2016 Silverstone Sunday Round Up: A Golden Age of Motorcycle Racing

This is truly a golden age of motorcycle racing. The Silverstone race was proof of that. A stunning contest, with positions fiercely fought over. A new winner added to MotoGP's pantheon. Five riders doing battle over second place, including some of the greatest riders of their respective generations. Bikes from four different factories in the top six.

And Silverstone is hardly unique this season. 2016 has seen two different satellite riders win races. It has seen seven different winners this season, and the last seven races each won by a different rider. It has seen relative newcomers win, and seasoned veterans win. 2016 is the culmination of a long period of rich results, with four riders all capable of winning on any given day over the past four or five years. Margins of victory have never been tighter, nor has the gap between the front and the back of the grid.

This cornucopia is not just in the premier class. Racing is returning to Moto2, after a drought of processional contests. Moto3 is overflowing with young talent, with rookies quickly challenging the older guard, who are in turn off to fatten the field in Moto2 next year. At Silverstone, the Moto2 race was hard fought between a small group of riders, with incidents that had serious long-term effects on the championship. The Moto3 class produced a customary thriller, Silverstone's long straights and high winds making escape impossible, but making staying out of trouble imperative.

Off to a bad start

Silverstone was an advertisement for motorcycle racing, showcasing the depth of the field and the talent at the top. The MotoGP race started badly, with a horrific high-speed crash at Maggotts on the opening lap. Loris Baz and Pol Espargaro hurtled towards the second corner side by side, in the middle of a hectic pack. Just ahead of them, Danilo Petrucci braked earlier than they were expecting, and Baz moved right to avoid slamming into the back of the Pramac Ducati. In doing so, he clipped Espargaro, and the two men hit the floor at very high speed, their bikes tumbling end over end across the grass and tarmac.

Their bikes were destroyed – "I don't think there is a single part of the bike left undamaged," one Tech 3 source said – but both Baz and Espargaro walked away relatively unhurt. Baz had briefly lost consciousness, so will have a brain scan in Switzerland on Monday. Espargaro never lost consciousness, but took a whole-body beating, his legs bearing the worst of it. But there were no broken bones, only bruises, and a lot of pain.

The race had been red flagged to allow the marshalls to clear up the mess, and the medical staff to tend to Baz while he came round. A red flag meant a quick restart procedure: 60 seconds to leave pit lane once it is opened, one mechanic on the grid, no tire warmers, and the warm up lap starting 30 seconds after the safety car reaches the back of the grid. At Mugello, the quick restart procedure had played havoc in the Moto2 race. The MotoGP teams had learned from that, and the restart went off without a hitch.

Restart winners and losers

The restart had been hard on Eugene Laverty. The Irishman was up to second from sixth on the grid when the red flags waved. The second start was not so kind to the Aspar Ducati rider, getting swamped off the line and caught up in traffic.

The second start was also less kind on Maverick Viñales. The Suzuki rider had led into the first corner during the first start, and was already starting to open a gap when the first race was red flagged. His second start was not so strong, ending up behind Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi. But the first start was a harbinger of Viñales' form. The Suzuki rider quickly disposed first of Rossi, then of Crutchlow, and was leading the race before the end of the first lap.

That would be the last the rest of the field would see of the Spanish youngster. The pace Viñales set was simply too much for the others to follow. The interrupted first race had given him confidence: when he looked behind him after he saw the red flags being waved, he was surprised at the gap he had already opened. "When I saw the red flag I looked behind and they were so far," he told us after the race." I said, I can’t believe that already I have this gap. Honestly in the second race I start third but I know I could push."

Do Aliens exist?

How he pushed was what impressed most of all. There has been a long-standing suspicion that Viñales was something very special, but a single podium at Le Mans under unusual circumstances still left room for doubt. Winning a dry race at Silverstone, after a strong showing in practice, and with a full field chasing removed any question marks that may have lingered over his head. Maverick Viñales is the next Alien.

Or is he? Does the concept of "The Aliens" even make sense any more, as WorldSBK commentator Stephen English remarked to us in the media center. He has a point: The field is currently both very strong and much more level than before. Spec electronics have removed the major disparity between larger and smaller factories, and the tires Michelin now bring to the track – a less conservative selection than Bridgestone used to offer – means that riders have a real choice of rubber.

The best riders still keep winning, and are battling for the top of the championship. But when conditions are right, non-factory riders can win races, or in the case of Cal Crutchlow, battle for podium places. A rider like Viñales can use the strengths of the Suzuki to full effect, and in the cold, when the GSX-RR has rear grip, can win races.

Look upon my works, ye mighty

Alien or not, Viñales has now proved he belongs among the elite of MotoGP. Sure, the cold helped the bike, but the Spaniard has threatened the podium in previous races, and looked strong during practice. After practice, he declared himself "the king of Friday", pointing out the futility of such a title. But after this race, the rest of the MotoGP grid has much to fear.

Valentino Rossi already knew this, and was starting to ponder having Viñales as his teammate for next season. "I’m very worried for next year with Maverick," Rossi told the press conference. "But not from today. I already know his potential because today he won and a lot of people will speak about this victory but all the people that work in MotoGP already know from a long time his talent. I know from the moment that the sign for Yamaha is not easy. I cannot be relax. "

History is made

Viñales made history another way at Silverstone. With his win, the Spaniard became the first rider to win a race in the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP classes. That statistic is only possible because of the shifting regulations, as other riders have obviously won in all three Grand Prix classes. But becoming one of that elite group cements the Spaniard's reputation. He is clearly special.

