MotoGP: The British Motorcycle Grand Prix
Britain- Hang on weren’t we here last month?
After what felt like an eternity since Dovi fired down the inside of the last corner at Austria and won the race a fortnight ago, the MotoGP circus returned once again to the home of British motorsport, after the 2018 edition never went ahead due to severe rain.
Jorge Lorenzo returned after nearly two months out with back injuries from Assen, and unsurprisingly, he did struggle during Friday practice, finishing nearly stone dead last, as the Yamahas, in particular Fabio Quartararo, looked really good around the free flowing Siverstone track, and the rookie Frenchman was the only rider to consistently crack a sub-2 minute lap, but by Saturday morning, several riders had joined him, and the fight for Pole was wide open!
Through good planning from Pramac, Jack Miller timed his final run perfectly, and he benefitted from a tow behind Marc Marquez, who in turn got a tow behind Valentino Rossi, and on their final flying laps, the three of them were on pace to smash Quartararo’s provisional Pole time, and ultimately, it was Marquez once again who blew everyone away, with Rossi on the front row for the first time since Texas, and Jack achieving his second front-row position in 3 races!
That’s 60 Pole Positions for Marquez in 120 attempts…. the man’s insane.
Race (20 laps)
Of course, the start of the race coincided with the Aussies being flayed by the Ginger Ian Botham in Leeds, and what was about to happen no more than 10 seconds in was just as dramatic.
Fabio Quartararo fell at Copse, and the fast starting Dovi was left with absolutely nowhere to go, and the Ducati smashed straight into the fallen Yamaha, sending both the bike and Dovi airborne, causing a fire, and leaving us with the worrying sight of the Italian being taken off on a stretcher.
Dovi was taken to hospital after he suffered temporary memory loss (He was later cleared and released), and Quartararo was also hospitalised and diagnosed with a concussion, before being released.
In all of that, Jack fell to 7th, as it emerged on the overhead replay that he had to brake to avoid joining the pair as a retirement- On the bright side, he was still upright.
As the race settled down, Vinales passed Rossi at Stowe for 3rd with 14 laps to go, and Alex Rins on his Suzuki had worked his way up to 2nd, and thus, another epic head-to-head battle for a race win began!
With 12 laps to go, Rins used his speed advantage out of the pit straight to claim the lead at Copse, and then Marquez hit straight back at Stowe to reclaim the lead, and the cameras really showed that the Top 7 had absolutely spaced the field.
Hometown hero Cal Crutchlow started dropping off from Franco Morbidelli, and Jack very quickly closed right up on his mate, and passed the Pom at Stowe with 11 laps to go, as the KTMs of Johann Zarco and Miguel Oliveira later collided at The Loop, in what was a boneheaded move by Zarco, who was penalised 3 grid spots for the next race at San Marino.
With 10 laps to go, Marquez and Rins were the first riders to crack the sub-2 minute laps during the race, as they traded punches in a superb duel, with the Suzuki more than matching the Honda for mid-corner speed, especially out of Woodcote and on onto the pit straight, but the only problem was, Marquez wasn’t flinching.
With 8 laps to go, Crutchlow reclaimed 6th from Miller in the run down to Maggots, as Vinales was starting to bring himself into play for a late shot at victory, with the margin down to 1.2 seconds.
Rins made a slight mistake with 4 laps to go at Club, but managed to hold on to the bike, while Crutchlow and Miller kept swapping 6th and 7th, as Dani Petrucci was closing in from 8th, after being utterly invisible for the entire race.
With 2 laps to go, Rins was still climbing all over Marquez trying to force a mistake, and he claimed the lead briefly at Aintree, but Marquez used the tow to maintain the lead into , but Rins had the balls to try an imposible pass on the outside of the pit straight, but he ran wide, and the last lap battle began!
AS THE CORNERS TICKED DOWN, RINS KEPT STALKING THE REAR OF THE HONDA, AND THEN…
IN ONE LAST CRACK, RINS FLEW DOWN THE INSIDE IN THE CHARGE TO THE LINE, AND HE DID IT, HE BLOODY WELL WON IT, IN ANOTHER UTTERLY BONKERS MOTOGP FINISH!
