MotoGP: Vinales Takes Misano Pole From Espargaro, KTM

Cloudless skies meant high temperatures on the Rimini Riviera, and for the MotoGP riders that meant grip at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli was at a premium as they qualified for the thirteenth round of the 2019 World Championship.

Q1 saw four or five riders all battling for the top two positions to advance to Q2, but in the end it was Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who topped the session from Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the pair moving through to the pole position shootout.

Maverick Vinales celebrating his Pole for the San Marino GP 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

The Q2 session was very tight, with four riders fighting for pole position: Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The Yamaha riders had been dominating the weekend, but Marquez had been fast, and remained in touch throughout free practice, although the Honda was proving difficult to manage – especially in the high speed right-handers in sector three.

Marquez was keen to ensure that no one was in his tow, as was Quartararo on his second run. Vinales and Marquez both did three runs, although Marquez’ middle run did not see a flying lap, as he boxed before he started one. This meant both riders were out of sync with most of the rest of the field. Vinales managed to find himself some free space in the final lap, whilst Quartararo was trying to shake Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Marquez was behind Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

After slowing on the first flying lap of his final run to try to escape the attentions of Pol Espargaro, Quartararo ran wide on the exit of turn eleven, and lost his lap as a result. Espargaro had remained in the Frenchman’s slipstream, though, and put the KTM on provisional pole position.

At the same time, Vinales in free air and Marquez behind Rossi were both on fast laps that would have displaced Espargaro. Vinales was able to finish his lap cleanly, and took provisional pole from Espargaro by almost three tenths with a stunning lap, making the most of the Yamaha’s strong front end and comfort in the middle of the corner in the second half of the lap.

Things proved more complicated for Marquez, who caught an off-the-pace Rossi early in the lap. The speed of the Honda put Marquez in the position to pass Rossi into turn eleven, but the Spaniard ran off the track and onto the green. The move from the #93 did not impress Rossi, who block-passed the World Championship leader in turn fourteen. There was no contact, but the temperature of their rivalry increased once more, and tomorrow could provide some interesting exchanges between the two.

Valentino Rossi durring Qualifying at the 2019 San Marino GP. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

With both Rossi and Marquez ruining each other’s final lap – although Rossi’s wasn’t especially fast in any case – meant pole position was handed to Vinales, his second in Misano in the last three years. The #12’s race pace looks strong, but he will need to start well, as dropping behind the powerful KTM of Espargaro could leave him vulnerable to those behind.

KTM’s best qualifying performance in their MotoGP history was nearly pole position, but nonetheless a second place in a dry qualifying was an impressive performance from Pol Espargaro, especially on a track where Yamaha have been so dominant this weekend.

Fabio Quartararo perhaps should have had pole position, but he was too concerned with those around him. It was a mistake from the Frenchman to not focus on himself, but not one that he is alone in making – even in this session most of the riders were cruising at some point to find themselves some track position. The qualifying was not a disaster, anyway, for the #20, as he will still line up on the front row, and on the inside for turn one which means he can avoid the pinch in turn two.

Franco Morbidelli was close to the front row but didn’t quite have the pace in the second half of the lap compared to his Yamaha stablemates. Fourth place for Morbidelli, though, gives him a good chance tomorrow.

It is rare to see Marc Marquez off the front row, but for just the second time this season it is what we will see tomorrow. His pace is theoretically enough to go with the Yamaha riders, but the effort he has to put in to achieve that is significantly more, it seems. There could be some interesting fights between him and Rossi, all of a stone’s throw from Tavullia, but it is likely that the pair won’t meet each other on track, and that it is the other M1 pilots who Marquez has to worry himself with.

Andrea Dovizioso at Misano 2019. Image courtesy of ducati

A sixth place start for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was a surprise, but it was achieved on his final lap of Q2. All Ducati riders have struggled this weekend, so for Dovizioso to salvage a second row start is something he will be disappointingly pleased with.

Missing out on the second row may well have cost Valentino Rossi a shot at the podium, and with a KTM and a Ducati in front of him there could be yet another frustrating afternoon in a home GP for The Doctor. A weekend that started out quite promisingly seems to be falling away from the Italian, who will start alongside Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who should be expected to make progress from ninth and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on his return to racing.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) will start tenth ahead of Johann Zarco, who qualified eighth but will start eleventh thanks to his grid penalty from Silverstone, and wildcard rider Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) who, aside from Dovizioso, has been the only Ducati with any real promise this weekend.

The fastest rider to miss out on Q2 was Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), although he was close with his penultimate lap to moving through to the second session. The Italian will start his home race from thirteenth ahead of a struggling Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) and a frustrated Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who join the reigning Moto2 World Champion on the fifth row.

