The 2020 MotoGP World Championship heads to Austria for round four of the MotoGP Championship for the first of two races at the iconic Red Bull Ring in Styria.
The 2.68-mile circuit located in the Styrian hills is the next challenge for the MotoGP World Championship, as they take on the tyre punishing Austrian circuit.
However, looking into the weekend, the championship will have more than just tyres on their mind, with rain forecasted for the majority of the weekend, including the 28-lap race on Sunday.
Spielberg first joined the MotoGP calendar back in 1971 with Giacomo Agostini taking the first 500cc win at the Salzburgring. The Salzburgring was a part of the MotoGP calendar until 1996, when the A1 ring, now known as the Red Bull Ring, made its debut.
The A1 ring ran for two seasons, before being dropped from the calendar. The circuit was then bought by Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz and re-opened in 2011. It returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016 and quickly became… Ducati’s land.
Ducati haven’t had the greatest start to the 2020 season. Andrea Dovizioso started his 2020 campaign with a bang, taking a podium finish in the first of two visits to Jerez, but two poor results in the Andalucian and the Czech Grand Prix’s has seen the Italian drop to fourth in the championship. Meanwhile, Danilo Petrucci hasn’t yet troubled the top five, taking his best result of the year in round one with ninth.
Andrea Dovizioso is a two-time winner in Austria, and with Michelin not bringing their new rear tyre, this could be the golden ticket to get Dovizioso back on the top step and potentially save his career.
Over at Pramac Ducati, Jack Miller will have Michelle Pirro at the other side of the garage as Francesco Bagnaia was ruled out of the Austrian Grand Prix following his free practice one crash in Brno. Meanwhile, Johann Zarco will be looking to back up his Czech performance, taking his first MotoGP podium since Malaysia 2017.
KTM come home fresh from a race victory, their first since joining the MotoGP class full-time in 2017. Brad Binder delivered a masterclass in just his third premier class Grand Prix. Binder will make his first appearance at the Red Bull Ring, as he aims to back-up his race-winning performance in Brno. Meanwhile, team-mate Pol Espargaro will be aiming to return to form after being taken out of the podium fight by eventual third-place finisher, Johann Zarco.
Over at Honda, they have another problematic Grand Prix on the horizon, as once again, their top rider Marc Marquez is out of action. This means, for the second weekend running, Alex Marquez will be joined by Stefan Bradl in the factory Honda camp. The pair had a difficult weekend, filling the final two grid spots on the Czech Grand Prix grid. Meanwhile, LCR Honda has its full line-up. Takaaki Nakagami and Cal Crutchlow will be hoping for a better race in Austria after Nakagami’s race was hindered by getting his lap cancelled in qualifying one.
The Austrian Grand Prix has never been a happy hunting ground for Yamaha. They go into the Austrian round lying first, second, third and seventh in the MotoGP championship. Championship leader, Fabio Quartararo stood on the podium last year, his third of the 2019 season. Meanwhile, factory Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi haven’t stood on the podium in Austria. The factory Yamaha’s last podium at the Red Bull Ring was at the 2016 Grand Prix in the hands of Jorge Lorenzo.
Team Suzuki ECSTAR are in high spirits after a good result for Alex Rins in Brno. The injured Spaniard raced valiantly to fourth position in a late charge. Rins lies tenth in the standings, and will hope to claw his way into the top-five after the Austrian double-header.
After a strong charge from Aprilia in Brno, Aleix Espargaro will be going into round four brimming with confidence after qualifying fourth and racing to tenth in the Czech Grand Prix. Bradley Smith will once again be alongside the Spaniard as he makes his fourth 2020 race start for the Italian manufacturer.
MotoGP will roar in action in the Austrian hills on Friday morning, with free practice one at 09:55 local time with qualifying taking place on Saturday at 14:35. Lights go out for the fourth round of the season on Sunday at 14:00.
Featured images: MotoGP.com