The premier class race had to content with the highest temperature they’ve encountered at the British track this weekend and the heat was indeed turned up to the maximum by a handful of riders looking to hunt down the old fox that ran away at the start.
The one man who was victorious in the challenge was once again Andrea Dovizioso, the Ducati man scoring his fourth win of the season after he stopped Valentino Rossi’s charge, the legendary Italian aiming for a worthy celebration of his 300th Grand Prix start. The Yamaha man has to settle with third place honours once teammate Maverick Viñales got the best of the soft rear tyre and snatched second position to score his 50th career podium.
Rossi had stolen the lead at the start in a lively first lap that saw Dani Pedrosa overtaken by Dovizioso and Viñales taking Crutchlow with the early advantage given by the Spaniard’s soft rear tyre - the only lead contender to fit it on. Rossi was trying to run away with it at the front while Marc Marquez had an early moment on the hard rear, the warning keeping him within reach of Viñales. Behind them, Dovizioso made it past Cruthlow on lap two, with Jorge Lorenzo and Pedrosa also within reach of the podium places at the time and Pol Espargaro leading the second group seven tenths down the road.
Rossi also had seven tenths of his own on Marquez by lap three, teammate Viñales making it past his fellow Spaniard soon after to try and make up a gap of over a second on Rossi. Viñales had to get the best of the soft rear while at its best performance but Rossi brought down the four-year-old circuit record on the third lap of the race, making his teammate’s challenge all the more tricky.
The Italian kept the gap at around one second, the pursuers biding their time behind him, only Johann Zarco making a significant move to lead the second group in eighth position. Viñales didn’t let Rossi enjoy his lap record for long, beating it himself on the next lap, while Lorenzo and Pedrosa were struggling to keep up with the leaders down in sixth and seventh position and soon having to contend with Zarco’s charge. The Frenchman made it past Pedrosa for seventh place on lap nine but never got close enough to Lorenzo.
Dovizioso finally made a move on Marquez on lap six, the Ducati a missile on the straights, the duo keeping within reach of Viñales and with Crutchlow ready to hunt behind them. The Yamaha men at the front were separated by around eight tenths of a second for several laps, the young pretender chipping a tenth here and there but never quite close enough to mount an attack.
Halfway throuogh the race, the lead riders were still setting red sectors and the Yamahas did not look like having the usual tyre issues. In other notable events, Marquez and Dovizioso got a bit feisty on lap ten, Marquez taking his turn at breaking the circuit record in the process. Dovizioso struck back and briefly showed intentions to Viñales, letting Rossi get almost a second’s worth of a breather at the front.
The Ducati man made it stick for second position with nine laps remaining, Marquez following him through one lap later and Viñales looking like he was starting to feel the different tyre choice to his rivals. Despite all the dicing around, the chasers finally got within half a second of Rossi with eight laps to go. Viñales was going backwards and out of podium positions but was thrown a lifeline as Marquez‘s engine blew up with seven laps remaining and blew the championship right open once again.
Dovizioso might have inherited the title lead but the Italian smelt a victory, getting right on Rossi’s tail in the final six laps. Viñales wasn’t one to give up either and the Spaniard got within two tenths of Dovizioso, with Crutchlow breathing down his neck in the remaining four laps.
Dovizioso bided his time and finally went for it with three laps to go, getting past Rossi and giving some momentum to Viñales, who got past his teammate just a few moments later. The lead Ducati had stretched half a second’s advantage while the Yamahas battled. Vinales’ tyre choice was vindicated, the Spaniard looking with a realistic shot at the win on the final lap, some red sectors bringing him within one tenth of the leader in the final turns. Too little too late, the Italian taking the win from the Yamaha duo.
Behind them, Crutchlow could not get in on the action and finished as an elite spectator in fourth place. Lorenzo was almost two seconds down the road in fifth, another three seconds keeping Zarco in sixth and pretty much the same gap got Pedrosa seventh position. The top ten was completed by Scott Redding in eighth spot, Alex Rins ninth and Alvaro Bautista tenth - a good result for the trio but particularly for Suzuki, after Andrea Iannone crashed out with Danilo Petrucci in the final few laps.
Marquez’s misfortunes and Dovizioso’s sublime victory put the Italian in charge of the championship by nine points, Marquez now only four points ahead of Viñales. Rossi is now 26 points down on his leading compatriot with Pedrosa another nine points behind.
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||2 Laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||3 Laps|
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Suzuki||3 Laps|
|93||Marc MARQUEZ||Honda||7 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||Aprilia||15 Laps|