Round 12 of the 2015 MotoGP season was shaping up as another Marquez-Lorenzo cage match, the two brightest lights of the sport hammering the grid during four free practice sessions. They qualified one-two, with Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, the other usual suspects, making up the top four. The Racing Gods waited to intervene until just before the sighting lap, and a dry race suddenly became a wet race – just what the Doctor ordered. Rossi’s much-needed win put 12 points between him and Lorenzo as the flying circus heads for Vale’s home crib at Misano.

The main Spanish contingent at today’s British Grand Prix got collectively rolled, as now-former world champion Marc Marquez flipped his Repsol Honda RC213V out of second place in pursuit of Rossi at Turn 1 of Lap 13. Jorge Lorenzo, who led early, gave us no reason to doubt our belief that he hates riding in the rain; having fallen as far back as sixth place by mid-race, he managed to recover sufficiently to finish fourth, going through on Pedrosa late well after Marquez had left the building. With all of his damage-control modules in the red, Lorenzo managed to limit his debit to teammate Rossi today to 12 points; it could have been much worse.

Valentino Rossi earned his fourth win of the season, putting him back in sole possession of the championship lead.

That there was an all-Italian podium today is, in itself, surprising enough. That little-known Danilo Petrucci, on the Octo Pramac second string Ducati, would stand on the second step today, is a true shocker. While Ducati factory #1 Andrea Iannone was missing in action this weekend (qualified ninth, finished eighth), Petrucci put on a one-man showcase of his wet-riding skills, after having started in 18th place, slicing through the field, passing a couple of Aliens along the way, keeping Andrea Dovizioso (who secured his first podium today since Le Mans) behind him and, late in the day, putting himself in position for an attack on his friend and idol.

Valentino Rossi topped an all-Italian podium with Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso.

Rossi, having received word from his pit board that his paisan was closing the gap, finished the race with a few fast laps to help Danilo avoid the dishonor attendant upon a third-tranche Italian rider contemplating a take-down of Valentino Rossi. Such would be comparable to elbowing Dr. Desmond Tutu out of the buffet line at a Queen’s reception.

In England, that sort of thing just isn’t done.

The Battle of Britain

Cal Crutchlow was keeping a good pace before being taken by his LCR Honda teammate Jack Miller.

With three genuine Brits and a citizen of their former penal colony in Australia in the line-up, much was on the line regarding post-race bragging rights. Cal Crutchlow and teammate Jack Miller were flying early in the race, while Bradley Smith and Scott Redding were lost in the sauce. Young Miller, in fact, was gaining so many places so fast that he temporarily forgot the fact of his earthbound-ness, only to be reminded of it on Lap 3 when he went hot into a slow lefthander and collected Crutchlow. The announcers subsequently speculated that Cal might administer a brief etiquette lesson to the enthusiastic Australian later in the garage.

Which left Smith and Redding to carry, figuratively, the Union Jack. For Redding, the announcement came today that he would be leaving Mark VDS Racing for a seat on the second string Octo Pramac Ducati being forcefully repossessed from Yonny Hernandez. Thus, predictably, Redding would have his best day ever in the premier class, finishing sixth after starting 7th, neatly trading places with Smith in the process. Smith was not okay with this, but at least had the pleasure of having watched teammate and rival Pol Espargaro go ragdoll on Lap 14.

Scott Redding was the top-finishing Brit of the day. The Marc VDS rider will racing for Pramac Ducati next season.

On a dry day, both British riders might have entertained thoughts about fighting for the podium. Today’s rain tamped down the annoying tendency of the Ducatis, from factory to Avintia, to consume racing slicks at a maddening rate. Thus would we end up with two Desmosedicis on the podium and three in the top eight, compared to only two Hondas. We are reminded that the Ducati, in almost all of its previous iterations, has been surprisingly stable in the wet.

The Big Picture

Marc Marquez sealed his fate today as if it weren’t already sealed. No more conjecture about a third consecutive title. We’re left with the Bruise Brothers on the factory Yamaha team. Heading into Silverstone, most people’s money was on Lorenzo, who had more wins, and more pace, than does Rossi at this stage of his season/career. The smart money overlooked Lorenzo’s glaring difficulties running in the wet, as the past two weeks were the first instances in 2015 where weather had anything to do with race day. Now, it must be acknowledged, the weather can play a huge role in how the season turns out; it may have already done so.

Marc Marquez may not be mathematically eliminated from title contention but it’ll be nigh impossible to overcome the 77-point deficit behind Valentino Rossi, with Jorge Lorenzo also standing in the way.

Is it oversimplifying things, with a third of the season left, to suggest that Lorenzo will have things his way on dry tracks and that Rossi will enjoy the advantage on wet ones? Lorenzo at Aragon, Phillip Island and Sepang? Rossi at Misano, Motegi and Valenciana? Someone on odd calendar days and the other on evens (there are four odds and two evens left.) One thing is certain – now that Rossi has a lead, however small, he is not going to give it away. Just as on the race track, he is not going to make the unforced error that would hand the season to Lorenzo. He will take what the defense gives him, make himself very difficult to pass, figuring it will be enough to take him through November. For Rossi, there will be no risks, crazy or otherwise, until and unless the chips have come completely down and it’s win or bin for the season. Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t salivate at the thought of Rossi and Lorenzo heading to Round 18 tied for the championship?

Elsewhere on the Grid

Suzuki Ecstar teammates Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales finished in their customary ninth and 11th spots, but traded places, with Espargaro taking the six points. Surprisingly sandwiched in between the two Suzukis was chronic underachiever Alvaro Bautista in 10th place, tying his previous best finish of the season at Catalunya. Bautista’s teammate Stefan Bradl, who has been schooling the Spaniard since the day he arrived from Forward Racing, was gracious enough to crash out today, allowing Bautista to enjoy his top ten finish.

