Viñales Ends Suzuki’s Long Wait

Ten years af­ter Suzuki won its first Mo­toGP race, Mav­er­ick Viñales won the com­pany’s sec­ond, run­ning away out front and leav­ing the pur­su­ing pack to en­ter­tain the 75,000 fans


CAL CRUTCHLOW, Valentino Rossi, Marc Mar­quez and An­drea Ian­none used Sil­ver­stone’s wide, open spaces to slug it out for much of the race, while Jorge Lorenzo en­dured yet an­other night­mare. Viñales’ vic­tory made some more his­tory — he was the sev­enth dif­fer­ent premier-class win­ner in seven races; the first time that’s hap­pened since the dawn of Grand Prix rac­ing in 1949. The main rea­sons be­hind this thrilling un­pre­dictabil­ity are Mo­toGP’s new uni­fied soft­ware, new Miche­lin tyres and a run of in­con­sis­tent weather.


This was one of those great races where no one had a clue who would win: rainaf­fected prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing had pre­vented ev­ery­one from do­ing long runs to fully as­sess tyre wear. And that turned out to be a big plus for Suzuki, who al­ways strug­gle when the more ex­pe­ri­enced teams have time to get 100 per cent di­alled in.

When the lights went out, Viñales shot straight into the lead, but mo­ments later the red flags came out fol­low­ing a huge smash in­volv­ing Pol Es­par­garo (Mon­ster Yamaha) and Loris Baz (Av­in­tia Ducati). The restart was pretty much a car­bon copy — Viñales swept past Crutchlow to take the lead on the first lap and pulled off a kind of magic dis­ap­pear­ing act: by lap two he was nine­tenths ahead, by lap five 2.2, by lap ten 3.7, and by lap 13 of 19, 5.1; then he eased off to fin­ish thee sec­onds ahead.

“The bike was per­fect; I could use the front more and had great cor­ner speed,” said the 21-year-old, who quits Suzuki in Novem­ber. “I couldn’t be­lieve it, to es­cape like that with so many great rid­ers be­hind me. Fi­nally, I won a Mo­toGP race! The front-row start was the key, and now I want more! This win is so great, es­pe­cially for the team and the fac­tory who de­serve it for all their work.”

While Viñales con­tin­ued his re­gal progress, all hell was break­ing loose be­hind, with Crutchlow, Rossi, Mar­quez and Ian­none lock­ing horns. Sil­ver­stone is wide, open and fast, so it creates sim­i­lar kinds of races to Phillip Is­land: lots of room for rid­ers to choose dif­fer­ent lines and run crazy close to one an­other.

The bat­tle swung this way and that. At first Mar­quez seemed to have the up­per hand in bat­tle but he soon re­alised he had made a mis­take on tyre choice — he chose the soft front and he soon found he was strug­gling with sta­bil­ity into cor­ners. And he also had rear-end pump­ing is­sues, los­ing places to Crutchlow and then Ian­none and he fought to keep his RCV on the straight and nar­row.

All that al­lowed Rossi to get the bet­ter of the skir­mish and move into sec­ond at one-third dis­tance. It seemed as if he would then set off in pur­suit of Viñales, but he had nei­ther the pace to chase the Suzuki nor the speed to es­cape the clutches of Mar­quez and the rest.

By half-dis­tance the man on the move was Ian­none, who was scyth­ing through the pack. Sixth for the first half of the race, hang­ing around at the back of the group, he sud­denly seemed to find some ex­tra speed that took him past Pe­drosa and Crutchlow in a cou­ple of laps. Then he at­tacked Rossi, mak­ing a rough pass on the nine-time champ as they ex­ited Copse, wav­ing an apol­ogy to his friend as they sped to­wards the Mag­gots/ Beck­etts sec­tion.

Rossi soon had him back, get­ting a bet­ter drive on to the main Hangar straight and re-pass­ing the Ducati. Then he got stuck into a vi­cious duel with Mar­quez. The pair made con­tact at least once, reawak­en­ing mem­o­ries of Sepang 2015. “But this was dif­fer­ent,” said Rossi later. “Be­cause this time both of us had the same tar­get.”

Ian­none’s race ended when he lost the front at the Brook­lands righthander, with six laps to go. “I had arm pump in my right arm for the first time in years,” he ex­plained. “I was ba­si­cally rid­ing with my left arm only; when I hit a bump, the front folded.”

When Ian­none fell he left Crutchlow in sec­ond, the Brit hav­ing forced his way past both Rossi and Mar­quez. But Mar­quez, no mat­ter that he had a world ti­tle at stake, still wasn’t fin­ished. He re­took Rossi and then went af­ter Crutchlow. On the penul­ti­mate lap they swapped po­si­tions sev­eral times un­til they ap­peared to touch at the end of the 200mph (322 km/h) Hangar straight. Mar­quez didn’t have enough front grip

to dare en­ter­ing the cor­ner, so he ran on to the as­phalt run-off, which dropped him be­hind Crutchlow, Rossi and Pe­drosa. By the fin­ish he could only man­age to over­come his team-mate.

