Silverstone, Great Britain
Jonas Folger has topped the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Silverstone, the German taking a clear lead as the session came to an end. Tito Rabat took second, and could have been in for more had his bike not packed up on him as the session came to an end. As it was, it left him pushing his bike back to the pits. Maverick Vinales took third, just ahead of Rabat's Marc VDS teammate Mika Kallio. Marcel Schrotter took a strong fifth position, the Tech 3 bike clearly more suited to the Silverstone track.
The session was marred by a couple of serious crashes. Azlan Shah and Tetsuta Nagashima went down early on, in a very ugly collision which caused the session to be red-flagged. Nagashima was transported to the medical center, where he was treated for hip and back injuries. After the session restarted, Axel Pons crashed heavily, and was left lying on the ground for a long time while he received treatment. The crash brought to an end a strong run of results for Pons at Silverstone, the Spaniard having performed very well so far this weekend.
Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo rescued themselves from disaster on Saturday morning, all three rider finding the pace they had been missing and earning a passage straight to Q2. All three had struggled on the first day of practice, but qualified comfortably for Q2 in FP3.
But it was Marc Marquez once again topping free practice for the MotoGP class, the Repsol Honda man dominating FP3 right from the start. Just how hard Marquez was pushing became clear towards the end of the session, when he lowsided at the Loop, the front coming loose over a bump. Marquez was unhurt, and went on to post another hot lap before the end of the session.
Andrea Dovizioso was second fastest, getting very close to Marquez using the extra soft tire. But Dovizoso had been quick throughout, even when lapping on the medium tire, the hardest of the two options for the Ducatis. Dani Pedrosa took 3rd, ahead of the Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, restoring some semblance of the normal order. Pol Espargaro was the fastest of the Tech 3 satellite Yamahas, beating his teammate Bradley Smith by nearly a quarter of a second. Stefan Bradl ended the session in 7th, after falling heavily in the middle of the session, though he walked away unhurt.
Alex Rins has topped the time sheets following the third Moto3 Free Practice session at Silverstone, making the most of fine and sunny conditions the Estrella Galicia rider guided his Honda to a time of 2:14.273, which was over a second quicker than Danny Kent's benchmark Friday time. Fellow Spaniards Isaac Vinales and Alex Marquez completed the top three positions ahead of Jakub Kornfeil and top Mahindra rider Brad Binder.
Championship leader Jack Miller recovered from his shaky FP2 session yesterday to post the sixth quickest time almost four tenths behind Rins. Italian rider Niccolo Antonelli claimed seventh position from Miguel Oliveira, Romano Fenati and Juanfran Guevara rounded out the top ten.
Silverstone, like so many British racetracks, is built on the site of a former World War II airfield. Though that fact may appear to be largely irrelevant, the location makes a massive difference to conditions at the circuit. To allow the lumbering RAF bombers to take off on their nightly runs to Germany, the airfield was set up on the flat top of a hill. The combination of altitude and ubiquitous wind gave the bombers as much help as possible at take off.
Though the bombers are gone, the wind remains, and it played havoc with all three Grand Prix classes on Friday. The blustery wind blew the bantamweight Moto3 bikes all over the track. It hammered the heavier Moto2 bikes from all sides. And it robbed the precious warmth from the MotoGP bikes' Bridgestone tires, draining heat and reducing the grip. The mixture of strong winds, major cloud cover and low temperatures made it difficult for everyone during free practice.
As the heaviest and most powerful of the three classes, the MotoGP bikes suffered the least directly. It was not so much a question of being blown about, Bradley Smith explained, as having to concentrate on your braking markers and take more care when accelerating. With a headwind in one direction, you could find yourself able to brake a little later, the Tech 3 Yamaha man said, while a couple of corners later, when you had switched direction, a tailwind would blow you into corners faster, meaning braking a little bit earlier than normal. Getting on the gas could be tricky: if the front wheel lifted too much, then you could find yourself off line and running wide. Having bikes weighing 160kg meant they were not easily overpowered by the wind, but the more subtle changes made it all the more treacherous.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and sponsors CWM FX and TW Steel after the first day of practice at Silverstone:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Silverstone:
Moto2 Championship leader Tito Rabat lead the way during a shortened second Free Practice session at Silverstone, after early rain had cleared and the track had dried out the Spaniard managed to set a time of 2:08.652 which put him eight hundredths of a second ahead of fellow Kalex riders Simone Corsi and Jonas Folger. The morning's pace-setter Johan Zarco had to settle for fourth position aboard his Caterham Suter, finishing ahead of Maverick Vinales and Mika Kallio.