Row five sees Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) line up ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team). The Ducati stablemates line up sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, ahead of the still-injured Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) on row six, which highlights Ducati’s struggles in Misano this weekend, despite winning the San Marinese round last year.

On row seven, the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 duo of Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin qualified ahead of Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing); Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was the slowest rider in Q1 despite a strong weekend for the Spaniard, and will start twenty-second, ahead of only Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who had to go to the medical centre after a FP4 crash and missed Q1 as a result.

Featured Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

Moto2: Di Giannantonio Scores Maiden Intermediate Pole

By the time the Moto2 riders got out on track for their thirteenth qualifying of the 2019 World Championship, the surface in Misano was positively cooked, and conditions were therefore difficult – making the most of the MotoGP rubber early on would be key to a good starting position.

Q1 saw Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) top the session with his final flying lap from compatriot Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Iker Lecuona (American Racing) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), all of whom moved through with Marini to Q2.

Fabio Di Giannantonio pole setter for the 2019 San Marino GP Moto2 Race. Image courtesy of +EGO SPEED UP

The Q2 session saw Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) score his first Moto2 World Championship pole position in his second home race of the season – although, the #21 is a Roman. Di Giannantonio’s rookie season in the intermediate class has been a strong one, and this pole position is one which he has earned throughout the year. Lining up alongside the Italian will be championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with whom Di Giannantonio fought a cold war in Brno, and Silverstone winner Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who recovered well from a crash in FP3 and set himself up well to go back-to-back for the first time in his career in tomorrow’s race.

The ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team duo of Remy Gardner and Tetsuta Nagashima head up the second row, and are joined Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS); while Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) heads up row three from Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) on the Briton’s birthday and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who had by far his best qualifying performance of the season with ninth place.

The top ten is rounded out by the returning Enea Bastianini, as he lines up at the front of row four ahead of Italtrans Racing Team teammate Andrea Locatelli and fellow compatriot Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) who ensures that the fourth row is an all-Italian affair. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) qualified thirteenth ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) who will be disappointed to see his teammate on pole from the vantage point of fifteenth.

Jorge Martin KTM Moto2 Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

The Red Bull KTM Ajo pairing of Brad Binder and Jorge Martin head up row six from Iker Lecuona, meaning KTM have a sixth-row lockout.

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was the fastest rider to miss out on Q2, qualifying nineteenth. The Thai rider will be joined on the seventh row by the MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward pairing of Stefano Manzi and Dominique Aegerter who were twentieth and twenty-first respectively.

Row eight will see Simone Corsi (NTS RW Racing GP) from twenty-second as he replaces Steven Odendaal on the NTS, something he will continue to do for the remainder of the season. Corsi will be joined by NTS RW Racing GP teammate Bo Bendsneyder and Joe Roberts (American Racing) on the eighth row, whilst Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) heads up row nine from Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing). On the back row, Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) will start ahead of the two replacement riders, Adam Norrodin (in place of Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Andi Izdihar (in place of Dimas Ekky at IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia).

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) suffered a broken clavicle in practice, and will miss the remainder of the weekend as a result, and most likely next weekend’s Aragon GP as well.

Moto3: Suzuki Hands SIC 58 Home GP Pole

In Misano, the conditions were almost perfect for the Moto3 riders as they headed out on track to qualify for the thirteenth round of the 2019 World Championship.

In Q1, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was the big name to have to try to get himself into the top four and advance to Q2 after the second-placed rider in the championship missed out in the final stages of FP3 on Saturday morning. It proved to be a successful session for Canet, who went through to Q2 in second place behind Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Squadra Corse), with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) joining Canet in the second session.

Q2 saw advancements from Suzuki and Canet, the Japanese rider taking pole position for Paolo Simoncelli’s outfit on the circuit named after his late son, whilst Canet rescued what could have been another dreadful qualifying with his final lap to go second and give himself a strong chance to erode some of the points advantage of championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) tomorrow.

Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) had a quite anonymous session, but took third place for his second home race of the season. He went from pole position to win at Mugello earlier in the year, and has given himself a good chance to do the 2019 Italian double with a front row starting position for tomorrow.

Jaume Masia (WMR) is newly unsponsored for this weekend, as is teammate Andrea Migno (WMR), but it did not slow the Spaniard down, qualifying fourth ahead of Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) who will start fifth and sixth respectively for their home race.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta crashed at the end of his first run in Q2, and the Leopard Racing squad had too much work to do on his Honda by the time it got back to the garage that the 2018 Misano Moto3 winner forfeited his second Q2 run. His first run had him in fifth place, and fortunately for the championship leader there were few improvements in the second half of the session, meaning he will start from seventh tomorrow, with Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) – who topped both Friday sessions – and Leopard Racing teammate Marcos Ramirez joining the #48 on the third row.

