MotoGP heads back to the hallowed grounds of Silverstone
Silverstone Circuit is the jewel in the crown of British motorsport. The former Northamptonshire airfield wasn’t tailor made for racing, but that’s undoubtedly how it seems now as time has seen the turnaround from domestic treasure to world-class circuit. The 5.9km layout is one of the fastest of the year, and it’s one of the most famous venues on the calendar. History is literally found around every corner at Silverstone, and yet the track today is one of the most spectacular and modern motorsport venues in the world.
The man who has conquered Silverstone is undoubtedly Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Spartan’ has made the track ‘Lorenzo’s Land’ on three occasions and although he doesn’t hold the lap or the pole record, his track record at the circuit since his first win in 2010 is impressive.
In 2010 as the paddock visited the venue for the first time, Lorenzo took pole, the fastest lap and the victory by over six seconds.
A year later the Mallorcan reigning champion crashed out in a wet race taken by Casey Stoner, before 2012 saw Lorenzo back on top once again, with another big margin.
The 2013 British GP proved the upturn in fortunes needed after Lorenzo’s collarbone-breaking adventures in Assen and Sachsenring that year, with qualifying one of the best duels for pole position in recent years between Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s then-rookie Marquez.
The lap record got left behind as the two kept dropping the laptimes, with Sunday set up to be an incredible showdown – and it didn’t disappoint, as the two dueled over the final laps and Lorenzo took the win in the final corner in the most spectacular race MotoGP has yet staged at Silverstone.
2014 was a similar duel but in reverse, as Marquez got the upper hand. Lorenzo will be wanting to add another win to his record tally at the track in 2016, and Marquez is sure to be the first candidate in his way.
After the Czech GP, Marquez’ championship lead has grown once again. Whilst those around him continue to suffer with either bad decisions or bad luck, the Repsol Honda rider just keeps getting it right and now stands 53 points clear at the top of the table.
Although Lorenzo’s record makes him the favourite going into Silverstone, Marquez’ track record at the circuit also makes for incredible reading. He is the holder of the lap record, a 2’00.234, and is the only one on the current grid who has stopped Lorenzo in dry conditions at the circuit. A second place by a whisker as a rookie in 2013 was followed by a cleverly-overcome duel with the same rider in 2014, before 2015 saw the wet prove Marquez’ biggest rival on the day. The two races the points leader has completed at the track in MotoGP are enough for everyone on the grid to know exactly what Marquez will be heading to the UK to do: win.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took second place from Lorenzo in the title fight in the Czech Republic, and the Italian veteran has stated his goal for the rest of the season as simply keep winning and keep himself in the fight. Rossi is the most recent winner at Silverstone after a spectacular race in the wet in 2015, but the rider from Tavullia had previously had a more difficult time at the British track, missing the podium in 2013 before getting his first at the track in 2014 after battling with Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
2015 saw him Rossi win the wet as Marquez crashed out and Lorenzo came home P4, but the 9-time champion will be hoping for more if the British GP proves to be dry.
Pedrosa, who holds the race lap record at the track, is having a difficult season as he searches for the right direction after the pre-season changes left him on the back foot. After taking the grandstand seat for the Lorenzo-Marquez 2013 Silverstone duel to lock out the podium, Pedrosa then struggled to emulate the success in 2014 as the rider from Sabadell suffered from a then-unannounced long term problem with arm pump.
Slowly getting back up to speed after career-saving surgery earlier in the season, 2015 saw Pedrosa cross the line fifth in the rain. After another test day in Brno, the 3-time world champion will be hoping to start making inroads again at the front as he looks for his first win of the season – having won a race in every single year of his premier class career.
Ducati Team duo Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso will be on the charge in Silverstone. After tyre problems in Brno left the two men going from fighting for the victory to suffering with the fronts, Dovizioso was forced to retire as Iannone saw himself plummet more than seven places in as many laps. Memories of Austria and their historic 1-2 remain fresh however, with the Desmosedici the most recent MotoGP winner in the dry, and another fast track on the horizon in the British GP.
After Cal Crutchlow’s (LCR Honda) first British win in 35 years in Brno, home spirits will be high ahead of Silverstone as the Brit returns home a winner for the first time in his MotoGP career. Although Cal has a difficult record at the track, confidence will now be high after his first GP win and that could prove a big difference in front of the home crowd. Compatriot Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) will also be eager to race in front of the home fans, after a stunning ride in the early parts of the Czech GP before a tyre problem forced him down through the order.
Redding, who took a Moto2 podium at the track in 2012 before going one better a year later to take a commanding win, also had a fantastic race in 2015 in the wet as he proved the top home finisher – just behind the incredible pedigree of Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Redding seems to thrive on the home pressure, and will be pushing his Ducati to the limit around the three-and-a-half mile track.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will sadly not be out for home glory, with a leg injury suffered during a practice session for the Oschersleben 8H endurance race ruling him out for his home GP. PATA Yamaha Official WorldSBK rider Alex Lowes will replace Smith for Silverstone and Misano, having recently tested the Tech 3 machine at the post-Brno test as a reward for his part in Yamaha’s 2016 win in the Suzuka 8H.
Maverick Vinales is currently fifth in the championship standings, only nine-points adrift of fourth placed Dani Pedrosa. Vinales took the Moto3 win at Silverstone in 2012.
Jack Miller was forced to miss Brno but is planning to ride this weekend at Silverstone.
There are 7 races to go and Marquez is 53 points clear. For the next round, all that remains to be seen is who the next in line is to take the challenge to the 2013 and 2014 world champion – Lorenzo? The weather? Or something else entirely?
The British GP sees FP1 begin at 1855 EST on Friday 2nd September.
