Huge Silverstone MotoGP Preview

Silverstone in the United Kingdom plays host to round twelve of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship this weekend, the circuit’s combination of a fast average speed and cool temperatures make tyre choice critical.

Situated half-way between Oxford and Northampton and a couple of hours drive from London, started life as an RAF military airport, and is the longest – as well as one of the fastest – circuits on the entire calendar. With more than sixty years of history behind it, it is one of the world’s most prestigious motorsport venues, with races held for all categories, both four wheels and two. Massive investments saw the completion of a first phase of improvement work to greatly improve the venue in 2010, when the track once again became the venue for the British Grand Prix.

The longest circuit on the calendar at 5.9 kilometres in length, Silverstone features ten right-hand and eight left-hand corners, so asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the right shoulders are provided. The softer rubber on the left shoulder of the rear tyres ensures good heat retention in the lesser used, left shoulder for enhanced rider safety. The rear tyre options for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders are the medium and hard compound, while the Aprilia, Ducati, Suzuki and open-class riders will be allocated the soft and medium compound rear slicks.

With numerous straight sections, Silverstone has a number of hard braking zones into corners such as Brooklands, Stowe and Vale which demand maximum stability from the front tyre. This need for front-end stability is balanced by the requirement for good warm-up performance so Bridgestone provides the extra-soft, soft and medium compound front slicks for the British Grand Prix.

With cool and wet conditions always a possibility at Silverstone, the main wet tyre option for the British Grand Prix is the soft compound which offers maximum warm-up performance and grip. In the case of warmer conditions, the riders will also be able to use the alternative, hard compound wet tyre.

MotoGP riders and machines in front of London's Tower Bridge
MotoGP riders and machines in front of London’s Tower Bridge

After securing a perfect victory in Brno a fortnight ago, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP squad look like favourites heading into this weekend’s British MotoGP.  The team arrives at the twelfth round feeling confident after two consecutive race weekends where riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi took two double podiums, making it a total of seven so far this season. 

Lorenzo is greatly admired by the British crowd. He holds the record for the rider with the most MotoGP wins at Silverstone, since the British Grand Prix moved there five years ago. He secured three premier class victories in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and is eager to step on the top of the rostrum again this weekend to create a gap between him and his teammate as they are currently tied for the lead in the championship.

Jorge Lorenzo – “I’m quite happy after winning again in Brno. The last time I won there was in 2010, so I think it was also important for Yamaha to be back on the podium after five years. Now it’s time to go to England and I love that place. Especially the track is a great opportunity for us; it has a nice layout where our Yamaha YZR-M1 always behaves in a perfect way. It’s a very enjoyable track but also very demanding because it’s long and has plenty of high speed corners and change of directions, so you need to be in a perfect shape to be able to fight for the podium. I won several races at Silverstone in the past and I feel good there so hopefully this season we can achieve another great result on British soil.”

On his championship rivals Lorenzo commented: “We still haven’t ruled Marquez out of the fight because there’s still a long way to go in the championship. 50 points seems a lot, but it’s not a lot. For sure Valentino is our main rival, maybe not because of his speed but his points. We’ve been lucky Marc has made so many mistakes this year. We have a good chance to win the championship for Yamaha so we have to take advantage.“

Jorge Lorenzo on London's Tower Bridge
Jorge Lorenzo on London’s Tower Bridge

Teammate Rossi has also been a favourite among British fans for many years and his popularity is highlighted this weekend as he set to become an Honorary Member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), arguably the most exclusive club in motor racing. Rossi is the first motorcycle rider to ever receive this honour and will be officially presented with his membership by BRDC President Derek Warwick.

To mark the special occasion, the nine-time World Champion is feeling extra motivated to win at Silverstone for the first time. He has been very successful on British soil in previous years, having secured three modern era premier class wins at Donington Park in 2002, 2004 and 2005 and two 500cc victories in 2000 and 2001.