Viñales' win was important for Suzuki too. It was their first victory since their return at the beginning of 2015, of course, but it was historic for more than that. The first Suzuki victory since Chris Vermeulen won at a drenched Le Mans in 2007. Viñales' victory was only Suzuki's second win in the four-stroke era: the previous victory dates back to 2001, when Sete Gibernau won at Valencia aboard the 500cc V4 two stroke. That was also their last win in the dry, the switch to four strokes marking the end of competitiveness for Suzuki.

The win was a vindication for Suzuki boss Davide Brivio as well. "I'm very happy, also because it's a clear and clean win," the Italian told me. "Everybody was there, it was dry. Our bike here was very good, and of course Maverick was fantastic in riding. I'm very happy for Suzuki, the factory. We worked very hard and I think is a big award for everybody, for us and in Japan." Had the spec electronics helped to level the playing field? "For sure we have the common ECU, for sure this balance the competitiveness in terms of electronics. But then there is a bike as well, an engine, a chassis, so I think we did a good job on that. It's only our second season, so we're very happy."

Viñales' victory puts Suzuki on course to have their concessions removed, though they are not quite there yet. With his third place at Le Mans and win at Silverstone, Viñales has now racked up four "concession points" for Suzuki. Two more – a win, or a second place, or two third places – and they lose the right to test freely, and would be subject to the engine freeze and have their engine allocation lowered. With Viñales in his current form, and tracks like Phillip Island and Valencia coming up, you have to believe that is possible.

Entertainment is further back

If there can be any criticism of Viñales' victory, it would only be that it was not entertaining. The Spaniard controlled the race, opening a gap and never really threatened. Fortunately for the fans, the entertainment was happening behind Viñales, where Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi, Marc Márquez, Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa battled hard over second place. So hard, in fact, that there was paint being swapped just about every lap.

Adding extra spice to the contest was the fact that Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi were engaged in direct combat. What that battle made clear is that the handshake at Barcelona and the resumption of cordial relations was nothing more than a front. Márquez and Rossi still hate each other with a passion, and want nothing more than to beat each other, almost to the detriment of everything else. Hard passes were made on both sides, the battle seemingly decided in Márquez' favor with two laps to go. But Márquez' choice of the soft front proved to be the wrong one, and he made a mistake trying to pass Crutchlow into Stowe. He ran wide, and was left stuck behind Rossi.

Running wide

After the race, there were questions over why Márquez had not been penalized for running off the track at Becketts, while Aleix Espargaro had been handed a 1 second penalty for doing the same thing. There was a difference, however: Márquez held his hand up, cruised across the tarmac, and rejoined safely in the same position behind Rossi. No advantage gained, and no time gained by the maneuver. On lap 15, the lap Márquez ran on at Becketts, Márquez did a 2:03.5. That was faster than the previous lap, but slower than the lap which followed.

When Aleix Espargaro cut the track at Becketts, he posted his fastest lap of the race. On lap 6, Espargaro did a 2:03.7. On lap 7, when he cut the track, he did a 2:02.7. A 1-second penalty for Espargaro seemed entirely apt. Márquez, on the other hand, had gained nothing, and so a penalty would have been rather arbitrary.

Confidence rules racing

Cal Crutchlow had been confident of parrying Márquez' attack, even if he had not run wide at Stowe. The LCR Honda rider had used the harder front tire, and that had given him some margin of comfort over the opposition. He was confident that he would be able to repass Márquez if the Repsol Honda rider had gotten by. Things may have been different if Márquez had also chose the hard front, Crutchlow said, but he didn't, and Crutchlow delivered a podium at his home race.

That brought out a feeling of intense pride for the Englishman. All of the British riders had felt intense support from the crowd, and standing on the podium at his home round had been important for Crutchlow. What was perhaps more important was that he was able to battle with Rossi, with Márquez, with Pedrosa on equal terms.

That is surely down to confidence. Though Crutchlow is never short of self-confidence, sometimes that is bolstered by bluster. Finally getting his first Grand Prix win at Brno and joining the legendary list of British premier class winners had made an impact on the LCR Honda rider. Crutchlow was as boisterous as ever this weekend, but behind it all was a quiet confidence. He had proved to the world that he could win a race in Brno, and that had helped change something inside him. The Honda RC213V is much changed since the beginning of the year, and with the upgrades received in recent races – new throttle bodies and a new chassis – it was good enough in the right conditions. Paired with Crutchlow's confidence, the bike is becoming a lethal weapon, despite the problems.

Title (almost) over?

Valentino Rossi may have been happy to take the final spot on the podium, but on Sunday, he mostly looked exasperated. Yes, he had a podium. Yes, he had beaten Marc Márquez. But he had only taken back three points from Márquez, cutting his deficit to 50 points. If anything, that had made his position in the championship worse, Rossi told the press conference. "50 points with one race less is worse than 53 points with one race more," he pointed out. Before Silverstone, Márquez needed two second places and the rest third places to secure the title. Now, he heeds just one second place, and five thirds. The championship pretty much belongs to Márquez.

If Rossi was exasperated, Jorge Lorenzo was positively fuming. By the time we got to talk to the Spaniard, he had resumed his normal, cagey self. Eighth place, nearly twenty seconds behind Viñales was not acceptable, but it had all been down to gamble. Lorenzo wanted help with the bike over the bumps at Silverstone, and a more stable bike. So he and his crew decided to take a risk an a set up they had not tried this year, but had worked in years past. That was with the Bridgestones, however, and they are a very different kettle of fish. With the Michelins, the bumps were just as bumpy and the bike was still moving, and they had sacrificed in other areas as well. Lorenzo struggled.

Lorenzo's deficit to Márquez is now 64 points, an almost unbridgeable gap. The championship is over for Lorenzo. He must find new motivation to try to move forward, and things he can take with him to Ducati next year. That is basically only a better feeling with the tires.

