Octo British Grand Prix, Silverstone: Weekend preview – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The MotoGP™ title battle moves onto the Octo British Grand Prix with Valentino Rossi & Jorge Lorenzo set for an epic Silverstone showdown at the #BritishGP.
The incredibly tense championship battle heads to Northampton in the UK for the Octo British Grand Prix held at Silverstone, round 12 of the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship season, with everything reset in the title fight between Rossi & Lorenzo.
There has been a British round in the World Championships since its inception in 1949. Originally held at the Isle of Man TT circuit, in 1977 it was moved to Silverstone due to safety concerns and the British Grand Prix was born. In 1987 it made the move to Donington Park, before returning to Silverstone for the 2010 season onwards.
Silverstone has hosted some epic battles between riders over the years, but rarely before would it have witnessed such a tight and intriguing title fight as the finely balanced one we have on our hands in 2015. Movistar Yamaha teammates Rossi and Lorenzo are tied 211 points at the top of the standings, with Lorenzo holding the advantage due to the fact he has five wins to Rossi’s three. In other words, with 7 races left in the season, it is almost as if someone has pressed the reset button. Rossi and Lorenzo have a level playing field, and that means the British Grand Prix could once again play a vital role in the championship battle. Plus, let us not forget the Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez. For while the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion currently sits third in the standings (159pts) 52 points behind the two Yamaha teammates, 2 wins and 2 second places in the last four races show that he is not out of the fight just yet.
Last year’s British Grand Prix saw Marc Marquez take his 11th win of the season after an excellent duel with Lorenzo, with Rossi completing the podium. If the same were to happen this year, Lorenzo would leave Silverstone with the outright lead in the standings.
Rossi finds himself knocked off the top of the World Championship standings for the first time this season after finishing third behind Lorenzo and Marquez at Brno. Unbelievably, the nine-time World Champion has never actually won at Silverstone, with his 7 victories (1x125cc, 2x250cc, 3xMotoGP™) at the British Grand Prix having all been at Donington Park. The Italian last stood on the top step of the podium in the UK in 2005.
Lorenzo, having won last time out at Brno in imperious fashion, will be looking to stamp his authority on the 2015 title battle and to establish an outright lead in the standings for the first time this season. The Spaniard has won 3 times at Silverstone in the past in MotoGP™ (2010, 2012, 2013) and only lost out to Marquez last year by 0.7s. More aptly the two-time MotoGP™ World Champion has not finished behind Rossi at the British GP since 2011, when he crashed out of the race in the wet.
Marquez had no answer to Lorenzo’s blistering pace in Brno, and will be looking to respond at Silverstone to preserve any hopes he has of retaining his MotoGP™ World Championship title. Even if Marquez does not go on to win the title, he will play a vital role in deciding where it ends up. The Spaniard has won twice at Silverstone, last year’s victory in the MotoGP™ race and also back in 2010 in the 125cc class. His worst MotoGP™ result was second in 2013 when he crossed the line just 0.081s behind Lorenzo.
Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa will hope to have recovered fully from the injury to his left foot he sustained in FP2 at Brno. The Spaniard finished fourth in last year’s race after an excellent scrap with Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso. Pedrosa has won twice at the British Grand Prix before (250cc – 2004, MotoGP™ – 2006) but both were at Donington Park and his best results at Silverstone are two third places in 2012 and 2013.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone currently lies fourth in the championship standings after his fourth placed finish in Brno, and has not finished outside of the top six all season. Last year the Italian scored his best MotoGP™ result at Silverstone as he finished eighth on the Pramac Ducati. His teammate Andrea Dovizioso won the British Grand Prix in 2009 on the Factory Honda at the last race to be held at Donington Park. He followed that up with two second places in 2010 and 2011 at Silverstone, and finished last year’s race in fifth.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro qualified in fourth for last year’s race on the Forward Yamaha before eventually crossing the line in 9th. His rookie teammate Maverick Viñales took the 2012 Moto3™ victory at Silverstone, and finished on the podium last year in the Moto2™ race. Viñales (62pts) currently leads his more experienced teammate Espargaro (53pts) by 9 points in the standings.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith (106pts) heads to his home Grand Prix as the leading Satellite rider, fifth in the championship standings. Smith currently enjoys a 25-point lead over his teammate Pol Espargaro (81pts), with CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (74pts) a further 7 points back. Smith suffered from technical issues in last year’s race, eventually crossing the line in 22nd, but has finished on the podium at Silverstone twice before (125cc – 2010, Moto2™ – 2011). Espargaro finished as the leading Satellite rider in last year’s race in sixth, while Crutchlow had to settle for 12th on the Ducati. Both Espargaro and Crutchlow have experienced victory at Silverstone before though, the Spaniard in the Moto2™ race in 2012 while the British rider did the double in WorldSBK’s at the circuit in 2010.
