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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
Silverstone sees the traditional Day of Champions event for the Riders for Health charity, providing primary health care to remote areas in Africa. The unmissable event takes place today, Thursday 28th August, and features a host of activities, including the Riders for Health auction, in which some fantastic memorabilia is sold to fans. Full details in the Riders for Health press release below:
MotoGP™ stars come together to support health workers in Africa
Thousands of MotoGP fans are heading to Silverstone today for one of the best loved events on the MotoGP calendar, and to help raise money to support health workers across Africa.
Nearly 4,000 fans are expected to attend Day of Champions, which takes place every year before the British MotoGP™ and is the flagship fundraising event of MotoGP’s official charity, Riders for Health.
Tickets for Day of Champions cost £18 and are free for children aged 15 and under. They can be purchased from the main gate at the Silverstone race circuit.
Leon Camier has made an impressive debut in MotoGP, replacing Nicky Hayden while the American recovers from wrist surgery. Camier has been competitive on the Honda RCV1000R since he first flung a leg over the bike, despite having no previous experience of either the bike, nor the Bridgestone tires, nor even the Indianapolis circuit, where he first rode the bike. To celebrate Camier's success, the Drive M7 Aspar team issued the following press release, containing an interview with the Englishman:
“The first thing I thought when I saw the Honda was that I wouldn't fit!”
Leon Camier is a true Brit, resident in Andorra, who looks like he could have been anything other than a motorcycle racer. A towering 190 centimetres tall, with a youthful smile and good English manners, Camier prefers to do his talking on the track. He recently made his MotoGP debut at the ripe age of 28, stepping in for the injured Nicky Hayden at the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team, and he has impressed everybody with his adaptation to Grand Prix machinery. A former 125cc youngster but a Superbike rider for the majority of his career, Camier has slotted in smoothly with the Spanish team and not only managed to finish the race at Brno but he did so in the points. Now he returns home to Silverstone with another chance to impress.
First obvious question... what's the difference between a MotoGP and a Superbike?
The electronics in MotoGP are much more advanced, the anti-wheelie control is incredible. MotoGP is also less physical than Superbikes, not just because the bike is lighter but also the way you ride it is completely different, you can rely a lot on the electronics. The tyres are also totally different, you have to find the limit in MotoGP and work out how to get the best out of the rubber. The suspension helps with this but there is just so many things, so much information... but basically the main difference lies in the electronics, tyres and suspension.
2014 Silverstone MotoGP Preview - Yamaha Territory, Racing At Home, And The Future Of The British Grand Prix
Since the beginning of the season, as he racked up one victory after another, Marc Marquez faced the same question over and over again: can you keep on winning? And over and over again, Marc Marquez gave the same answer: one day, he would not win. On that day, he added, it would be important to think of the championship, and get on the podium if possible.
That day came 10 days ago, at Brno. After struggling all weekend with a lack of rear grip on his Repsol Honda, Marquez couldn't match the pace of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, and the two Movistar Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Fourth was all that Marquez could manage.
The measure of a champion is not just how he wins, but also how he handles defeat. As Marquez rolled back into his garage after the race – a rare occurrence indeed, this the first time Marquez finished off the podium in his MotoGP career – there were no tantrums, no anger, no shouting. He patted his mechanics on their shoulders, sat down in his seat, and immediately started analyzing the defeat he had just suffered with his team. This was clearly not an experience he was keen to replicate any time soon. If any doubt still lingered, the eagerness with which he attacked the official test at Brno on the Monday after the race quickly removed them.
The factory Ducati team eschewed the official IRTA test at Brno last week, in favor of a private test in Misano. There, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow got to work on the Desmosedici GP14, with Dovizioso continuing to work on the new developments of the bike, while Crutchlow focused on finding a base set up with the machine. After the test, Ducati issued the following press release:
Ducati Team wrap up two-day test at Misano
Today saw the conclusion of two days of testing organized by the Ducati Team at Misano World Circuit in preparation for the Grand Prix of San Marino and Riviera di Rimini, scheduled for the Italian circuit on September 14th. Present at the test were the factory Ducati riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Andrea Iannone of the Pramac Racing Team and test-rider Michele Pirro.
Dovizioso took part in one and a half days’ testing at Misano, concluding his test schedule early this afternoon, while Crutchlow only went out on track in Monday’s sessions, before returning to the UK to undergo checks on his left shoulder, which was still painful after his crash during the Czech Republic GP at Brno two weeks ago.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’33.91 (116 laps)
Interview: Nicolas Goyon, Pol Espargaro's Crew Chief, On Developing The Yamaha M1 To Exploit The Strengths Of Moto2 Riders
Many MotoGP followers, both inside and outside the paddock, were sceptical when news leaked that Yamaha had signed Pol Espargaro to a factory contract early in 2013. A year later, and halfway through his first MotoGP season, that scepticism has been replaced with admiration. The younger of the two Espargaro brothers is the best satellite rider in the championship standings, and has been competitive from the start of the season.
Yamaha clearly had a plan with Pol Espargaro. The riding style which young racers develop in Moto2 is very different from the style which came from the 250cc class. Where Moto2 racers use a sliding rear tire to help turn the bike into the corners, the 250 two-strokes rewarded riders who could brake early and carry as much corner speed as possible. The Yamaha YZR-M1 has been primarily developed around the 250cc style, but as riders schooled in the Moto2 class enter MotoGP, Yamaha realized they will have to adapt their bike to this new generation of young riders. By signing the reigning Moto2 champion, Yamaha have started to seriously examine how the new intermediate class is affecting MotoGP bike development.
Leading this development has been Pol Espargaro's crew chief, Nicolas Goyon. The Frenchman has been a data and electronics engineer in MotoGP since 2003, the first year in which the class switched over fully to four strokes. With the departure of Daniele Romagnoli, who followed Cal Crutchlow to Ducati, Goyon was given the role of crew chief to MotoGP rookie Espargaro. Since then, Goyon has been working with the Moto2 champion and Yamaha to explore how the Moto2 style can be made to fit to the Yamaha M1. We spoke to Goyon after the Brno test, to ask him about how he had adapted the bike and the feedback Pol Espargaro was providing.
MotoMatters.com: We know what the Yamaha style is to be as smooth as possible and to carry as much corner speed as possible and not upset the bike. That means braking in a straight line, keeping your wheels in line as much as possible. A few times, Pol Espargaro has been riding in more of a Moto2-style. First of all, why did he decide to do it, and did he talk to you about it?
Nicolas Goyon: Yes, of course. This is one direction Yamaha wanted to try, and obviously, Pol is the first Moto2 world champion working with Yamaha, and so Yamaha is really interested in this new style. We realize that all the Moto2 riders, the new generation of riders, they have a specific style, one we all know, they have the elbow on the ground, their bike is shaking from the rear on braking. Pol is really the first guy with this style working with Yamaha.