Last year Ducati won because their bikes suited the Red Bull Ring. This year Ducati won because of, as team manager Davide Tardozzi put it, “Professor Dovizioso.” As expected there was a plan, and using the soft rear tyre was unexpected. Dovi used the medium to qualify and said the soft hadn’t worked as he expected. That was flannel. He and Jorge Lorenzo used the soft for the race. As for the rest of the plan, Andrea had to save something for the final six or seven laps, and he needed it.
After another fantastic start from Lorenzo, the race turned into a duel between Dovi and Marc Marquez who ride like, well, Marc Marquez. Dovi’ could hold the Honda off into most braking points but Marc was his usual astonishing self in the two lefts in the middle of the circuit. Dovi’ rode with beautiful precision, knowing exactly when the expend resources and when to follow. Inevitably, it came down to a last-lap showdown and even more inevitably it came down to a last-corner lunge from just a little too far back by Marc Marquez .one that Andrea avoided and then waved a dismissive hand at the errant Honda man as he gunned it to the line to win by just over a tenth of a second.
Dani Pedrosa, who had to go through the first qualifying session remember, finished a clear third. Lorenzo was fourth, allegedly with an eggcup of fuel left. The first Yamaha, Zarco, was fifth. What changed from last year? Honda made some serious strides, everyone else looked about the same.
What changed in the championship? Andrea Dovizioso went back to second and is a genuine contender. Marc Marquez finished second but still extended his championship lead by two points. This year is the gift that keeps on giving.