A red flag on Lap 1 lead to a 19-lap race on Sunday in the British midlands. For the first time since 2007, a Suzuki won a premier class race, Maverick Vinales ending his day standing on the top step of the podium. He was joined there by Cal Crutchlow, who kept another streak alive, and a desperate Valentino Rossi, who fought Marc Marquez tooth and nail for the final podium spot. Despite this, Marquez leaves Britain leading the season by 50 points, having gotten some angry juju out of his system.
Vinales got out front early in both starts, and led wire to wire in the race that counted. Cool weather, dry track and a friendly layout led to the seventh different winner in the last seven races, a clear sign that Carmelo Ezpeleta’s diabolical scheme to have a 21-bike tie for first in Valencia in 2018 is working. No question that it’s better than the same four guys each time out.
Plenty went on behind Vinales. An all-day joust for second place evolved featuring Rossi, Crutchlow and Marquez, with Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa in supporting roles. Crutchlow, on the heels of his surprising win in Brno last time out, finished a very competent and aggressive second, thereby keeping the record of no Brit having ever won the British Grand Prix intact for another year at least. If there was any such thing as a moral victory in MotoGP, today’s award would surely go to Crutchlow.
The most entertaining rider of the day was, of course, Marquez, who enjoys competing with Valentino Rossi. The two spent a good part of the day together grinding their teeth before Marquez tried to put an extraterrestrial move on the Italian at Lap 18 and ended up running off (for the second time) and losing two spots. Those two or three laps, with Rossi fighting for his life and Marquez seeing red, were as good as it gets. In the context of the rivalry, it was Rossi and Stoner 2008 Redux, the intensity off the chart. But, Marquez is the future, Rossi the past.
Rossi’s best efforts today resulted in getting briefly punked by Marquez on Lap 17 and failing to make a meaningful dent in the Catalan’s daunting championship lead. At a track he, Rossi, loves. With Jorge Lorenzo fighting to remain relevant, crossing the line in eighth place. There is no joy in the Movistar Yamaha digs tonight.
Silverstone failed to mark, at the 2/3rds pole, an inflection point for the 2016 season, in either direction. Marquez could have left leading by a number approaching 60 or 70 but failed to close the deal. He could have crashed out, lizard brain in control, and watched his challengers halve his lead. Though he surrendered a podium in today’s race, it didn’t really hurt him. He took on all comers – Crutchlow, Rossi (epic), and Pedrosa, who, finishing fifth, gave us a glimpse into our recent past. The Ducatis should have loved this track, but Iannone lost his marbles, a wounded Andrea Dovizioso could manage only sixth, and the remaining combatants were shut out of the top ten.
Q2 Worth the Price of Admission: Notes
- Marquez got bumped off the front row late by Vinales, crashing immediately, unhurt. Afterwards, he stood in the infield during the last two minutes and watched himself fade from second to fifth on the hellascreen.
- Crutchlow chose his opening perfectly, laid down the untouchable lap. Could be the “one fast lap” phenomenon practiced by Marco Simoncelli at times and perfected by Randy de Puniet who, by actual tally, finished every race of the 2011 season in a lower spot than where he started.
- Rossi finds a way to the middle of the first row. Amazing. Lorenzo was there for a moment before falling, suddenly and late, to the nine hole, foiled again.
- There was a Dani Pedrosa sighting as he, too, occupied the two hole on the grid for an instant before claiming fourth. Not a bad lap for the veteran.
- Dovizioso hurt again late in practice.
- Notable – Eugene Laverty, chasing his first career premier class pole at the end of the session, crashes out very late. Excitable young man. Watch out WSBK.
- Alex Lowes looking great thus far on the Tech 3 Yamaha, subbing in for the wounded Bradley Smith.
