As the dust settles after the incredible duel in Austria, the stage is most definitely set for Silverstone. The venue that first hosted a showdown between then-reigning Champion Jorge Lorenzo and then-rookie challenger Marc Marquez in 2013, it could be another stunner at the British Grand Prix – with both men having incredible records at the track.
That track is one of the longest on the calendar; an expansive ribbon of asphalt snaking its way over the former airfield and providing one of the challenges of the year. Flat, legendary and fast, Silverstone isn’t for the faint of heart – and that’s without considering the Great British weather.
That’s something that could play into the hands of some on the grid. After the duel that Lorenzo won in 2013 for his third premier class victory there, the 2014 re-run saw Marquez strike back – before the rain hit in 2015. Then it was Valentino Rossi who took the top step – and Marquez crashed out. It’s a tough time for Yamaha of late and now their longest run without a win since the nineties, but Rossi tamed the rain to perfection three years ago. And the following season? Now-teammate Maverick Viñales took his first ever premier class win – so the circuit has some good memories for both, from both winning and subsequent podiums.
In the great British summer of 2017 though, it was Andrea Dovizioso who pitched it to perfection. And of all those who know they have pace at Silverstone, he’s the one who is looking to hit back quick – having won in style in Brno and then been unable to get in the fight in the latter stages in Austria, left to come home third. Often a master of tricky conditions himself, Dovi will be aiming squarely for the front.
Cal Crutchlow is another to watch, and the first of three lions racing on home turf. Crutchlow was on pole and a podium finisher in 2016, and took fourth last season from another front row start. Having already won a race this season, Crutchlow should be a serious threat at the front – and is another who can master difficult conditions. There’s a lot at stake, too, with only two points separating the fight for top Independent Team rider in the standings. It’s Danilo Petrucci who’s currently ahead on 105, with Johann Zarco on 104 and Crutchlow on 103. Probability says that will change once again in the British GP.
Team Suzuki Ecstar, meanwhile, want to get back near the front after a spate of podiums earlier in the season – and Silverstone was the scene of their first win since 2007 when they were on top in 2016. That may have been with a different rider, but Alex Rins is a former winner at the venue too, in Moto3. Scott Redding is another former winner and one with a stunning record on home soil, and he’ll want to try and get in the fight with fellow Brit Bradley Smith. KTM, after a run of bad luck, are also looking for a bit more in the UK. Will Pol Espargaro be back from injury? He hopes so, but if the 2013 Moto2 World Champion can’t ride, someone has to – KTM have to field a replacement.