Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) goes into this weekend’s British Grand Prix aiming to further extend his advantage in the closest-ever MotoGP title race.
The reigning World Champion, who has won three of the past four MotoGP crowns, is riding superbly, with two victories and three further podiums from the last five races. Working closely with HRC and his Repsol Honda Team crew he has found a sweet feeling with his RC213V that allows him to compete at the front in all kinds of conditions.
British summer weather is notoriously unpredictable, but Marquez arrives at Silverstone ready to challenge for another victory, rain or shine. The 24-year-old Spanish phenomenon has had some great rides at the challenging high-speed circuit, which started out as a wartime airbase and hosted its first motorcycle Grand Prix in 1977, taking over from the Tourist Trophy event on the Isle of Man. He won the 2014 Silverstone MotoGP race, stood on the MotoGP podium in 2013, finished in the Moto2 top three in 2012 and won the 125cc race in 2010, his first visit to the track. Last year he finished one place off the MotoGP podium a close fourth, after a thrilling contest for second place.
Five-times a World Champion across all three MotoGP categories, Marquez currently holds a 16-point advantage over second-placed Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) with seven of 18 races remaining. The championship is so close that fifth-overall Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) is only 35 points behind and therefore still very much in the hunt.
The 31-year-old former 125cc and 250cc World Champion has joined Marquez on the podium at the last three races, confirming the impressive performance of the Repsol Honda Team. Pedrosa has yet to win a MotoGP race at Silverstone, so far finishing twice on the podium, in 2012 and again in 2013, when he set the fastest lap. However, he did enjoy MotoGP glory at Donington Park, the circuit that hosted the British GP between 1987 and 2009. Pedrosa, who has won 30 MotoGP races so far, took premier-class victory at Donington in July 2006 and 250 victories in 2004.
British fans are hoping that Honda’s top independent-team rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) will be able to repeat his stunning ride from last year, when the Coventry-born 31-year-old was in the thick of that three-way battle for second and third place, eventually taking second, a fraction ahead of Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and Marquez.
Crutchlow joined the MotoGP grid in 2011, after winning both World Superbike races at Silverstone in 2010. Last year’s rousing second place was the highlight of his six Silverstone MotoGP outings, several of which have been dogged by ill luck. The result was also one of four podiums during 2016, including his first two premier-class victories at the Czech and Australian GPs. Crutchlow’s Brno success was the first by a British rider in the class of kings since Barry Sheene won the 1981 Swedish GP.
Honda’s other independent-team riders will be looking to get back on track after a difficult Austrian GP a fortnight ago. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was chasing a top-ten finish when he slid off, while Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) finished out of the points. Both men have been regular points scorers this year, although Rabat has had a difficult time at the last few races. The Spaniard certainly knows how to ride Silverstone: he won the 2014 Moto2 race at the track, on his way to taking that year’s Moto2 World Championship.
More than half this year’s MotoGP grid graduated to the premier-class from the hard-fought Moto2 series, in which all riders use identically prepared Honda CBR600 engines, provided by Honda. And this year’s Moto2 leader is already MotoGP bound next year. Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), who extended his lead with a superbly judged victory at the Red Bull Ring two weeks ago, will ride an RC213V with his current team in 2018.
Morbidelli has shown real class this year, with seven victories from 12 races. The 22-year-old Italian, who is a member of Rossi’s VR46 rider academy, currently leads Swiss ace Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) by 26 points. However, Moto2 is always closely fought, with just 2.5 seconds covering the top three in Austria: Morbidelli, then Marc’s younger brother Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) and Luthi.
Thirty-year-old Luthi is mounting an impressively consistent challenge, with nine podium finishes so far, including victory at the Czech GP earlier this month. Marquez’s season has been somewhat more up and down, the 21-year-old scoring two wins and three further podium finishes.
Marquez stands 28 points behind Luthi and 20 points ahead of fourth-overall Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) who suffered his first DNF in Austria after crashing out. The Portuguese is comfortably placed ahead of impressive rookie Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex) and veteran Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), winner of June’s Italian Grand Prix.
Seventh-placed Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) is looking forward to his first race since confirming his promotion to MotoGP in 2018, alongside Crutchlow at LCR Honda. The talented 25-year-old from Chiba has scored three podium results this year and rode to a spirited fourth-place finish in last month’s Suzuka 8 Hours.
Honda is dominating Moto3 – almost always the most closely fought race across MotoGP’s three categories. Riders of the single-cylinder NSF250RW have won ten of the 11 races so far and hold the top six positions in the World Championship. Spanish teenager Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) is by far the standout performer, with seven wins, including a hat-trick at the last three races and Austrian GP victory from tenth on the grid. No wonder Mir has already agreed terms to move up to Moto2 next year.
Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) is Mir’s closest challenger but the Italian is a massive 64 points in arrears, so his championship chances are slender at best. Fenati won April’s Grand Prix of the Americas and was enjoying a run of four consecutive second-place finishes when he slumped to 13th in Austria. That leaves him only 14 points ahead of Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW), who has won two races this year, including his maiden Grand Prix success at Jerez in May.
British hope John McPhee (British Talent Team NSF250RW) has already stood on the podium on three occasions, including second-place finishes at the first two races. However, he’s had a few tough weekends since, including the recent Austrian round where he crashed out while in a multi-battle for the podium. The 23-year-old from Oban, Scotland, won his first Grand Prix in the Czech Republic last year. He is currently sixth overall behind Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW).
