With six different winners in the last six races, trying to predict a winner for Round 12 is a fool’s errand. The usual suspects (minus Dani Pedrosa), Andrea Iannone, Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow – who’s next? During this period, series leader Marc Marquez has built his lead over his nearest pursuers by being aggressive when he can and protective when he can’t. With #93 up 50+ heading to the two-thirds marker, there’s an eerie absence of pressure. Marquez can be cautious from here on out, while the Yamahas, or at least Valentino Rossi, have already conceded defeat. Sunday’s race should be a nice stroll in the Northamptonshire countryside, then.

Except for crazed, ravenous guys like Crutchlow, winner last time out, Iannone, who popped his premier class cherry in Austria, and even The Black Knight, Miller, who insists his latest injury is “only a flesh wound.” Pedrosa needs a win in the worst possible way. Andrea Dovizioso is long overdue for his second. And, with an assist from the weather, guys like Scott Redding might easily see themselves perched on the top step of the podium as #Sevenofseven.

Recent History at Silverstone

Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa put on quite a show in 2013. Lorenzo beat Marquez by just 0.081 seconds while Pedrosa was just 1.551 seconds behind.

The 2013 British GP was one of the great contests since I started covering MotoGP in 2008. Marquez, with a 26-point lead over Pedrosa after Brno, dislocated his shoulder in the morning WUP (nearly taking Alvaro Bautista’s RC213V in the teeth as he, too, slid off seconds later), then commenced a day-long chase of Jorge Lorenzo before finally succumbing at the flag by a microscopic 8/100ths of a second. Pedrosa, in the mix all day, podiumed in third, a second and a half behind Lorenzo. The Spanish slugfest up front left Rossi and the other factory bikes sucking wind off in the distance. On a day that appeared ripe for the field to close the gap on the leader, Marquez left Great Britain sore, but leading the championship by more than when he arrived. Battle lost. War won. Perhaps the best British Grand Prix in the modern era.

2014’s gorgeous British GP made it three dry races in a row. With a front row of Marquez, Dovi and Lorenzo, the two Spaniards again went off to fight their own private battle, Lorenzo in the early lead. Marquez took a run at him on Lap 14, but couldn’t make it stick. On Lap 18, though, after a little bumping and grinding, the young Catalan wonder went through for good on the way to his 11th win of the season. At the wire, it was Marquez, trailed by Lorenzo (+0.7), with the top five made up of Rossi (+8.5), Pedrosa (+8.7) and Dovizioso (+9.2). The win put Marquez 10 for 11 on the year, brimming with confidence heading to Misano.

2015: Round 12 of the season was shaping up as another Marquez-Lorenzo cage match, the two brightest lights of the sport hammering the grid during the four free practice sessions. They qualified one-two, with Pedrosa and Rossi, making up the top four. The weather waited to intervene until just before the sighting lap, and a dry race suddenly became wet. Rossi’s win in the rain put him 12 points in front of Lorenzo as the flying circus headed for Vale’s second home crib at Misano.

Rain played havoc with everyone’s pre-race set-up in 2015.

The main Spanish contingent at the 2015 race got rolled, as Marquez flipped his Repsol Honda RC213V out of second place in pursuit of Rossi at Turn 1 of Lap 13 while Pedrosa could manage but a weak fifth. Lorenzo, who led early, gave us no reason to doubt that he hates riding in the rain; having fallen as far back as sixth 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 flashing red, Lorenzo managed to limit his debit to teammate Rossi today to 12 points; it could have been much worse. Having started the race dead even, Lorenzo left down 12 with six left. No hill for a climber.

