SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA (AFP) – Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia maintained his magnificent run of form by winning the Austrian MotoGP on Sunday for a third successive victory although series leader Fabio Quartararo limited the damage.
Bagnaia led from start to finish on his Ducati – their sixth win in the seven MotoGPs since the race returned to the programme – but world champion Quartararo battled gamely on a circuit that does not favour Yamaha to finish second.
The Frenchman extended his lead over second-placed Aleix Espargaro – who rode with a broken heel – to 32 points with Bagnaia 44 adrift with seven races remaining.
“It was a very, very long race, very tough,” said 25-year-old Bagnaia, who was winning his fifth race of the campaign.
“However, I am very happy. It was tough at the end for the last two laps. I tried to be as calm as possible so I did not make an error.
“My tyres were almost totally worn out and Fabio was gaining on me all the time.
“However, I am delighted with the end result as we have gained another five points.”
Bagnaia, though, said he hoped he would further eat into the lead in the San Marino MotoGP in Misano in a fortnight.
“Fabio is not my focus – it is gaining more points to eat into the deficit.”
Quartararo never let up, constantly harassing Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller in second and finally bore fruit with four laps remaining.
“That was one of my best races,” said the 23-year-old.
“It was so difficult out there and I could have fallen several times. But I am super happy.”
Quartararo’s consistency this term has kept him ahead of the pack in the world title race.
He has just three victories but has also finished on the podium four times in 13 races and only failed to finish in one race whereas Bagnaia has four retirements to his name.
“Consistency is important and we have done well here,” said Quartararo.