Valentino Rossi – “I’m always very happy to go to England for the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. It is a race with so much history and the atmosphere is always very nice during this weekend. There are many racing fans and you can feel the passion of the crowd each time you move in the paddock. I really like this circuit, it’s very fast and technical. I have done good races at this track and I am happy that the next race will be at Silverstone. We are at a very important point of the season and I hope I can have a good race! We have to improve the set-up of the bike and get ready for the race on Sunday. Now that Jorge and I are level on points it will be very important to consistently be fast.

“I am also very honoured to have been invited to become an Honorary Member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. I know it’s very difficult to become a member of this exclusive club, there are very selective criteria. There is no rider in the BRDC, I will be the first and for this I am even more honoured. I look forward to meeting the President, Derek Warwick, who I know and esteem for his career in Formula 1. I hope that I will have a good result at the Silverstone Grand Prix to honour my entry into the British Racing Drivers’ Club!”

MotoGP riders in London
MotoGP riders in London

After his second place finish in Brno, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez heads to Britain this weekend hoping to close the gap to the front, he’s now 52 points behind leaders Lorenzo and Rossi in the Championship Standings. Teammate, Dani Pedrosa (7th in the Standings), had a difficult weekend in Brno after injuring his left ankle but was able to fight up to 5th in the race.

Last year, Marc earned Honda’s maiden victory at the Silverstone circuit in the MotoGP class and has celebrated four podiums in five visits, including a victory in the 125cc class in 2010 and a second place finish in MotoGP in 2013.

Marc Marquez – “Brno was a difficult weekend but we took important points in the Championship and keep fighting! Silverstone isn’t one of my favourite tracks but I enjoy going there as you can feel the excitement and the history that surrounds the circuit and the area as a whole. I’ve been on the podium there the past three years including a win last year, so let’s hope the weather is good to us and we can fight for a similar result this year.”

Dani, who has been undergoing treatment since his unfortunate crash on Friday in Brno, will be hoping to arrive in Silverstone close to full fitness. Dani has celebrated two podium finishes in Silverstone (3rd in 2013 and 2012).

Dani Pedrosa – “It wasn’t our best weekend in the Czech Republic but we were able to fight our way up to 5th and we must learn from the experience. My ankle is feeling much better now – not 100% – but I’m not in as much pain as I was in Brno. Silverstone is a very fast track, it’s very flat – being an old airfield – and it has many changes of direction, so finding a setup that suits both the fast and slow corners is the challenge. As always, the British weather is the unknown factor so it’s important to keep an eye on that!”

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso has stepped onto the Silverstone podium twice, thanks to a second place finish he obtained in both 2010 and 2011. Last year, the Romagna-born racer finished fifth overall after qualifying on the front row. Teammate Andrea Iannone has scored his best result at the British circuit in the Moto2 category, with a fourth place in 2012, while last year the rider from Abruzzo took the chequered flag in eighth place with a Pramac Racing Team Desmosedici GP14.

Both Ducati Team men come to the UK off the back of a one-day test at Misano at the start of this week, aimed at preparing for the San Marino and Riviera di Rimini GP which takes place at the same track in mid-September. Monday’s test was conditioned by the rain that fell in the morning, but both riders were able to lap on a dry track surface in the afternoon, carrying out a series of useful back-to-back tests.

Andrea Iannone – “Even though I haven’t yet scored any decent results there, Silverstone is a track that I like a lot. It’s really a great circuit and it allows you to reach some really high speeds with the bike. It will be interesting to see how my Desmosedici GP15 will go there this year because in 2014 the weekend wasn’t bad at all, and so we hope to be better this time round.”

Andrea Dovizioso – “Silverstone is one of my favourite circuits, it’s really beautiful and I am happy to go there for the race on Sunday. For sure I expect a lot from this race, but we still have to improve the feeling with the front before we can aim for a good result, especially because the top guys are in perfect form at the moment. I am however optimistic about the upcoming weekend in England.”

