Alex Rins put in a surprise performance at the newly resurfaced 5,900m Silverstone circuit, where beautiful weather was a consistent feature all weekend, culminating with an air temperature of 31°C on Sunday, making this the hottest race-day of the year so far. The action was heating up on track too, with Rins timing a last corner manoeuvre to perfection, to beat Marc Marquez to the line by just 0.013-seconds, the second time this has happened to Marquez in as many races.
A duel from almost the first to last, the race is the equal fourth closest premier class finish – and one very much written straight into the history books. Maverick Viñales completed the podium and closed in in the latter stages, but the battle remained Marquez vs Rins to the line.
Marquez got a storming start from pole, streaking away from the line as Valentino Rossi slotted into second but some huge drama hit just behind. A crash for Fabio Quartararo saw the rookie slide out and unfortunately for the man behind him, Andrea Dovizioso, the stricken bike was unavoidable. The Italian hit the Yamaha and both machines and men slid out into the run off, out of the British GP.
That left Marquez, Rossi and Rins at the head of the race, and the number 42 wasted no time attacking the ‘Doctor’ for second, tagging right on to the rear of Marquez as soon as he was past. From there the two began to pull away, and Rossi was left with teammate Viñales to contend with as the number 12 plowed past Franco Morbidelli and started to cut down the gap.
Then Rins ran wide and Viñales did just behind, leaving both men with a little more work to do. Heads back down though, they both set about getting back into the tow of the machines ahead. Rins got back on terms with Marquez, and with 14 to go Viñales was pulling alongside Rossi. Move made and cleanly past, the gap to the two ahead was now the key focus for ‘Top Gun’.
Not long after, Rins attacked. Around the outside, the Suzuki rider swept past in a stunning move for the lead, and breath was held around the track. Was this a deciding moment? Ultimately it didn’t last long, however, and Rins even specified: “I let him back past, I didn’t want him to see my weaknesses.”
And so it came down to a duel to the end, and what a duel it was. The two remained tagged together as the laps ticked down and everything was set up to perfection for a final lap showdown, although the Suzuki rider had a wobble at Turn 9 after a look behind to check on the approaching Viñales. Regrouping quickly, Rins then took another nibble on the penultimate lap, getting past Marquez for just about a corner before the reigning Champion struck back…and then came a dress rehearsal of sorts.
Coming around the final corner to start the final lap, the Suzuki swept around the outside and was alongside Marquez as the two went elbow to elbow, but Rins ended up on the green stuff and Marquez held firm. The number 42 also lost a few metres with the move, and the pressure was on for the remaining five kilometers of the race. Was there time to catch and pass the man in such charge of the Championship?
Through Maggots and Becketts, the Yamaha of Viñales was almost as close to Rins as Rins was to race leader Marquez, with the number 12 on the limit to try and get in the fight. As the corners passed, however, the Honda and Suzuki edged away – and Rins was more than simply hanging in there. With three corners left the Suzuki was Marquez’ shadow, but was there time? The dress rehearsal from a lap before gave us a clue of what was in store: it was going to go down to the final corner.
Rins had showed some incredible speed there throughout the race, and the number 42 credited that as a big part of his being able to stay with Marquez. That was now his ace, and as the Honda rider tried to defend, the Suzuki unleashed its awesome corner speed as Rins ran wider and then cut back, barrelling alongside Marquez towards the line. And, by hundredths, coming out on top.
The win was the fourth closest in premier class history, Rins’ second of the season and the first time the gloves have come off for the number 42 in a last lap fight for a premier class victory. 40 years since Sheene vs Roberts was split by 0.030, Rins beat Marquez by just 0.013. For the reigning Champion, it was also a second final corner defeat in a row.
Viñales, then, was forced to spectate around the final sector, but the 2016 Silverstone winner said he got the maximum from the machine for his 60th podium in third. Teammate Valentino Rossi took fourth and the top Yamaha results continued as Morbidelli completed the top five. The number 21 was also the top Independent Team rider.
He stole that honour from home hero Cal Crutchlow as the Brit took P6, crossing the line half a second ahead of Danilo Petrucci, with Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro not too far behind either as they took P8 and P9 respectively. Andrea Iannone completed the top ten after a solid Sunday showing from the Italian.
Francesco Bagnaia, Sylvain Guintoli, Hafizh Syahrin, Jorge Lorenzo and Karel Abraham completed the points.
Johann Zarco didn’t finish after he came into contact with Miguel Oliveira and they both went down, the Frenchman subsequently penalised with three grid positions at his next race. Takaaki Nakagami and Tito Rabat crashed but rejoined, Aleix Espargaro suffered an issue and, of course, neither Quartararo nor Dovizioso saw the flag.
Dovizioso, after examination, was given the all clear and returns home from the UK as normal, although he and Quartararo will need to be declared fit in Misano having suffered concussion.