Briton Sam Lowes continued his strong home race showing to post the seventh fastest time, less than half a second behind Rabat while Dominique Aegerter, Sandro Cortese and Mattia Pasini completed the top ten. 50 year old British wild card rider Jeremy McWilliams managed to improve on his FP1 lap time by almost four seconds and put his Taylor Made-Brough Superior machine within 107% qualifying range for Sunday's race.
Marc Marquez has sent an ominous warning to his rivals following MotoGP FP2 at Silverstone as the Spaniard headed the majority of the field by over a second. As if responding to his 'disappointing' result from the previous round at Brno, Marquez circulated with calculated consistency to set a benchmark time of 2:02.126 which improved his morning time by more than one second and put him five tenths clear of fellow Honda rider Stefan Bradl. Andrea Dovizioso set the third fastest time but languished nearly four tenths further behind the session leader.
Bradley Smith gave the home crowd something to smile about on his way to setting the fourth quickest lap while Yonny Hernandez and Scott Redding extracted the maximum performance from their super soft rear tyres to take fifth and sixth positions respectively. Redding's performance was particularly outstanding given the horsepower disadvantage that he suffers aboard the production Honda racer.
While making it two Brits in the top ten Redding also managed to finish ahead of Andrea Iannone and the factory backed (and perhaps red-faced) Honda pairing of Alvaro Bautista and Dani Pedrosa. Aleix Espargaro took his Forward Racing Yamaha to tenth place and also managed to outshine some factory bike riders as Jorge Lorenzo, Pol Espargaro and Valentino Rossi struggled to get to grips with the Silverstone circuit.
The annual Day of Champions at the Silverstone circuit was once again a roaring success. The event, and the auctions, raised nearly £200,000 for the Riders for Health charity. Riders for Health issued the following press release to mark the event:
MotoGP™ stars raise nearly £200,000 for Riders for Health
MotoGP™ stars and fans came together at Silverstone yesterday to raise nearly £193,802 (€244,264) to support the life-saving work of the official charity of MotoGP, Riders for Health.
More than 3,500 fans flocked to the Silverstone Circuit, ahead of this weekend’s British MotoGP, to see the stars of MotoGP at Riders for Health’s annual fundraising event, Day of Champions.
The gates to the exclusive MotoGP paddock and pit-lane were opened to ticket holders, who had the chance to glimpse into the garages as teams prepared for the weekend’s racing. Some lucky fans even met their favourite riders, as they stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
As always, the highlight of the day was the famous Day of Champions auction which was kicked-off by Riders for Health co-founder and MotoGP legend Randy Mamola. Once again the stars of the MotoGP paddock were out in force to raise £79,590 (€100,105), as fans bid on 104 lots over five hours.
Local rider Danny Kent has topped a tightly contested second free practice for the Moto3 class at Silverstone in a session that once again saw lashings of sunshine sprinkled with the odd light rain shower. Kent managed to snatch top spot with his final lap, setting a time of 2:15.572 which put him less than a tenth clear of Niccolo Antonelli. Alex Rins posted the third fastest time ahead of KTM riders Isaac Vinales and Romano Fenati.
Alex Marquez lead the session briefly but had to settle for the sixth quickest lap while Mahindra's Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder followed very closely behind. John McPhee claimed ninth position, the Scot managed to edge out fellow Racing Team Germany rider Efren Vazquez. After leading the morning session Championship leader Jack Miller looked unsettled throughout and spent a lot of time in the pits with his crew, he could only manage 23rd place.