Andrea Migno has had a reasonable weekend, and had a reasonable qualifying, starting from tenth, with Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP) joining him on row four.

It was thirteenth place for Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46), the only VR46 rider to not live in the Rimini area, something which cost reportedly him his spot in the VR46 Riders Academy. The #7 will be joined by John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – who crashed on his final lap in turn four – and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) on the fifth row; whilst row six is comprised entirely of riders who failed to set a valid lap time in Q2, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) having both of his fast laps cancelled for track limits and both Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Romano Fenati crashing on their first runs and missing the rest of Q2 as a result, Masaki going down quite hard in the process.

The fastest rider to miss out on Q2 was Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who probably had the pace to make the second session, but poor track position for his final lap meant he had too much traffic, and missed out to Fenati despite the Italian’s Q1 being compromised by a crash on his first lap. The Italian duo of Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) will join Sasaki on the seventh row.

Alonso Lopez at the 2019 Misano qualifying session. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will head up row eight and will be joined by Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), who was fast on Friday morning before a pair of crashes on the first day compromised his weekend, and Deniz Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who qualified twenty-fourth in place of brother, Can, who hurt himself on Friday and was declared unfit.

Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) has been unable to match the performance of his time-topping teammate, Arenas, throughout the weekend, and qualified down in twenty-fifth place, ahead of Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) who will join the #25 on row nine.

It was a tough qualifying session for CIP Green Power, with Darryn Binder qualifying one place ahead of teammate Tom Booth-Amos, the pair occupying the front two positions of the tenth row, whilst wildcard rider Meikon Kawakami (Fundacion Andreas Perez 77) qualified thirtieth for his first Grand Prix appearance. Fellow GP debutant, VR46-backed Italian Elia Bartolini (Sky Junior Team VR46) qualified last, in thirty-first.

MotoGP: Marquez Leads the Charge to Misano

This weekend the MotoGP World Championship heads to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for round twelve of the 2019 season.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) arrives in Italy for the second time this year with the championship lead, one which grew dramatically in Britain at the last race courtesy of Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) crash which took Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) down as well. Marquez’ points lead now sits at seventy-eight over Dovizioso and, although Misano is not a circuit that has traditionally been a particularly strong one for Marquez in the premier class – only two wins, both in the sketchy conditions of 2015 and 2017 – it is difficult to see a sizeable shift in the championship momentum this weekend.

Andrea Dovizioso at the 2019 Misano Test. Image courtesy of Ducati

It was indeed Dovizioso who won last year in Misano, nearly three seconds ahead of Marquez who inherited second after Jorge Lorenzo crashed to begin the downward spiral that has been his last twelve months. Last year’s performance from Dovizioso was somewhat crushing, pulling away with superior tyre management and pace compared to his rivals. In the test two weeks ago, though, Dovizioso complained of a poor feeling with the Desmosedici and, although the grip in Misano is famously inconsistent and unpredictable, that could put the #04 further on the back foot for this weekend.

Misano is an interesting track, since, although it is not necessarily a favourite for any of the riders, it has a reasonable amount of variety, with the direction changes and slow, short-radius corners being contrasted by those three fast right-handers in the third sector. There are no excessively long corners, none in which the rider spends a lot of time on the side of the tyre, but despite this there is a strong history for Yamaha in Misano, perhaps due to the M1’s comfort and ease with which a MotoGP rider can find lap time out of it, which in a small circuit like Misano can be useful – when corners are coming up every other second, it can be positive to have a bike which is easy to control.

Similarly, it can be good to have a bike which turns well, and the Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda – at least in the hands of Marquez – all do this. The Yamaha and Suzuki are comfortable on the edge of the tyre, as is Marquez on the Honda, but what Marquez can do better than anyone else is spin the bike around, pivot almost around the front tyre using the rear tyre to steer, and with Misano’s short corners, this technique can be especially valuable. This seems to rule out Ducati, but thanks to the numerous hard accelerations in Misano, and accompanying hard braking zones, the Desmosedici comes back into the picture with its strong braking stability and torque. Perhaps the Desmosecidi represents the perfect compromise for the MWC, since it is relatively easy to ride, certainly more so than the RC213V, but has the torque, power, aerodynamics and braking stability to mean it can maintain a strong pace throughout a race distance and also be incredibly tough to pass successfully, as Marquez discovered last year in his battle with now-teammate at Repsol Honda Jorge Lorenzo.

