Moto3: Engine problem robs McPhee of podium hopes

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John McPhee’s chances at taking a podium finish or even a win at his home race were dashed in Sunday’s Moto3 race thanks to power woes with the British Talent Team Honda, leaving him wholly unable to be competitive on Silverstone’s three high-speed straights.

Starting out from a strong fifth place, he dropped back in the early stages of the race to outside the top ten and was never able to make it forward to run at the pace of the leaders, eventually coming home in a distant and disappointing 13th.

But he was adamant afterwards that after a routine engine swap for the British Talent Team following Saturday’s qualifying, something wasn’t quite right with the bike, robbing him of top end speed and ending any hopes of a debut home podium.

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“All weekend I felt really strong, comfortable on the bike, and thought I was in for a good result. But in warm-up the bike reacting a bit strange. We’d tried something different with settings, so we just put it back to what it was and thought that it would be fine – but in the race I was just losing so much compared to the other guys. We swapped engines before the race but it’s just something we just couldn’t have predicted.

“From start to finish I didn’t pass a single rider on any of the straights, which means it’s just impossible around Silverstone. If there was a gap, I was able to close in easily enough and get alongside them on the start of the straight, but then I’d be five bike lengths back by the end of the straight.”

And combined with a self admitted weakness in Sunday’s race on corner entry (normally a strong point for the Scottish rider) he was adamant afterwards that he was robbed of a chance at something better.

“I was having to make up time on corner entry, and I admit that that was my own weakness on Sunday. I still felt like I could manage it, but I was having to brake even earlier to set up the corner exit. It’s frustrating, because it’s something that we couldn’t really predict.

“Saturday we were top five every session, and it’s just frustrating because I wanted to be on the podium and believed that I could. With Saturday’s bike, which in theory was exactly the same, we could have been, but it’s one of those things. Sometimes it’s not meant to be, and at least we were in the group with a bike that was struggling.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer