Ducati’s Jorge Martin made his and Pramac’s dreams come true at Spielberg on Sunday after delivering a masterclass pole-to-flag MotoGP victory in the Red Bull Ring’s StyrianGP.
The 23-year-old’s debut success was also the first independent race win for both Ducati and the Pramac outfit, after what had been a dominant and mature performance in difficult circumstances.
Regrouping at the head of the 23-strong grid for the second time - due to the red flags brought out in the aftermath of a fiery incident involving Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo Savadori - Martin kept his cool for the 27-lap rematch. Despite the initial challenge from fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller, and an almost race-long defence against reigning world champion Joan Mir, the Spaniard crossed the line 1.5 seconds clear of his nearest rival and almost 10-seconds ahead of third-place-man Fabio Quartararo.
“It feels great. I can’t believe it, still!” Martin exclaimed from Parc Fermé immediately after the Austrian celebrations.
“In this sport everything goes so quickly and I still didn’t have the time to process everything. On Saturday as soon as I went on the track I was super competitive and making the pole position was amazing.
“Today was a great race. The first start I felt super good. I wasn’t so confident before the race but in the first start, I saw that I had a good pace, I could manage a lot the tyre when I was behind Pecco, but then the second start was even better. I was a bit scared because I saw Jack close and I know he’s really strong on braking and he’s really a danger for the victory here but as soon as I could, I overtook him and then I tried to do my own pace.
“I saw Joan was so close all the race, but I wasn’t so nervous. I just tried to keep my pace, even if he was behind or not, trying to be focused. Then when I saw this little gap of two-tenths, then I tried a bit more. I was risking a bit in some points, also I had the track limits warning and I was a bit nervous but I could stretch this gap a little bit more, till almost two-seconds. This was really good and necessary for me because my physical condition at the end wasn’t great, so I could slow down a little bit the last laps and even then finish in first position. I wasn’t expecting to be the rider to win, but finally I did it, so super happy.”
While the Styrian race provided the first win of his premier class career, it wasn’t his maiden pole position - that came at the DohaGP back in early April, where he again finished on the podium, in third. Despite the rookie missing the next four races due to injuries sustained at Portimao - for which he required three separate trips to surgery - and enduring three tentative return races with one retirement, Martin seems to have put both the summer break and experience garnered in the early part of his season to good use.
“When it was 15-laps remaining, in that moment I felt really bad physically. That moment I think was the worst moment of the race because Joan, still, was super close - I could hear his bike, every corner - but then, when I saw this little gap, then I was a bit more relaxed because I wasn’t pushing so much and I could keep the pace.
“The experience of Doha helped me because today I was confident. In Doha, yeah I was first but I didn’t know exactly what to do. Today I was confident and just tried to focus on my screen, on my sectors, and that’s why I was racing more with myself than with the other guys today.
“At the end we’re in MotoGP but we are all the same guys of Moto3, because we raced with Joan in the Rookies, with Fabio in Moto3. Still there’s Marquez, there’s Rossi, there’s a lot of big guys but the level is so high, we are coming with good level also and that’s why we are in the top.
“With Joan, for sure he’s world champion, but when I see him, I see the same guy as Rookies Cup. We are almost the same age, and at the end we’ve battled since we were young. If you think that you have the world champion behind, you get nervous, so I just try to focus on myself and try to do this amazing pace that I did.”
Reflecting on his time in the Red Bull Rookies Cup is a powerful memory for the Pramac rider, as without that opportunity, he had been ready to call time on his racing career before it had even begun.
“We were thinking I would stop when I was 12 years old, and now I’m here winning a MotoGP race,” Martin admitted.
“In that moment, in that point of my life, and also for my parents, was so difficult because they were without jobs for two years, both - so you can imagine how the bank was, was zero. The only option was to go to the Rookies Cup or try in the Spanish Championship, but they were asking for 100,000 Euro so it was impossible.
“Thanks to the Rookies because they pick me and that’s why I could keep growing and racing. I want to thank all the people that helped me to arrive here, the Rookies Cup, all the teams, Fausto, Aspar, Aki Ajo also. Thanks to my team and Ducati because they gave me this amazing opportunity to have this amazing bike, and I’m really enjoying the moment. Today is a big step, winning a MotoGP race, is one more dream come true.
“Also it’s the first victory of the team, so this is unbelievable. I hope to enjoy this week, as much as I can, we don’t have time but I am ready also for next weekend, so really happy. I hope to keep this consistency, for sure not winning because it’s super difficult but at least keep constant and competitive for all the year.
“We are an independent team but I have a factory bike, so at the end of the day I feel like a factory rider, even if I’m not in red. I’m happy enough with this team, with how they work, the energy they have working also. So I’m happy here and I hope to be here a lot more time.
“We all have the same dream, to be MotoGP World Champion. I hope I can keep this progression, keep improving, keep learning the bike and maybe in the future I can at least battle for one entire season,” he concluded.