As previously mentioned, the grip in Misano is unpredictable, due to a variety of factors that no one can quite agree upon. The constant, though, is that the grip in Misano is always quite low. This plays against the Suzuki and Yamaha riders, since they need grip to use their corner speed advantage. All four Yamaha riders were inside the top five in the test two weeks ago, with Quartararo on top from Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli; whilst the two factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, were fourth and fifth respectively behind Marquez in third. Additionally, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was ninth on the combined times on his return to MotoGP action, whilst Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was fifteenth, albeit only one second off the pace. Although Vinales’ tones after the test were quite negative, all six inline-four bikes looked quite competitive in the test, but we will only find out whether that will translate to the race weekend on Friday, when we can judge the grip levels.

Jorge Lorenzo at the 2019 British MotoGP event. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Jorge Lorenzo missed almost all of the Misano test, as the Silverstone race had taken too much from his physical condition. The Spaniard is racing though this weekend, and will be looking once more to find his first top ten since his Austrian GP win last year.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) is not a guaranteed starter this weekend, as the Portuguese rider suffered some shoulder problems after Johann Zarco collided with him in Silverstone. The #88, like Lorenzo, did very little at the test, Oliveira’s ability to race being a doubt heading into the San Marinese GP weekend.

Featured image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

MotoGP: Rins Beats Marquez in Classic Silverstone Duel

The twelfth round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place in a strangely warm Silverstone, as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took a dramatic victory.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took the holeshot from his 60th MotoGP pole position in his 120th premier class start. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins were behind the championship leader.

Rins lost the rear of his GSX-RR on the exit of the first corner, and Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) rolled the throttle in reaction. The Frenchman’s response caused him to lose the rear of his YZR-M1, and it flicked him. It was unfortunate for the #20, who had been fast all weekend and looked to be a guaranteed factor in the podium fight. However, instead of a trophy, Quartararo left Silverstone with a concussion.

Things were slightly worse for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who was right behind Quartararo when he went down. The Italian had nowhere to go, so hit the Petronas Yamaha and went down, his Desmosedici GP20 bursting into flames as it hurtled towards the barriers. Dovizioso himself had to be carried away on a stretcher which, somehow, was able to be done by the marshals before the rest of the pack completed the first lap, and thus there was no need for a red flag. Dovizioso was carried behind the barriers, where he was able to stand up. The #04 displayed signs of memory loss, and so had to be taken to hospital, where it was confirmed that he had no significant injury.

Back to the British GP and Marquez was leading from Rossi, who was coming under pressure from Rins. That did not last long, though, as the Spaniard passed Rossi for third into turn eight on lap two with an impressive out-braking manoeuvre, taking yards out of Rossi into the Vale chicane. It was here that Rossi’s prospective struggles became apparent, immediately dropping off the back of Rins, out of the lead fight, and further into the clutches of fourth-placed teammate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

Vinales was eventually able to pass Rossi on lap seven in turn seven. But by this point he was over two seconds back of his two leading compatriots and with a lot of work to do. The bigger problem for Vinales’ victory hopes than his gap to the front was his lack of superior pace to the leading pair, who were able to keep the gap to him relatively stable throughout the majority of the remaining thirteen laps.

That meant it was a duel between Marquez and Rins. As in Austria, Marquez led for the majority of the race, showing Rins the way, showing Rins his rear tyre; where he was strong, where he was weak. Marquez knew this, and around the mid-point of the race slowed to allow Rins through. The #42, though, saw Marquez’ tactics, and the threat they posed, so allowed the #93 back through six corners after he took the lead. Rins was entirely uninterested in showing Marquez anything, knowing that the seven-times World Champion is always capable of finding more time than you expect, especially with a target to aim at.

Marc Marquez dueling with Alex Rins for the most part of the 2019 Silverstone MotoGP Race.Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Rins followed Marquez from lap two until the penultimate lap, when he made a move at Aintree, which was a surprise. The Suzuki rider had been especially strong on corner entry, in the last part of the braking, so to pass in a corner with no braking zone was strange. But Marquez fought straight back, reclaiming the lead into the next corner at Brooklands.

At this point, Rins saw he had one chance left. This was strange for a penultimate lap, but Rins thought it was the final lap; he tried to ride round the outside of Marquez in Woodcote. Whilst Rins led, officially, onto the final lap, Marquez had – rightly – forced him out onto the run-off area on the outside of Woodcote. Unlike in 2014, at Brno, when Rins thought the penultimate lap was the final lap, the Spaniard did not completely roll out of the throttle on this occasion, and was able to re-engage before the first corner of the final lap. But he was never able to get close enough to make a move on the brakes.

Marquez defended very well, taking excessively tight lines and blocking the path of the flowing Suzuki, meaning Rins was not able to try to pass before the final section. He knew he had to try to out-drive Marquez and the Honda through the final corner, and when Marquez had a slide in the middle of it, he sensed his opportunity, cut to the inside and took the victory on the line by 0.013 seconds, the second MotoGP win of his career in another battle with one of the greatest of the sport’s history.