Race Direction tighten up the championship

The Moto2 race was not quite as scintillating as MotoGP, yet there is now some real excitement in the class again. Tom Luthi took a comfortable win in the end, after Sam Lowes found he could not break the others when he took the lead. But the real drama came when Zarco tried an impossible pass on Lowes and took the Englishman out. Lowes was left at the sidelines, while Zarco remounted to cross the line in seventh.

The championship leader would not hold on to that position. Race Direction rightly ruled that it had been a reckless move on the part of Zarco, and an action they would normally have given a ride through for. But it was too late in the race for a ride through, so instead, they handed him a time penalty of 30 seconds, equivalent to a ride through pit lane. That dropped Zarco from sixth to twenty-second, and out of the points.

Lowes was fuming with Zarco, but he felt that the penalty had at least been commensurate with the crime. "If I can't score any points, then he shouldn't be able to," he told us. The penalty does spice up the championship quite a lot: Zarco's advantage over Alex Rins was cut to just 10 points, with everything still to play for. The penalty was manna from heaven for Rins: the Spaniard had broken his collarbone in a training accident last week, and was still a little weak from it. The result of Silverstone keeps Rins in the title race.

The anointed one

If the title race has tightened in Moto2, the opposite has happened in Moto3. After a breathtaking race where a large group battled for the lead, title favorite Brad Binder took victory, and extended his lead. After a few crazy opening laps, Binder knew he had to be at the front of the battle, and he spent most of the race at the head of the group, controlling the race.

The race got tighter as they approached the flag, with a small group showing their hand was strongest. Leading that group was Binder's teammate, Bo Bendsneyder, who was having his strongest race of the season. Bendsneyder led in the final laps, before Binder used him as a slipstream to take over at the front as the finish line neared. Binder won a famous victory, with Pecco Bagnaia crossing the line in second, confirming his strong form.

More history made

Bendsneyder ended up third, a strong result in his rookie year. He also made history, ending a 22-year podium drought for Dutch riders. The last time a Dutch rider appeared on the podium was at Assen in 1994, when Loek Bodelier took third in the 125 class, and Wilco Zeelenberg ended up third in 250s. With Zeelenberg acting as an informal adviser to Bendsneyder on occasion ("He gives me tips sometimes," the Dutch youngster explained), there was a pleasant symmetry to it.

Was Zeelenberg annoyed to lose his place in history? "Absolutely not," the Yamaha team manager told me. "It's been too long already, it was about time someone took it from me."

Binder's victory gives him an 86 point lead over Jorge Navarro. Binder is being assisted by events, as Navarro was once again taken out of a race through no fault of his own. He found himself in the wrong place with Stefano Manzi, the Mahindra wildcard, and down he went.

Pecco Bagnaia looks like the latest challenger, the Italian moving to third in the championship, and trailing by 94 points. Second place is within reach, but Binder looks to be in a class of his own. The South African needs to extend his lead by 16 points by Aragon to clinch the title before the flyaways. Everything is possible in Moto3, but it looks very likely that Binder will wrap this one up sooner rather than later.

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Suzuki dry win! It is still sinking in. Wow. Did that really happen? Vinales is the real deal. I am finding myself hoping that he doesn't perform so well that Suzuki loses concessions just n time for him to leave for greener (bluer?) pastures. We have the next era taking shape folks - Vinales/Yamaha vs Marquez/Honda could go long into the future. And can Lorenzo adapt to the Ducati? Will he find refreshment and renewal in red? Hard to say. But the worries about a rider that does not find himself able to ride around difficulties w the bike would have been a nightmare combo pre - Gigi obviously. This Ducati, it looks rideable. Even the 2014 bike that was the last of the "career killers" has changed its incalcitrant ways on Michelins. Ducati want so very badly to have a top level rider. But is this the right one? This is the ONLY one available to them right now. Interesting!

Crutchlow/Satellite Honda, brilliant! The bumps and quirks of the track brought out the best in some riders. Cal looked SO good.

Marquez sure put the hot sauce on again. Especially battling Rossi, but also aggressive in qualifying. Perhaps the bike is coming back to him and he is feeling more confident. And he may have some resentment to unleash from last Fall/Winter now that he is so clearly in control of the championship. It all looked clean out there, but fierce. Out for blood. Intensely exciting.

I am VERY relieved that P.Espargaro and Baz are safe and ok. That was so very dangerous to re-enter the track while skittering about. Thankful that riders behind could thread the gaps between and around them. Heal up well you two.

Congrats Suzuki! And to all of us for the great season at hand.

I was in the grandstand after Maggotts and the Baz/Espargaro crash was truly horrific seen close up & in real time. At the time I thought one or both riders had been hit by their bikes but in the replay you can see they had a very lucky escape. Shocking reminder how close death or permanent injury is for the riders as they rag-dolled across the grass & crossed the track with their bikes disintegrating around them. After that it was a great race - Cal was a star to beat up Marquez. He should have Pedrosa's ride. Superb for Suzuki & the best Sunday at Silverstone for a long time.

Think it was inclement rather than wet? From memory, the Suzukis of Roberts Jr and Gibernau had taken a gamble with slicks which then came into their own. Remember KRJR expressed absolute disbelief that Barros (who was racing with them for a podium) had been on intermediates. Think it showed exactly where Suzuku were in 2001. 

In any case, yes think that the 2007 win you can put on Vermulen (who would have won on a My First Big Wheels in the wet, to be honest) - so a big step up for Suzuki in any case ! :)

The Ducati is still a beast to ride. Iannone is already among the physically stongest riders on the grid, along with Redding and Baz, yet the GP16 causes the resurgence of his air pump problem.

When I was watching the race yesterday, somehow I thought it will be Lorenzo taking Vinales' Suzuki seat in 2019.

I don't think Lorenzo will be able to tame the Ducati.

