Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Everyone's a winner: vast, fast and formidable, Silverstone awaits

Aug 20. 2019
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By MotoGP

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Five riders and four factories have conquered the venue in recent years. Here's to another modern classic in the UK 

 

In 2013 it was Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) who took on now-teammate Marc Marquez in one of the all-time great showdowns. The year after, Marquez returned the favour. 2015 saw Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) emerge from a rain-soaked race day to take to the top step, before Maverick Viñales, now at Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, took the spoils for Suzuki the following year. Then it was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) painting Silverstone red in 2017, and that makes it five riders and four factories who have made British turf their own in the last five races there. They've also all done it in style, because Silverstone usually stages a classic. Can 2019 deliver the same?

As we return to the venue for another year, there's certainly one big difference: the track surface. The British behemoth is back open for business with high expectations and new asphalt, and Friday's feedback will be an interesting listen. But one thing that's never changed is the stunning layout, with 18 corners pushing man and machine to the maximum around a high-speed ribbon of tarmac that snakes it way around the former airfield. Vast and fast is apt.

So who will rule Britannia in 2019? Almost all the likely contenders really have been a winner in the UK. The most recent victor, Andrea Dovizioso, also arrives on top of the world after his stunning Austrian GP triumph. He'll be one to watch, as is usually the case. But then so will Marquez, who has sometimes had a rockier road on race day at Silverstone but whose pace in qualifying has seen him take four premier class poles at the venue. Could we get another duel? Will the reigning Champion strike back?

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, meanwhile, will be aiming to make sure it's a much bigger fight at the front. Rossi's speed at Silverstone seems to grow year on year and Viñales' record at the track is impressive. He won his first race there so there are some good memories, and he was also the man closest to Dovizioso last time we raced in the UK. And then there's Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)...

The French rookie will know the venue has often been a good one for his bike, but does that even make that much difference? The number 20 equalled Yamaha's best result at the Red Bull Ring, where it should have been a much harder task than he made it look, and everywhere he goes, he goes fast. He's back at the top of the Independent Team rider standings as well, and could be a key contender.

And what of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar)? His bike is a winner at Silverstone, before he was the man on it or even in the class, and it was a landmark day back in 2016 for the Hamamatsu factory. Rins himself is now back on form after ironing out two uncharacteristic mistakes before the summer break, and he's unlikely to settle for anything that's not an assault on the win at the very least. He's a man with a bigger box to tick than many now he's taken his first win this season, and is a big candidate to be the sixth different winner at Silverstone since 2013.

The man just ahead of him, Ducati Team's Danilo Petrucci, could be another although he's looking for more of a bounce back after a tough Austria, as is Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), the man now behind Quartararo in the aforementioned Independent Team rider standings. And lurking just behind him is Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). It's been a tougher year at times for the Brit, but on home turf he'll give it everything to be back in the fight at the front he's so often been part of. And he's had pole at Silverstone before, so the speed is there and he'll want to convert it into big points and a podium in front of the home crowd. He's done it before.

The man for whom a return is the real key phrase, however, is Jorge Lorenzo. After a long period of recovery from his injuries sustained in Assen, the five-time World Champion is expected back on track at Silverstone and it's a good venue for it. Lorenzo has three wins there, including that stunner in 2013, and good memories aplenty. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is also back in action at Suzuki after his Brno testing crash, so he'll want to get stuck in to making up some ground to those ahead of him: the likes of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). There's a lot at stake in the tight fight for the top ten.

The Great British behemoth awaits, and the Great British weather is in the wings too. But come rain or shine, Silverstone usually serves up a storm - so tune in for the GoPro British Grand Prix, with lights out for MotoGP™ at 13:00 local time (GMT +1).

Championship standings

1 - Marc Marquez (SPA - Honda) - 230

2 - Andrea Dovizioso (ITA - Ducati) - 172

3 - Danilo Petrucci (ITA - Ducati) - 136

4 - Alex Rins (SPA - Suzuki) - 124

5 - Valentino Rossi (ITA - Yamaha) - 103

 

Marquez vs Moto2™: can the field triumph over the form man?