On Saturday night, it looked like Sunday was going to be dry. Excuse me for the déjà vu, of covering my very first MotoGP race in Laguna in 2008 when Rossi put it to Stoner in the Corkscrew and I thought, having watched it on cable TV (knowing nothing about it), that it seemed pretty cool. Vinales denying Crutchlow an important win and applying a facial to the rest of the field felt like deferred gratification rewarded. We knew the 21-year-old Spaniard would start winning races sooner than later. Happy he gave the win to Suzuki; it’s not as touching when it’s the factory Yamaha in Parc Fermé. His Alien card is stamped and waiting.
Sidebar: Jorge Lorenzo leaves Yamaha for Ducati on a pronounced downturn, winless since Mugello. Vinales leaves Suzuki for Yamaha on a definite upturn, great expectations intact. The Great Ducati Jinx continues.
Re-Tranching the Premier Class
Tranche One: Marc Marquez
Tranche Two: Rossi, Lorenzo, Vinales, Pedrosa and Dovizioso
Tranche Three: Iannone, Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro, Barbera and Laverty
Tranche Four: Aleix Espargaro, Redding, Petrucci, Miller, and Smith
Tranche Five: Bautista, Bradl, Rabat, Baz, Pirro*, Hernandez and Lowes*
The Big Picture
The above standings constitute The Big Picture. Marquez is in a class by himself this season; the championship is probably over already; we just haven’t heard the echo. I may be being generous with Pedrosa and Dovizioso and mean to Iannone and Crutchlow. Don’t care, it’s my column. Plus it gets a lot of readers off their bums logging into their Disqus accounts. My last line of defense: Scoreboard.
Lorenzo could fall out of Tranche Two if he doesn’t get his act together soon.
What we learned today in Britain: Vinales has finally arrived. No more excuses, no more feeling sorry. He is a legitimate threat in the right (dry, cool) conditions. Crutchlow, had he not laid waste to the first half of his season, could be in contention for a top four finish this year. I under-tranche him just for sport. Rossi may be showing his age slightly, while Lorenzo looks lost out there, capable of going slowly in both wet and dry conditions. The Dueling Andreas may be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Dani Pedrosa is still fast. Scott Reading still has plenty to learn. Loris Baz and Pol Espargaro are lucky to have only been injured during their close encounter on the first lap. Seeing riders laid out on the tarmac is a vision I never want to see again.
Over at Moto2
Tom Luthi, somehow, won the Moto2 tilt; homeboy Sam Lowes got worked and dumped by Johann Zarco, who had 30 naughty seconds added to his time – ride-through equivalent – in addition to having possibly ruined Lowes’ season. The penalty makes things easier for wounded Alex Rins, who now trails Zarco by only 10 points. A great year continues in Moto2.
Only one week to Misano, Round 13. This is the venue I want my masters at MO to send me to for next year’s race. Mountains, The Adriatic Riviera, beautiful women, high octane gasoline, and an expense account. It just doesn’t get any better.
|2016 MotoGP Silverstone Results|
|1||Maverick Vinales||Suzuki Ecstar||–|
|2||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||+3.480|
|3||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||+4.063|
|4||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||+5.992|
|5||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||+6.381|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Corse||+12.303|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki Ecstar||+16.672|
|8||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||+19.432|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati||+25.618|
|10||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Gresini||+32.084|
|11||Yonny Hernandez||Aspar Ducati||+36.131|
|12||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Ducati||+39.130|
|13||Alex Lowes||Monster Yamaha Tech3||+40.143|
|14||Hector Barbera||Avintia Racing||+41.356|
|15||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda||+41.943|
|16||Jack Miller||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda||+47.610|
|17||Scott Redding||Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati||+1:56.177|
|DNF||Andrea Iannone||Ducati Corse||6 Laps|
|DNF||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia Gresini||17 Laps|
|DNS||Loris Baz||Avintia Ducati||0 Laps|
|DNS||Pol Espargaro||Monster Yamaha Tech3||0 Laps|
|2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 12 Rounds|