Destination: Silverstone! It’s not quite London calling but it’s sure to be another classic clash
And now for something completely different: as the dust settles on the Spielberg duel, it’s already time to gear up for Silverstone and the British GP – home to some of its own classics. It’s 40 years since the first British GP on the mainland, also held at the track, making even more of an occasion out of a race weekend that never disappoints – and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is on the cusp of setting a new record, becoming the first rider in history to have 300 premier class starts.
Once an airfield and now a racetrack, Silverstone is a long circuit characterised by its speed and sheer expanse. 5.9km of tarmac houses 18 corners, with Copse Corner Turn 1 for MotoGP™. And, as well as the challenge of the track, there is often the challenge of the British weather.
Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) shows up at Silverstone with a 16 point advantage over his nearest rival – extending that lead even in defeat in Austria, as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) moved up to second and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) down to third. Marquez, a winner at the track in MotoGP™ in 2014, has some serious pace at the venue to stake a claim on increasing his points gap once again. Added to a growing reputation as the master of flag-to-flag races should the weather come in, the number 93 won’t arrive prepared to settle.
As the rounds remaining decrease and the gap to the top trends the opposite way for Viñales of late, the rider from Roses will similarly be ready for a showdown. Not having shared the podium with Marquez all year despite the two being key title contenders, Silverstone may well see that statistic finally change. Viñales won the race – his first in the premier class – last year, and in some style. If the weather is cooler but remains dry, the script of 2017 so far tells us that could play more in favour of the Movistar Yamaha team. Outside the Championship top three for the first time this year after Austria, there’s never a better place to stage a comeback than the track you dominated the season before.
Alongside Viñales and Marquez as a previous winner at Silverstone is the man set to celebrate the big 300 – Rossi. Of the 299 previous, only one has become a win at the venue, but the ‘Doctor’ has been unlocking the secrets to Silverstone year on year – unbeatable in the wet but faster and faster in the dry. His compatriot, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), also shared that wet weather podium with Rossi in 2015 – and has two previous rostrum visits at the track. Back on the top step with a bang in Austria, ‘DesmoDovi’ is now on three victories for the year: the same as Marquez and Viñales.
Three premier class wins at Silverstone is a different statistic and one exclusively retained for Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo has made Silverstone his land more than any other rider, and has progress and some serious wet weather form on his side as the 2017 event appears on the horizion. Ever closer to the front by the flag and having led in Austria for 11 laps make good reading for the ‘Spartan’. The man who just pipped him to the podium last time out, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) will surely do his best to repeat the feat, however. It could be a more difficult weekend for the number 26 based on track records – but that also seemed true on the road to Spielberg. 151 podiums into his career, Pedrosa is far from out and very much a title contender.
The Independent Team challenge will be another to consider. Home hero Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was on the podium at Silverstone last season, as well as starting from pole. Since having taken a few more trophies home, the rider from Coventry will be strong – flanked by seriously fast rookies Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger at Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Both have shown pace at Silverstone – and in 2017. Octo Pramac Racing are another independent outfit to be optimistic ahead of the event, with Danilo Petrucci having taken his first premier class podium there in 2015 and Scott Redding’s record a glittering one – including a win in Moto2™. And the home heroes don’t stop there, with Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) fired up and ready to go.
Come rain or shine, the British GP is a classic event at a classic venue – so here’s to hoping its 40th edition will do that impressive history proud. With a different timetable, it’s 15:30 local time for the race on Sunday – local time being GMT +1.