I'm finding it hard to put 'Iannone' and 'physically strongest' in the same sentence after watching that video of him breaking the window in his car last week!   :D   

Anyway, cracking race, 7 races, 7 winners, who's next?  Dani, Dovi or another satelite?  

While it is no secret 93 and 46 are not exactly friends, I don’t think that is why Marquez was riding aggressively. That’s just how he rides when he thinks he has the chance for a better position. He would fight anyone like that.

And are people who complain about his aggressive riding the same people who complained about Rossi being to aggressive on his opponents in the past? Or Simoncelli for that matter? If not, they better keep quiet.

No. They're the same ones who last week were complaining that Marquez was going to cruise home to the title casually picking up thirds and fourths.

Ha! Spot on!

MM was riding aggressively, but fairly and I love to watch him doing it. Hats off to Valentino as well for stating that is was fun! Great race all together.


Think it was another sign that it's just going to be MM's year this year. 

As David put it in a previous article he dodged another spanner here. Should have settled for third and help put the WC to bed, instead went hammer & nails for 2nd and was very lucky not to have Rossi pull 16 points back on him. 

MM went all out because he felt he had the chance to be 2nd. He saved hist tires to have a little extra in the end. And in the end, he only lost 3 points on Rossi.

I would say it was a calculated risk. Fair chance to become 2nd. Big chance for 3rd/4th/5th. Small chance going down, throwing away 16 points, which isn't the end of the world if you are leading the WC by 53 points. It all went according to plan.

I think there is a distinctive pattern when it comes down to MM behind VR. And I'm not the only one saying it. Many share this feeling. You could feel the sheer aggressiveness of those moves on VR, way fiercer than with any other rider. And even though VR was slightly slower he put up a good fight reminding MM he doesn't own the track. I don't think MM expected Crutchlow to beat him at his own game....on the surface he is happy he is leading the WC with a very comfortable point difference but deep down he must be fuming. And getting ready for revenge in Misano. IMO the happy grin on VR face is telling a nice story : he knows that yesterday he was able to stand up to the fight though he was slower and got to the podium. He can feel that MM is not far from getting to his old self again. Above all he knows that whenever MM sees him in front of him will have to make a pass no matter what... this might get interesting.

i imagine the itching to show the "kid" "who owns the sport" flares up.
I mean getting pretty regularly beaten since 2013 by a relatively young guy (Still had more wins last year despite being on a weak bike) is not gonna sit well with the GOAT. He knows if MM is going at this rate all those records are not gonna last very long.
With Honda's change of approach and an ever improving bike, If Honda and MM can keep their relationship at a good level i believe we are gonna see a new GOAT in a few years...hate him or not, every Valentino fans can see it coming.

I don't reply to posts that sound sneery and don't bring me anything in the sense of making me see a different point of view or helping me understand something. But i'm gonna make an exception this once. Given your name/alias I assume who you're rooting for and I could easily have a ball with stupid comments. I won't. Now : why the quotes? Who said "owns the sport" and when? My remark was based on some observations backed up by comments both from the guys at BT sports and Sky. And what do you mean by regularly beaten up? Maybe we've been watching a different sport: that horrible feud that took the sport by storm last year was indeed rooted in the fact that in most direct fights VR had the upper hand. It's interesting to see that VR and MM are each other's nemesis. But right now I have the strong impression that of the 2 MM sees red when behind VR blue Yamaha. As for the records: do you really think that VR is counting? And that his fans are counting? The guy is not there on a sunday to break a record. He is still having a lot of fun and trying to win. And if we really must talk about records well....the mere fact that he is on that podium still fighting with 3 "generations" of riders and he's the only one on that grid that tamed those treacherous 500 two-strokes speaks for itself. And BTW : records are meant to be broken.

Maybe Marquez acts like that because Rossi is the hardest man to overtake, especially on the brakes. And also because they are of the same kind. No more no less, IMHO.

missed the crash, momentarily looked down or away, did he and Cruthlow touch during the overtake?

no, they didn't. I thought the same thing, but there's a clip from the rear camera of AI showing Cal at a 'safe' distance. It seems that AI was off the optimal line by 1m or so. Maybe that, plus his issues to the right forearm, was the cause of the crash. 

Anyone notice Dovi on the cool down laps? He was shaking his hands as if they were asleep. Wonder if he's having arm pump or if it was just this track? Miller shouldn't have been riding he should have just let Nicky ride and heal up for one more race. Now he's crashed heavily again and I bet he's worse.

Great 'effing' race! Or races, all three of them. I think that MV can and will do and the fact that he won on the dry against a full grid should definitely boost his confidence.

I think many of us thought that this season would be a wash and that 2017 would be THE year but we can all agree that the past few races have proved us wrong.

In regards to the championship the only was I see things getting interesting is if VR takes on the Rocky Balboa approach of pissing off Clubber Lang (Marquez) because deep inside of me I still think that his true self will always come to light. It's and extremely remote possibility but if VR succeds and MM crashes we would have a totally different situation for the championship.

One last question to you David, you mention that spec electronics and tires was balanced the playing field but couldn't that get misinterpreted? To me if electronics was what was making the 4 aliens win every single time for the past 5 years then I can only deduce that spec electronics means that the truly talented riders will be the ones winning (CC and MV included). I could be completely wrong and wouldn't want to take any merit nor am I saying that the top 4 is not that great but the aay I see it, this electronics are showing us what a real MotoGP should look like.

Not to nit-pick, but they didn't just "walk away", they were stretchered away (with Baz giving a wave with his hand on his way to the ambulance).  I understand you mean to say they escaped the crashes without serious injury, but there's a literal meaning that doesn't fit with the figurative.  