Recent Injuries & Musings About Money

Andrea Dovizioso’s string of bad luck continues. After back-to-back podiums in Germany and Austria, Dovi failed to finish at Brno and then strained his knee during testing.
  • Dovizioso’s knee injury called “small” on MotoGP.com, quoting Dovi as saying,“…at the end of the test in Misano unfortunately my foot got stuck in the gravel and my knee twisted. I strained the medial collateral ligament and the anterior cruciate. Thanks to the Medical Center at the Misano World Circuit for the instant support, my staff and the Physiology Center; we are doing everything possible to be in the best condition to race the Silverstone GP.” Dovizioso’s status for Silverstone is Probable.
  • Bradley Smith leg injury: Slumming at the Oschersleben 8 Hours, Smith crashed during the free practice session. No femur break, but definitely going to leave a mark. Brit Alex Lowes, who recently tested the Tech Yamaha 3 M1, will replace Smith at Silverstone and Misano. Dude has DNF written all over him.
  • Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider Alex Rins (Moto2), contender, broke his left collarbone in a training crash. The Spanish Moto2 rider suffered the injury during routine training on Wednesday, and underwent surgery on Thursday. Dr. Xavier Mir performed the operation in Spain. Go figure. Rins’s status for Silverstone is, ahem, Probable. No one, however, should doubt that rival Johann Zarco will become history’s first repeat winner in the Moto2 class.
Alex Rins (40) is just 19 points behind Johann Zarco but a broken collarbone may curb any attempt to catch up.
  • Eugene Laverty’s pride. Despite having outpointed his competitors in Tranches 4 and 5, he is forced to step down to World Superbike:
    Rider Current Points 2017 status
    Eugene Laverty 63 Bupkis
    Scott Reading 54 Satellite Ducati
    Aleix Espargaro 51 Satellite Ducati
    Jack Miller 42 Satellite Honda
    Bradley Smith 42 Factory KTM
    Stefan Bradl 39 WSBK, tail between legs
    Alvaro Bautista 35 Satellite Ducati
    Loris Baz 24 Satellite Ducati
    Yonny Hernandez 8 Satellite Ducati

So how does Gene Laverty not get an offer for 2017 and the likes of Bautista, Baz and Hernandez do? The obvious and unfortunate answer to this question is, disappointingly, money. Laverty, the Northern Ireland Brit, cannot make it rain the way some of these other guys can. If MotoGP is, indeed, 70% rider and 30% bike, owners are missing a bet overlooking Laverty on two-year-old hardware. And, in a rather refreshing manner, he is one who avoids talking about his ability at length and instead comes across as humble, scrambling for a non-humiliating ride for 2017 which turns out to be a Ducati in WSBK, perhaps contending for a title. Too old for a second visit to MotoGP in two years even if he has some success at Superbikes. He’ll be 33, and Rossi’s young Italians will be all over the place.

Eugene Laverty, the anti-Crutchlow.

Thus, the inescapable conclusion that owners can do better financially and reputation-wise with a highly sponsored, non-competitive rider than with a leaner operation/pilot that threatens for podia on a regular basis. The riders and their teams raise money and bring team sponsors along; guys like Hernandez must be almost irresistible: ”With warmest regards from my Colombian countrymen, here is more money than you’ve ever seen. There will be some crashes. Please be my team. Thank you.” I had Hernandez pegged for great things this year, based on what he had done during the offseason, but he doesn’t appear to have it any longer, if indeed he ever did. Yet he will still be scoring MotoGP-caliber women, while Laverty will be relegated to Tranche 2 of the Rider Groupie guild.

Whither the Weather

Weather looks good this weekend. As usual this time of year, the race goes off early Sunday morning Eastern time. We will have results and analysis right here later in the day.

  • Mahatma

    I hope Cal Crutchlow wins it;)

    • spiff

      With Lowes and Miller rounding out the podium? 🙂

      • Old MOron

        Don’t forget Laverty. It’d be good to see him up there, too.

      • Mahatma

        TBH I wish for Rossi to win,with a DNF for Marquez to get the championship closer.

        • spiff

          I could tell you were alright by that hansome avatar of yours. Now we have confirmation.

          Go Rossi!!! End transmission.

  • Starmag

    “relegated to Tranche 2 of the Rider Groupie guild.” LOL. Lower maintenance could be a positive.

    • BDan75

      Have you guys seen Eugene’s wife, Pippa? Wow. And in her motomatters interview she seemed really bright and cool, too. No pity for Laverty in that department.

  • Old MOron

    Gee, I had no idea about Alex Rins. I like Zarco, so I want to see him repeat. But I would prefer if Rins were healthy. Sometimes a collar bone can be wired up, and it’s good as new. Think of Lorenzo a couple of years ago, and Edwards before him. Well, fingers crossed.

