2019 MotoGP – Round 12 – Silverstone
Boris reports on the awesome race that was the British Grand Prix
I’m at the point where I know the Spanish national anthem as well as I know the Aussie one. Except this time, it was playing for Alex Rins, who mugged Marquez on the last corner and sailed over the line a mere 0.013 seconds ahead of the reigning world champion.
Which makes this the second race in a row Marquez has been mugged on the last corner.
The difference between Dovi’s assault last race was that he’d been planning it for many laps before the end. Rins’ up-the-inside was an act of screaming determination aided by Marquez losing a bit of traction as he got the power on coming out of the last corner.
But let’s not read anything into this last-corner business. Marquez has this championship by the throat and he’s only going to increase his gorilla-grip.
Silverstone greeted the circus with a new surface. Last year’s debacle, which saw the track turn into a massive standing-water feature after it was re-surfaced by itinerant carpetbaggers, dared not repeat itself. And it didn’t – primarily because it didn’t rain.
Still, all the riders sang the praises of the new surface, saying it was grippy, but also hard on tyres, so the race-day choices were lots of Hard-option fronts and rears.
As far as races go, it was quite processional and someone compared it to a good novel – great intro, slow build, superb ending.
The intro was set to be a classic. Marquez was on pole, Rossi had smashed his way into second after towing Marquez into first place and Miller into third.
Behind them sat Fabulous, Rins, and Vinales – and it was obvious to everyone the Yamahas were going to be fast here.
Miller’s Pramac Ducati once again outpaced the two Factory units of Dovi and Petrucci, who seems to have entered a mid-season slumpathon.
The hole shot was Marc’s. Again.
But the fuss was all immediately behind him as Fabulous – clearly overkeen on cold tyres and high hopes – lost the front of his bike. Dovizioso then ran over the sliding Yamaha, launched himself into space then down onto his shoulder, whereupon his Ducati burst into flames and flew into the air-fence.
Both riders were badly winded. Fabulous, whose 20-year-old lungs re-inflated pretty quickly, walked off. Dovi, a slightly older gentleman, was stretchered off. Both had mild concussions but neither was kept in hospital.
So that was the end of the Great French Hope and the bloke who was second in the championship. The Repsol Honda crew could not get that info onto a pit-board fast enough for Marquez, who was being shadowed by Rins and Rossi.
Miller went backwards, and the race quickly settled into a Marquez, Rins and Rossi ménage à trois, but with very little kissing.
About halfway through, Rossi started to flag, and Marquez and Rins began to gap him. A hard-charging Maverick Vinales, obviously inspired by the forthcoming visit of Tom Cruise to promote his new Top Gun film, passed Rossi and set off after the two leaders. And if the race was another 15 laps longer, he might have had a chance.
Behind him, Morbidelli earned his rookie wages by keeping Crutchlow down in his usual sixth place, where he got to race with Petrucci. I don’t know if there is any truth to the rumour Dorna is planning on naming the sixth grid position on every racetrack ‘Cal’, when the Englishman finally retires.
As the race reached its closing stages, it was clear Rins was not going to give up. There was a moment of ‘WTF’ when he briefly passed Marquez on the second-last lap in confusion (Rins has form in thinking the second-last lap is the last), and the tension at the pointy end was electric.
You knew Rins was going to have a shot, but when? He was faster than Marc through some of the sections, but was losing out on power in other places.
A lot was made about the edge-grip of the Suzuki by the Pom race-callers, who pause from lamenting about how glorious Crutchlow could be if he wasn’t so unlucky, to now and again comment on stuff they’re usually guessing about.
Does the Suzuki have more “edge-grip” than Marc’s Repsol Honda? We’d have to see the telemetry to know for sure. But it’s certainly nothing Marquez could not personally negate.
What happened on the last corner was kinda obvious. Rins dodged left, then cut hard to the inside, and just twisted the throttle wide open. Marquez did the same thing with his throttle, but his back tyre just gave a touch – and that was enough for Rins to edge him out over the line. Heart-in-mouth stuff for sure, and sufficient to send Rins over the moon with joy.
That’s win number two for the very likeable Spaniard, and Marc’s second-in-a-row last-corner slapping – but like I said, I wouldn’t read too much into that. It’s entirely possible he will every remaining race.
Next up, we head to San Marino, where he’s rubbed Italian noses in the dirt before.
MotoGP Race Results and Championship Standings
|DNF||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||1 Lap|
|DNF||Miguel Oliveira||KTM||12 Laps|
|DNF||Johann Zarco||KTM||12 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|DNF||Fabio Quartararo||Yamaha||0 Lap|
|DNF||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||0 Lap|