Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP has turned upside down

Britons winning MotoGP races, Suzuki beating Honda and Yamaha – what’s behind all these upsets?

What the hell is going on? The MotoGP World Championship seems to have shifted on its axis and nothing seems to be quite the same anymore.

There have been seven different winners in the last seven races (the first time that’s happened since GP racing started shortly after the Second World War), there have been four first-time winners (the first time that’s happened since 1982) and there have been four different winning manufacturers (for the first time in a decade), with Suzuki scoring its first dry-weather victory since 2000. It’s the same throughout the paddock: this year there have been 21 different race winners across three classes, that’s the greatest number since 1982, when there were five classes: 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc.

2016 Silverstone Saturday MotoGP Round Up: Tires Wet & Dry, Losing FP4, and a Fast Dutchman

The year of weird weather continues. After a fine Friday, and a foggy but dry start to Saturday, the rain moved in during practice for Moto2, and increased in intensity for qualifying, varying on and off during MotoGP FP4 and then the two qualifying sessions. Tomorrow will most likely be dry, though there are threats of a very light rain at various points throughout the day.

Then again, we are at Silverstone in September. It can hot and sunny, or cold, wet, and windy, sometimes all on the same day. But add a wet qualifying to the rain in Assen, the Sachsenring, and Brno, and the weather is having a serious effect on the championship. Saturday was no exception.

With FP4 wet, the MotoGP grid lost their main practice session, where the teams work solely on the race without worrying about whether they would get through to Q2 or not. But the session was useful nonetheless. Michelin had brought three different front wet tires, and a couple of wet compounds for the rear.

2016 Silverstone Moto3 FP3 Result: The Navarro Show

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.

2016 Silverstone MotoGP Friday Round Up - A Lost Day, Where We Learned Little

"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.

2016 Silverstone Moto3 FP2 Result: Navarro In Fine Form

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.


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