MotoGP World Championship Standings
Marc Márquez (SPA) HONDA 197points
Valentino Rossi (ITA) YAMAHA 144 points
Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) YAMAHA 138 points
Dani Pedrosa (SPA) HONDA 109 points
Maverick Viñales (SPA) SUZUKI 100 points
Championship closes up as Moto2 heads for Silverstone
Zarco defends, Rins gains but breaks his collarbone in training…and Lowes returns home
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) looked well on the way to matching Moto3 title leader Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) championship lead as the paddock headed towards the Czech Republic, but after a tough race in torrential conditions in Brno, it was key rivals Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and Sam Lowes (Gresini Racing Moto2) who made the most gains at the front. Zarco had a tough warm up session, and the race was a long one as the Frenchman fought back up from outside the points to eventually cross the line P11 for a little damage limitation.
Rins, however, found his struggles in the dry in Brno disappear as the rain came down and the title contender surged through to the front as the lead bike on track of the three title rivals at the top of the table. Although winner Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) was uncatchable at the front, Rins had a calm and solid ride to come home behind the German – and stayed ahead of Sam Lowes throughout. Cutting the gap by a considerable chunk in the impressive showing, the Spaniard was ready to go on the offensive once more at Silverstone. However, a training accident on the Wednesday following the Czech GP left Rins with a broken collarbone and he will need to pass a medical examination ahead of the race as he hopes to return to the scene of both a Moto3 victory and a rookie podium in Moto2.
Sam Lowes (Gresini Racing Moto2) took an impressive podium in Brno to keep himself in the fight. After a difficult few races, the Brit came back with a bang in the Czech Republic and made a significant gain in points in the title fight. Since having spent time at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli testing the Aprilia MotoGP™ machine he will ride next year, Lowes will be fired up to take another step forward at Silverstone. Add to that the fact that the Brit will be racing at home, Lowes is sure to be a threat for a win or podium and a gain in the championship. Fellow home rider Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) will be hoping to follow his compatriot into the echelons of home success, too, after Kent recorded one of his best Moto2 finishes to date in Brno.
It was Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) who had the most impressive Czech GP, however. With his first win in more than a year, the German moved back up above Garage Plus Interwetten rider Tom Luthi in the title standings. Luthi, who had shown good pace all weekend in Brno, was sadly unable to take part in the race on Sunday after a highside crash in qualifying saw him taken to hospital with concussion and subsequently kept in for observation. The Swiss veteran should be back on track at Silverstone however, pending medical permission to race. His compatriot, CarXpert Interwetten rider Dominique Aegerter, is another whose participation will depend on being declared fit after Aegerter suffered a crash in a motocross training session and has torn ligaments in his shoulder and a small fracture in his ribs.
The Czech GP was another good one for Alex Marquez, as the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider continues to get back on form. With the race pace in the dry to challenge at the front, the 2014 Moto3 world champion was also impressive in the wet, taking a top 5 finish to go one better than his result in Austria. 2015 saw Marquez challenge for his first podiums in Brno and Silverstone, and the track is a favourite for the rider from Cervera – a good omen as he builds his confidence back up after a pre-season injury and difficult start to the year. Teammate Franco Morbidelli is sure to bounce back from a more anonymous race in Brno too, as the Italian looks to get back on the podium after his P2 in Austria.
The Moto2 title fight is now the closest of the three, and after a classic race in 2015, the scene is most definitely set for the intermediate class to light Silverstone up with another nail-biting showdown.
Moto2 World Championship Standings
Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 181 points
Alex Rins (SPA) KALEX 162 points
Sam Lowes (GBR) KALEX 137 points
Jonas Folger (GER) KALEX 108 points
Thomas Lüthi (SWI) KALEX 106 points
Binder sets his sights on the British GP
Until the Czech GP at the Automotodrom Brno, Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder had only had one anomalous result in 2016, during the Dutch GP at the TT Circuit Assen. There, Binder played it safe for P12 – as he did in Germany during another wet race as he shadowed key title rival Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and crossed the line eighth. With a 67 point lead going into the Czech GP however, Binder went for broke – and crashed out of the wet and difficult race from the lead. Uninjured, the South African lost some points back to Navarro in the table – but the Spaniard only crossed the line in P10. With former Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Romano Fenati now having parted ways with the team with whom he spent his Moto3 career to date and out of the fight, the race seems to be set as Navarro versus Binder – with new P3 man Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) over 80 points in arrears with 7 races to go.
Although the championship now seems set to be a duel, none of the key protagonists of the title fight crossed the line to impress in Brno. It was Scottish rider John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) who took the honours in a stunning display of calm and skill in the torrential conditions, and the Brit will be high on confidence following his first ever victory in the world championship – with the boost coming just in time ahead of his home race.
The man playing catch up to Binder is Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0). Navarro has had an impressive Moto3 career to date, and took his first win in the class at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in May in only his second season. After gaining some traction, the Valencian rider then broke his leg whilst training and was forced to sit out the Dutch GP. Riding through the pain since, until the leg is fully healed, Navarro crashed out of the Austrian GP when chasing to catch the lead group and then suffered a difficult last half of the race in Brno to eventually round out the top ten – despite having fought further up ahead of the final laps. It was a gain, however, after having been on the back foot for a number of races – and Navarro will be focused on making that gain bigger in Silverstone: the track that gave him his first pole position, last season.
While the title may seem a two-horse race, Moto3 never proves to be the same on track. With every race a mammoth battle in the final laps as the points-scoring places are squabbled over, everything can change in an instant. With Binder in his fifth season in the class however, the South African is wise to the game – and will be looking for another 25 points in Silverstone as he closes on the crown.
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.