Ahead of him Crutchlow kept his head down to fin­ish half a sec­ond ahead of Rossi, who was 1.9 sec­onds ahead of Mar­quez, who bet­tered Pe­drosa by four-tenths.

While Viñales had ploughed a lonely fur­row out front, the next four all knew they had laid on some ma­jor en­ter­tain­ment for the fans. “It was great to be a part of that bat­tle,” said Crutchlow af­ter his third podium in three races. “I had a great bat­tle with Marc and Valentino, and I gave as good as got. My con­grat­u­la­tions to Mav­er­ick for the win.”

Rossi had re­duced Mar­quez’s cham­pi­onship ad­van­tage from 53 points to 50. “But three points is not so much,” he ad­mit­ted. “The good thing is to be on the podium and to be in an ex­cit­ing bat­tle like that. My bat­tle with Marc was strong but fair, even though I know he has a spe­cial treat­ment for me!”

Mar­quez missed the podium for only the third time this year but was happy enough. “I tried to man­age the race with Valentino be­cause he is my main cham­pi­onship ri­val, so the pos­i­tive was we lose only three points,” said the 2013/2014 champ. “Five laps from the end I started to attack and, maybe, I took many risks to try and fin­ish sec­ond. Af­ter the first four laps I felt the soft front was a mis­take be­cause it was mov­ing too much

and the bike [was] slow to turn, so was us­ing my el­bows all the time try­ing to man­age the front.”

Pe­drosa was also happy af­ter one of his strong­est show­ings on Miche­lins. Dovizioso led the next group, six sec­onds fur­ther back, tak­ing sixth place, com­fort­ably ahead of Aleix Es­par­garo and Lorenzo, who had yet an­other night­mare. And this time in the dry! “We made a gam­ble with the set­ting, but it didn’t work,” said the reign­ing champ, now a dis­tant third on points.

Danilo Petrucci (Pra­mac Ducati) and Al­varo Bautista (Aprilia) com­pleted the top 10. Alex Lowes, sub­bing for the injured Bradley Smith at Mon­ster Yamaha, had an im­pres­sive Mo­toGP début, fin­ish­ing 13th, just be­hind Laverty and in front of Hec­tor Bar­bera (Av­in­tia Ducati). Red­ding fin­ished last af­ter two tum­bles: he had changed his rear tyre be­fore the restart and the tyre kept push­ing the front.


HOME HERO SAM LOWES (Fed­eral Oil Kalex) was firm favourite for a Bri­tish GP win af­ter dom­i­nat­ing prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing. But it was not to be — the young Bri­ton was chas­ing leader Tom Luthi (In­ter­wet­ten Kalex) when he was wiped out by se­ries leader Jo­hann Zarco (Ajo Kalex).

The pair were just be­hind Luthi — who had missed the pre­vi­ous race due to a head in­jury — when Zarco dived across the in­side kerb to col­lide with Lowes. Zarco stayed on but was given a 10-sec­ond penalty which dropped him to 22nd. The in­ci­dent was a night­mare for Lowes, who was go­ing all out for a home win, but it may also play a ma­jor part in the out­come of the world cham­pi­onship. Af­ter the Aus­trian GP Zarco led closes-trival Alex Rins (Pag­i­nas Amar­il­las Kalex) by 34 points; af­ter this race his ad­van­tage had been re­duced to just 10 points.


BRAD BIN­DER (RED BULL KTM) scored his fourth win of the year to move 86 points clear in the Moto3 ti­tle chase, but this was pos­si­bly the South African’s tough­est

Mahin­dra rider Bag­naia (21) was sim­ply su­perb in Sil­ver­stone how­ever, he could only man­aged to get P2 win so far. For much of the race the lead­ing group com­prised a dozen or more rid­ers, po­si­tions chang­ing ev­ery cor­ner, with plenty of bump­ing and barg­ing along the way.

The only po­ten­tial win­ner who ended up on the floor was Jorge Navarro (Estrella Gali­cia Honda), who had charged through from 18th on the grid, only to be wiped out by an­other rider with two laps to go.

That in­ci­dent split the huge lead pack, leav­ing Bin­der to fight for the win with team-mate Bo Bend­sney­der and Francesco Bag­naia (North­gate Mahin­dra). Bin­der crossed the line 0.183 sec­onds ahead of Bag­naia, with first-time podium fin­isher Bend­sney­der a fur­ther 0.336 sec­onds back. The top eight were sep­a­rated by one sec­ond.

There he goes, Mav­er­ick Viñales got the lead early on in the race and he con­verted that into a win

The young Spa­niard (Viñales) leads the way with vet­er­ans like Rossi fol­low­ing

Crutchlow too was at his best at Sil­ver­stone bag­ging P2

Marc and Rossi had quite a few hairy mo­ments, for­tu­nately no one crashed

Luthi, Mor­bidelli and Nak­agami on the podium at Sil­ver­stone

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