The premier class truly made the best of the beautiful conditions at Silverstone and served a Moto3-style special, with a sizeable group of contenders keen to challenge for the podium. Despite the strong competition over 20 laps, Pecco Bagnaia returned to the top step of the podium to claim back to back victories and give Ducati only their second victory at the track. The Italian was in familiar company in parc fermé, with Maverick Viñales taking back to back podiums in second and Jack Miller also joining his teammate in third.
Poleman Johann Zarco had made a strong start off the line and immediately found himself in the company of compatriot Fabio Quartararo and with the factory Ducatis in tow, Miller ahead of Bagnaia. Alex Rins proved that he hadn’t forgotten his way around Silverstone as he went from 11th on the grid to 5th on the opening lap, ahead of both Aprilias, while teammate Joan Mir also got ahead of Jorge Martin and Miguel Oliveira. On the other hand, the likes of Enea Bastianini, Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini dropped out of the top 10 on the opening lap.
Zarco and Quartararo quickly extended a slight gap over the Ducatis, but not enough to keep the world champion ahead by the time he had to serve his long lap penalty on lap 4. He was somewhat helped by Rins, who started mingling with the Ducatis and slowing them down, the Frenchman rejoining the action behind the trio, in fifth position. Zarco was left in a slightly more comfortable lead but while all eyes were on Quartararo’s long lap adventure, the poleman slid out of contention at turn 8, after only five laps. Miller inherited the lead but was immediately under pressure from Rins, the Silverstone specialist taking control of the leading pack by the end of lap 6.
With Rins immediately attempting an escape at the front, Quartararo was struggling to keep up with the two factory Ducatis and had Martin sniffing around. The Pramac man breezed past the Yamaha on the Hangar Straight to join his colleagues’ chase of Rins, although the Suzuki’s advantage was nearing one full second by lap 8. The gap started slowly coming down once Bagnaia picked up the chase, while the exchanges between Miller and Martin allowed Quartararo and the Aprilias to get closer, although the chasing group was still significant in numbers, the likes of Mir, Oliveira, Binder and Bastianini still in contention. While Bagnaia was reeling in Rins, Viñales was the man on the move amongst the chasers, getting past Quartararo and closing the slight gap to the Ducatis ahead, keeping the Yamaha at a safe distance.
Bagnaia was right on Rins’ tail at the halfway point of proceedings and the attack came two laps later at Stowe, the Italian taking the lead with nine laps remaining, but not stretching much of an advantage at the front. He was helped somewhat by teammate Miller getting past Rins with 7 laps left, but the leading pack was still pretty sizable with 10 men still in contention. Bastianini was the fastest man of the lot at this stage, despite losing some aero appendages early in the race, and the Gresini rider swiftly got past Oliveira, Aleix Espargaro and Mir and set off to challenge Quartararo, who was a trickier proposition. The leading group reduced slightly when Mir crashed out of 8th position with six laps remaining.
Despite a track limits warning on his scorecard, Bagnaia maintained a half second advantage over Miller and Rins in the next few laps, while Viñales finally found a way around Martin to claim fourth and Bastianini settled the score with Quartararo for sixth. Viñales’ charge continued as he overtook a fading Rins with four laps remaining and then attacked Miller one lap later. That left the Spaniard with a six-tenth deficit to recover on Bagnaia over the remaining three laps and Viñales was already attacking the Italian on the penultimate lap.
The duo entered the final lap separated by only a couple tenths of a second, but a scrappy last lap from Viñales allowed Bagnaia to take the chequered flag with four tenths of a second’s advantage. Viñales and Miller joined him on the podium, with Bastianini getting past Rins and Martin in consecutive laps to claim fourth place. Martin kept fifth, while Oliveira’s late charge demoted Rins another position to seventh. Despite still feeling the consequences of his FP4 high-side over 20 long laps, Aleix Espargaro still had a go at Quartararo on the final lap, but the Frenchman reclaimed eighth place, leaving the Aprilia man ninth. Marco Bezzecchi rounded out the second closest top 10 in premier class history, the rookie only 6.6 seconds behind the winner.
Although seemingly underwhelmed by the result, Quartararo extends his advantage in the world title battle to 22 points over Espargaro, while victor Bagnaia closes the gap to 49 points. Bastianini’s late charge gains him one position in the standings, but at a distant 62 points from the leader.
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