|Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) unleashed some serious speed at Silverstone on Sunday, the Frenchman on fine form to fight his way through to the lead and then put the hammer down to win the Monster Energy British Grand Prix. Behind, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) stormed through for second place and a podium to bounce back from a tougher season so far, and in third place some history was made: Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) held off Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) to take Aprilia’s first ever podium in the MotoGP™ era. |
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) took the holeshot from pole, with Quartararo initially up into second. But Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was on the move, past Aleix Espargaro into third and then attacking El Diablo. Drama struck just off that fight too as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) came together once with Martin up the inside, and then the eight-time World Champion tried to take it back. With Martin reacting to those ahead to have opened a small gap, the number 93 made it just ahead but then collected the rookie. He apologised and it was deemed a racing incident.
That early race action was still led by Pol Espargaro, with Bagnaia in second and Aleix Espargaro shadowing. The Aprilia then went for the lead but headed wide, and not long after that Quartararo started to make his moves. By 16 to go the Yamaha had worked his way to the front, and from there the hammer went down.
The battle behind raged on, with Pol and Aleix Espargaro ahead of Bagnaia and reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was in the mix too, but the rider starting to make serious progress was Rins.
By 13 to go, Rins was into third with Quartararo gone out front and Aleix Espargaro holding strong in second. Pol Espargaro was starting to fade slightly, but the big change was Bagnaia as the number 63 sunk to the back of the group, struggling to stay with them.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), meanwhile, was doing the opposite. The South African was on an absolute Sunday charge once again, and was past Mir and homing in on Pol Espargaro. Bagnaia had dropped well back and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) had moved well forward, as a change up ahead then ultimately decided the podium. Aleix Espargaro headed wide, and Rins needed no second invitation as he moved into second.
Quartararo was gone, and by the final lap the key battle was focused on Aprilia, on the verge of making history. Rins was just out of reach although still tantalisingly close, but Miller was on the march. The Australian struck to momentarily break a thousand Noale hearts, but Aleix Espargaro hit straight back and made it stick. A few apexes were all that remained between the number 41 and history, and he kept ahead for that mythical first podium.
Quartararo made the masterclass look easy but far from it, Rins got back on the box after a tougher 2021 so far, and Aleix Espargaro ended a long, long wait for a podium – for man and machine. Not since 2014 has he been on the box, and Aprilia never have in the MotoGP™ era.
Miller was denied but came home top Ducati, with Pol Espargaro taking fifth and a great result from pole. And sixth went to Binder, the South African raising more eyebrows on race day and adding the final piece in a history-making race: Yamaha, Suzuki, Aprilia, Ducati, Honda and KTM in the top six makes it the first time since 1972 six factories have been in the top six.
Iker Lecuona (Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing) also put in a Sunday stunner to take seventh, not so far from Binder either as the Spaniard leapfrogged compatriot Alex Marquez, who took eighth. In the latter stages Mir faded to ninth, and he was only just ahead of another charging KTM as Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) was close behind too in P11, before a slightly bigger gap back to Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and then Bagnaia, who took P14 in the end. Luca Marini (Avintia VR46) picked up the final point.
After a monster weekend for Quartararo that sees him now sit 65 points clear of Mir in the Championship, the Frenchman seems to be holding most of the cards in 2021. But next up it’s Aragon and good hunting ground for his rivals. Can they fight back next time out? We’ll find out in two weeks!