On replay, Rins once again just flew like a rocket out of Luffield and Woodcote, and Marquez just didn’t have the edge grip to get the power down and stay in front, and after doing most of the work and driving pretty much flawlessly all day, the reigning champ was unbelievably beaten on the line… AGAIN!
Still, they shook hands and acknowledged the spectacle of the whole race.
The official margin was 0.013 seconds, the fourth-closest margin in the history of the premier class, and it came 40 years on from Kenny Roberts defeating Barry Sheene in the epic 1979 edition by a mere 0.030 seconds.
As you can also notice, Petrucci claimed Jack for 8th on the last lap to be the leading Ducati home, which I’m pretty disappointed about, considering all the good work Jack had done yesterday, he just never recovered after losing those spots at the start.
Is it possible, that a race as utterly incredible as Austria could have been topped by a moment like that?
When you consider that the pass came right on the line versus the final corner, I’d argue yes.
Combined with Rins’ win at Austin back in April, this is the first year since 2000 that Suzuki have won at least 2 races in a season, which was also the year Kenny Roberts Jr. won his world title.
Fancy that… it’s the end of August, and Suzuki have more wins than Yamaha.
Still, 2nd place and 20 points just further hammers home Marc’s advantage in the championship, which is now out to 78 points with 7 races to go!
It’s also worth noting that Jack has now passed his 2018 points tally- 94 points versus 91!
Moto2- The Remy Rollercoaster
Race: 18 laps
After the bitter disappointment of falling with victory in sight in Austria, Remy was looking quite good in Friday practice, finishing with the 2nd best time overall behind Jorge Navarro, as it was noticeable that the lap times on the 250cc bikes were 1.4 seconds better than last year.
In a good sign, Remy carried that speed into Qualifying, and would start from the 2nd row in 4th position, as Alex Marquez joined his brother in starting from Pole Position this weekend.
As a one-off for Britain due to time zone difference (The race started at 1pm BST), Moto2 was the last race on the card, instead of the usual race before the main event.
At the start, Marquez maintained the lead from Jorge Navarro, with Gardner getting away cleanly and holding on 4th, keeping pace with the leaders, and also battling Augusto Fernandez for 3rd.
With 13 laps to go, Brad Binder had worked his way from 8th and 4th, and soon engaged Gardner in a very entertaining fight for 3rd and 4th, with Binder passing Gardner at Stowe, but our man threw the elbows out and retook the position on exit, only for Binder to finish off the job on the run down to the Vale.
And then the race took an amazing turn with 12 laps to go, as the Championship leading Marquez inexplicably lost control and fell out of the race from the lead at Brooklands (Marquez said his overconfidence cost him), handing the lead to Jorge Navarro, who was on course for his first win in Moto2!
Gardner had briefly gone up to 2nd after the crash, but Binder and Fernandez soon passed the Kalex, and the three riders began cutting into Navarro’s lead.
Binder took the lead of the race with 6 laps to go with a pass at Brooklands, but Navarro kept himself within reach of the South African’s tow, and retook the lead down the Hangar Straight with 3 laps to go, and Fernandez soon took Binder for 2nd, and it was going to be another all-Spanish battle to end the weekend.
In yet another thrilling finish, Fernandez and Navarro nearly clashed wheels on the last lap on the run down to Brooklands, while Binder clung on from Gardner to held 3rd, but in the end, even when Marquez falls, a Spaniard still bloody wins- Fernandez winning out in the blast to the line!
Disappointing to see him fall agonisingly short of a podium, but for once, it’s good to see Remy get a good return for a good ride!
NEXT UP: THE SAN MARINO GRAND PRIX IN 3 WEEKS
Supercars: The Bend SuperSprint
Track: The Bend Motorsport Park
After just short of a month off since Ipswich, the Supercars returned to South Australia for their second trip around The Bend, a mere 100km outside of Adelaide.
And of course, we got some fairly big news about next year’s schedule- The Bend is taking over from Sandown as the annual 500km leg of the Enduro Cup from 2020!
