Ducati’s drought broken

CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION: Andrea Iannone of the Italian Ducati team celebrates after winning the MotorGP in Austria yesterday. It was his maiden victory. Picture: EPA
CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION: Andrea Iannone of the Italian Ducati team celebrates after winning the MotorGP in Austria yesterday. It was his maiden victory. Picture: EPA

Iannone gives Italian team first win in six years

Andrea Iannone claimed his maiden Moto GP victory in the Austrian Grand Prix yesterday, giving Ducati their first win since 2010. Iannone started from pole at the Red Bull Ring circuit, and despite losing the lead temporarily to teammate Andrea Dovizioso, hit the front again in the closing stages and held on.

Italian team Ducati had last tasted success when Casey Stoner won in Australia almost six years ago, but they were the fastest team all week as Moto GP returned to Austria for the first time since 1997.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Iannone, who will be replaced at Ducati by defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo after the season, said.

“My first victory in this class with Ducati, with this incredible group.

“At the end of this season I finish my contract with Ducati but this is a very good present – the best way.”

Yamaha rider Lorenzo completed the podium in third behind Dovizioso to cut the gap in the drivers’ standings behind championship leader Marc Marquez to 43 points.

Italian Iannone had edged out Valentino Rossi in an exciting qualifying session on Saturday, but lost the lead to the nine-times world champion at the last corner of the opening lap.

But Rossi ran wide seconds later, seeing Iannone and Dovizioso storm past him, with Lorenzo also taking advantage to move into the top three.

A surge of pace in the middle of the race gave Dovizioso the chance to pass his compatriot, which he took with aplomb, but the 27-year-old Iannone retook the lead with eight laps remaining.

From there he never looked back, punching the air in celebration as he safely negotiated the final corner.

The Ducati team were joined in their celebrations in the pits by former riders Stoner and Rossi, who is now with Yamaha and ended fourth yesterday.

Dovizioso made it a one-two, but was disappointed not to be the man to end his team’s drought.

“I’m disappointed because the bike was perfect. But I didn’t have the grip at the end,” he said.

“I pushed to try to be close in braking because I was stronger there and I could overtake him, but I could not get close enough.”

Four-times world champion Marquez had extended his overall lead by winning in Germany in the last race before the mid-season break, and he had a scare in practice on Saturday with a heavy crash. But the Honda rider responded well to finish fifth and stay in control of the title race.

Meanwhile, rookie Joan Mir claimed his first Moto3 win yesterday by pulling away from his rivals over the final two corners of the Red Bull Ring circuit.

The 18-year-old Spaniard became the first rider to win from pole in Moto3 since September last year, beating championship leader Brad Binder, also on a KTM, into second.

Italian Enea Bastianini finished third for the third time in four races.

South African Binder now leads the riders’ standings by 67 points from Jorge Navarro with eight races to go.

Defending world champion Johann Zarco eased to his fifth win of the Moto2 season in Austria to extend his lead in the world championship.

The Kalex rider now leads the drivers’ standings by 34 points from Spaniard Alex Rins.

Despite retiring in the last race in Germany to slip behind Frenchman Zarco overall, Rins bounced back to some extent by finishing third.

Italian Franco Morbidelli split the two title chasers, in second place.

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