A day after quitting Ducati for 2021, Andrea Dovizioso won a dramatic MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix which was red-flagged early for a horror accident involving Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli.
Morbidelli collided with Zarco’s Ducati on the run through the ultra-fast Turn 2 on lap nine of the original start, with the Avintia bike vaulting in the air after smashing into the air fence on the outside of Turn 3.
The Petronas SRT Yamaha slid straight into the path of the factory Yamaha of Valentino Rossi, with the bike flying by inches away from Rossi.
The red flag was brought out to clear the chaos, with all involved walking away mercifully unscathed.
SRT has confirmed Morbidelli has undergone checks which reveal no major injuries and did not lose consciousness in the incident and is undergoing treatment in the Clinica Mobile.
KTM’s Pol Espargaro led the race when it was halted and started from pole for the 20-lap restart, while championship leader Fabio Quartararo had to come from last after running off track at Turn 4 on the sixth tour.
Pramac’s Jack Miller gambled on fitting the soft front tyre for the restart and used his grip advantage over the rest to take the lead early on.
Miller got his gap out to over a second by the sixth lap ahead of Dovizioso and Alex Rins, who had just overhauled Espargaro for third.
Espargaro had a scrappy few laps and continued to drop places, until a collision with Tech3 KTM’s Miguel Oliveira at Turn 4 – when the former tried to cut back onto the racing line having run wide – ending both rider’s days on the ninth lap.
By now, Miller’s front grip was fading and Dovizioso pounced at the first turn on lap 10, with Rins following him through at the end of the tour.
The Suzuki rider got on terms with Dovizioso and launched his GSX-RR up the inside of the Ducati at Turn 6 on lap 11 – but the front end slid out from under him and Rins’ hopes of victory were over.
Dovizioso eased off his pace just after the midway stage, but wound his Ducati back up in the closing laps to claim Ducati’s 50th MotoGP victory by 1.3 seconds.
The sole surviving Suzuki of Joan Mir hounded Miller in the final laps, but the Ducati rider used his GP20’s supreme grunt to keep the Spaniard at bay.
However, Miller ran wide at the penultimate corner on the last lap, which allowed Mir into second to put gloss on his maiden premier class podium.
The chaos ahead of him allowed Brad Binder to get up to fourth from 17th on the grid, moving to 26 points behind Quartararo in the standings in fourth.
Rossi brushed off the incident from the first start to come home fifth as top Yamaha rider ahead of LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and the Ducati of Danilo Petrucci.
Quartararo recovered to eighth from last, but his standings lead is now just 11 from race winner Dovizioso.
Iker Lecuona got to the chequered flag in ninth on the Tech3 KTM, with Maverick Vinales completing the top 10 after encountering a mysterious bike issue which left him last on lap one.
Aleix Espargaro got his Aprilia home in 11th ahead of Pramac stand-in Michele Pirro, Bradley Smith on the second Aprilia, Honda’s Alex Marquez and the LCR of Cal Crutchlow.