Aleix Espagargo (center) finished ninth while brother Pol Espargaro (left) did not finish. Andrea Iannone finished eighth, one of several Ducati riders who seemed to thrive on the wet track.

American Nicky Hayden enjoyed his best day since Le Mans with a respectable 12th place finish coming off the back of the seventh row. Hector Barbera, Mike de Meglio and Alex de Angelis were the last three riders to score points today.

A Quick Look Ahead

Then there is this Johann Zarco, who is busy these days trashing the Moto2 division. Today, he gradually worked himself to the front of the grid after a mediocre start, where he led pretenders Tito Rabat, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez on a merry chase for perhaps 13 laps. As things got a little tight toward the end, he casually dropped his lap time by two seconds for each of the final three laps, winning going away. Not many riders who can do that.

Johann Zarco continues to pad his lead in the Moto2 chase. Bet the Frenchman’s win went over well with the British crowd.

Zarco, leading Moto2 by 85 points, is clearly ready for MotoGP, but is MotoGP ready for him? With the grid expected to shrink to possibly 22 seats next season, and all of the good ones spoken for, would Zarco consider moving up to the premier class with a second-rate team, or would Moto2 present a better opportunity, with things expected to open up again in 2017? Rabat is taken care of for next year, being re-united with Mark VDS. Everyone else is scouring garage sales for Ouija boards, seeking answers to open-ended questions.

Or praying to The Racing Gods, who made their presence felt today, intervening on behalf of Valentino Rossi as well as Carmelo Ezpeleta, the Dorna CEO who seeks the closest of close MotoGP championship races in 2015.

Brad Pitt was a guest in the paddock. The actor was at Silverstone to support the new MotoGP documentary “Hitting the Apex”.
2015 MotoGP Silverstone Top 10 Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha
2 Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Ducati +3.010
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse +4.117
4 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha +5.726
5 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +11.132
6 Scott Redding EG 0,0 Marc VDS +25.467
7 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +26.717
8 Andrea Iannone Ducati Corse +29.393
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Estar +38.815
10 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +41.712
2015 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 12 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 236
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 224
3 Marc Marquez Honda 159
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati 150
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 120
6 Bradley Smith Yamaha 115
7 Dani Pedrosa Honda 102
8 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 83
9 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 81
10 Cal Crutchlow Honda 74
  • JMDGT

    A round 18 tie for the win is more than I could hope for this season. I would love to see it. If that doesn’t happen a Rossi win earlier is OK with me. Lost in the sauce. I may have been there a time or two. I can’t really say for sure. Well done.

  • spiff

    Rossi, Rossi, Rossi!!! End transmission.

    • spiff

      Good one Hayden.

  • Shlomi

    All the talks last year about how Marc is so much better from Lordnzo, and Rossi… It turns he only had better bike. So dissapointing to see what suppose to be the future of the sport struggle to hold pace, and making rockie mistakes almost every other week.

    • Bruce Allen

      He’ll be back. In the words of Nick Harris, dismiss him at your peril.

      • Old MOron

        If Marquez comes back and wins races this year, it probably wouldn’t be enough to put him back in title race. But with Marquez taking the winner’s share, it would leave Vale and Jorge to scrap for fewer points, meaning they’d stay close together down to the wire.

      • spiff

        I am pretty sure it was Arnold that claimed that.

      • Shlomi

        Marc riding style is questionable as it is too close to the edge. Last year Marc led the aliens in crashes, most of them in qualifying, yet still crashes. This year his luck changed, and more crashes are on race day. Lucky for him he didn’t suffer major injury yet. Marc skills have not changed, but his luck did. Lorenzo & Stoner crashed heavily in their 1st, 2nd year in motogp, but established later in their career. Marc in his 3 year crash rate is close to his first two years (training and race days). In addition when Honda & Yamaha bikes are in equal levels, the competition does not crash as much. So yes Marc can win races, but no championship. Back then Nicky Hayden won championship wining single race, but keeping crash rate down. Marc will have to thame his aggressive all or nothing attitude if he want to be competitive next year against Lorenzo and Rossi.

  • schizuki

    At the start, I said to my wife, “What’s the over/under on Cal Crashlowside? Five laps?” He had two in the first four.

  • schizuki

    Oughta keep the results out of the homepage blurb. Just sayin’.

    • Bruce Allen

      My fault entirely. I’m writing this stuff thinking about folks who’ve already watched the race and have a take on it. Trying to gather eyeballs, the majority of whom have watched the race live or on video before they read about it here. Always a good idea, and easy too, since we rarely get the race results posted before, like, 3 pm.

  • Old MOron

    Fun race to watch. Too bad Miller collected Crutchlow, who was going well in the wet. I have to say that Crutch was gracious about it in his post-race interview. Oh well, maybe it’s better this way. If Miller, Crutchlow, and Marquez had stayed on their bikes, Jorge might have finished way, way. way back, making a showdown in Valencia less likely.

  • Gruf Rude

    I wonder if Lorenzo is beginning to re-think his sponsorship deal with HJC helmets . . .

    • http://facebook.com/ East South

      poor helmet design. no anti fog. how hard was it to put a tiny hole to let air in.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    You couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic race! Everything from the crazy almost start from the pit, tons of changing positions and daring passes, Miller wiping out Crutchlow, & Marquez taking a spill, holy crap!

  • William Marvin Parker

    Rossi has momentum going home, why would JLO win there? And Rossi won P. Island last year and has good history there. if its gonna rain, it would prob be Japan or maybe Aragon. The odds favor Rossi whether it rains or not..