The riders’ unanimous wish for good (or at least dry) weather came true as the grid aligned to take the start on the British track. But the situation wasn’t quite as rosy, the race getting stopped before completing an actual lap due to a crash in turn two, Pol Espargaro and Loris Baz colliding violently and needing trackside medical care. After the riders had been attended to, deemed conscious and the debris cleaned up, the riders lined up for a nineteen-lap second attempt.
With the modest temperatures, the sun was (only metaphorically) shining over Maverick Viñales’s podium shots and the Spaniard put in a sublime ride to lead the race from start to finish and give Suzuki their first victory in nine years. We were also rewarded with a seventh new winner in seven consecutive races and the fourth first-time winner of the season. Otherwise it was a familiar podium, shared with fellow front row starters Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi, although the story of the race wasn’t as straightforward as that.
Vinales took the lead on the first lap, Marc Marquez up to second as the Suzuki was already starting to build a gap. Marquez won’t have minded the restart after a poor start and a close call with Scott Redding dropping him towards the back of the top ten first time around.
The rapid Suzuki pushed strong at the front as Marquez on the softer front tyre was slowing down the contenders on the harder option. With fourteen laps to go, Valentino Rossi found a way past Marquez and set off to chase his future teammate, although the gap never dropped and the Italian could not shake off the Hondas of Marquez, Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa.
With ten laps to go, all hell went loose in the chasing pack. The three Hondas plus Rossi kept rubbing elbows, with Iannone getting through on them all on a soft tyre combination. As the two Italians were duelling, Vinales was almost five seconds ahead already.
With six laps to go, Crutchlow went for podium glory as Iannone crashed out of second place, leaving Rossi and Marquez to fight tooth and nail for the final podium spot, the Spaniard adding a run-off excursion and an incredible scrap with his Italian archenemy to the script. With four laps to go, the world championship leader pulled the pin to hunt down Crutchlow. Another tight fight ensued but Marquez went wide to drop back behind Rossi and Pedrosa. A last lap lunge put him back in front of Pedrosa and into fourth place.
With Pedrosa having an encouraging race in fifth, the two Hondas were followed by the first Ducati across the line, Andrea Dovizioso in sixth. Despite a one-second penalty, Aleix Espargaro finished seventh, ahead of a pretty anonymous Jorge Lorenzo, the world champion failing to make up more than one place from his starting position. The top ten was completed by Danilo Petrucci and Alvaro Bautista, the Spanish rider picking up some good points for Aprilia in tenth.
With Rossi finishing his 250th MotoGP race on the podium, right in front of the championship leader and Lorenzo spending his 150th lower down the order, Marquez still keeps a healthy lead in the title fight, 50 points ahead of Rossi. Another 14 points now separate the Yamaha teammates.
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Ducati||6 Laps|
|6||Stefan BRADL||Aprilia||17 Laps|
|76||Loris BAZ||Ducati||0 Lap|
|44||Pol ESPARGARO||Yamaha||0 Lap|