SILVERSTONE CIRCUIT, United Kingdom, August 27 – It was truly the Battle of Britain, this 12th race in the 2017 Moto GP world championship. The victory went to a deserving Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati, giving him his fourth win of the season, after only having scored two others in his previous 171 premier-class races. The win also moved him back into the championship lead at 2/3 distance in the series, nine points ahead of Honda’s Marc Marquez.
The delighted winner said, “I wasn’t faster, but I was in the right position at the right moment and that was the key. I was able to fight for a victory I didn’t expect. The bike has positives and negatives but I was able to play with it and make the most of the positives.”
It was a remarkably tight race for the win, with Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi a close second and third, Viñales a mere tenth of a second behind Dovi, while Rossi eased off slightly on the last lap to finish half a second farther back.
It’s worth taking a second to look at “The Doctor’s” performance. Rossi qualified second, led from the start until Dovizioso got by on the 16th lap of 20, and even after his team-mate also squeezed by he was in contention for the win. This from a 38-year-old who’s literally been in the world championships since before some of his competitors were born. This race was his 300th start in the premier world title class, out of which he has 89 victories and no fewer than 190 podiums. It’s hard to believe he still has the energy and drive to work so hard at his racing – but he does.
He’s still got the enthusiasm of a kid. “You have to give your maximum – it’s a great way to have my 300th race, in front a lot and fighting for the victory – that’s the goal, to continue as long as I can fight with the top guys.”
The only other rider seriously in the mix for the win was, as usual, Marc Marquez on his factory Honda, but he was forced to retire on lap 13 when an almost-unheard-of engine blow-up stopped the Repsol bike. “It was a new engine … everything was going well,” said the Catalan, “when I suddenly had a problem with the engine at the end of the straight. It’s a shame of course but that’s something that can happen in racing, and it was the first time for me with Honda.”
Just behind the leading group, and an eventual excellent fourth barely behind Rossi, went to the local favourite, Isle of Man resident Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow had fancied his chances of a win after qualifying on the front row only 2/10s back of pole-man Marquez, but although he stayed close, he never seemed to have quite the push to scrap with or pass the riders in front of him. “I felt good again all weekend here, but I just didn’t have enough in the end. The other guys were quicker than me today,” said the top independent (non-factory) rider.
Several seconds back Jorge Lorenzo brought the second factory Ducati into fifth; he lost time early on and while running at the pace of the leading four he was never able to catch them. He was chased hard by Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 Yamaha; unusually for the French “rookie” he was on the harder-option tires, usually preferring the softest available. They worked well for him today; mid-race he caught and passed Honda’s Dani Pedrosa – who had a seriously forgettable weekend – and set off after Lorenzo but ran out of laps.
Next up was Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding, riding better than ever perhaps due to recently finalizing a contract to move to the Aprilia team next year. He’ll be replacing fellow Brit Sam Lowes, who’s going back to Moto 2 to replace Tom Luthi, who is joining the Moto GP Marc VDS Honda team.
Behind Redding came a happy Alex Rins, the young Spaniard finally fit after a series of early-season injuries. A top 10 was just what he and the team needed. His far more experienced team-mate Andrea Iannone once again failed to impress, circulating several positions behind Rins and eventually crashing and taking out the innocent Danilo Petrucci.
The top 10 was rounded out by Alvaro Bautista in his 250th career GP start. He’s also feeling good, as his contract with the Aspar satellite Ducati squad has just been renewed for next season.
Heading into the final third of the championship, only 26 points cover the top four riders. That’s a race win plus a point; not a lot as Marquez’ engine blow-up proved today, dropping him to second place heading for Misano in Italy in two weeks’ time.
It’s been a good second half of the season so far for Taka Nakagami. The Japanese rider had a great 2015, so-so 2016, and a forgettable first half of 2017. But he’s returned in fine form after the summer break, running at the front as he’s certainly capable of. He was rewarded last week with a promotion to the LCR Honda Moto GP satellite squad for next season, where he’ll partner with hard-case Cal Crutchlow.
Then just a few days after that signing he rode a fast and canny race to take his first untainted Moto 2 win (his sole previous victory was due to a red flag stoppage). He’s a happy racer at the moment.
Early on it looked like the Marc VDS pairing of Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez were going to clear off and leave the field in the dust, but that all changed by half distance. Marquez crashed – again – a resurgent Mattia Pasini clawed his way up the field to challenge Morbidelli, then Nakagami appeared and slickly sliced past both of them, eventually winning by just under a second from Pasini and Morbidelli.
Tom Luthi could only manage a fourth, so Morbidelli slightly extended his championship lead over the Swiss rider, now with a 29-point lead. Amusingly, the two fierce rivals will be team-mates next year, as they’ll both be joining the Marc VDS Moto GP team.
The Moto 3 race was as chaotic and mad as any that’s ever been run. Well past half distance, there were still 23 bikes in the lead draft! Unfortunately the insane last lap everyone was expecting was derailed by a red flag caused by Juanfran Guevara and Bo Bendsneyder colliding, leaving Guevara injured by the track surface.
With the stoppage ending the race, the results reverted to the last lap, and the win went to Spanish teen Aron Canet, a mere 6/1000 second ahead of his team-mate Enea Bastiannini, who in turn just edged out Jorge Martin. Championship leader Joan Mir collected fifth after an early off-track excursion, leaving him still a healthy 64-point lead over Canet in the championship.
World Moto GP Championship Standings after 12 of 18 races
- Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 183 points
- Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 174
- Maverick Viñales, Spain, Movistar Yamaha, 170
- Valentino Rossi, Italy, Movistar Yamaha, 157
- Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 148
- Johann Zarco, France, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 109
- Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Ducati Team, 90
- Cal Crutchlow, U.K., LCR Honda, 89
- Jonas Folger, Germany, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 77
- Danillo Petrucci, Italy, Pramac Ducati, 75
Next race September 10, Misano, Italy