Still cool, still windy and with an added dash of dark cloud cover – that was the welcome the premier class got for their second outing of the day. Riders gave their best to beat the rain and book a provisional place into Q2 while still putting in long runs to gather sufficient data for the race. The weather proved kind and allowed Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez to resume their remote duel for top honours. Their first battle ended in a stalemate for second best once Valentino Rossi slowly nipped at the benchmark and set himself at the top of the timesheets in the final ten minutes.
Silverstone, Great Britain
If the first session of the day came with a side of sun, it was looking like a much more familiar sight for FP2, a big dark cloud spreading over the circuit and biding its time. The Moto3 line-up was out to play and managed to sneak in a handful of laps before the threat of rain became reality halfway through the session.
The last men to sample the new surface in Silverstone were the intermediate class riders and Marcel Schrotter immediately took to it, the German flying the flag for Dynavolt at the top of the timesheets for most of the session. The most recent polemen at the track battled for runner up position and Mattia Pasini came out on top by two tenths of a second. Back on familiar terrain and with his near future secured, Sam Lowes threatened the leader but could only get within half a second of Schrotter and settled for third.
The sun decided to have a look at the premier class as they prepared to hit the track for the first time this weekend and not only the weather turned but also Yamaha’s fortune. In a flashback to last year, Maverick Viñales looked happy for a change as the Spaniard set camp at the top of the timesheets, with his Yamaha in its element in sector four. To help the mood in the garage, teammate Valentino Rossi made it a one-two, finishing under two tenths of a second behind Viñales.
It was a classic British welcome that started a scarf trend in pitlane before the first session of the weekend got off to a start. The lightweight class were tasked with testing the new track surface in chilly and windy conditions – quite uncharacteristic to this season – so they tip-toed their way around the bumps in the initial stages.
Cal Crutchlow has added an extra year onto his contract with HRC to race in the LCR Honda team for the 2020 season. This means the Englishman will be remaining at the LCR Honda team for the next two years, bringing him into line with almost the whole of the rest of the MotoGP grid. At the end of the 2020 season, Crutchlow will be involved in the next wave of contract madness, with all factory seats (with the possible exception of one Ducati seat), falling open at the same time.
Crutchlow's announcement will not be the only one to take place today. Alvaro Bautista is scheduled to be in the Thursday press conference at Silverstone, where he is expected to announce he has signed for the Aruba.it Ducati team in WorldSBK.
The press releases from HRC and from the LCR Honda team appear below:
CRUTCHLOW EXTENDS HIS CONTRACT WITH HRC AND LCR UNTIL 2020
PRESS RELEASE: 23 August 2018 | OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
A permanent and bitter debate rages among British fans over where the home of the British round of MotoGP should be. One faction believes that Donington Park should play host to MotoGP. The other states categorically that, no, the true home of MotoGP in the UK is the Silverstone circuit. (There is a third, far smaller faction which claims that Brands Hatch is where the British Grand Prix should be held. Blinded by nostalgia, they hark back to the halcyon days of World Superbikes, when fans packed the track to watch Carl Fogarty dominate. But they ignore the fact that the circuit is too short, too tight, and frankly, too dangerous to play host to 270+hp MotoGP machines. The Ducati would barely get out of third gear around Brands. The Brands Hatch faction can safely be ignored.)
The battle lines between Donington and Silverstone are clearly drawn. Donington is set on a rolling hillside, with grass banks where fans can watch a large part of the action. Fans love Donington for the views, and for the access (though not so much for the facilities). Silverstone is a vast affair, with lots of fast sweeping corners where the MotoGP bikes can really stretch their legs. Racers love Silverstone for the challenge of riding fast and hard, but fans complain of limited access, limited views, and cold and windy seats up in grandstands.
Which track is better? In terms of racing, there is really no contest. Donington is too small, too tight to host a modern MotoGP machine. The final sector, the Melbourne Loop, was a late addition to find the necessary length to allow the track to qualify as a Grand Prix circuit. It was added without any thought or imagination on how to make the circuit more interesting.
Can the arrival of a new electronics engineer help Valentino Rossi save Yamaha from equalling its longest victory drought since the 1990s?
Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales have a solemn mission to perform this weekend at Silverstone. The pair needs to win Sunday’s race or the next one at Misano to prevent a sad new chapter being written in the annals of the Yamaha Motor Company.
If it fails to achieve victory at Silverstone, Yamaha will have gone 22 races without a premier-class win, equalling its worst victory drought since the 1990s, between Loris Capirossi winning the 1996 Australian Grand Prix and Simon Crafar winning the 1998 British GP.
And if Rossi and Viñales fail again at Misano next month, Yamaha will suffer its worst racing crisis since the company first entered the class of kings in 1973.
Two Wheels for Life, the official charity of MotoGP, will be holding its traditional Day of Champions fundraiding festival on Thursday, 23rd August, the day before practice starts for the British round of MotoGP at Silverstone. The charity issued the following press release announcing the event:
Day of Champions 2018 revving up to raise even more with the help of MotoGP™’s stars and fans
In little less than a week, racing fans will have the opportunity to mingle with the stars of MotoGP™ and help raise funds for Two Wheels for Life, the official charity of FIM and MotoGP™ at the annual Day of Champions (DOC) on Thursday 23 August.
It is hard to keep secrets in the MotoGP paddock (though not impossible, as Jorge Lorenzo's move to Repsol Honda conclusively proves). One of the worst kept secrets has been the news that the Sepang International Circuit, or SIC, is to expand its current operation to include a MotoGP team. Over the months since rumors first started circulating that Sepang was interested in running a MotoGP team, details have slowly dripped out, until we now have an almost complete picture. The whole picture is to be formally announced at Silverstone, at a press conference at 6pm BST on Friday.