Obviously with Sandown this year being moved back to the end of the Flemington Carnival in mid-November, it’s probably going to go back to sprint format that it was back in 2010-11.
Race 21 (24 laps)
Chas Mostert was able to turn the tables in Qualifying for Race 21, beating Scott McLaughlin to a surprise Pole, with Mark Winterbottom recording his best grid position in a Holden with 3rd, while the Red Bulls did well just to make the 4th and 5th rows, after getting absolutely blown away in practice by the Mustangs.
At the start, McLaughlin jumped Mostert as the back of the field descended into chaos, with the wildcard Thomas Randle and Macauley Jones tangling at Turn 1, and then further into the lap at Turn 6, Rick Kelly tagged James Courney, who in turn tapped and spun Will Davison, who was hit by a luckless Simona De Silvestro, and the carnage was capped off by Todd Hazelwood smashing into the Nissan’s rear wing, destroying his bonnet.
Davison, De Silvestro and Hazelwood all retired, and Kelly was penalised with a drive through.
McLaughlin comfortably led from Mostert as the Mustangs spaced the field, and Tickford decided to mix things up and bring Mostert in for an early stop on Lap 7 to try and put the pressure on the Series leader, but the Tickford crew had a slight problem in Mostert’s stop, whereas the Shell crew were clean, and it kept McLaughlin ahead.
Ultimately, it was pretty much a linear run to the end after that, as McLaughlin built up a solid gap in the run to the flag to claim win No.15 of the season, with Mostert’s 2nd placing moving him up to 3rd in the Championship, and Anton De Pasquale cracked it for another podium in 2019 in 3rd, beating out Frosty in his best result for the year in 4th.
Fabian Coulthard struggled once again, finishing in 12th, as his deficit to his teammate was now out to 514 points, with Mostert just 38 points further back.
Race 22 (48 laps)
Yet another Pole Position for McLaughlin, with Will Davison forgetting yesterday’s DNF to fire in his best Qualifying performance of the year to start in 2nd, with Whincup in 3rd, and the struggles of the Giz continued, as he qualified way down in 16th.
At the start, Davison and Whincup both jumped McLaughlin in the run to Turn 1, as there was more Lap 1 chaos for the second day running which ended in Winterbottom being sent into the wildflowers.
It remained fairly normal until Lap 4, when Whincup got crossed up at Turn 3 trying to take Davison for the lead, and McLaughlin had a far better corner exit and bruised past the Red Bull for 2nd, and he was soon heaping the pressure on Davo, who was after his first race win since Bathurst 2016.
McLaughlin came into the pits on Lap 10, and crucially came out in clear air, which caused the 23Red crew to bring the race leader in as cover, and they short-filled Davison, which allowed him to maintain what was the effective race lead for the time being.
Whincup pitted on Lap 12, but he soon lost the effective 3rd to the charging Mostert, who fired up the inside at Turn 1, and was looking the goods for his fourth podium on the bounce.
McLaughlin pitted again on Lap 18 to be fuelled to the end, once again posing the question to the 23Red boys, who once again covered the undercut and brought Davo in, who was due to take on more fuel than the Shell car, but also had to deal with an airbox issue which affected his exit from the pits, and ultimately allowed the Championship leader into the lead.
That really was the race there and then, especially given the final margin turned out to be a mere 2.5 seconds.
In the final 10 laps, Mostert was closing in on a down on power Davison, while Nick Percat had silently worked his way up to 5th, which became 4th, after Whincup went off at Turn 10 and fell out of podium contention.
In the end, in something that’s becoming a bigger certainty than death and taxes, Scotty McLaughlin bagged win No.16 in 2019, equalling Craig Lowndes’ single season record from 1996, with a somewhat unlucky Davison in a well-earned 2nd, and Mostert finishing 3rd for an all-Mustang podium, and the Croweater Percat was the first Holden home in 4th.
McLaughlin’s championship lead has now soared to 573 points, and another double podium finish means that Mostert is up into 2nd in the Championship!
NEXT UP: ACROSS THE ‘DUTCH’ AT PUKEKOHE IN 3 WEEKS