The last race in the Czech Republic left a bitter-sweet sensation for Suzuki as the final results saw Aleix Espargaro finished in ninth and Maverick Viñales crashed out, but it gave the team positive feedback about the MotoGP project’s overall development.

In the UK, Espargaro will continue to seek the best feeling he can with his GSX-RR; a feeling which has seemed to be elusive since the summer break.  Thankfully, he did have a good connection with the machine in the first half of the season and there were some positives to come from Brno. 

Aleix Espargaro – “The last races have been pretty tough for me, I struggled to find the same confidence that I had in the first half of the season and we still lack the finalisation of a proper set-up. The GSX-RR’s base is very solid, I still feel it’s a very good project, but we need to be more effective in how we prepare for both qualifying and the race. In Brno things went better than Indianapolis and we have found some direction that now we need to test and validate. Maybe the main variable in Silverstone will be the weather, we haven’t raced in the rain and therefore we don’t have any experience yet. At the same time we already have many aspects to focus on therefore I’m very eager to be riding again and proceed with the development work we have planned to do.”

At the same time the younger Viñales is eager to recover his confidence after the crash he had in the Czech Republic. The fall interrupted a positive line of results; he has scored points in all the first 10 races, which is a record for a rookie.  The crash he suffered didn’t affect his mood, as he’s aware of the steady progress he’s made since the beginning of the season. He can also be proud of a good relationship with the circuit: in fact he won in 2013 (Moto3) and finished on the podium last year in the Moto2 race

Maverick Viñales – “Unfortunately in Brno I crashed out, which is bad for the final result but to be honest I’m more focused to the development and growth process that we are pursuing overall. My last race weekends after the summer break gave me much more confidence in terms of approach to the race and in fact in Czech Republic I was lapping with a very good pace before crashing. This means that my confidence with the bike is growing race-after-race and this gives us very positive feelings. I have very good memories from Silverstone and I am confident that the way we are working will give us with even more positive results.”

MotoGP riders on London's Tower Bridge
MotoGP riders on London’s Tower Bridge

In the last GP at Brno, for the first time in this rookie season, both of the Aprilia RS-GP machines finished the race in the points. It was an encouraging result for Bautista, Bradl and the entire Aprilia Racing Team Gresini who now have the responsibility of making sure the MotoGP project continues to grow consistently.

Fausto Gresini (Aprilia Team Manager) – “The round in the Czech Republic provided us with some interesting data on several fronts: on one hand Bautista had a good feeling with a new frame, finishing an excellent race, and on the other hand Bradl showed that he knows how to take full advantage of his RS-GP’s potential, especially in the qualifiers, confirming that he and Alvaro are able to make a fundamental contribution to the project’s development. At Silverstone we expect both riders to be able to give the work we’ve accomplished up to now a bit more of a nudge forward. The result at Brno confirms that we have taken some steps forward: having both bikes finish in the points is a goal that we hope to repeat often.”

Alvaro Bautista – “Silverstone is a very fast track where I have ridden some good races in the past. We are basically starting from scratch again because it is a track where we have never tested so we don’t have any references to go on. In any case, after the good feelings in Brno we are really stoked for this round and ready to continue our work developing the project. Speaking of which, we’ll continue using the new frame we tested in the Czech Republic. We’ll try to start the weekend off well straight away, working to improve the bike’s setup and my feeling in the saddle. The track has a lot of fast direction changes and the weather is always quite unstable, so we’ll need to be ready for any eventuality.”

Stefan Bradl – “I can’t wait to get back on the track. The result we achieved in Brno really motivated the entire team and I will also be able to start the weekend in better physical condition. I have had time to rest up and do some physical therapy, so I hope that in Silverstone I won’t have to mention the problems with my right wrist any more. I like the layout of the track, although we’ll need to work hard to do well with the many fast direction changes. Our priority for this round will once again be to improve our consistency in terms of performance over race distance.”