There is a camera view from above that shows Zarco level with lowes on the inside of the turn, before he hit the ripple strip. He's not out of control at that point, the problem arises when Lowes decides not to concede the position, which of course he's fully entitled to do. Zarco is then on a collision course and goes onto the kerb to try and avoid contact. Once again Lowes knows Zarco is there but maintains his line. So the contact is result of both the riders decisions, not just Zarco. Whatever contact there is is not deliberate but a simple racing incident. If we're going to start handing out ride through penalties for failed attempts to pass that result in a rider being taken out then what about Rossi's attempt to pass Stoner at Jerez in 2011? What about Ianone taking out Dovi this year? Rossi on Gibernau, Pedrosa on Hayden, Marquez on Lorenzo, Miller on Crutchlow, Corsi on just about everyone - there are numerous examples of riders taking out the rider they're attempting to pass that don't result in 30 sec penalties, why was Zarco singled out? Perhaps because it was Lowes home race in front of an extremely parochial crowd?

Most of those crashed u named ended with both riders on the deck. 30 second penalty would move them (in most cases) from being out of the points.....to the being out of the points....makes sense right? so bad examples in my opinion. The helicopter shot showed Zarco was never going to make the apex. As always it's is the job of the rider making the pass to do it cleanly. It is not Lowe's responsibility to sit up on queue, that's nonsense. The penalty is spot on

The very first example I gave was Rossi on Stoner at Jerez where they both remounted, yet there was no penalty despite the fact Rossi tried to pass from ludicrously far back on a wet track. Also Rossi on Gibernau, Marquez on Lorenzo.. For the ones where neither rider remounted there are ways of penalising the offending rider for the next race if it's serious enough for a ride through yet that never happened. Zarco has been unfairly singled out, especially for a generally clean rider

You will ALWAYS get away with more aggression on a last lap/last corner situation battling for 1st.. 2 or 3 laps to go mid track battling for second is not the time to pull the desperation trigger.

I took a sequence of pictures from Luffield that show them braking into Vale. Picture one shows Zarco behind Lowes and braking on the painted kerb. This was never going to work and from then on the collision was inevitable.

Following the first impact you can see that Zarco's brake level protector is bent upwards, a factor that he said later prevented him from braking fully.

The following pictures then show the continuing contact proir to Lowes going down.

Here you can see the Zarco's fingures are not well placed to brake fully.

A racing incident -yes of course, worthy of a 30 second penalty maybe not.

David - you've said it before; it is the fans of the site, and those who provide intelligent comment and insight, who make this such a great blog.  This sequence of pictures helps us see more of what happened and allows us to make our own, better informed impressions.  And personally I think yours is going to take a beating.

I'm not sure how to attach a pic but the aerial view before Zarco gets to the kerb clearly shows him alongside Lowes on the inside line. He's well in control but is forced to tighten his line because Lowes wouldn't concede the position. Whatever happens after that is a result of both the riders decisions and is therefore a racing incident in my view. But even if you say it was all Zarcos' fault there's no way historically that it's deserving of a 30 sec penalty or ride through. I would be vigorously appealing if I was Zarcos team.

Still photos could be decieving.  We should judge by the videos or helicopter videos so that we could calculate momentum and take the whole track into account. Also, the speed, braking point, and braking application should be considered.

Congrats to Suzuki and MV. I also have to eat a bit of humble pie. I made some statements on this web site saying to effect, "Crutchlow would be lucky to have a ride in MotoGP in 2017." I have to eat those words. Has certainly proved his talent.

While eating my pie, I can't help but wonder if Honda is throwing some go fast parts Crutchlow's way? (this does not diminish CC's talent) Since Pedrosa is so far out of it, he can't help MM win the title. Before you say CC beat MM, since CC pushed both Rossi and MM down the order, he saved MM a point.

How quickly things change! Grats to crutch low. I really wanted to see him and Lavery do battle again like the old WSS days. Was not to be

Probably needs to be one big pie. For me what's really impressive is that this one was in the dry. Well done Cal, that was class.

Just watched the race again and it was still good.    Crutchlow has had speed for a while, he's been capable of lapping at the same speed as the front guys for a period now.  The difference between the top factory guys and CC was the first two laps.

CC historically has been poor at getting off the line, and once away he's been slow in the first two laps.   Not on Sunday though, he had two great starts by his standards and was also able to get the power down in the first two laps without binning.

This was his coming of age moment.  Whilst the win in Brno was great it was very much intelligence in tyre mamangement that saw him succed.

At Silverstone CC was able to balance finess and aggression on a hard fron tyre to stay top four at the start of the race.  He's never done that before and I'd argue his whole race performance at Silverstone was more important, the agression and not accepting he was beaten by VR and MM bodes well for his future.

Not taking anything away from MV, he was fantastic but once he got away at the front he managed to stay out of trouble which was good.  CC on the other hand fought tooth and nail with the best in the world and came out on top.   

Excellent stuff.




Bo Bendsneyder 'ending a 22-year podium drought for Dutch riders'. Whoa, has it been that long? About time then! Thank goodness we have Bo. And Michael van der Mark of course. (not to mention Max Verstappen in F1.)

Congratulations to the British fans with the succes of Cal Crutchlow. Well deserved! He fought like a lion!


It beggars belief that even after 4 progressively worse practice sessions (2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th) and qualifying 8th, Lorenzo could be so off the mark after warm-up that he'd attempt to race on an untried setup derived form prior experience on Bridgestones. 

Apples:oranges; the only thing in common is their status as things that are round.

As an outsider looking in I don't feign to know or understand any rider's thought process or psychological state so I can only ask, what factory crew chief would ever suggest or even allow that?  

I'm not his crew chief, but the conditions were clearly not ideal on Sunday. And new as well, the previous practice sessions went out of the window basically. The only way for Lorenzo to win the championship is to take risks. Seems like trying something else is not that weird to me.

