Silverstone, Great Britain
Romano Fenati topped the afternoon session for the Moto3 class at Silverstone, beating fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli into 2nd. Alexis Masbou had strong session to take 3rd, while Jorge Navarro ended the session in 4th. After missing the morning session when a stone hit the bike and caused an oil leak, Kent ended FP2 in 6th, three quarters of a second behind Fenati. Enea Bastianini had fast crash during the session, and ended down in 26th.
Johann Zarco has topped the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Silverstone. The Frenchman was fast early, but came under sustained attack from Sam Lowes, the British rider swapping top spot with Zarco in the session, and coming up just short of Zarco at the end. Jonas Folger took 3rd spot, ahead of Tito Rabat and Lorenzo Baldassarri.
Marc Marquez has started Silverstone in determined mood, topping the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class from early in the session and never relinquishing his lead. Jorge Lorenzo ended the sesssion in second, but four tenths slower than Marquez, and nearly half a second faster than his teammate Valentino Rossi. A brace of Ducatis followed, Andrea Iannone ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Scott Redding had a strong first session, ending FP1 in 6th, less than two tenths behind Rossi in 3rd, and first satellite rider. Bradley Smith put the Tech 3 Yamaha into 7th, ahead of Dani Pedrosa.
With good weather expected this afternoon, and the possibility of rain on Saturday, the FP2 session this afternoon is likely to be crucial, and hard fought. A top 10 spot will be vital in FP2 if riders are to avoid the ignominy of going through Q1.
Jorge Navarro kicked off the British Grand Prix as fastest Moto3 rider, the Estrella Galicia man topping the timesheets on a cold but sunny Silverstone. Navarro put his Honda in front of a gaggle of KTMs, with Brad Binder at the lead, Isaac Viñales - now substituting for Niklas Ajo - and Miguel Oliveira, while Enea Bastianini took 5th slot. The day got off to a bad start for Danny Kent, the British rider suffering a technical problem with his Leopard Racing Honda, oil leaking from the engine, Kent forced to park up and sit out the session.
2015 Silverstone MotoGP Preview: The Ryanair Round, Silverstone's Peculiar Challenges, And The Silly Season Latest
The Irish budget airline Ryanair gained something of a reputation for being, shall we say, creative with the names of the airports it flies to. Fancy a trip to Sweden? They will fly you to Stockholm Skavsta, a mere 100 km from the city of Stockholm. The same trick is played out time and time again: Paris Beauvais? Beauvais is a charming French city, and well worth a visit, but it is very long way from the French capital. Munich West (Memmingen)? 112 km west of the Bavarian capital.
So perhaps we should call this British GP the Ryanair MotoGP round. Officially, it is being run by the Circuit of Wales, located in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. Yet the race is to be run around the Silverstone circuit, nearly 200 km further East. Close, it is not. How did it end up at Silverstone? Thereby hangs a long and convoluted tail.
The Circuit of Wales won the contract to organize the British round of MotoGP back in 2014, after outbidding Silverstone, who had been pushing to have the sanctioning fee for MotoGP reduced, as crowds at the circuit were not living up to expectations. Awarding the contract to the Circuit of Wales was a gamble by Dorna. The track existed only as a CAD file on a designer's computer, and the Head of the Valleys Development Company, the company behind the circuit, did not even have permission to actually build on the land they planned to put the circuit on.
Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and more:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Bradley Smith has signed on for another season with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. The British rider has extended his contract, and will continue to ride for the team in 2016.
The announcement and its timing had been widely expected, coming as it does just days before the start of the British round of MotoGP at Silverstone. Smith had made it clear since before the summer break that he wanted to stay with Tech 3, but the contract took longer to put together than hoped. Smith spoke of his frustration about the situation at Indianapolis, though by Brno, some progress appeared to have been made. The deal was finalized shortly after the Czech round of MotoGP, just in time to be announced at his home race.
The stumbling block to a new contract was ensuring that Smith received equal treatment with Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro for 2016. This had been a thorn in Smith's side throughout the season, as upgrades such as a new chassis arrived on Espargaro's side of the garage, but were not available for Smith. As the Englishman has lead his teammate in the championship throughout the 2015 season, Smith felt that he too deserved better treatment from Yamaha. Talks with the factory at Indianapolis helped clear the air, opening the way for a deal to be signed.
Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi head into Silverstone tied on points, with Lorenzo only leading because he has more wins to his name this season than his teammate. With the race that close, who does the season favor? Who will emerge victorious at the end? It is far too early to make any firm predictions, but perhaps we can guess from looking at last year.
There are seven races left in 2015, and the seven left this season are the exact same races in the exact same order as the last seven of 2014. That parallel invites comparisons, and the drawing of conclusions, though such conclusions are tenuous at best. However, there are tracks which favor Rossi, and tracks which favor Lorenzo, and their performance there may yet be indicative of the final outcome.