Alex Rins – P1
“Unbelievable, unbelievable! I’ve beaten two legends: Valentino in Texas, Marquez here in Silverstone. It was so crazy. I beat him today but now I need to continue; I know it will be difficult. I made some mistakes, I nearly crashed at the first corner – I had a big moment. Two laps to the end I crossed the line very close to Marc and I thought the race was over but then I saw one lap remaining and thought: ‘wow, Alex, come on you need to keep pushing’. I was able to cut a lot of time in the first and second sectors and then in the last sector Marc was much stronger than me. Into Turn 16 he was able to brake really hard. The last lap was unique though and it was possible for me to overtake. I have a lot of confidence with my Suzuki right now. We work so hard during the practices to get the feeling right and I was able to play with my bike to brake harder.”
Marc Marquez – P2
“I am happy with the result for the championship but not the result for the race as to lose out in the final moment after leading is not the best feeling. Spending the whole race in front is difficult here because you use more of everything. I tried to go slow for one lap to see if Rins would lead, but he didn’t and I knew Viñales was behind us so I kept pushing. My target wasn’t the race, it was the championship and if the Yamaha riders arrived maybe we could have finished lower. In the last turn I had a moment on the front and had to close the gas which let Rins through but we are happy because we leave with 78 points over second but I hope Dovi is OK after a big crash like that, I hope he can recover well and return because it is always better when you earn the points fighting.”
Maverick Viñales – P3
“I don‘t know if I would have been able to make a move if I had been closer to the front-runners, because it‘s always difficult. I was closing the gap lap by lap, just a little, one or two tenths, but I couldn‘t close the big gap in just one lap. I tried my best and I think we got the maximum and maybe even more from our bike today. There are long straights here and at this track it‘s really about the engine, so we’re happy with third. We missed a bit of traction and top speed. In many corners I was much faster, but in others I was surviving the best I could. I think we improved the bike quite a lot during the weekend and that‘s the most important. At the test in Misano we’ll work on improving the grip. We‘re going to be very focused, do a good test, then we‘ll race some more, and we‘ll see what we can do.”
That’s it from Silverstone, with six different winners in the last six races at the track made a reality by Alex Rins after a truly history-making stunner of a showdown. Next it’s Misano and Marquez’ advantage has increased once again, but it’s twice in a row the reigning Champion has been pipped to the post on race day. Will it continue on the Riviera di Rimini? Find out in three weeks time.
FlexBox HP40’s Augusto Fernandez battled to his second career Moto2 victory at the GoPro British Grand Prix after a fierce fight at the front with Campetella Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro, denying his compatriot a first Grand Prix win. Meanwhile, Championship leader made his first mistake of the year as he crashed out of the lead in the early stages. with Brad Binder, fresh from his win in Austria, completing the podium.
Marquez took the holeshot from pole position and, as had been the case for much of the weekend, he was joined at the front by Navarro. The Spaniards broke clear of the chasing pack, with Navarro quite happy to sit in behind Marquez during the first four laps. Then, the Speed Up rider decided it was time to make a move and slipped past his compatriot only for the number 73 to strike back immediately.
Drama of the highest order would then unfold as the previously perfect Marquez tucked the front into Brooklands whilst leading the British Grand Prix – the second none finish of the season but the first through an error of his own, handing Navarro the lead.
Binder then quickly realised back-to-back race wins were well within his reach and began posting fastest lap of the race after fastest lap of the race, with Fernandez in pursuit with him. The duo managed to latch onto the rear wheel of Navarro with less than ten laps remaining, the South African giving himself a handful of laps to eye it up before going for it, hitting the front thanks to a move into Brooklands with seven to go.
Four were left when Navarro reclaimed the lead, with Fernandez still well in contention too. Binder’s rear tyre looked like it had reached the limit as Fernandez swooped into second but the KTM rider was having none of it. The pair were then side-by-side, rubbing shoulder for nearly an entire sector at Silverstone, which only allowed Navarro the opportunity to break further away.
But Fernandez finally cemented a move on Binder and set his sights on Navarro, with the duo heading onto the final lap with Navarro at the front. Fernandez had managed to close in and then find a way through with just half a lap left, however, leaving Navarro, dreaming of a career first Moto2 win, pushing everything into a move at Brooklands. He took the lead but it was only momentary as he headed wide, Fernandez swooping back through and then unassailable to the line for his second Grand Prix win.
KTM’s Binder held on to take the final podium place, despite some late tyre trouble and incredible pressure from a determined Remy Gardner. Now, with seven rounds remaining, Marquez’s Championship lead stands at 35 points with no less than three riders on 146 points behind him – Fernandez, Navarro and Tom Lüthi.
Returning the circuit that gave him his maiden front row qualifying twelve months ago #87 rider Remy Gardner was on from the opening day.
With only a handful of laps remaining he eased his ONEXOX TKKR Sag Racing machine into third before losing it just before the chequered flag. Classified fourth, Gardner missed out on what would have been a historic win by less than a second, but importantly silenced his critics after a couple of earlier in the season non-finishes.