I did not see any agressive riding. True, it was on the edge but all fair and square. Bummer both Rossi and Marquez did not finish on the podium as i would love to have seen the reaction between the riders. Than again, great victory by Vignales, i still remember the day Paris Hilton kissed him, and also great riding by Crutchlow.

As David puts it correctly, although the same riders fight for the title, with less ideal conditions it can be anybody's race thanks to standard electronics and Michelin tyres. Regardless who you support, we as the spectators are the winners in the end, knowing that forecasting a race winner has become near to impossible.

Im not sure i agree with him not being penalized for running off. Yes nothing was gained, but to me it looked like he was able to hit a direct line to be closer, but he made a mistake with 2 riders behind him and nothing was lost. if there was gravel instead of paved run off he would have lost those 2 positions easily. Im not a fan of the paved run off areas.

The issue for me is that MM has a bit of a pattern with this - I've noticed him running off onto tarmac runoffs enough times now for it to look like a calculated move I.e. he knows he can take a greater risk running up to those turns because he can always bail out safely if need be. To do that without any cost seems unfair to all those who stick within the track. Otherwise they might as well all take that kind of line, I mean so long as it works out roughly the same in terms of time and position! Personally I think track limits should be just that and if you broach them there's a penalty. Seems to me that we may be seeing the start of the same old thing that VR is often accused of, that the rules are different for the cash cows. You'd think dorna might have learned their lesson by now.

That aside, I'm puzzled as to why MM was racing so hard. The title is safe if he's careful but a couple of dnf's could change that. If it was me I'd pootle round for points for another three or four races and then race for fun, or ego or whatever.

MM tactics is right i think, secure the points if they can be secured...

the reality is, even he could beat VR for 3rd position, it's still not very safe position especially when VR still on his tail, he couldn't afford to sit too long and make a move toward CC as soon as possible, before VR recovered and the battle got repeated over and over again..

that's probably why he seems in a hurry and didn't want to get stuck behind CC, only inviting danger to himself..

"He knows he can take a greater risk running up to those turns because he can always bail out safely if need be" = pretty much what Stoner has said about these moves.

On the one hand, credit to MM for exploiting the rules to maximum advantage... on the other, there's the 'letter of the law' and the 'spirit of the law', and sometimes quite a chasm in between.

Great write up David, full of useful observations on a fantastic weekend of racing.

Unfortunately I cannot agree that the Marquez runoff at Maggotts does not constitute an advantage. Sure, he did not gain any track position through it but he ended up a lot further ahead than he would have done had there been gravel or grass between Maggotts and Becketts or had he been forced to rejoin at Maggotts - to me there is no way that it cannot be deemed an advantage. The rules themselves are quite liberal, in fact they state

"Riders should use only the track and the pit-lane. However, if a rider
accidentally leaves the track then he may rejoin it at the place indicated
by the officials or at a place which does not provide an advantage to

To take this to an extreme scenario....let's say Marquez had not got it turned on the asphalt and had run into the gravel and dropped it. He could have picked it up, motored across to the link to the National circuit on the other side, pottered through there, waited for the leaders to come round and slotted in behind Rossi at the start of the Wellington straight, no advantage according to the rules. But simple common sense tells you otherwise. I'm amazed that Dovi as he was behind, and Yamaha (because the Marquez gained points may end up as vital) did not protest.

It all revolves on that word "advantage", let's know what you think an advantage is. To me it's simple, being ahead of where you deserve to be through unfair means.

Regardless of that incident, which if treated logically by Race Direction would spice up the championship some more, excellent rides by Maverick, well deserved, and Cal congrats, and bad luck to Sam Lowes, you deserved better than that ending at your home race.

You are absolutely right! He got an advantage. I'm surprised too that race direction did not react at least with a warning: this was not a one off mistake it's more of a calculated intentional pattern that we see being repeated whenenever opportunity/necessity arises. Which reminds me of that sad overtake at Laguna Seca corkscrew: deliberate intentional unnecessary and rehearsed in free practice.... many screamed genius. I thought big trouble. It should have been nipped in the bud then and there. As far as points I don't think that it would make such a big difference but race direction should definitely step up. It would be interesting to know why Yamaha is not filing a complaint.

i personally think yamaha better to not filling a complaint, because that's only tightened their riders options, the race still going on and on, who knows maybe some other day, one of their riders execute that particular type of move
and the good thing, this controversy didn't come from their #1 brawler..

this weekend just make me thinking for next year, what could become battle between MV and MM?, MM racecraft is good + he didn't seem bother to roughing opponent, i really want to see, how MV defended himself from MM, is he follow the code of chivalry like JL ? or he going to trade blow like VR, this MM is more maverick than maverick himself, he do whatever he think is fit to do

I'm not really expressing myself as pro/con, I'm trying to be impartial here regarding this dis-/advantage thingy.

I don't think MM gained anything, to me there was not really an advantage... he 'just' didn't loose anything.
The only measurable things to base these kind of decisions on is: did he gain any positions? no he didn't. Did he make up time? no he didn't.

Is it fair he didn't get punished (by RD or otherwise) for going off track (deliberate or not), well... that can be discussed but seems a dangerous game to play. There are tons of reasons why riders go off track, that's what racing on a knife edge with 20-some ego's finishing after ~45mins within seconds (or even less so) of each other is about.