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team pairing of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro aim to storm to two notable results aboard their Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bikes. 

Bradley Smith will contest his home Grand Prix at Silverstone and he fully intends to rocket to a fantastic result in front of his passionate fans. The 24 year old, who was born a short distance from the track, in Oxford, hopes to increase his confident and inspired run this year, which has seen him superbly finish no lower than 8th in every race in 2015. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro has firmly set his sights on a top six position as he aims to continue his climb up the championship standings. The Spaniard holds fond memories of the Northamptonshire track having won the 2012 Moto2 race and he is fully optimistic of adding another solid performance to his Silverstone collection.

Bradley Smith – “This weekend will be one of the highlights of the year for me as I will be riding in front of my fantastic fans at my home Grand Prix at Silverstone. I am hugely excited for the race on Sunday and of course I will be giving nothing less than 110% as I aim to clinch a super result aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. So far this season has been very positive with some really strong finishes and is definitely a testament of how hard and closely the team and I have been working. Therefore, I will be pushing again this weekend as I intend to be fighting in the top six or maybe even higher on Sunday. My best result at Silverstone was 2nd in the wet race in the Moto2 class during the 2011 season after qualifying in 28th. Of course, this is a very happy memory, but it motivates me more than ever for this weekend. We don’t know what to expect with the weather, but I am ready and I will do my best to get my fans cheering and their support really spurs me on, so I hope to hear them all around the track!”

Bradley Smith also inked his deal to stay with the Tech3 Yamaha squad in the lead up to the British MotoGP – “I think staying with the same team was clever. I’ve worked extremely hard and it’s been a tough road to adjust to MotoGP. We’ve all worked hard and found it after two years, to throw that away would be silly! Next year brings new challenges with new regulations and I wanted to stay with guys I know. For now we need to focus on the British GP.”

MotoGP riders pose in front of London's River Thames
MotoGP riders pose in front of London’s River Thames

Pol Espargaro – “Overall, the result in the Czech republic was positive as I completed the race in 8th, yet it is not where I want to be finishing as I know our potential is much higher than this position. We struggled a bit all weekend at Brno, but we have done our homework and we are sure that we can hit the ground running at Silverstone. I have some good memories of the British track, such as winning in 2012 in the Moto2 and also scoring a 2nd place finish in 2010 in the 125 class. Silverstone is fast, there’s no doubt about that and we will be hoping to take advantage of the rapid corners, which should suit the Yamaha’s nature. Therefore, I feel confident and I know the team will do a great job which will allow me to battle with my teammate for a top result at this race.”

On the even of  the British MotoGP home rider Cal Crutchlow extended his cooperation with Honda HRC and the LCR Team managed by Lucio Cecchinello for the 2016 season, with a further option for 2017. Based on the Isle of Man, 29 year-old Crutchlow has so far claimed 74 points this season on board the factory-spec Honda RC213V, including a stunning podium finish at the Grand Prix of Argentina.

Cal Crutchlow – “I am very happy to continue my relationship with LCR for 2016 and 2017. Lucio has a fantastic team and I look forward to growing further with them and with Honda. We started the season well and I believe we can score some great results in the rest of this year and in the season to come.”

Countryman Scott Redding has endured a difficult first season aboard the factory Honda RC213V, but the 22-year-old remains a firm favourite with his home crowd. Redding’s best result do far this season was a seventh place in the Grand Prix of Catalunya, a result he is keen to improve upon this weekend in Silverstone, aided by the extra motivation such strong home support brings with it.

The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider has won at the British Grand Prix in two classes previously. His victory in the 125cc race at Donington Park, aged just 15 years and 170 days, saw him enter the record books as the youngest Grand Prix winner of all time, a record he still holds. Redding also took victory in the Moto2 race at Silverstone in 2013 on his way to finishing second in the World Championship.