Remy Gardner – P4
“I was looking for a bit more in qualifying, but I was still happy. I just missed the front row, felt good on the bike, had a good rhythm and knew we could put in a strong showing when the race came. The race itself was both positive and disappointing at the same time. I fought back after losing the group, it was a big gap, but I managed to arrive at the front group late in the race. We had the pace, but Brad pipped me with two corners to go. Nevertheless, it was a good race, a big confidence boost and I’m already looking forward to Misano.”
ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima equalled his best Grand Prix finish although in a lonely fifth place, six seconds clear of Fabio Di Giannantonio in sixth and Lorenzo Baldassarri in seventh. Lüthi remained second in the championship thanks to his eighth-place finish, with Luca Marini and Xavi Vierge completing the top ten.
“I expected to be at the front but not to win like this, it was an awesome race, really tough, because I came from behind…I had a really bad start and I was pushing for the limit. When I saw Alex crash I saw the opportunity, and I’ve started to make up points to catch him. At the end I had a really nice battle with Brad and Jorge, it was on the limit and I really enjoyed this one. The win is for my dad, it was his birthday recently!”
Another little piece of history in his pocket, Fernandez will be walking tall as Moto2 head for Misano and home turf for many. Can Marquez bounce back and extend that lead? Find out in three weeks’ time!
Marcos Ramirez timed his attack to perfection to take victory in the GoPro British Grand Prix, snatching the lead on the final lap and putting in a faultless ride to the line thereafter. The battle to decide the podium went down to polesitter Tony Arbolino vs Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta, with Arbolino just coming out on top. Dalla Porta’s podium, however, puts him well ahead in the standings after a tough day for Aron Canet.
Arbolino got the holeshot from pole with a stunning start to streak away at the front of the field, with Dalla Porta intially losing second but wasting no time in taking it back. John McPhee was up into third past his teammate Ayumu Sasaki, but it remained a tight freight train at the front in classic lightweight class style.
Dalla Porta was into the lead before the end of Lap 1 though, and in the perfect position as key rival Aron Canet languished somewhat in P13 in the early stages. And as the Dalla Porta-Arbolino-McPhee fight rolled on at the front, disaster than struck for Canet as he was taken down by Albert Arenas, able to rejoin but dead last with 15 laps to go.
As Canet set about trying to tag back onto the field, those chasing the front trio made sure it became a huge group squabble once again. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was making moves into the top three, Niccolo Antonelli lurked in fifth and Ramirez was well in the mix by then. 12 riders remained line astern at Silverstone, with the ante upped and upped as the laps ticked down.
Dalla Porta, Arbolino and Ramirez were the men consistently leading the pack, and as we headed onto the last lap they remained there, with Antonelli for close company in fourth. Down the Hangar Straight Ramirez struck to take over from Arbolino in second, with a collective breath held down at Leopard as their two machines were then poised to fight it out for the win. But Dalla Porta then headed slightly wide and Ramirez pounced past…ultimately, the move that would give him his second Grand Prix win.
Nailing the rest of the lap, the Spaniard couldn’t be caught from there on out, with Dalla vs Arbolino then the key battle for the podium. It was the polesitter who ultimately came out on top, with Dalla Porta forced to settle for third but nevertheless extending his Championship lead by what could prove a pivotal margin.
Antonelli took fourth ahead of teammate Tatsuki Suzuki, with Ayumu Sasaki crossing the line sixth to pip teammate and home hero John McPhee. Dennis Foggia took P8 and was just 0.025 ahead of rookie teammate Celestino Vietti after the latter put in some work to tag back onto and then move through the group, with Ai Ogura also within half a tenth as he took another solid finish.
Jaume Masia took eleventh after a run off late on that cost him his earlier place fighting in the freight train, with Darryn Binder taking a lonelier P12.
The huge group fighting for the final points-paying positions staged some of the most stunning action of the race, with Canet having fought from the very back to tag onto the train and then make his way through it. By the end of the race the Spaniard made it to P13 to take two valuable points, just ahead of replacement rider Jeremy Alcoba and Alonso Lopez. The battle, though, stretched right back to Makar Yurchenko in P23.
“Today was incredible. I started from ninth, and I knew that I had the potential to fight at the front so when I started the race…there was some contact, a lot of riders fighting and it was hard the first part, but in the second half I changed it up, I started to overtake round the outside to get to the front and in the last four laps all three of us were fighting for the podium and I was thinking I could finish on the podium. Then on the last lap I took second and saw Lorenzo go wide and I thought that was my opportunity, I pushed at 100% to the final corner…and that was it. I finished first, thanks to my team and family who’ve always supported me.”
Another incredible lightweight class race at Silverstone leaves the Championship shaken but not stirred, with Dalla Porta now ahead by 14 points. After Canet’s awesome fight back though it’s far from over, so don’t miss Misano in three weeks!
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.