Second place for Marquez represented another final corner defeat to a rider with superior rear grip on the right side of the tyre. It also represented a twenty-point increase in his championship advantage thanks to Dovizioso’s retirement from the race, an advantage which now sits at 78 points, and an extension of his top two finishing record which stretches back to Austria 2018.

Maverick Vinales’ third place was a welcome return to the podium for the Spaniard having missed it since the summer break. The #12 was close to his compatriots at the end courtesy of them fighting in the penultimate lap and Marquez’ protective lines. In reality Vinales’ only shot at victory was an overly ambitious move from one of the front two. Perhaps to be only in a somewhat detached third place was disappointing for Yamaha, having looked like they could be with three bikes on the podium through the weekend.

Maverick Vinales ahead of Valentino Rossi at the 2019 Silverstone MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

Fourth place for Valentino Rossi was determined from the start, where he missed performance from the rear tyre and was unable to match the speed of the Spanish trio who finished ahead of him. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) were eight seconds back of Rossi and split by Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), the ex-teammates also suffering with rear tyre problems in the race which saw them lapping over one second slower than they had in practice.

Between Rossi in fourth and Crutchlow in sixth was Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who equalled his best finish of the season with fifth, completing a strong weekend in a good way, albeit thirteen seconds adrift of the win.

Behind Miller in eighth were Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who completed the top ten, good results for both factories.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) saw his race weekend go sour in qualifying, where he lost grip. The Italian was unable to rediscover the grip lost on Saturday afternoon and ended up fifteen seconds adrift of the top ten in eleventh place, five seconds ahead of Joan Mir’s replacement at Team Suzuki Ecstar, Sylvain Guintoli. Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was thirteenth ahead of the returning Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) and Karel Abaham (Reale Avintia Racing) who completed.

Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) suffered a crash, but got back on to finish sixteenth ahead of fellow crasher Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who also got back on for seventeenth, and was the final classified rider.

After Quartararo and Dovizioso were out on the first lap, Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) collided on lap nine, for which Zarco received a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Misano. The final retirement was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on the last lap.

Moto2: Fernandez Takes Second Moto2 Win as Marquez Crashes Out

Round twelve of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship took place in Silverstone, as Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) took his second career GP win.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) made the holeshot from pole position, with Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up) in tow. The Spanish pair were significantly faster in the early stages of the race, pulling away by almost two seconds.

Things changed, though, when Marquez crashed on lap six, leaving Navarro alone at the front. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), behind, started to reel in the Speed Up rider, bringing Augusto Fernandez with him. Seven laps after Marquez crashed and Binder took second from Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), the South African hit the front.

Binder held the lead for three laps, before Navarro was able to respond. Having had some time to regroup, Navarro was able to pull a small gap for himself when he returned to the front, but Fernandez’ pace on the penultimate lap when he passed Binder put him in position to pass his compatriot for the lead on the final lap.

Fernandez made his move in the second part of the Vale chicane, a strange move and certainly an unexpected one on the part of Navarro, who was unable to respond before the finish.

The race was a tyre management exercise, and Fernandez was the best at it. Normally, Speed Up look after the tyres well, but despite Fernandez’ aggressive style and slightly harsher Kalex frame, he was able to find more grip in the final stages than his rivals, and his second Grand Prix win arrived as a result.

Jorge Navarro has had few better chances to win a Moto2 race, but he was unable to take this one. It seemed that Marquez’ crash unsettled the #9, and perhaps the reasonably significant lead that he inherited as a result played on his mind. Either way, it was a decent result to end a strong weekend from the Spaniard, who moved to joint-second in the championship on points, along with Fernandez and Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) – the three of them thirty-five points behind Marquez.

Third place for Brad Binder was extremely impressive. He failed to make Q2 directly on Saturday and was clearly riding at the very limit of the bike for the whole race. When Remy Gardner passed him on the penultimate lap, there was a good response from Binder. The South African made his move on Gardner for third as Navarro tried to make his move for the lead on Fernandez, in Brooklands, but while Navarro was unable to make his move stick, Binder was able to pull the KTM down to the apex and prevent a counter-attack from Gardner. It was a well-deserved rostrum for the 2016 Moto3 champion.

Brad Binder, 3rd place in the Moto2 race, at the British MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Whilst Gardner missed out on the podium, the British GP represented a return to form for the Australian who went slightly off the boil after Jerez, where he was involved in the turn one crash, and the rear tyre changed. Tetsuta Nagashima made sure of a double ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team top five in Silverstone with fifth.

