Motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi has urged riders to be more cautious during races after a “terrifying” crash that halted the Austrian Grand Prix.
The race in Spielberg was stopped for 20 minutes on Sunday (local time) after Franco Morbidelli’s Yamaha collided with the Avintia Ducati of Johann Zarco.
The red flag came out immediately when Morbidelli and Zarco came together at turn three. Their cartwheeling bikes – travelling at nearly 300km/h – missed Rossi and Maverick Vinales by centimetres.
“It was so scary, it was terrifying,” Rossi, a seven-times premier class champion, said.
“I think it is good to be aggressive 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 respect the other riders that are on track with you.”
Both riders walked away from the crash relatively unscathed. MotoGP said they were taken to the medical centre for a check-up, before they were declared fit as the race restarted with 20 laps.
Rossi looked visibly shaken when he returned to the garage ahead of the restart.
“Morbidelli’s bike nearly killed me,” he said later. “Even Zarco’s Ducati passed a few metres over me, it was a very dangerous moment.”
It was the second horror accident within hours at the venue. Earlier, Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin escaped with just a bruised pelvis after he struck a rival’s bike and his own bike was cut in half in the Austrian Moto2 GP.
In the grand prix, Andrea Dovizioso took the chequered flag after race leader Alex Rins of Suzuki crashed with 10 laps. Dovizioso’s win kept the Ducati team’s perfect record at the Red Bull Ring intact.
“Very, very strange [race] for many reasons. To start twice was strange,” Dovizioso said.
“It was not that easy to start the ‘second race’ with perfect energy but I was able to manage the race because I had a few corners where I was able to be a bit faster. I was so strong in braking and could decide the pace.
“If Rins didn’t crash, I think it would have been very difficult to beat him.”
However, Ducati missed out on a one-two finish when Joan Mir capitalised on Australian Jack Miller’s mistake on the penultimate corner of the final lap. The Suzuki rider went wide to take second place and his first podium in MotoGP.
Miller started well off the line both times but struggled for grip on his soft front tyre towards the end of the race. He said he had no other options with no medium tyres left.
“I just had to … push away at the start and see what I could do,” Miller said.
“I’m happy to get the podium but I missed second, I made a slight error when Mir came up on the inside… But hats off to him.”
Rossi, who had started 12th on the grid, moved up the field and put the near-death experience of the crash behind him to finish fifth.