Today’s GoPRO British Grand Prix unfolded according to script, a script seemingly written by some Hollywood hack. Plucky young challenger Alex Rins trails peerless champion for the entire race, makes a late mistake, but recovers in time to steal the win by 13/thousandths of a second in one of the closest MotoGP tilts of all time. Marc Marquez lost a relatively meaningless battle but happily extended his lead in the war to a dispiriting 78 points.
The battle everyone was hoping for – Marquez vs. Fabio Quartararo – never got started, as the young Frenchman, starting from P4, got way too aggressive on cold tires early in Lap 1, high-sided, and dropped his Petronas Yamaha directly in front of Ducati hopeful Andrea Dovizioso, who had nowhere to go but up. Both riders ended their day in the gravel; both could be injured, as there is no report yet. Dovi clearly got the worst of the deal impact-wise, and it was Fabio’s crash. This Ducati debacle left a top five of Marquez, Valentno Rossi, Rins, Franco Morbidelli and Maverick Viñales. The two Italians would later yield to the three Spaniards, producing an all-Spanish podium, the same three that graced the podium at Jerez early in the year.
Practice and Qualifying
At least two things became immediately clear on Friday, as Petronas Yamaha prodigy Quartararo flirted with, then broke, the all-time track record at Silverstone, held by Marquez since 2017. First, the new racing surface is, as my dad used to say, “very adequate.” Second, Quartararo, who led both sessions, is fully capable of securing his first MotoGP win this weekend; the Yamaha contingent in general appears to love themselves some Silverstone.
(Note: I have been reluctant to jump on the Quartararo bandwagon with the readers who have, because I believe young Fabio still gets the yips at the end of close races. Until he displays the testicules d’acier one needs to stare down the likes of Marquez or Dovi on the last lap, he cannot be considered for an Alien card. Rins had to wait until his first win to receive his; it’s only fair. And Fabio hasn’t yet won his first race. He may, in fact, be The New Kid in Town. He may be a flash in the proverbial pan. Too early to say.)
The track record took a pounding on Friday afternoon, then again, en masse, on Saturday morning. FP3 has ingeniously positioned itself as QØ. The last five minutes is a time attack on soft tires, trying to gain automatic entry to Q2, bypassing Q1 and being able to devote FP4 to race simulations. Friday afternoon saw four riders under the old record – Quartararo, Marquez, Viñales and Rossi. On Saturday morning, 16 riders eclipsed the 2017 record, led by Fabio’s remarkable 1:58.547, 1.4 seconds faster than the target. There were four Yamahas in the top eight. Left out in the Q1 cold were names led by Dovizioso, Rins, and Takaa Nakagami; Jorge Lorenzo, limping around multiple seconds behind the leaders, must have been terrified. And this was all before FP4 and Q1. The weather was superb. There was a little rubber on the track.
Dovizioso and Rins made it through Q1 to set up an exhilarating Q2. With zeroes showing on the clock, and riders out on the track, the leaders, as best I recall, were Fabio, Rins and Viñales. Faster than you can blink your eyes, Rossi, Marquez and Jack Miller thundered across the finish line on to the front row, relegating the Frenchman and the two Spaniards to Row 2, juste comme ça. In the process, Marquez set yet another all-time track record, the fifth time this season he has done so in twelve rounds, one of which was wet. Rossi sitting second and Miller third set up a grand battle on Sunday, in which my two picks not named Marquez would start from P6 and P7. With the weather and the racing surface both close to perfect, Sunday’s race promised, well, more of what we’re used to, #93 taking the win and any of seven or eight other riders poised to join him on the rostrum, to carry his train, as it were.
Farther Down the Food Chain
Valentino Rossi, his best days behind him and no threat to podium, managed to hold on to fourth place in front of countryman Franco Morbidelli and homeboy Cal Crutchlow, who said during the week he needs surgery, i.e., don’t come crying to him if you need a MotoGP win. Danilo Petrucci (P7) beat Jack Miller for Top Ducati of the Day to take the Taller Than Danny DeVito Award for this week. Pol Espargaro and a shocking Andrea Iannone allowed KTM and Aprilia, respectively, to make token appearances in the top ten.
Johann Zarco, in his season of discontent, took out fellow KTM peddler Miguel Oliveira on Lap 9, effectively ruining yet another Sunday for Pit Bierer & Co. (Sidebar: Aron Canet, currently toiling in Moto3, will someday wear KTM colors in MotoGP. Not this next year, but a year or two after that. Just sayin’.)
The Big Picture
The 2019 championship staggered inexorably closer to the abyss today, as Marquez extended his series lead over the fallen Dovizioso to a game-over 78 points which, with a better script, would be 83. Rins took over third place from Petrucci and closed the distance between himself and Dovizioso. Viñales and Rossi are fighting amongst themselves for the honor of finishing fifth for the season. Miller, Quartararo and Crutchlow are tussling over P7. Morbidelli and Pol Espargaro are currently locked in a duel for the final spot in the top ten.
The Moto3 race today was, as usual, a barn-burner, with Marcos Ramirez sneaking across the line first, followed in close order by a hacked-off Tony Arbolino and Ramirez’ teammate Lorenzo dalla Porta, who leads the series by 14 points over Canet, whose own opportunity got skittled early in the race by Albert Arenas. Arbolino said in a post-race interview that he felt harshly treated by the two Leopard Hondas and swore revenge, perhaps as soon as Misano. This vendetta stuff among Italians is so pre-Renaissance.
Over in Moto2, Augusto Fernandez took advantage of a crash by series leader Alex Marquez to win in front of a clot of riders including Jorge Navarro, Brad Binder and Remy Gardner. Fernandez took 25 points out of Marquez and now trails Little Brother by 35 points which, if nothing else, is less than 60. Lots of rumors flying around about Moto3 guys getting kicked up to Moto2 next year, including Ramirez and, of all people, Naughty Romano Fenati who, despite his trove of personality disorders, is fast on a motorcycle and would likely be excited beyond words to have 765cc roaring beneath him. More about that later.
Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi
Tranche 3: Maverick Viñales, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, Pecco Bagnaia
Tranche 4: Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, Aleix Espargaro
Tranche 5: Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller
Tranche 3: Danilo Petrucci, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Franco Morbidelli, Miguel Oliveira
Tranche 4: Johann Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 5: Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat
Two Weeks Until Rimini
As summer draws to a close the flying circus returns to Italy, to the Adriatic Riviera, to one of the sweetest venues on the calendar. Beaches, mountains, San Marino has it all, not to mention one of the world’s great racetracks. Despite the boorish comportment of #93, we will find things to discuss as we close in on November. A great number of readers seem to care a lot about Valentino Rossi and KTM motorcycles; not sure why, but we’re always happy to host the discussion.
|2019 MotoGP Silverstone Results|
|1||Álex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||40:12.799|
|2||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||+0.013|
|3||Maverick Viñales||Monster Energy Yamaha||+0.620|
|4||Valentino Rossi||Monster Energy Yamaha||+11.439|
|5||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||+13.109|
|6||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda Castrol||+19.169|
|7||Danilo Petrucci||Mission Winnow Ducati||+19.682|
|8||Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||+20.318|
|9||Pol Espargaro||Red Bull KTM Factory||+21.079|
|10||Andrea Iannone||Aprilia Gresini||+25.144|
|11||Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Ducati||+40.317|
|12||Sylvain Guintoli||Suzuki Ecstar||+45.478|
|13||Hafizh Syahrin||Red Bull KTM Tech3||+54.783|
|14||Jorge Lorenzo||Repsol Honda||+56.651|
|15||Karel Abraham||Reale Avintia Ducati||+1:29.282|
|16||Tito Rabat||Reale Avintia Ducati||+1:31.716|
|17||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda Idemitsu||+1:40.420|
|DNF||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Gresini||1 Lap|
|DNF||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Tech3||12 Laps|
|DNF||Johann Zarco||Red Bull KTM Factory||12 Laps|
|DNF||Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||0 Laps|
|DNF||Andrea Dovizioso||Mission Winnow Ducati||0 Laps|
|2019 MotoGP Top 10 Standings After 12 Rounds|
|1||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||250|
|2||Andrea Dovizioso||Mission Winnow Ducati||172|
|3||Álex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||149|
|4||Danilo Petrucci||Mission Winnow Ducati||145|
|5||Maverick Viñales||Monster Energy Yamaha||118|
|6||Valentino Rossi||Monster Energy Yamaha||116|
|7||Jack Miller||Pramac Racing Ducati||94|
|8||Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||92|
|9||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda Castrol||88|
|10||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||69|