First, the numbers. Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo currently have 211 points after the first 11 races. With seven races left, there are a grand total of 175 points still up for grabs. Though neither rider is likely to run the board – they are too evenly matched for that – a look back at their performances last year can be instructive.
In the last seven races of 2014, Rossi won two, at Misano and Phillip Island, and Lorenzo won two, at Aragon and Motegi. Lorenzo took three second places, while Rossi ended in second just twice. Rossi ended in third two times, Lorenzo just a single time, and both riders scored a blank due to poor weather. Rossi crashed at Aragon on a damp track, while Lorenzo retired after a tire change at Valencia in half-wet, half-dry conditions.
With the news that the Brno round of MotoGP has been handed to a consortium consisting of local and regional governments, and that they are working to secure the long-term future of Brno, a major piece of the puzzle surrounding MotoGP's schedule for 2016 slotted into place. Brno, along with Indianapolis, had been the two biggest question marks still hanging over the calendar.
Most of the schedule fell into place once Formula One announced its calendar several weeks ago. The combination of an unusually late start (F1 kicks off in Melbourne on 4th April, two weeks later than last year) and an expansion of the schedule to 21 races has left few gaps for MotoGP to fit into. The upside to F1's late start is that MotoGP can get a head start on its four-wheeled counterpart, and kick the season off before F1 begins.
Preseason testing is slightly altered for 2016. Instead of two tests at Sepang, the MotoGP teams will head from Sepang to Phillip Island, and then on to Qatar, for a final test before the start of the season. Testing starts on the first three days of February, spending the 1st to the 3rd at Sepang, for the first start of the year. From there, the circus moves to Australia, for a three-day test at Phillip Island from 17th to the 19th February, before heading back across the equator to Qatar. MotoGP will test at the Losail circuit on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of March.
With just days to go until MotoGP hits the second half of the season, now is a good time to start asking the question who is in the hot seat for the 2015 MotoGP championship. Valentino Rossi leads the title chase by 13 points, but his lead is due more to his terrifying consistency than racking up win after win. Jorge Lorenzo had a seemingly invincible run from Jerez to Barcelona, but has also finished well off the podium. Andrea Iannone has been brilliantly consistent, but has not looked capable of winning, which is a prerequisite for a MotoGP title. Marc Márquez struggled in the first part of the season, but a new swing arm and a return to the 2014 chassis has taken the edge off the worst characteristics of the RC213V. Dani Pedrosa, meanwhile, missed too much of the first part of the season to be a factor.
Will Valentino Rossi pull off his his eighth MotoGP title, and his tenth title overall? Will Jorge Lorenzo become the first Spaniard to win three MotoGP titles? Or will Marc Márquez pull a rabbit out of the hat and take his third championship in a row? Let us run through the options and weigh the probabilities.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Where does the British Grand Prix belong?
Where should the British Grand Prix have its home? What we are looking for is a circuit that tests the mettle of the riders as much as the metal of the motorcycle. There would be only three on my list: Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Silverstone.
To my mind, racetracks should have some primal scream to them; they should be more than mere technical exercise. On the current calendar – outside Britain – that means Brno, Mugello, Phillip Island and possibly Sepang; four circuits from 17 foreign venues.
The provisional MotoGP calendar for 2015, updated on 11th February, when Silverstone was confirmed as replacing Donington:
Within a day of the announcement that the British round of MotoGP would not be held at Donington Park comes confirmation that the race will be held at Silverstone. The ending of the relationship between Donington and the Circuit of Wales meant that a replacement venue had to be found at short notice, and with only Silverstone currently capable of hosting a MotoGP round, the deal was quickly arranged.
The deal will see Silverstone host the British Grand Prix in both 2015 and 2016. By then, the Circuit of Wales hopes to have obtained both permission to build on public land, and the funding to actually start to do so, with the aim of hosting the 2017 race at the new track. The circuit faces considerable obstacles before that can happen, however.
Below is the press release issued by the Circuit of Wales and Silverstone announcing the deal:
Circuit of Wales announce they have reached an agreement to run British MotoGP™ at Silverstone in August 2015
- World Series by Renault move to early September
Donington Park Renounces Partnership With Circuit Of Wales - UK MotoGP Round Back At Silverstone In 2015?
The British round of MotoGP will not this year take place at Donington Park. In a shock statement, Donington announced they were breaking off their partnership with the Circuit of Wales to host the British GP. In the statement, Donington claimed that they had not received the funding promised to them by the Circuit of Wales, which was needed to perform the upgrades required for MotoGP. With no money forthcoming, Donington had no choice but to break the contract, leaving the British round of MotoGP without a home, at least temporarily. Reports on the Motorcycle News website suggest that Silverstone will host the British race instead, with senior staff from the circuit having spoken to Dorna in Barcelona last week.