The myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix Von Österreich saw one of the scariest crashes of the MotoGP era.
On lap nine of the 28-lap MotoGP race, Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco were approaching Turn Three at over 185 mph. Zarco powered past Morbidelli in a left-hand kink, drifted right across Morbidelli’s nose, and then applied the brakes to enter Turn Three, a slow right-hander. Rossi later described it by saying Zarco “went very wide in braking and he slammed the door in the face of Franco, and with this bike when you ride 300 kph you have the slipstream, so Franco didn‘t have any chance to brake.”
Morbidelli then ran into the back of Zarco, causing both riders to crash at very high speed.
While Zarco and Morbidelli each tumbled to a stop off-track to rider’s right, their motorcycles continued on and crossed the track in Turn Three, nearly hitting Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi mid-corner.
Morbidelli’s Yamaha tumbled between Vinales and Rossi, who were little more than a bike-length apart, with what looked like millimeters to spare.
Zarco’s Ducati went on a ghost ride, ripped through a soft barrier, and almost simultaneously flew over the top of Vinales; in a video released by series promotor Dorna, one of the bike’s wheels appeared to actually touch Vinales’ helmet.
Had either bike struck Vinales or Rossi it could have resulted in serious injury or death for the riders, but in what many are calling a miracle, neither suffered a scratch; Morbidelli and Zarco also escaped serious injury.
After the race was completed, the riders involved let their feelings be known, especially nine-time World Champion Rossi, who brought Zarco’s actions into question.
“It was very scary,” Rossi was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his team, Monster Energy Yamaha, on Sunday. “All four riders, but especially me and also Maverick, were very lucky. We have to pray to somebody tonight, because the situation was very dangerous. I think it is good to be aggressive, for sure, because everybody tries to do the maximum, but for me we don‘t have to exaggerate, because we need to remember that this sport is very dangerous. You need to have respect for your rivals, especially at a track where you‘re always going at 300 kph. I have already spoken with Zarco, he promised me that he didn‘t do it on purpose. He went very wide in braking and he slammed the door in the face of Franco, and with this bike when you ride 300 kph you have the slipstream, so Franco didn‘t have any chance to brake.”
“A pity Sunday, because I got a big crash in the race with Franco Morbidelli,” Zarco was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his team, Esponsorama Racing, on Sunday. “On the brake he touched me, and we flew away. He has been surprised because we were so close and with the speed it was not easy to slow down. Then we have been scared because our bikes really could hit somebody but finally no one was really injured, so that is the most important thing.”
The press release from Esponsorama Racing included the following: “With 20 laps to go, Zarco was involved in an unfortunate incident and was hit by Franco Morbidelli in Turn Three, causing a spectacular accident that didn’t allow him finishing a race that promised a successful result. After the crash, both bikes were thrown out and nearly caught up with Rossi and Viñales, but fortunately both Zarco and all the riders involved were unharmed.
“After the comments and declarations that have been made, Johann Zarco is very affected, as at no time did he intend to carry out a manoeuvre that would endanger any other opponent. However, the French Esponsorama Racing rider wanted to apologize and clarify with each and every one of the riders involved in this race incident. Nevertheless, after the Austrian Grand Prix, the telemetry showed that Zarco was braking later in Turn Three than in the rest of the race, so it is clear from this analysis that at no time was his intention to harm Morbidelli’s braking and close his line.”
There has been no indication that the actions involved in the Morbidelli-Zarco crash have been referred to Race Direction for any discipline, but talk of the crash is sure to continue for some time to come.
To watch several free video replays of the crash, go here. To see the videos you must have or create a user account.