Silverstone MotoGP Preview: Will the Yamaha's dominate again or is there a surprise in store?
An absolutely dominant ride by Jorge Lorenzo saw him become joint leader with Valentino Rossi in the championship after the Czech GP. Now 2 weeks later the riders head to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. It is now make or break time for the Yamaha boys, whoever finishes ahead of the other will lead the championship. Jorge Lorenzo is already on a roll but no one can count out The Doctor just yet. The weather report for the weekend is cloudy with a possibility of light rain. That is only part of what is heading our way.
Danny Kent leads the championship comfortably, but the last 2 races have been disastrous. With a non-points scoring finish in Indianapolis and a seventh place in Brno. He will be desperate to make up for those minor slip-ups. Fortunately for him he was not the only title contender to spectacularly slump in the bizarre Indianapolis race, Enea Bastianini, Efren Vazquez, Romano Fenati and Miguel Oliveira also became entangled in the pitlane mix up in Indianapolis to gift Belgian youngster Livio Loi a shock victory.
Yet more scrapping in the next round saw another protégé of Valentino Rossi, Niccolo Antonelli close out his maiden win with Bastianini and Brad Binder joining him on the podium, helping Enea close in on Kent. Free Practice 1 was taken by Jorge Navarro flanked by Binder and Isaac Vinales respectively with no run from Kent and the other contenders in the top 10. Fenati with Antonelli and French veteran Alexis Masbou on his heels clinched free Practice 2. Kent ended the session 6th, Oliveira 8th, Vazquez 11th.
A bad run in the session saw Bastianini drop down to 26th. Free Practice 3 ended with a surprise by Jorge Martin for Mahindra topping the timesheets behind him were Karel Hanika and Jorge Navarro. Kent ended the session in 4th, Vazquez 7th; a poor outing for Fenati, Oliveira and Bastianini saw them languishing in 15th, 17th, and 19th respectively. Qualifying done and dusted and Jorge Navarro snatches pole position and alongside him are Karel Hanika and Danny Kent who will be desperate to score a home win in front of his fans.
Vazquez starts behind him in 4th, while Bastianini, Fenati and Oliveira lock out the 3rd row in 7th, 8th and 9th respectively India Watch: Highest placed Mahindra in FP1 was Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia, in FP2 the highest placed Mahindra was Bagnaia again finishing 10th in both sessions, as mentioned earlier Jorge Martin topped in FP3. Sadly though they could only manage as high as 15th place in qualifying with the holder being Bagnaia. Meanwhile it is a Honda vs. KTM show.
Runaway leader Johann Zarco has been having a fantastic run up to this race. Except for Qatar he has not finished lower than 3rd. but it is a close battle for second between Rabat and Rins with just a single point between them. With 11 rounds done there have been 7 different winners so far namely Jonas Folger, Sam Lowes, Johann Zarco, Thomas Luthi, Tito Rabat, Xavier Simeon and Alex Rins. FP1 saw the Frenchman topping the timesheets followed by Sam Lowes and Jonas Folger respectively. Tito Rabat was 4th and the remaining title contender Alex Rins in 6th. FP2 saw the field reshuffle itself with local favorite Sam Lowes on top trailed by Alex Rims and Takaaki Nakagami.
Tito Rabat was again in 4th while Zarco struggled to 15th place. FP3 resulted in another reshuffle but this time it was Alex Rins heading an all-Spanish top 3 with Alex Marquez (younger brother of Marc) 2nd and Tito Rabat 3rd. Zarco was 4th followed by Sam Lowes in 5th. Qualifying wrapped up with home rider Sam Lowes on pole to the delight of the British fans but behind him are the 3 title contenders led by Alex Rins in 2nd, Johann Zarco in 3rd and Tito Rabat in 4th.
As mentioned before the title fight is largely between the 2 Yamaha’s of Rossi and Lorenzo since they are dead even on points but Marc Marquez is a dark horse since he is mathematically in with a chance of earning another world championship to his kitty. Dani Pedrosa’s role will also be crucial if they want Honda to wrap up the constructors title. During all the practice sessions, it was solely between Marquez and Lorenzo who split the number one position between them with Marquez topping in FP1 and FP4 and Lorenzo claiming FP2 and FP3.
Meanwhile, Rossi could only manage 3rd, 10th, 7th and 7th in the respective practice sessions. Qualifying ultimately became a Marquez show, but Lorenzo and Pedrosa are lining up alongside him in that order and Rossi in 4th, all 4 riders covered by 7 tenths of a second. Local Boy Watch: The 3 home riders Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding are locked together in 6th, 7th and 8th in their personal scrap to become top Briton at home.
What Rossi needs from 4th place is a good start and pray that Lorenzo remains either behind him or in his sights, Lorenzo meanwhile will be praying for another one of his lightning quick starts and dispatch off Marquez as early as possible and also that Rossi gets held up behind the young Spaniard. Marquez, however, will have other plans to try and bring the fight to the Yamahas or will Dani suddenly come alive and steal a win? And what about Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith? Can they spoil the party? And the all-important question: Will the weather lay a role on Raceday? With a 50% chance of rain anything is possible all we need to do is stay tuned.