Sixth place went to Fabio Di Giannantonio (Campetella Speed Up), who was ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) after the Italian came from eighteenth on the grid. Eighth was Tom Luthi, who will have been disappointed to fail to make significant in-roads into Marquez’ championship lead, instead slipping into a battle for second with Fernandez and Navarro. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) finished ninth ahead of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who completed the top ten.

Iker Lecuona (American Racing) was eleventh ahead of fellow KTM rider Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) who took the final point.

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was sixteenth, ahead of Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) who completed the top twenty.

Twenty-first went to Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) who was ahead of Joe Roberts (American Racing), Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing), Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Teppei Nagoe (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) who finished last in his third race replacing Dimas Ekky.

After Marquez dropped out, Bradley Smith’s replacement ride for Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas Sprinta Racing was the next to come to an early end, before Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) crashed out on the final lap.

Moto3: Ramirez Secures Second Win as Canet Completes Remarkable Recovery

Round twelve of the 2019 Moto3 World Championship took place at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, in which Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) took victory, his second of the season.

Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) made a strong start from pole position and made the holeshot. It was the #14 rider who most people were worried about escaping, having had a strong pace throughout the weekend. Some early fighting in the first corners allowed him a small advantage, but the high-speed nature of Silverstone meant that the pack soon closed back up.

Tony Arbolino and Marcos Ramirez. Image courtesy of Hondaproracing.com

For most of the first half of the race, the pack remained quite close together, but as the race approached the final ten laps, thirteen riders pulled themselves significantly clear at the front, identifying themselves as the leading group.

Throughout the second half of the race, Ramirez made progress and with five laps to go he came into the top positions. Onto the final lap Ramirez was second to his teammate, championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), and ahead of pole sitter Arbolino, who passed Ramirez in turn one. Ramirez came back at Arbolino once more into Stowe, and when Dalla Porta ran wide in Vale, the Spaniard was well-placed to take advantage.

Some battling between the two Italians, Dalla Porta and Arbolino, in Village and The Loop gave Ramirez an advantage going into the Wellington Straight, towards Brooklands, and this proved enough. As the two behind fought over second, the #42 was able to ride relatively alone in the final part of the lap, and take his second career victory, ahead of Arbolino and Dalla Porta.

Despite the strong fighting at the front, a lot of attention in the race was diverted further back in the pack, towards Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), who had been taken out by Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) at Village on lap three. The #44 rider was able to remount quickly, and a strong recovery ride saw him go from last, without a hope of a point, to thirteenth in fifteen laps. The failure of Dalla Porta to take victory, finishing third, in combination with Canet’s tremendous comeback could be critical come Valencia.

Whilst Marcos Ramirez was delighted to pick up his second win of the season, Tony Arbolino will have been somewhat disappointed with second place, having inflicted relative dominance on the Moto3 field throughout the weekend. Nonetheless, taking four points out of Dalla Porta saw him close to thirty-eight points adrift of his compatriot in the standings, and if he continues to work in that direction, this title fight could quite conceivably become a three-way scrap.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) had a relatively quiet race, but came home to finish fourth ahead of teammate Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC 58 Squadra Corse). Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had his best finish of the season in sixth place, ahead of teammate John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and the SKY VR46 duo of Dennis Foggia and Celestino Vietti in eighth and ninth respectively, in what was a very ‘Noah’s Ark’ top ten, rounded out by Honda Team Asia’s Ai Ogura.

Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was eleventh having run on at Maggots in the middle of the race, ahead of Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) and the recovered Canet. Gabriel Rodrigo’s replacement at Kommerling Gresini Moto3, Jeremy Alcoba, was fourteenth, while his former Monlau teammate in CEV, Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), completed the points scorers in fifteenth.

Sixteenth went to Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP), who was ahead of Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) who started from the front row, Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) who completed the top twenty.

Filip Salac at the British MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP) was announced by VNE Snipers to be partnering Tony Arbolino in 2020, but he was unable to celebrate that news with a good result, finishing twenty-first on his first visit to Silverstone. The Czech rider was followed over the line by Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77), the pair split by little more than half a tenth. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) was twenty-third, ahead of Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3), Maximilian Kofler (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), the wildcard falling close to the end of the race, and Brandon Paasch (FPW Racing) who was last on his Grand Prix debut.

Despite the hectic racing, only Arenas and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) retired from the race.

Featured Image courtesy of Hondaproracing.com

Moto3: More Hectic Lightweight Action Ahead in Silverstone

This weekend the 2019 Moto3 World Championship heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, round twelve of the season.

Having confirmed his Moto2 future for 2020 Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) goes to Silverstone this weekend with the knowledge that he can focus entirely on the World Championship, the lead of which he lost to Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) in Austria. Canet has a good history in Silverstone, having won in 2017. The Spaniard had a difficult race in Austria, finishing only tenth in the mixed conditions, but nonetheless is just one point behind his Italian rival.

That means Dalla Porta must still do everything to beat Canet this weekend. With over forty points back to third-placed Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) it is almost safe to assume that it will be either Canet or Dalla Porta who will be crowned Moto3 World Champion this year, so each will be strongly targeted by the other. However, in Moto3, it is never that simple.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta. Moto3 2019: Round Eleven – Red Bull Ring, Austria. Image courtesy of Hondanews.eu

For example, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) returned to the top step in Austria, his first win since 2017. If the Italian continues to put in performances like that throughout the remainder of the season, he could prove problematic for both Canet and Dalla Porta. As well as Fenati, the likes of Arbolino – who is the only rider other than Canet to have won more than once this season – and Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) will likely enter the fray on many an occasion. Mathematically the championship look to be a two-horse race, but in Moto3 it is impossible to predict which way that will go.

Similarly, at a track like Silverstone, with four straights of reasonable length and at lot of fast corners, the racing will be worryingly unpredictable for the championship combatants. A track which is so fast it puts an increased emphasis on the rider’s ability – the commitment of the pilot can make a lot of difference when there are several corners above 100mph stretched over a 130-second-plus lap time – but also on the slipstream, and the rider’s ability to legally find one. The latter stages of the free practice sessions, as well as all fifteen minutes of both qualifying sessions will be particularly hectic, with riders desperately fighting over track position. Some might miss the flag, too concerned about who is in front of them, who is behind them and the respective distances. Additionally, there will be a lot of waiting – in pit lane and on the track – as riders look to hook onto someone immediately, and those with the hook in their back look to pull them out and throw them back. Simultaneously, there could be those riders who, like John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) two weeks ago, are content to lap alone, knowing they have the track and their mind to themselves. Finally, there will very possibly be a lot of grid penalties, like in Austria – there is also the potential for everyone to be well-behaved, but this is Moto3.

Moto2: A Tenth Different Winner in Silverstone?

The Moto2 World Championship heads to Silverstone this weekend for the twelfth round of the 2019 season – the British Grand Prix.

There has been a different winner in Silverstone in each of the nine Moto2 races, and the only rider on this year’s Moto2 grid who has won in Silverstone in the Moto2 class is Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). The two races since the summer break have been difficult ones for Luthi, crashing out in Brno and finishing only sixth last time out in Austria. Alex Marquez’ (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) winning run was broken in Austria by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) but nonetheless the Spaniard was able to further extend his points lead. With only eight races to go it will be crucial for Luthi to take points out of Marquez in Silverstone – time is running out.

This is positive for Marquez, since Luthi hasn’t come close to beating him since he started winning in Le Mans. Additionally, Marquez has a decent record in Britain, finishing fourth in 2015, second in 2014 on his way to the Moto3 title, and beating Maverick Vinales to the final podium position in 2013. He is missing Luthi’s intermediate class win in Silverstone, but it is a place where Marquez tends to go quite well, and his form means he is a strong favourite for this weekend.

Having won KTM’s home race last time out, Brad Binder will be hoping to return to the podium for the fourth time in five races this weekend. KTM’s departure from Moto2 at the end of the season means that it is unlikely that the intermediate class chassis will see much improvement for the remainder of the season, but a track like Silverstone where the rider can make a lot of difference will be one where Binder can fight at the front again.

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) were both in the fight for the win in Austria, until Marini lost the front in turn nine towards the end of the race and wiped them both out. Marini was unhurt but Bastianini has a wrist injury, although is expecting to be fine this weekend.

Whilst Bastianini should be fine to ride this weekend, Khairul Idham Pawi is still out of action. The Malaysian has missed a lot of races this season, with three riders taking his place. First, it was Mattia Pasini who replaced him, then Jonas Folger. The latter’s decision to focus on his Yamaha testing role for the remainder of the year has opened up the Petronas Sprinta Racing seat once more, with it being taken up this time by home rider Bradley Smith who has some experience with the bike from a test earlier in the week at Mallory Park.

Featured Image courtesy of David Goldman/MarcVDS

MotoGP: A New Surface Means New Opportunities

This weekend the 2019 MotoGP World Championship crosses the English Channel and heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix – round twelve of the season.

For the first time since he took the championship lead in Jerez, Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) points advantage was trimmed in the last round, as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) defeated him in another one of the pair’s classic last-lap duels. Whilst Dovizioso knows he needs a dose of bad luck on the side of Marquez for him to challenge the Spaniard for this year’s title (the gap is fifty-eight points with eight rounds to go) he arrives in Silverstone with his confidence re-discovered after some negative races in Italy, Catalunya, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic. Austria was an important moment for Dovizioso, because he reminded himself that he can beat Marquez in the right circumstances – he just needs those circumstances to be more frequently occurring.