But I would say he did gain something because given the mistake he made he should have lost: in best case scenario some tenths or worst case scenario some positions.... in other words - and regardless of who we are talking about - if you make a mistake and go off track you are not supposed to make up for the lost tenths by just cutting through and enter at the next corner as if nothing had happened. That's why we can safely call it an advantage. And this I repeat regardless of the rider. In MM case it's almost a serial pattern and that's why it should be looked into. Not because it's him but because it's not a one off incident. What if most riders started getting a free pass like this? You try knowing there is a fat chance it won't work and you cut through the corner without losing any time.
I hope I make myself clear. And I think this is a topic that cannot be dismissed with a simple "this is racing"....

i kind of agree with dawg. theoritically, MM did not gain advantage in terms of position and time, but he SHOULD have lost something prior to his mistake. so in theory, MM does not breaking any rule and RD cannot make an argument to say that he does. i rather blame it on asphalt run off. they should place some speed bumps or something to punish anyone who overshoot the corner

The tracks and the rules at present mean that MM COULD push as hard as he did at that point in the track in part BECAUSE an option existed to blow the corner and re-enter after it.  If a penalty existed for leaving the track then he quite likely would not have left it.  There are good reasons for the tarmac runoffs but they tend to get used to advantage.

Perhaps if a rider straight-lines a corner or short cuts a chicane, then he should have to come to a complete stop before re-entering?  That way the tarmac can be there for them to gather up whatever situation they've got into, but the tarmac runoffs do not then act as a magnet to encourage crazy riding because there will be no penalty.

Plenty of possible unintended consequences though.  A rider madly brakes to a halt and is then struck by the crashing bike of a following rider for example.  Can of worms.

What if MM was in second place and ran off track in a place where he came back on track by cutting out multiple corners? Not "gaining any positions" but cutting the gap to the leader?

Would this be punished? 

I sure thought he "gained an advantage" with his move in the race and was surprised nothing was said about it by the announcers or by race direction. 

Case Study : Laguna Seca 2008.

Rossi OVERTOOK Stoner from outside the track limits, the actual definition of gaining an advantage and that is hailed as one of the greatest moves ever. But the Rossi brigade would jump in and try to justify how that was different and how he was already on the inside and blah blah.

Look, I don't have a trouble with either school of thought. My problem starts when the school of thought changes with the rider under investigation. I personally think Laguna 2008 was fine (so was Marquez' repeat of that move) and Marquez running off withing gaining or losing anything was fine as well.

The two key words in the rules are "Accidentally" and "Advantage". Race Direction want riders to feel free to take risks, within reason. If they make a mistake, and run off, they should be able to rejoin the race, but they must not gain an advantage.

When Marquez ran off the track, it was clearly a mistake, not an attempt to use the run off to gain extra speed. Marquez sat up, held his hand up, and rejoined right where he had left (actually, about 5 meters further behind Rossi). That was entirely the correct course of action, and Race Direction did not issue a penalty.

Of course, the only reason that Marquez could rejoin the track is because there was asphalt run off, rather than gravel or grass. The asphalt is there because MotoGP is forced to share a track with F1 and other forms of car racing. They want asphalt so that a driver who makes a mistake can regain control of their vehicle, and avoid being spun back onto the track and causing a danger to others. Asphalt does not work as well for motorcycle racing. Unfortunately, until motorcycle racing is more popular than car racing, then the needs of cars will take precedence.

In an ideal world, Marquez would have run off into gravel, and lost time. However, there is nothing in the rules about suffering a disadvantage after making a mistake, only about not gaining an advantage. Race Direction cannot artificially impose a penalty in this case.

Races of this type remind me of what has been found in British Supersport over the years. Long gone are boring F1 type races we had during the Stoner years, the fact that Casey hated any other Bikes being near him would now negate any chance of a Wildcard as this close racing is not his forte. He would have to get away like Maverick did or be at the mercy of the pack, to be in this type of race would not suit him at all.

Well done again Cal, a lot of people have negative thing to say about him, he has proved them wrong.

Hard to believe we still see this attitude to Stoner, and the need to spout it some four and a half years since he retired. Seems some people never really 'watched' him race. Too bad, they missed something special.

I think a slightly younger MM93 would not have stayed on yesterday...

Ducati and AI must both be relieved...

Surely there must of been some people in Ducati wondering why exactly they're letting AI (yes I know why please dont tell me) go, as he's rode some amazing races of late... But then he offers his current employer relief as he reminds them why he's not being renewed

and AI must be relieved..

...he's joining a winning team next year

The theoretical choice of MV was go to Yamaha and have the weight of expectation or stay with Suzuki and be the next KS34

Personally.... I think AI could be a good contender for the genre of KS34, and become a suzuki fans favourite 

time will tell

I hope so. AI29 and little Suzuki have some things in common. And the bike loves to be ridden hard and loose. They have my support. Ducati has in mind that they have a gem of a bike in need if an Alien, and pressure has been high. Suzuki is a humble outfit getting out of doldrums, thinking they are fortunate to get their space shuttle out of orbit. Let's hope Iannone has a INTERNAL motivation that is fueled by the challenge and sustained during mid pack finishes.

Please iron out electronics Brivio. We know what your bike is capable of, and in Spring AI29 could be battling it out w Lorenzo in red. A bit more drive grip in normal conditions, that is IT now. Keep up the great work!

Vinales is going to flourish on the Yamaha. From the first time on it. He will win one of the first three races of 2017. Lorenzo? Nope. Ducati, go get a kid like Binder to sign something for 2018. KTM has a "WP" Moto2 team for him next year, but you have something to offer KTM can't in MotoGP. Hedge your bets, and develop your rider pipeline. Throwing Phillip Morris money at an Alien isn't a sustainable talent plan.

I can't understand how come you just go totally outside the track and then come back in the same place *when in a close goup* , I understand if you go out and there's no one within a couple of seconds, but in the mentioned incident I could see that Marquez actually went back to his position with better drive than the riders in the track, because the wider line for the same curve.


Maybe they should take a look at rules and find a way to account for this, like a -1 flag , so that the ofending rider gets at least one position back. You can't just get away with murder like that.