In the Open class standings it is Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera (20pts) who holds the advantage over Forward Racing’s Loris Baz (15pts), with Jack Miller (12pts) the leading Open Honda rider.
It is also the home Grand Prix of EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding. The British rider won the Moto2™ race at Silverstone in 2013 on his way to finishing second in the championship. He also won at Donington in 2008 in the 125cc race, becoming the youngest ever GP winner (15 years and 170 days) in the process. Last year Redding finished tenth on the Gresini Open Honda.
The Octo British Grand Prix kicks off on Thursday with the official Press Conference at 17:00 local time. Free Practice begins on Friday morning at 9am with Moto3™ FP1.
Silverstone has seen some classic races in the Moto2™ World Championship in years past and 2015 looks to be no different.
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) has dominated the 2015 Moto2™ World Championship, having extended his lead at each round since Argentina. Zarco has classically gone well in Silverstone, starting from pole there last year in the Moto2™ class and finishing second in the 125cc race in 2011. A near perfect combination of bike, rider and team has resulted in a near faultless 2015 campaign for Zarco.
Second in the standings is Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing’s Tito Rabat, the 2014 Moto2™ champion has had a mixed season in 2015, small mistakes and crashes resulted in a disappointing start to the year. Now fully recovered from his broken collarbone, Rabat is back to his best and secured second in the Czech GP. While his chances of retaining the title look to be gone, the battle for second with Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) is neck and neck as the pair are split by just one point.
Rins has had an incredible rookie season, having claimed his first victory in the Moto2™ class in Indianapolis and currently fighting for second in the championship. Silverstone has seen Rins take two podiums in the Moto3™ class, including a win last year. No doubt Rins will be a main protagonist in the Moto2™ class next year with a full season of experience under his belt.
Flying the flag for Britain is Speed Up’s Sam Lowes who finished in seventh last year in the British GP. Austin saw the Brit take his debut World Championship victory, but he has since been plagued by crashes during practice sessions. Lowes is one of just three riders on the Speed Up frame, trying to break Kalex’s domination of the class.
Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team) will miss out on this round, as he suffered a training accident on a motocross bike a few days after the Czech Grand Prix and is to be replaced by fellow Italian Federico Caricasulo, who already participated as a substitute in last year’s race in San Marino.
Both Brno and Indianapolis produced dramatic racing in the Moto3™ World Championship, title leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) failed to finish on the podium while the class saw two first time winners. Kent is looking to get back to winning and no place would be better than at Silverstone, in front of his home fans. To date his best finish at Silverstone has been sixth, achieved in 2012. Kent looks to become the first British rider in the lightweight class to finish on the Silverstone podium since Bradley Smith was third in 2010.
The last two races have seen Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini eat into Kent’s point lead substantially, now 45 points behind. In 2014 the Italian finished third at Silverstone, one of three podiums during his rookie campaign. As always, Bastianini is aiming to challenge for the 2015 Moto3™ Championship and continues to push himself to close the distance on Kent.
Highest placed KTM rider and third overall is Romano Fenati of SKY Racing Team VR46, who had an eventful Grand Prix of the Czech Republic. A three place grid penalty was awarded to the Italian for his antics during Qualifying, seeing him start in 22nd. However, he produced a stunning ride to end the race in sixth. Fenati appears as a rider who works best under pressure, producing seemingly magic performances even from the back of the grid.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) joined Livio Loi (RW Racing GP) as a first time winner in the Moto3™ class. His Brno victory is the first win by an Italian in the lightweight class from pole position since Andrea Iannone won the 125cc Japanese GP in 2009.
Scotland’s John McPhee of the SAXOPRINT-RTG team considers Silverstone his home round and will be aiming for his second podium of 2015.