    I liked Yonny, too. He had a loose riding style that was fun to watch. Laverty is a gentleman, and the paddock will miss him.

    Any word on Fenati? Is he boozing and brawling and getting fat?

    • Bruce Allen

      Fenati probably is, but he’s keeping a low profile now that he’s a former MotoGP rider. Just not as much traction with the ladies or the press.

  • john phyyt

    So who is going to win . Bruce. ? Unlike F1 this appears to be a real contest.

    • Bruce Allen

      I see my words about it’s being anyone’s race got past you. I honestly have no idea. Weather could be a bit iffy. If so, I expect Rossi and Marquez to battle, with a Ducati or two thrown in for good measure. Reading or Vinales would be seven riders in seven races, which I also like.

  • JMDonald

    After the last few races I will need this next one to get any kind of perspective going forward. Here’s to good weather and every rider at his best.

  • Vrooom

    Shame about Laverty, he has showed some ability to score in in every round but one so far this year, and had a 4th in Argentina if I recall correctly? Hard to believe guys like Hernandez gets a contract and Laverty does not. I think he’s married and his wife is gorgeous, so he can live with what he’s got there I imagine. He’ll be very competitive in WSB, and the racing can be more exciting there when Kawasaki is not dominating, so that should be fun to watch.

    • Bruce Allen

      Laverty is suddenly my favorite rider, with Hernandez the most obvious example of the power of money at the front end. Abraham used to do the same thing and always had a seat; nepotism is no more dignified than bribery. Eugene Laverty can ride. I will follow Laverty in WSBK for you fortunates next year.

  • DKing

    Speaking of motogp caliber women, young Maverick had his sights set on the stars at an early age..

    • Old MOron

      Shame that Dorna couldn’t keep the Hilton money circulating. I guess it’s caffeine sugar water forever.

  • Vrooom

    You pretty much nailed it Bruce. After FP2 it’s Iannone, Vinales, and Crutchlow in the top 3. Crazy Joe is crazy fast, more than .3 of a second ahead of Vinales. I know FP2 doesn’t mean all that much, but these guys have the pace.

  • Old MOron

    Looks like Bruce was right about predicting a winner being a fool’s game. Based on today’s practice times, it looks like the race pace is right around 2’03, and all the usual suspects are capable of doing it.

    The weather forecast for tomorrow is much like today’s, except there’s a 90% chance of rain at 14:00 local time, right when Moto GP qualifying gets under way. https://www.wunderground.com/q/locid:16318;loctype:25

    Sunday’s weather looks pretty good, so we could see a shake-up via qualifying, then a barnstormer on Sunday. Fingers crossed!

  • Old MOron

    I don’t know about you MOrons, but I’d be happy to have another wet race.

  • Ian Parkes

    Pole position following a win in the previous grand prix. Not bad for tranche 3 dweller and put-your-house-on-it podium one hit wonder Crutchlow, eh Bruce? Being the first British MotoGP winner since Moses wore a basket, and only the third to win pole at his home GP, it’s no wonder the Brits are shiny-eyed but we know they have been cruelly deceived. It’s all luck, tyre smoke and mirrors, somehow. And yet, and yet… I’m starting to wonder if he might actually be quite good.

    • Bruce Allen

      So far (Moto2 running now) you’re right and I’m wrong. CC seems to like his equipment for the first time in recent memory. Unlike Pedrosa, he apparently can ride a bike built for Marquez. He appears to be on the limit pretty much all the time; needs to watch tires and fatigue if it’s close at the end. He used to crash out of podium position fairly regularly. If he wins two in a row I need to reconfigure.

      • Old MOron

        Ha ha, Maverick saved you. That was a great race.

    • Bruce Allen

      45 points in two races. Now show me again at Misano. I’m starting to come around.

      • Old MOron

        Actually, Cal has scored three podia in the last four races, two 2nds and a 1st. That’s not too shabby.

        And I love DC, and I know it’s a holiday weekend and everything, but when is he going to post your race review, goddamnit.