It has been great to see two different guys (and teams) win the last few races.  Well deserved by both and nice to see some variation at the top.  Only downside is it makes the championship lead more entrenched so early in the season.

I wanted to wade in on the argument about aggressive riding and advantages of the corner missed by MM.  Whilst MM went for it with CC, I did think his overtaking with VR was more aggressive.  When MM overtakes VR (and at times other riders) I see him doing it in a way that does not seem to show any consideration of whether it is going to cause VR/them to crash. I therefore don't see VR as racing MM "hard" because he can't stand being beaten or challenged for GOAT title. I think he sees red because MM puts him at danger (a bit like road rage), with VR then reciprocating with equally dangerous moves. Was I the only one watching the race who feared we were going to see a repeat of Sepang at a couple of points, with both pushing each other out ridiculously wide?  I like hard racing but this goes beyond what we've seen with previous close battles and I don't want to see "death match" racing.  I understand some people will level the same criticism at VR of his overtaking but I would argue that now more often than not VR DEFENDS position in a way that forces other riders (particularly MM) to take bigger risks, but generally in overtaking is more cautious or overtakes firmly but in a way that other riders would not crash (I know there are some more historical exceptions).  I believe race control need to step in again or this could easily escalate and risk both riders being seriously hurt.

​With respect to the corner cut I do think MM gained an advantage but for a different reason than above.  Watch again and see the momentum he was able to build when rejoining the track (much quicker momentum than the guys who were just emerging from the corner as he was upright sooner).  Although he had quicker pace than VR at that point MM was able to cleverly use the momentum to build towards his cleanest overtake on VR the whole race.  MM looked to hold back on doing this immediately at the next corner as that would have risked being too obvious.  You also state David that this lap was quicker than his previous, perhaps adding evidence to my point despite the fact the following lap was even quicker (but he had clear air).

I felt the same while watching and feared it could end badly, however if the guys at the sharp end say it's okay then I'll take that at face value; though I slightly wonder whether that's about not showing fear to your rival.

It's the first time i saw somebody ride again the way marco simoncelli did, boy did i enjoy his late braking chase trough the field.

Does somebody know where he comes from? Apparently he raced only in austria this year? On eurosport they said he's a wildcard entry(?) The team is Mahindra Racing, the factory team then? Will they attend other races too, or complete the rest of the season?



Some people really did 'watch' him race & know that it is three and a half years since Stoner retired, some people don't have an attitude about him, some people know that he was (is possibly still) one of the fastest ever riders in the Top Class, the point is that Stoner liked getting away out front, whereas the paint/rubber swapping racing we are seeing at the moment never suited him in the in the Top Class. I like many would like to see a race between Stoner & Marquez, but i feel that because of the ferocious racing we are witnessing, it would not entice him back to again.  



"What that battle made clear is that the handshake at Barcelona [between Rossi and Marquez] and the resumption of cordial relations was nothing more than a front. Márquez and Rossi still hate each other with a passion..."

Why are we continuing this storyline?  Once Marquez did get past Rossi for good he showed every indication that he was prepared to battle just as hard with Crutchlow, and in fact was agressive enough that he ended up running himself off the track.  Then he rejoined the track and immediately aggressively passed Pedrosa - that didn't turn into more of a fight because Pedrosa wasn't capable of putting up a fight, I assume.  

What I don't assume is that an on-track battle that both Marquez and Rossi say they had no problem with is clear evidence that they hate each other.  They're both agressive riders who take risks, like a fight, and have some similar skills - it's going to get animated sometimes on the track when they're head to head.  Why is this evidence that they hate each other?  Maybe they do.  Maybe they don't.  My point is that I don't known how we can conclusively say they do based on Sunday's race, and if we can't maybe we should just let it rest.  

In favor of David: OK maybe the word hate is a bit too strong but in the light of what VR said a couple of days ago about never forgetting what happened last year and what he said to the Italian press ( I don't know if it was reported in English or if he said it too in another language) about MM always reserving for him (VR) a "special treatment" it's more than an assumption that behind the public "détente" in parc fermé there is lava boiling.
So in the light of this and watching again those passes my gut tells me that those were not just some tough passes on any race day. There was something very close and personal there IMO. Yes we can give it a rest but I don't think the feud is gonna rest

I don't think the on track MM vs VR battle was evidence of any ongoing animosity either. Marquez was aggressive because he could see Cal riding away with 2nd position up ahead. Rossi defended because that's what racers do.

Calls for MM to be penalised for leaving the track are nonsense. Had there not been run off at that point of the track he wouldn't have put his bike in that position. The asphalt run off actually helps the on track spectacle because riders know they can try aggressive moves and not have to worry about losing heaps of time if it doesn't stick.

Marc Marquez runoff, deliberate or not, did give him an advantage.  Between him and Valentino, he may not have gained any advantage in positions, but he did get a huge advantage in time he would have lost have it been a straight or an opposite curve.

Also, Marc Marquez should have slotted in behind the riders directly behind him before he overcooked his turn.  In position he may not gained anything on Rossi but he did gain alot when he slotted in in front of those riders who where riding behind him.


Marquez rejoined the track in exactly the same place he left the track. He did not gain an advantage with respect to Pedrosa and Iannone, because he was already ahead of them.

This is exactly the same principle as Rossi at Assen in 2015, Marquez at Laguna in 2013, and Rossi at Laguna in 2008.

...in the 3 you mention the respective riders gained handsomely in each of them - all deemed perfectly legal.

for me, this race is another good example of why we watch motogp.

amazing fights going on, amazing results, amazing twists in the plot, who would have guessed...

laverty indeed suffered the most from the restart, does anybody know how the coming together with bradl happened? any news from Bradls' side?