over the line to take another incredible victory – making him the most successful French rider in world championship history.
P2 man Franco Morbidelli was the early leader of the race after a fantastic start, and the Italian rider fought hard to stay in contention as Zarco passed him and began to pull away. Taking second back from Luthi on the final lap, Morbidelli then put his head down and headed for the line to get back on the rostrum and convert his qualifying position into 20 well-earned points.
Alex Rins had a difficult qualifying and looked well out of podium contention for most of the early laps, before managing to find his way past Alex Marquez and setting off in pursuit of the front group. Zoning in on the front three as the last lap approached, Rins then took an incredible podium finish in the last corner, denying Swiss rival Tom Luthi the rostrum in the final few meters of the race.
There were impressive performances from Marcel Shrotter (AGR Team), who got his best result to date, and Alex Marquez. The German completed the top 5 after keeping Rins honest for a lot of the race and then enjoyed a front row seat for the last corner clash between the Spaniard and Swiss rival Luthi, and Alex Marquez converted his best ever qualifying in Moto2™ into a P6 finish after fighting at the front. The 2014 Moto3™ world champion has come back from the summer break ready to recover the form that saw him take his place in history in the lower category – including a nostalgic battle with former Moto3™ teammate Alex Rins in Austria.
It was a bad day at the office for Championship hopeful Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the British rider crashed out of contention, opening the door for Zarco and Rins to gain a big margin over him in the points – after remounting, the Brit then suffered another crash at the same corner after damage to his bike.
Moto2 will be back on track at Brno next weekend, for another thrilling battle as Zarco lays down the challenge.