Scott Redding – “Silverstone is a special race. I like the track, I’ve won there in the past in Moto2 and the support of the British fans is always incredible. This year we arrive in Great Britain off the back of a few difficult races and not really knowing what to expect. It could be that the bike works well, like at Austin and Sachsenring, but we could just as easily find ourselves in the same situation as Brno, where we had to work hard to find a good setting. Either way my goal is to try and secure my best result of the season so far at Silverstone. My motivation is still strong, and the support of the home crowd only adds to that, so I hope we can pull everything together and put in a strong performance this weekend.”

Australia’s Jack Miller arrives at Silverstone as the leading Hondaa ‘Open’ category rider, and 18th overall in the MotoGP rider standings. Miller’s best finish of the season with 11th at Catalunya, however qualifying is an area where Miller has struggled this season and he will be aiming to make strides forward up the grid in Britain this weekend.

Riding in the Moto3 class, Miller has finished sixth and seventh at Silverstone over the past couple of seasons. While he concedes it may not be amongst his preferred circuits, the LCR Honda rider loves the atmosphere that the event generates.

Jack Miller – “I’m really looking forward to this weekend, we found some important things in the race in Brno so I look forward to transferring what we learnt there to this weekend and getting the bike in a better position earlier in the weekend. Hopefully the weather will stay nice for us – I’m sure it will be an interesting race weekend and I will try to do a good job. It’s not one of my most favourite tracks, but I really enjoy the event as the British fans always turn out in big numbers and so I look forward to putting on a good show for them.”

Loris Baz was the first Open to cross the line on the Czech track, is eager to get back on his Yamaha Forward to further shorten the distance from his direct opponent, Hector Barbera, who is only five points ahead in the Open standings. The Frenchman, who finished in front of everyone at Silverstone 2013 in Superbike, is convinced that he can adapt his setup well to the British circuit and get involved in the fight for points and class victory.

Loris Baz – “Getting back on track at Brno was really a great satisfaction and the class victory was the best way to repay the hard work the guys of the team have done in the recent months. Silverstone is a track I like and where I won in 2012 and 2013 in Super Bike. We will start from the Brno setting to find the best setup for the race. I am motivated to do well and to recover some more points in the standings from Barbera ahead of me.”

In Moto2 Sam Lowes has set his aims high for his home race: “I have to win, it’s my home race! It’s a track I like and the bike should work well here. We have to fight for win.”

Moto3 World Championship leader, Danny Kent, has his sights set firmly on victory: “To get a Grand Prix win in front of our home crowd would be amazing. I’m not feeling any pressure, I’m treating it like any other race. Of course I’ve got a few more bits to do with media but the pressure is the same.”

MotoGP riders share a ride in a London taxi
MotoGP riders share a ride in a London taxi
  • Circuit Record: Pedrosa (Honda – 2013) 2’01.941 (174.1 km/h)
  • Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda – 2013) 2’00.691 (175.9 km/h)
  • Top Speed: Dovizioso (Ducati – 2014) 328.6 km/h
  • Track Length: 5.9 km
  • Race Distance: 20 laps (118.0 km)
  • Corners: 18 (8 left, 10 right)
  • 2014 Silverstone MotoGP Results
    Podium: 1st Marquez (Honda), 2nd Lorenzo (Yamaha), 3rd Rossi (Yamaha)
    Pole Position: Marquez (Honda) 2’00.829 (175.7 km/h)
    Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda) 2’01.980 (174.1 km/h)
MotoGP 2015 - Round 11 - Brno - MotoGP Championship Standings
MotoGP 2015 – Round 11 – Brno – MotoGP Championship Standings
MotoGP 2015 - Round 11 - Brno - Moto2 Championship Points Standings
MotoGP 2015 – Round 11 – Brno – Moto2 Championship Points Standings
MotoGP 2015 - Round 11 - Brno - Moto3 Championship Points Standings
MotoGP 2015 – Round 11 – Brno – Moto3 Championship Points Standings