You know the Red Bull Ring better than anyone else. What makes the race track so special from your point of view?
Gustl Auinger: There are three characteristics that make the Red Bull Ring so special. Firstly, the track is right in the midst of the nature. Nowadays, it is not so straightforward to have a race track in this kind of environment. The course looks very simple on paper – you follow it around to the right mostly, then there are a few left turns and the lap is finished. In reality, the Red Bull Ring, combined with its topography, has a unique combination of stop-and-go sections and fast turns. Finding the right balance is a real challenge for the riders and also for their technology. That is the third factor – it is not only the racers who are pushed to the limit here, but the technicians as well.
What do you need to be fast at the Red Bull Ring?
Gustl Auinger: The teams have to build a bike that accelerates incredibly well, because there are some passages where you have to accelerate from relatively slow corners to top speed. The power in the engine is there, but the problem is finding the right traction. In the past, the stop-and-go character of the race track has been the undoing of a few riders. The motorcycle also needs a fantastic braking stability so that you can brake three metres later than your competitor. So basically you need insane acceleration, traction and great deceleration at the same time. At the level MotoGP is currently at, this is the magic formula all the teams are looking for.
On no other track have there been as many decisive moments at the last turn as at the Red Bull Ring. Can you explain to us what is so special about T10?
Gustl Auinger: It’s not that easy to explain. There are only a few legendary turns that make such great overtaking manoeuvres possible – the final turn in Jerez or the last chicane in Assen, for instance. They all have something in common – the risk is manageable. If an overtaking manoeuvre fails, you do not crash at 300 km/h, but at a speed that makes many accept the risk. For others, the track limits play a huge role. The drivers immediately scent blood when the opponent hesitates and prefers to take a safe approach. I know from my own time that there are some curves that just scream that you have to be fast, no matter how! The T10 at the Red Bull Ring is one of them.
As much as MotoGP is all about excitement and entertainment, the safety of the riders is just as important. The new chicane at the Red Bull Ring will have its first appearance at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich 2022. What do you think of the new track layout?
Gustl Auinger: In the past, the riders reached a very high speed on the way to T3 and then they tried to brake at the latest possible time – due to the fact that it is an uphill passage. There was always a high risk in this, as only one small thing had to go wrong. I don’t want to say it was a ticking time bomb, but there was always something in the air. With the chicane, this danger has been defused without disrupting the stop-and-go character of the track. There will always be people who say that the chicane is amazing and others who think that the chicane is nonsense, along with those who say: ‘live and let die’. Something like that always attracts a range of opinions. I am confident enough to wager that the winner on Sunday will say that the chicane is great and the one who loses will blame it.
Speaking of winners, who is your favourite to win at the Red Bull Ring?
Gustl Auinger: If you want to give credence to my clever predictions, then I can see Aprilia handling the course the best. Everyone who has been on the bike has said afterwards that it is incredibly stable and turns very cleanly into corners – similar to the Yamaha. It also has a very good engine. In the past, however, we have also seen that Ducati should not be underestimated. Ducati has also already won this year on tracks that were actually Yamaha tracks. The Ducati has become a complete bike, so I can see the two Italians getting in front. It will be difficult for Yamaha, but KTM could surprise us.
What are KTM’s chances of a third home win?
Gustl Auinger: Barring anything out of the blue, it will be very, very difficult for KTM, but not impossible. KTM are the only team to have already raced on the new track layout this year. I admit that I expected more from them after the summer break, but it may be that they didn’t focus on Silverstone because it’s not their track anyway, and instead put everything into Spielberg. You can’t forget that there is one big unknown element – and that is the tyres. It will depend on who can manage the overall package the best.
We have talked about a few things the fans have to look forward to. Why should anyone buy tickets who hasn’t yet?
Gustl Auinger: It’s safe to say that the MotoGP race will be another thriller that you should definitely see live. Watching on TV is great, but you can only truly feel the atmosphere and the vibrations in the chest when you are there. Fans can definitely expect a great experience with plenty of racing action in many different categories. In addition to MotoGP and the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, MotoE and the Red Bull Rookies Cup are to race. That will give fans the chance to get a glimpse of the future of MotoGP.