The intermediate class arrive into fast and challenging Silverstone and one man has a target on his back

In the last seven races, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has been crashed out once through no fault of his own and beaten only once. His form is on fire, his lead is 43 points and he's shown good speed at Silverstone before. So can anyone do what Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) did in Austria?

On the face of it, it's good news for the field that Binder beat Marquez. But Binder is seventh in the Championship and 72 points off the number 73, so in some ways Marquez can afford to control that risk and play the long game. With his advantage, though, that's almost true of every race...although things can change quickly if momentum swings. 

That's certainly what Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) will be hoping. It's been a tougher two races since the summer break and the gap has shot out again, with the Swiss rider still the man closest to Marquez in the standings but that now meaning 43 points in arrears. He is a Moto2™ winner at Silverstone though - something Marquez is not - after he won in 2016, and he was only 0.057 off the win in 2010 too. Can Lüthi start the fight back now?

Between Lüthi and Binder in the standings there are plenty of fast faces too: Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up), Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and his teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri, Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP)...can they get in Marquez' way? Some have the ace card of consistency, some have destroyed the field this year...

Then there are the home heroes. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) is a man who has fought at the front at Silverstone before and shown some awesome speed, with the number 22 having taken two poles at the track. He'll be on it on home turf. Rookie Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) will want to add to his points haul as a minimum as well and, especially if its wet, will also be one to watch.

And what of Bradley Smith? The number 38 is racing in his third class of the year replacing the injured Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas Sprinta Racing, taking on a huge challenge to jump straight into Moto2™ during a race weekend on machinery that's changed an awful lot since he last raced it. How will he fare? He'll have huge support guaranteed, and a lot of eyes will be on the premier class podium finisher to see how quickly he can get up to speed.

Silverstone is a very different challenge to Austria and one of the fastest and longest tracks of the year. Who will tame the beast in 2019? Moto2™ go racing at the slightly later time of 14:30 (GMT +1) in the UK.

Championship standings

1 - Alex Marquez (SPA - Kalex) - 181

2 - Tom Lüthi (SWI - Kalex) - 138

3 - Jorge Navarro (SPA - Speed Up) - 126

4 - Augusto Fernandez (SPA - Kalex) - 121

5 - Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA - Kalex) - 115

 
Moot point? The Moto3™ duel lands in the UK
It's as good as neck and neck, with Dalla Porta leading Canet by a single point. Will Silverstone break the status quo?

For a good few rounds now, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) have been locked in battle for the lead of the Moto3™ World Championship, and ahead of Silverstone it's the Italian back in the lead by a single point. Will the duel continue as we start to look towards the flyaways? Or will someone start to pull ahead soon?

Canet arrives as a previous winner at the track after he took victory in 2017 - the last time the lightweight class had a race there - but last season Dalla Porta qualified ten places higher than his key rival, on the front row, so it's far from a duck track for him either. That could mean the stage is set for another classic and the gap could stay similarly close, although their rivals will be eager to get in the way of the see-saw at the top of the table.

Home hero John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) is one of those. The Scotsman has already shown some serious speed this season, and won a race, and he'll be gunning for glory on home turf. The men he fought for the podium in Austria will likely be in the mix too: Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and his teammate and eventual winner Romano Fenati, who could be an interesting equation now he's been back on the top step. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) needs to make up some ground in the standings, and Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) will want to consolidate his position in the top five.

In the fight for the points, Tom Booth-Amos (CIP - Green Power) will also want to add to his haul, with home turf the place to do it in a tightly-packed Moto3™ field. Tune in when the lightweight class go racing at the slightly later time of 11:20 local time (GMT +1) at the GoPro British Grand Prix to see if it remains a see-saw duel at the top of the standings.

Championship standings

1 - Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA - Honda) - 155

2 - Aron Canet (SPA - KTM) - 154

3 - Tony Arbolino (ITA - Honda) - 113

4 - Niccolo Antonelli (ITA - Honda) - 105

5 - Marcos Ramirez ¡(SPA - Honda) - 89

 

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