This year’s British GP is an important event for the future of British motorcycle racing, with MotoGP rights-holders Dorna completing the selection process for next year’s inaugural British Talent Cup, established to create British stars of the future. Honda will provide Moto3 machinery for this exciting new series.
Remarkably, there has never been a homegrown winner of the premier-class British Grand Prix. The last British winner of the country’s premier-class World Championship event was Yorkshireman Mick Grant, won the 1975 Senior TT on the Isle of Man road course, which after 1976 was deemed too dangerous for Grand Prix competition.
Silverstone is a great Grand Prix circuit, offering huge challenges to riders and engineers with its fast, bumpy and twisting layout. The venue is the longest in the championship – at 5.9km/3.6 miles – and includes 18 corners, many of them high-speed tests of skill and daring.
MotoGP moves south after Sunday’s racing for the San Marino Grand Prix on September 10. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 12.
Honda MotoGP rider quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team:
“Step by step, we’ve been able to find a good base for our bike and this is very good, as one of my goals is to always be there at the front and be very consistent at all tracks and in all conditions. Of course we’ll try for the same at Silverstone, a circuit that I like, though we know it will be a challenging round as our opponents are usually very strong there. Last year we did a good job during the weekend and only on race day we probably didn’t make the perfect choice with the front tire. This year we’ll try and do everything to be able to fight for the podium again.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team:
“The team is working well. In Austria we overturned a difficult weekend to get a positive result in the race. Now we go to a difficult track which is bumpy and where the weather is always unstable! We’ll be aiming to improve and be focused because last year was difficult so we must be out lapping and learning about the tires and the setup to be prepared for Sunday’s race.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda:
“I’m looking forward to Silverstone because it’s always good to go home. I’ll be fighting even harder to make up for the bad result I got in Austria. I finished 15th there, so it will be good if I can fight for the podium again in Britain. Being on the podium certainly isn’t out of the question; winning could be a bit trickier! Marc is riding unbelievable now, so we will do what we can to match his pace. I had a good pace at the end of the last race, it was just the first few laps that caused us issues.”
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“The build up to Silverstone last year wasn’t ideal, as I was still struggling with the injury I picked up in Austria. This year I head to England fully fit and feeling good after a week spent training in Andorra. It’s the first time I’ve been back here since I left for the Dutch TT in June and it’s been good to get out on the bicycle and do some proper training. We need to get the season back on track at the British Grand Prix after two difficult races in the Czech Republic and Austria. We started the season finishing regularly inside the top ten and that’s where we need to be again this weekend.”
Tito Rabat, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“The last three races have been difficult as we’ve been struggling a little bit. I missed out on points in Sachsenring, Brno and Spielberg so our target in Silverstone has to be to finish in the points on Sunday. We are working hard to achieve this and I believe it’s a realistic goal. Silverstone is one of my favorite circuits, and one where I had some success in Moto2. The track has a bit of everything; fast corners, long straights, slow corners, technical sections, it’s a real rider’s track and I enjoy racing there. Hopefully we can turn the second half of the season around this weekend and come away with some points on Sunday.”
Honda Moto2 rider quotes
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“To come back and win in Austria after the bad luck in Brno was important, as it means I move on to Silverstone with some confidence. We need to see what the weather brings this weekend, as it’s always unpredictable in Britain, but the track is something of a challenge too. It’s long, it’s wide and it has a lot of corners, which makes it tricky to master. Last year I finished second and it would be good to go one better this year. That’s what we will be working towards and I have every confidence in my crew, who I know will give me the most competitive package whatever the conditions this weekend.”
Thomas Luthi, CarXpert Interwetten:
“We had a very positive test at the Red Bull Ring the day after the Austrian GP. We worked on various aspects of the bike, especially braking, which had caused me some troubles during the race. We found some good answers which I’m excited to confirm at Silverstone. It’s a quite different track and I like it. Last year’s British race will always stay in my memory – winning a GP two weeks after a bad crash at Brno! The British fans show a lot of passion, so I’m sure it will be a good show.”
Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“We head to Great Britain with a lot of motivation after two really good races and two second places in the Czech Republic and Austria. Now we need to carry this momentum into Silverstone while continuing to work to find the few tenths we need to challenge consistently for the top step of the podium. Silverstone is another of my favorite tracks and one at which I’ve enjoyed some success in the past. I’m confident we can come away with a good result this weekend too.”
Honda Moto3 rider quotes
Joan Mir, Leopard Racing:
“The last few races have been amazing, so we will go to Silverstone with the plan to keep on working in the same way. I managed to break away from the other guys in Austria but this will be more difficult this weekend, because of the character of the track, which is mostly very fast and open. I expect a big battle, so we must prepare as best we can and make sure we keep taking some points.”
Romano Fenati, Marinelli Rivacold Snipers:
“After a bad result in Austria we need a good weekend to regain confidence and keep our spirits up. Silverstone is a track that I really like. It’s more suitable than Austria for my riding style, so if we keep focused we can do well, weather permitting!”
Aron Canet, Estrella Galicia 0,0:
“I come into the race in Silverstone with great expectations, because last year I rode with the front group, without knowing the circuit, in windy and cloudy conditions. This year will be different because I already know the track and I know that the weather can be a challenge at Silverstone. It is a difficult circuit, quite long, where it often rains and where it can also be very windy. However, we can’t fight against this, so we will have to adapt in the best way possible. If the race is held in the dry I hope to finish in the first five or six.”