Although stands were sensibly full, the one spectator who did not turn up in Silverstone as expected was the sun, temperatures lower than predicted as riders lined up on the grid. That did not stop the premier class from putting on a show on their long-awaited return to the British GP and Fabio Quartararo perhaps predictably served a faultless ride to become the seventh different winner in the last seven visits to Silverstone. The Frenchman brought Yamaha back to the limelight on British soil after 20 impressive laps but the rest of the podium men had plenty to celebrate too. Having started 10th on the grid, Alex Rins pulled off another of his comebacks to claim his first podium of the season, but perhaps the biggest cheer in pitlane came from the Aprilia box, after Aleix Espargaro rode a feisty last lap to secure their first podium in MotoGP.
The hierarchy looked a little different at the start of those 20 laps, when surprise poleman Pol Espargaro kept the lead into turn 1, closely followed by Quartararo, Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Marc Marquez and Jorge Martin. Although the Ducatis had made a nervy start, they quickly recovered their original positions. The poleman had extended a half second gap immediately from brother Aleix, Bagnaia and Quartararo, who traded places a few times on that first lap, but the threat from Marquez and Martin never materialised as the Spanish duo tangled and ended their race at turn 9. That promoted Jack Miller to 5th place ahead of Valentino Rossi and the two Suzukis. Johann Zarco was one second behind the chasing group and ahead of Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez, who made solid progress from 17th on the grid to knock on the doors of the top 10 early on, together with Brad Binder.
Back at the front, Aleix Espargaro had reeled in his brother by lap 3 and attacked him at Stowe but the overly optimistic move dropped him back to second. Meanwhile, Quartararo got past Bagnaia and set off for the Espargaros, leaving the factory Ducatis in the company of Joan Mir. Both Suzukis had gotten past Rossi at this stage, who was soon getting harassed by the LCR men and was starting to fade.
Quartararo soon broke up the Espargaro party as he got past Aleix one lap later and broke away from the chasers in his pursuit of the poleman. Pol Espargaro lost the lead on lap 5, at Farm curve, and Quartararo immediately attempted to stretch a gap at the front, getting a one second advantage over the next half a lap. Aleix became his closest Espargaro after he got past his brother one lap later, but the Aprilia man could not keep up with the Yamaha’s pace and the gap to the leader continued to increase. The Espargaros also had a sizeable group behind them, including the Suzukis and the factory Ducatis, who had an advantage of 1.5 seconds on the remaining Marquez and Rossi.
Quartararo continued to steadily increase his lead, up to 2 seconds over Aleix by lap 8, while Pol got pushed off the provisional podium by Rins. Status quo was maintained to the halfway point of the race, with no moves made in the top 10, but Mir and the Ducatis seemed to be losing touch with the podium battle. Rins became the favourite in that particular battle when he attacked for second with 9 laps remaining, helped by Aleix Espargaro running wide and leaving the siblings to duel it out for the final podium position. One second behind, Miller took up the pursuit from Mir and less than two seconds behind, Alex Marquez got past a quickly fading Bagnaia for seventh place.
While Quartararo was managing a three second gap to Rins, the Suzuki man couldn’t shake off the Espargaros and Miller also joined the party for the final 7 laps, leaving Mir over two seconds behind. A mistake from Pol Espargaro at Stowe made things easier for Miller, who claimed fourth, but finding a way past Aleix proved more difficult, the Aprilia man keeping the Ducati behind until the final lap.
While Fabio wrapped up his cruise to victory, Rins, Aleix Espargaro and Miller started that final lap in close proximity and the pressure was on the Aprilia man to defend a precious podium from Miller. The Australian had one try to overtake but Aleix retaliated immediately at turn 14 and defended beautifully to secure third place at the checkered flag. Pol Espargaro finished four seconds later in fifth, with Binder pulling off another late comeback to make it six manufacturers in the top six. The KTM man had caught up with Mir with three laps remaining and the reigning world champion also got demoted by Iker Lecuona and Alex Marquez, dropping him to 9th place.
Quartararo’s masterful display coupled with underwhelming results for his closest challengers in the championship standings sees the Frenchman extend his advantage to 65 points from Mir. Zarco, who finished 11th, is 69 points behind his compatriot, while Bagnaia’s 14th place finish dropped him to fourth, another point back.
|Not Finished 1st Lap