“Crazy Joe” Iannone takes first win
First Ducati MotoGP success since Casey Stoner scored in 2010
Much-maligned Andrea Iannone – aka Crazy Joe – has stormed to a faultless Austrian MotoGP victory in the spectacular mountain setting of the Red Bull Ring, breaking a lengthy win-drought for the Ducati Team.
Watched on by a beaming Casey Storner, who scored the previous MotoGP win for the red outfit at Phillip Island all of six years ago, it was Ianonne’s first-ever win in MotoGP. But importantly, a sign that Audi-owned Ducati – win-less for so long – is back as a force.
Iannone, the only rider to opt for softer medium compound rear Michelin for the grand prix, came out on top in a pulsating race which early in the contest also involved Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, championship leader Honda’s Marc Marquez and Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales.
The two Ducati riders dominated the 28-lap race, holding off attacks from Rossi and Lorenzo in the early stages, each having a turn up front, though always just a split second apart. Despite predictions that Ianonne’s rubber might begin to fade, he pounced on Dovizioso for the lead with eight laps remaining, the intensity of the duel taking the Ducati pair clear of the Yamahas.
Iannone held his nerve, and a small margin, to lock-in a superb maiden MotoGP victory, ahead of a forlorn Dovizioso, ecstatic Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez and Vinales.
We don’t need to look far for an interesting back story. Ducati recently picked Dovizioso over Iananne to partner on-the-move Lorenzo in the factory team next year. Ianonne then accepted a ride with Suzuki.
Iannone is bloody fast but a little crash prone. Back in April he committed the unforgivable sin, taking out his team-mate on the last corner of the last lap in Argentina, when both were in rare podium-scoring positions.
On Sunday afternoon, this awful own-goal was forgiven as the team ecstatically celebrated a win that looked so evasive since the departure of Stoner, now a Ducati test rider. Not even the talents of Rossi could drag a victory out of the red bikes during his stint with the Bologna outfit.
Dovi’s unhappiness after being beaten to the historic win was palpable, and he admitted that his team-mate’s tyre choice was decisive.
Reigning champion Lorenzo completed the podium to turn around a poor run of form, cutting the gap to Marquez.
Rossi was never far from the exhaust of Lorenzo but never quite close enough to make a passing attempt.
Marquez crashed badly in practice and dislocated his shoulder. But the Spaniard rode bravely through the pain to take fifth, minimising the damage to his championship hopes. He leads Lorenzo by 43 points after 10 of 18 GPs.
Aussie Jack Miller fell from his Honda at high speed during the Sunday warm-up and was ruled out by doctors even though he wanted to ride.
Next up: Brno.
In Moto2, reigning champ Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) showed his patience and class, biding his time in the frantic opening two-thirds of the GP, before powering to a superb win and extending his points margin.
Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) completed the top three.
Australia’s Remy Gardner had quality support from Mark Webber, Mick Doohan and poppa Wayne, but couldn’t quite make it into the points after a strong early charge.
Gardner (Tasca Scuderia Racing) started 23rd on the grid made a lightning start and was immediately in a titanic six-rider fight for the top 12 until he was forced wide, dropping to 23rd. He regrouped and climbed back to 19th at the flag.
Spanish rookie Joan Mir stole a magical first victory in Moto3, the Leopard Racing rider outfoxing the veterans of the grid. Championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took second to increase his points lead.
It’s going beautifully for Lewis Hamilton…
…But an engine penalty looms, with attendant 10-place grid penalty
After a brilliant vein of form in recent races, Lewis Hamilton has hit the front in the 2016 world championship, but he has warned that he faces an almost-certain engine penalty later this season, virtually handing his nearest rival, Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, a free race.
According to BBC Sport, the defending world champion reached his maximum allowance of five turbochargers and MGU-Hs in Austria last month, and at some stage will be forced to take a 10-place grid penalty.
Hamilton turned a 43-point deficit to Rosberg into a 19-point advantage after winning six of the last seven races.
But, taking a 10-place penalty will hand Rosberg a wonderful chance to land 25 points from a win, while Hamilton deals with the less joyous prospect of being jostled by the bandits in the mid pack.
