Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Silverstone:
Silverstone, Great Britain
The intermediate class learned their lesson from Friday and made the most of the first minutes of the session, before – almost like clockwork – the rain flags came out after about fifteen minutes. Luckily, the rain eased up quickly to allow more track time and some competitive times.
Sam Lowes paid his dues to the paying public by being the only rider to circulate around the track once things got wet and got rewarded with a first position over three tenths ahead after a series of red hot laps in the final minutes of FP3.
The cloud cover kept a brisk fifteen degrees around the track for the morning session, the riders taking their time in working out race pace and tyre wear. Things looked pretty tame until the final ten minutes, the Suzukis being the main improvers up to that point. But not even a consistently fast Maverick Viñales could keep Marc Marquez away from the top stop, despite a late attempt that got him as close as three thousands of a second to the world championship leader.
The two Spaniards were the only riders to set times into the 2:00s, although Andrea Iannone in third got pretty close. The Italian almost missed the final shootout because of a crash at the eventful turn twelve with eight minutes to go, his top ten spot never in doubt due to his competitive Friday time. The Ducati rider still took his tattered leathers back on track to improve his time once more.
While the sun was slowly chasing away the mist, Jorge Navarro was running away with the lead of the session, over a second ahead of the rest for most of FP3 despite needing some time to challenge Friday’s benchmark. A couple of fast last laps made him the only rider in the 2:13s.
Predictably, Brad Binder was the closest challenger, the South African finishing second on the timesheets, almost seven tenths down on the Spanish rider. Rookie Aron Canet came out of nowhere on the last lap to snatch third, marking a pretty good morning for the Estrella Galicia team.
"It's just Friday, and is early." Valentino Rossi repeated his weekly mantra when asked about the speed of Andrea Iannone and Maverick Viñales at Silverstone. It is a point he makes every race weekend: a lot can happen between the end of practice on Friday and 2pm on Sunday (or in the case of Silverstone, 3:30pm BST on Sunday, two and a half hours later than normal, so as not to clash with F1 at Monza). The times set by the grid on Friday were, if not entirely meaningless, at best a very distorted image of the true balance of power on the MotoGP grid.
Just in case the session planned to follow the rainy script of the morning run (and so it did), the intermediate class crowded the track from the very beginning. The initial traffic jam didn’t stop Sam Lowes from repeating his FP1 feat by taking over the top spot, almost a second improvement on his own time.
Takaaki Nakagami got quite close to the British rider, with Brno victor Jonas Folger in third, four tenths off the leader. Only half a tenth separated the German from Alex Marquez in fourth place, even less between the Spaniard and Tom Luthi in fifth.
Similar conditions to the morning session greeted the riders post-lunchbreak, although Andrea Iannone only needed some ten minutes to set the fastest lap of the day. The early benchmark stood until the preventive shootout for a top ten place jumbled the order at the top, but a last lap rush got Iannone back in charge at the flag.
That bumped down morning leader Maverick Viñales, who still grabbed second position, three tenths off the Italian. Cal Crutchlow delighted the home crowd by briefly leading the session but the British rider fell back to third, almost half a second off the leader.
Much like a replay of the morning session, the overcast conditions saw the same suspects at the top, although they took their time challenging the FP1 benchmark. A solid late run from Jorge Navarro saw him beat that time by over a second, edging ahead of championship rival Brad Binder.
Even more significant was the gap of over nine tenths of a second over third-placed Fabio di Giannantonio, the rookie steadily improving to finish ahead of Jorge Martin in fourth spot. Enea Bastianini also improved slightly to climb into fifth, ahead of this morning’s leader Pecco Bagnaia.
The dark clouds threatening the previous classes chose the Moto2 session to unleash, giving the riders only about fifteen minutes of dry track time, followed by another twenty of slow-mo shots and waves to the camera.
Homeboy Sam Lowes led for most of the session – which basically meant the seven laps before the rain flag came out. Thomas Luthi went straight back to business after recovering from his accident in Brno, the Interwetten rider finishing two tenths down on Lowes.
Alex Marquez also had a brief stint at the top but the Spaniard will be satisfied with a third position only three hundredths of a second off Luthi and a tenth ahead of Jonas Folger. Takaaki Nakagami sneaked into fifth, four tenths off the leader.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the headline suggests but flags on the merchandise stalls were waving with more fervour than the most devoted fanclub could ever manage. That saw Maverick Viñales take a late turn at the top of the standings, the Suzuki enjoying the cool conditions to go significantly faster than the field, only Jorge Lorenzo within a second of his fellow Spaniard.
Marc Marquez was the early leader after the first run, the championship leader then becoming the first faller in the class, crashing into turn twelve on the following outlap. A change of leathers later, the Honda rider went back out to reclaim his top spot, before being bumped down to third.