Both Dovizioso and Marquez have one premier class win in Silverstone, Marquez’ coming in 2014 in a classic duel with Jorge Lorenzo – round two of their ‘Battle of Britain’ – and Dovizioso’s arriving in 2017, when he beat both factory Yamaha riders and benefited from a rare expiration on the #93 Honda.

In the past, Silverstone’s uneven surface has disturbed the Honda almost uncontrollably, the RC213V’s aggressive and unstable nature not suiting the bumpy British asphalt. However, this year the bumps are reportedly gone after the circuit was resurfaced earlier in the year. The Formula One race was the first to take place on the new asphalt, and the reports were generally good. The one negative place was the entry to Brooklands, although this area was known to the circuit beforehand and has been rectified since. Of course, the main reason for the second resurfacing in just over one calendar year was the non-existent drainage on the previous surface which caused the cancellation of last year’s British MotoGP. It seems this, too, has been rectified with the new surface.

Rubber Ducks at the 2018 MotoGP British GP. Silverstone 2018. Image courtesy of Suzuki Racing

A smoother asphalt should suit Marquez and his Honda, with the Spaniard able to explore the areas beyond the limits of the 2019 RC213V with less risk than in the past, where a hole could tear the bike from his grasp whilst over the aforementioned limit.

This is worrying for his opposition, although for several of Marquez’ rivals the smoother surface for this year could in fact be even more beneficial.

Suzuki and Yamaha live on the edge of the tyre, especially Yamaha. Their (relatively) easy-to-use frames meant they were more comfortable than other bikes over the bumps, but the removal of those means they can greater exploit their mid-corner speed advantage which, at a circuit as fast as Silverstone which has many long corners, can potentially be a greater advantage than the one they perhaps held previously on the older surfaces.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also has one win in Silverstone, coming in 2014 in the Moto3 class. He also finished second in 2013 to Luis Salom and second in the 2015 Moto2 race to Johann Zarco. In 2017, Rins finished ninth in the MotoGP, an impressive top ten from what was a rookie enduring a tough season blighted by injury. Last year the weekend was more complicated for the #42, however, finishing eighteenth in the combined free practice times. Still without a podium since Jerez, Rins will be hoping to return to the box this weekend, and continue to close the gap on Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) in the battle for third in the championship.

Both Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, will also be hoping to make the best of the new surface, with the pair hoping the new grip offered by the juvenile asphalt will work well for their M1s.

For Rossi, a podium this weekend would be his fifth in Silverstone and, discounting last year’s cancellation, his fifth in succession. When the British GP was held in Donington Park, Rossi won seven times, but its transfer to Silverstone in 2010 presented problems for Rossi, who always felt behind the eight-ball when arriving in Northamptonshire due to missing the 2010 GP through injury and spending the next two years on the Desmosedici. However, with four podiums in the last four British GPs it is perhaps fair to say that the Italian should be in with a decent shot of the top three this weekend.

Whilst Rossi’s recent history in Silverstone is good, Vinales’ is – below the surface – quite particularly good. A dominant win in 2016 on the Suzuki showed Vinales’ potential around the British track and, in the following two years with Yamaha, he showed a strong pace. He finished second to Dovizioso in 2017, beaten by the Ducati’s power, and last year his pace pointed towards a podium challenge for what was then the #25 M1. The Spaniard was unable to pass his teammate two weeks ago in Austria, and before that in the Czech Republic a difficult start off the wet half of the grid caused him difficulties. However, with the short run to the first corner in Silverstone, a good qualifying and an okay start could see the #12 M1 in the fight.

Outside of the factory Yamaha team, Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo will surely be in the fight, too. The Frenchman has never stood on the podium in Britain, but showed strongly last year in free practice for the Moto2 class. Regardless of previous form in Silverstone, Quartararo arrives in Britain this year having the time of his life, riding better than he ever has and is off the back of an unlikely podium in Austria which took his podium tally for 2019 above that of Rossi. Although he misses speed, there is a chance this weekend for Quartararo to take his first MotoGP win.

At Suzuki, this weekend there will be no Joan Mir, who is replaced at Team Suzuki Ecstar by test rider Sylvain Guintoli as the Spaniard continues to recover from injuries sustained in his Brno testing crash.

Elsewhere, Jorge Lorenzo is back in the Repsol Honda Team, and is another rider who could benefit strongly from the smooth surface, although his fitness is of course questionable after nearly two months off the bike and now almost one year of being constantly injured. Lorenzo is of course without a top ten in over one year, so breaking that particular duck will be probably fairly high on the #99’s list.