Frenchman Johan Zarco has finished at the head of the time sheets following Moto2 FP1 at Silverstone, the Caterham Suter rider immediately looked comfortable around the fast and flowing circuit and blazed to a respectable time of 2:09.312. Simone Corsi finished a tenth behind Zarco but managed to edge out his Forward Racing team mate Mattia Pasini. Axel Pons put in one of his better performances of recent memory to claim fourth.
Maverick Vinales finished ahead of two fellow rookie riders in local hero Sam Lowes and Jonas Folger who set the sixth and seventh quickest lap times respectively. Italtrans racing's Franco Morbidelli ended in eighth while Takaaki Nakagami and Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio rounded out the top ten. Championship leader Tito Rabat had to settle for a disappointing twelfth place and 50 year old Moto2 wild card rider Jeremy McWilliams had a stark reality check as he took the local Taylor Made-Brough Superior machine to last place; over ten seconds behind Zarco.
Marc Marquez has dominated the opening MotoGP practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, however the cool session was interrupted by light rain and Marquez' lap was some three seconds slower than last year's quickest effort. The Repsol Honda rider was not deterred by the light sprinkle of rain midway through the session and posted a benchmark time of 2:03.208, which was over half a second quicker than Andrea Iannone. Fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso also put in a strong showing to make it two Ducatis in the top three as he edged out Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro.
Stefan Bradl posted the sixth quickest lap time to end up ahead of the factory Yamaha pairing of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi who appeared to struggle with the slippery mixed conditions. Yonny Hernandez put in another fine performance to finish in ninth place while Dani Pedrosa completed the top ten.
Championship leader Jack Miller has topped the opening Moto3 free practice session at a chilly yet sunny Silverstone. The Australian struggled to get to grips with the cool conditions early on, but found something in the closing stages. Miller finished ahead of the Spanish duo of Isaac Vinales and Alex Marquez by less than a tenth of a second, while Marquez' team mate Alex Rins posted the fourth fastest time followed by Championship rival Romano Fenati.
Mahindra rider Miguel Oliveira sat perched at the top of the time sheets for a decent chunk of the session but eventually had to settle for the sixth quickest time. Niccolo Antonelli ended in seventh place after suffering from mechanical issues midway through the morning running. Niklas Ajo, Efren Vazquez and Enea Bastianini rounded out the top ten.
Silverstone has all the makings of being a very hectic weekend for a lot of people. Not so much because of the weather – things are looking up compared to a week ago, with just a few drops of rain forecast for Friday, and dry weather for Saturday and Sunday – but more because of the goings on behind the scenes. Thursday was the deadline for Moto2 and Moto3 entries to be submitted. The class looks to be oversubscribed again, with Dorna and IRTA left to whittle the entry list down to something of its present size. The extra entries are mostly expansion projects of existing teams, one-rider teams wanting to expand to two, or two-rider teams looking to become three-rider projects. The teams now have to stump up a deposit, before presenting their final rider lists at Aragon.
That has produced a certain pressure in the paddock for teams to sign riders for next year. The main players now know more or less where they are heading, though few will admit what their plans are. Most of the top Moto3 riders are off to Moto2, with those that remain filling the juiciest spots left open by those who are departing. The Estrella Galicia team of Alex Marquez and Alex Rins is to be split up, with one Alex rumored to be off to Marc VDS alongside Tito Rabat, while the other heads to the Pons team. Which Alex goes where is yet to be confirmed, but the smart money puts Marquez at Marc VDS, and Rins at Pons, in a charmingly consonant distribution of riders. Rins' slot depends on what happens with Jack Miller: if the Australian does not go to LCR Honda in MotoGP as rumored, he will take the spot vacated by Maverick Viñales. Miller's place at Red Bull KTM Ajo is to be taken by Brad Binder.
If the situation in Moto2 and Moto3 is close being settled, all is still up in the air in MotoGP. Before the summer break, not much was expected to change, but the impending loss of Go&Fun as sponsor to the Gresini team has thrown a spanner in the works. HRC has given Gresini until this weekend to place an order for the factory Honda RC213V, but without the backing of a major sponsor, Gresini will not be able to afford the bike. That would wreck Gresini's existing plans, and lead them on a search for alternatives, one of which could be running the factory Aprilia effort.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone previewing the British Grand Prix at Silverstone: