After MotoGP’s own version of a prevented Titanic last year, Silverstone was out to impress with beautiful weather to match the beautiful track surface and the premier class race rewarded their efforts handsomely. Two of the usual contenders rose to the occasion and served a race long waltz that only ended out of the final corner of the final lap, when Alex Rins robbed Marc Marquez by one hundredth of a second to get his second win in the premier class. The world champion lifted a bittersweet second place podium, while Maverick Viñales was resigned to being the spectator in third.
Poleman Marquez was unbothered at the start, ahead of Valentino Rossi and with Rins and Viñales immediately mugging Jack Miller. A few seconds later, all eyes were on the gravel trap at turn one, after Fabio Quartararo’s rookie mistake took out a fast-starting Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian seemed generally ok but was stretchered away while his machine was on fire and the big loss in the championship would have added further to the pain. Despite his main title competition being eliminated early on, Marquez didn’t have an easy way fending off Rins and Rossi and more Yamahas were on their way, Viñales and Franco Morbidelli in their metaphorical rear view mirrors.
However, by lap four, it seemed like Rins inherited Quartararo’s mantle, race pace and task of harassing Marquez, the duo taking off ahead of Rossi. Teammate Viñales smelled blood and was soon on the attack, under the watchful eye of Morbidelli and Crutchlow, who were fighting to keep up with the factory Yamahas. The task was more difficult than they would have liked, the gap growing to one second by lap five.
Back at the front, Rossi regrouped with personal best sectors on lap six but the gap to the two lead Spaniards was already nudging the two second mark and Viñales took up the task of reeling them in just one lap later. The young Spaniard was already rueing those first seven laps as he struggled to bring that gap down and even allowed them a few extra tenths on the next lap.
Marquez and Rins entered lap eight side by side and the Suzuki used its better drive out of turn one to take the lead for the first time but the world champion snapped back a couple corners later and normal service was resumed. Meanwhile, Viñales was extended a lifeline by the shenanigans up front and came as close as one second and a half, with Rossi another second back and Morbidelli a bit lonely in fifth, after some early tickles from Crutchlow. The home rider had another problem on his hands soon after, pal Miller on the attack for sixth place at the halfway mark of the race.
Marquez felt the pressure from Rins as the both of them dipped into the 1:59s with ten laps left, pulling away from the Yamahas once again and testing each other’s tyre saving skills. Suzuki’s superior corner speed often saw Rins almost alongside Marquez but the next real attack had to wait until the race entered those crucial final five laps. Meantime, Viñales completely ditched his teammate and his gap to the leaders was yo-yo-ing from 1.5 seconds to 2 seconds and back.
The first to blink in the victory battle was Rins, who almost launched himself off at Club Corner with four laps to go, but the Spaniard quickly got glued back up to his leading compatriot. The lucky escape didn’t seem to have spoked Rins too much and the Suzuki man was finding the inside of Marquez coming through the Loop section on the penultimate lap. Marquez recovered the lead swiftly but Rins declared war with that move and tried to find another way around his rival on his inside, on the outside and at every opportunity.
It all came down to the final corner, Rins mugging Marquez of the victory with excellent drive to the line. Viñales came within six tenths of that overtake but could only sit and watch the drama unfold ahead. Rossi took the checkered flag ten seconds later, with Morbidelli equalling his best result with fifth. Crutchlow secured sixth ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller, with Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone rounding out the top ten.
Despite the rather painful defeat, Marquez will find some consolation in his boosted championship lead, 78 points ahead of a pretty battered Dovizioso. The Italian avoided any fractures but couldn’t avoid a trip to the hospital due to the heavy blow to the head that caused a momentary loss of memory.
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||1 Lap|
|88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||KTM||12 Laps|
|5||Johann ZARCO||KTM||12 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Yamaha||0 Lap|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||0 Lap|