TOWSTER, U.K. – Once again, it was an all-Spanish group of winners as the Moto GP circus visited the windswept Silverstone circuit, based on a WWII air base. Marc Marquez took his factory Repsol Honda to the Moto GP victory for the 11th time in 12 races, but only after a hard battle with Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha.
In Moto 2, Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat slightly extended his lead in the title chase, but had to catch and fight off his Marc VDS team-mate Mika Kallio, the two swapping places just before the end.
And in Moto 3, Aussie Jack Miller retained his series lead, but saw it chopped to only 13 points after he struggled to ninth, while his closest rivals Alex Marquez and Alex Rins finished second and first respectively.
After a disastrous start to the weekend when Lorenzo couldn’t even get into the top dozen in the first practices, his team found something in the bike and the weather warmed up, giving a bit more heat to the tires so that edge grip was far better. In the event, the Majorcan clawed his way up to third in qualifying, then made a superb race start with Marquez slotting in behind him.
Marquez stalked closely, then made a pass with seven laps to go; Lorenzo stayed tight and Marquez was forced into a couple of errors, letting Lorenzo back ahead. Three laps from the end the two again swapped positions in one pair of corners, lightly touching twice as they went back and forth. In the end, Marquez pulled out slightly to finish 7/10 second ahead.
The defending world champion said, “Honestly today I didn’t expect Jorge to be like that! He was so strong from the beginning. The pace was very high … He was pushing a lot at the start and I was trying to save the tires a little … It was very tough on the last few laps … A great battle and great to return to victory.”
Lorenzo said, “The race was much better than we expected. I pushed 100%, more than ever, after a great start. I’m proud of my riding. We improved a little each practice but didn’t have the best package.
“I was struggling so much physically … I lost a lot when he touched me and I tried to catch him but my physical condition was not enough and I was sliding. Anyway, I finished the race just 0.7 second behind when on Friday we lost 1.3 seconds each lap. So it’s much better than what we expected, for sure!”
Behind those two, Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) settled into a terrific battle for third place that lasted the entire race. All three led the group at one point or another, but Rossi seemed to be in control and eked out another podium in his 246th Grand Prix start (a record that he says “makes me feel old!”), with Pedrosa and Dovizioso following him to the flag. Oddly, it was Rossi’s first-ever podium at the British track.
Sixth went to impressive first-year Moto GP rider Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), ahead of. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP), Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing Ducati), his brother Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing Yamaha) and top British finisher Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), who was over the moon with his top 10 finish in front of his home crowd.
Fellow Brit Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) qualified on the second row and was running with the second group until handling problems forced him to pit. It turned out to be a weird issue, as the rear wheel had cracked. Although he rejoined he was only able to get 22nd despite running the same pace as his team-mate in sixth.
In the best Moto 2 race of the year, standings leader Tito Rabat rode brilliantly from fourth on the grid, staying with the front group and making a move on race leader and team-mate Kallio in the final two laps to take maximum points.
Kallio, who led 3/4 of the race fought back against his Spanish colleague but was eventually beaten to the line by just 0.063 sec, while Maverick Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) showed his talent once again to finish in third place from eighth on the grid, only 0.14 sec adrift of Rabat. No announcement yet, but Viñales is expected to jump to Moto GP with the new Suzuki team in 2015.
Pole man Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing) came home fourth, 2.571 sec back on the race winner. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team), local rider Sam Lowes (Speed Up), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Mattia Pasini (NGM Forward Racing) and Axel Pons (AGR Team) completed the top 10.
Several potential front-runners were eliminated in accidents. Early on, Dominique Aegerter (rumoured to be moving to an unknown Moto GP team next year) crashed out after he clipped the back wheel of Viñales and ended up in the gravel. The Swiss rider remounted to finish 21st.
Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) crashed mid-race while fighting for top 10 points on his birthday, and then a mistake by Jonas Folger (AGR Team) on lap 13 saw him slide out and take Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing) with him, causing a DNF for both riders and letting the leading group break away from the field.
Alex Rins grabbed the Moto 3 win on the final corner over his team-mate Alex Marquez, with 16-year-old Italian Enea Bastianini joining the two Spaniards on the podium. The race was the usual Moto 3 bar-room brawl in a closet, with the top four swapping positions every lap, eventually finishing within 0.123 sec, Miguel Oliviera (Mahindra Racing) being the one pushed into fourth.
It was a four-rider battle to the finish among Rins, his team-mate Marquez, Bastianini, and Oliviera, all of them taking turns leading. The winning margin between Rins and Marquez was just 0.011 sec. Oliveira the unlucky one who missed the podium, was just 0.051 sec shy of third.
Behind them, an increible eight more riders were in the draft for fifth, with Czech Jakub Kornfeil edging series leader Jack Miller for the spot, four and a half seconds behind the Fab Four.
The top 10 was completed by Niccolo Antonelli), Alexis Masbou, local ace Danny Kent, and Niklas Ajo.
Moto GP championship standings after 12 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 288 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 199
3. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Movistar Yamaha, 189
4. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Movistar Yamaha, 157
5. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 129
6. Aleiz Espargaro, Spain, NGM Forward Yamaha, 92
7. Pol Espargaro, Spain, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 88
8. Andrea Ianonne, Italy, Pramac Ducati, 81
9. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 74
10. Bradley Smith, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 65
Moto 2 championship standings after 12 of 18 races
1. Esteve Rabat, Spain, Marc VDS Kalex, 233 points
2. Mika Kallio, Finland, Marc VDS Kalex, 216
3. Maverick Viñales, Spain, Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex, 166
4. Dominque Aegerter, Switzerland, Technomag carXpert Suter, 123
5. Simone Corsi, NGM Forward Racing Kalex, 100
Moto 3 championship standings after 12 of 18 races
1. Jack Miller, Australia, Red Bull Ajo KTM, 179
2. Alex Marquez, Spain, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, 166
3. Alex Rins, Spain, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, 150
4. Efren Vasquez, Spain, SaxoPrint-RTG Honda, 145
5. Romano Fenati, Italy, SKY Racing Team VR46 KTM, 135
Next event September 14, Misano, Italy.
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