"Anything can happen when you are coming from the back, as you have seen,” Hamilton said in the BBC Sport story, adding that the handicap will merely make him fight harder.
Hamilton expects the engine change will happen at either the next race, the Belgian Grand prix next weekend, or at the Italian GP.
Monza looks more likely as it is a track where overtaking is a little easier than most.
New dad Dumbrell fit and ready for enduro campaign
Pressure doesn’t get to Whincup’s proven partner – he’s already won at Bathurst and Sandown
With the 2016 Australian Supercar Championship so close as the contenders head into the final six events of the calendar, so much is resting on the performances of co-drivers in the crucial endurance races at Sandown, Bathurst, Gold Coast and Sydney.
The co-drivers can make or break the championship campaigns for the big hitters.
Jamie Whincup, leading the series narrowly as the field resets at Sydney Motorsport Park on August 26-28 after a short winter hiatus, will again have seasoned Paul Dumbrell sharing his Red Bull Racing Australian #88 Commodore.
It’s an arrangement he’s very comfortable with.
“There’s no indication that Paul won’t do the job he’s done in previous years,” Whincup suggested to Wheels, “even though his personal situation is different this year.
“He’s just had a kid and has been having time away from work clearing his mind, and training hard.”
Dumbrell, 34 next month, retired as a full-time V8 Supercars driver in 2011 to concentrate on business and has partnered Whincup in the enduros since 2012.
The Dumbrell/Whincup partnership was successful that same year, when they won the 2012 Bathurst 1000. In 2013, they won the Sandown 500. In 2014, Dumbrell and Whincup took victory again at Sandown en route to winning the Enduro Cup as the highest scoring driver combination across the three endurance events.
This year, as in past seasons, Dumbrell keeps his eye-in racing in the Dunlop Series.
No payment means no drive for Haryanto at Manor F1
Backmark team needs the money, so bad news for non-paying pay driver
Rio Haryanto, the Indonesian backed by a state-owned oil company, has been booted from the Manor F1 race drive for failing to meet his contractual obligations.
Indonesia’s first-ever F1 driver has been performing quite impressively with the cash-strapped Manor but in the cut-throat world of backmarker outfits reliant on the money from their two pay drivers, the non-arrival of the dough is bad news.
Haryanto’s backer had paid to keep in him a drive until after the Hungarian Grand Prix. He managed to race at Hockenheim to try to wangle more money from Indonesia.
It didn’t happen. Whilst many feel Haryanto has done a fair job against his team-mate, Mercedes Junior driver Pascal Wehrlein, the Indonesian government perhaps hasn’t understood the tough nature of being a rookie in a modest-performing car.
So into the big-time comes Haryanto’s replacement, the Renault reserve driver, teenager Esteban Ocon, also a Mercedes Junior (to explain, Mercedes farms out some of it young up-and-comers to lesser teams to gain F1 experience).
Ocon has the Manor drive for the rest of the season.
Ocon has amassed a slick record in a short time. He beat Max Verstappen to the European F3 title in 2014, and won the GP3 championship last year. He also drives in the DTM.
Wehrlein earned Manor its first point of the season at the Austrian GP in July, and it currently sits 10th of 11 teams in the constructors' standings.
Rossi chased for Suzuka Eight Hour
Yamaha wants its star back on the grid for Japan’s biggest race
Yamaha wants its superstar rider Valentino Rossi to compete in next year’s Suzuka Eight Hour, Japan’s biggest two-wheeled event – bigger even than the Japanese MotoGP.
The push to have Rossi aboard a factory-prepped YZF-R1 for the 40th anniversary of the event is about shooting for a Yamaha hat-trick at the circuit but also to counter an expected overload of publicity from Honda, which owns Suzuka. We already know Honda is bringing out a new CBR1000RR to mark the occasion.
A large sprinkling of the Rossi stardust should he return to the Eight Hour for the first time since 2001, (when he teamed with Colin Edwards to take victory on a factory Honda RC51) would potentially draw attention away from Honda’s celebrations.