Spielberg, Austria 13 August 2017: Aspar Mahindra team rider Albert Arenas and CIP team rider Marco Bezzecchi paid the price of ultra-close combat in a huge multi-bike battle for championship points in today’s Austrian GP, crashing out together on the last of 23 laps of the scenic 4.318-km Red Bull Ring circuit.

The pair had been in close company in an enormous pack going for the final points, along with second CIP rider Manuel Pagliani, who had cut through from near the back of the grid to have several spells at the front of the second group.

Pagliani survived the last-lap carnage to finish 19th, barely four tenths from the front of the group going for 15th place. Neither of his fallen comrades were injured.

It was a brutally tough race round the ultra-fast and rather simple circuit in the wooded Alpine foothills, with big groups of riders fighting for every inch. Riders of the Mahindra MGP3O, the only Indian motorcycle in the World Championship, were hampered by qualifying positions, on a closely matched grid where mere tenths and hundredths of a second could make all the difference and over 20 riders were within one second in Qualifying.

The top qualifier, Mahindra Aspar rider Lorenzo Dalla Porta, was eliminated in the early stages, falling unhurt after another rider collided with him, but unable to restart.

This left the remainder striving to improve on their grid positions, with Arenas 20th, Bezzecchi 25th and Pagliani 30th. Spaniard Arenas was in his second come-back ride after injury, after returning to a points-scoring position one week ago at Brno.

By the finish they were to and fro in their group, with their eyes on the prize of the final points … but in the jostling pack their luck went the other way for Arenas and Bezzecchi while Pagliani missed the points, but had the satisfaction of gaining 11 places from his starting position.

The race was won by runaway title leader Joan Mir (Honda). The next round is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a fortnight.

“I gave my best for the entire race, from the first lap right until I crossed the line at the end. I was 100% on the limit but able to overtake many riders throughout the race. It was a tough race but a great battle in a big group. I was able to lead the group at many points and I did my best laps then. I’m happy to be the first Mahindra, it’s maybe my best race of the year. Now we focus on closing the gap to the front.”

Manuel Pagliani, CIP Mahindra

“This was always going to be a difficult race, at a track where our bike’s strong point of sweet handling and fast cornering was less important than simple acceleration. It is not a subtle circuit. Once again, the penalty of poor qualifying was clear, but it was good to see our own riders and the independent Mahindra teamsters fighting hard anyway. We’re now looking forward to some tracks where our strengths will bring us back to fight for more championship points.”

Mufaddal Choonia, CEO Mahindra Racing