The Ducati machines last week in Brno were sensational and it is round two of the battle with Marc Marquez wanting to shake things up at the Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. The Italian factory bikes have a history of being strong at this circuit so it will be intriguing to see if Marquez can split the two bikes after post analysing the Brno race in his motorhome to understand why Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo were so strong. Marquez is aware that both Ducati riders are riding at a high level and it is his job to find a way to disrupt their momentum. The main aim for MM93 is the podium and points. To fight for victory will be whether the tyres on the Honda set up work well with the asphalt and if he has the ability to take a risk over the reward of extra points.

The inter team rivalry that exists between DesmoDovi and Lorenzo could play in to the hands of Marquez if the battle on track is one where anything goes. The body language of Dovi and Lorenzo when asked about the World Championship was funny to watch as they both showcased the desire to win regardless of each other’s feelings. Dovi says that he is focused purely on the title rather than Lorenzo. To some degree we feel this is not 100% accurate as the body language of the Italian rider spoke loudly during the press conference. He smiled as the questions were asked and looked annoyed when Lorenzo informed the media that he was wanting to finish first, second, third, fourth or as high up as possible. The battle within the garage is already in full swing! We must admit that Lorenzo is doing wonders on board the Ducati. There are critics out there who believed the Spaniard would never succeed on the red beast and he has accomplished many milestones. In approaching the race, Lorenzo feels stronger in the areas of race pace, qualifying laps and being more competitive on older tyres. JL99 is looking confident and his fellow riders are very much aware of his ability to go fast and be smooth on the tyres. The threat of him winning is real.

In terms of the Ducati dominance this weekend, Dovi feels that his competitors have caught up. Fellow rivals have increased their power and improved their aerodynamic packages. Therefore, he is ready to charge and expects Marquez to be even closer than in 2017. In amongst this will be the weather which has chances of a storm, rain, extremely hot sunshine and cloud. The one rider who is already thinking about an uphill battle is Valentino Rossi who is certain on paper that the Yamaha will not perform at the highest of levels. However, the same was said for Brno and they did a good job. We must always keep in mind that Rossi is a master of manipulation, pulling a rabbit out of a hat and putting his Yamaha in places it normally is not capable of being. For example, look at the current situation with Maverick Vinales and the results he is obtaining. The Spanish teammate is not in a good place with his crew chief and is mentally affected by the entire situation. The hard work is going to be present for Vinales and Rossi throughout the entire season of 2018. In Austria, the circuit can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Rossi and Vinales are preparing themselves for both options!

Overall, the Austrian circuit is one where you are on the throttle the most and of course having good power will be advantageous. The Ducati bikes have super acceleration, great top speed, power stability in braking and good wear with tyres. With that said, Honda have caught up with Marquez demanding more engine power and creating a bike that is performing at all circuits. In contrast to this, Casey Stoner has expressed that the racing dynamic has certainly changed in the sport of MotoGP. Stoner: “In qualifying and the race, you never know who to expect at the front. There does not seem to be a form book this year. You wait for Sunday and see what happens. It is interesting to watch how the racing dynamic has changed. I see a lot of riders not setting up their bikes for race distance but rather to get through to Q2 immediately rather than to weight. It is changing the way you can view MotoGP. It is very different. The start of the race you see a lot of overtaking and this is happening because there is so much margin in the braking points and you see overtaking take place. Generally, the guys who do not want to play anymore put the hammer down and they disappear at the front. In fact, when you see a lot of overtaking, you are not at the limit. There is a bit of danger at the start of the races because you have riders preserving a little bit for the end whether it be tyres or to play the game.”

Who do you think will be on top in Austria?