After a busy race weekend and one-day test in the Czech Republic, Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Tom Luthi cross the border into Austria searching for points in round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship.
Boosted by a points-scoring finish and positive post-race test in Brno, morale and motivation is high for Italian star Franco Morbidelli heading into action at the picturesque Spielberg track this weekend.
A battling ride to 13th place in Brno was Morbidelli’s best result since the Le Mans round in France and crucially he reduced the deficit to Hafizh Syahrin in the race to win the prestigious Rookie of the Year title to just two-points with nine rounds remaining.
Morbidelli has an eye-catching record in Austria, with podium finishes in his two previous visits in Moto2. He claimed second place in 2016 before leading home teammate Alex Marquez to secure a fabulous 1-2 for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS last season.
Tom Luthi gave his confidence a huge lift last weekend in Brno when he equaled his best result of the season and beat fellow Honda rookie Takaaki Nakagami in a close contest for 16th position.
Luthi was also able to draw positive conclusions from Monday’s test in Brno where he concentrated on improving his riding technique for the second half of the 2018 MotoGP campaign.
Luthi has happy memories of the short but blindingly fast Spielberg track after finishing in third place in Moto2 last season behind Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS duo Morbidelli and Marquez.
Free practice for MotoGP starts on Friday morning at 955am, with the 28-lap race is scheduled to begin at 2pm on Sunday.
Franco Morbidell: 17th in the overall standings on 22 with points
“It is great to be going back to Austria this weekend because in Moto2 I was always fast there and it will be an interesting challenge to ride a MotoGP bike on such a fast layout. It is a very simple layout but that makes it quite tricky because there is not a lot of an opportunity for the rider to make the difference with only ten corners. It will not be easy because the track has a lot of straight sections and this favours the Ducati. Our package is strong but I would say our weak point is top speed and for me this makes this race probably the most difficult of the season. The track also features a lot of hard braking zones and this is where we must capitalise because the Honda works very well from this point of view.”
Tom Luthi: 24th in the overall standings
“I’m looking forward to being back in race action so quickly after a positive weekend in Brno. The Austria track is a special one with a lot of right corners but it is also a power track and that may work against us on this occasion. I feel confident because the Brno test this week allowed me the chance to focus on improving my riding technique and I understood a lot that I am looking forward to implementing this weekend in Austria.”
Track facts / Circuit of Spielberg (Austria)
Length: 2.684 miles
Width: 13 meters
Corners: 3 (left) + 7 (right)
Longest straight: 0.389 miles
MotoGP Race: 28 laps (75 miles)
Best pole: Andrea Iannone (1:23.142 – 2016)
Circuit record: Johann Zarco (1:24.312 – 2017)
Top speed: Álvaro Bautista (196.2 mph – 2017)
2017 race winner: Andrea Dovizioso (39'43.323)
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