At sunny Silverstone today Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) produced another magical performance to take pole position, his 60th from his 120 MotoGP starts. This extends the reigning MotoGP king’s amazing qualifying record ahead of Honda’s five-times 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan, who took 59 poles from 137 starts.
The 26-year-old Spaniard used a perfect strategy in the final stages of this afternoon’s Q2 qualifying session, racing the all-important last lap with Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller, who qualified second and third to complete the front row. His advantage over Rossi was a mighty four tenths of a second.
Marquez was in scintillating form on that final lap – the sole of his left boot smoking on the asphalt and his rear tyre in the air as he braked into the Vale left-hander, the slowest corner at this ultra-fast circuit.
The winner of six of the first 11 races of the year – which brings him to round 12 with a 58-point championship lead – has worked hard throughout this weekend, getting to know a circuit that has been very much changed by an all-new surface that has increased grip and decreased bumps. After the first three practice sessions he was third fastest behind Fabio Quartararo and Rossi, then he was quickest in FP4 and by the end of Q2 his pole lap was 1.7 seconds better than his previous Silverstone pole record.
Tomorrow Marquez expects a big fight for victory at this fast and open circuit, which is famed for providing close, thrilling action. Despite his impressive points advantage, he will try everything in his power to win the British round, just as he did in Austria two weeks ago, where he fought with great rival Andrea Dovizioso to the final corner, losing out by a fraction of a second.
Home-hero Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) was determined to join his fellow HRC rider on the front row, but his hopes went awry during Q2 when he slid off at the high-speed Stowe right-hander, at the end of the Hangar Straight. The 33-year-old Briton was uninjured in the tumble, which left him ninth fastest and on the third row of the grid
While Marquez will tomorrow aim for his first British GP success since 2014, Crutchlow will be determined to climb the Silverstone podium in front of his legions of fans for the first time since 2016.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) has enjoyed another excellent two days of practice and qualifying, always on the pace aboard his 2018-spec RC213V. The 27-year-old from Chiba went straight through to the Q2 qualifier and will start tomorrow’s race from tenth on the grid, one place and one row behind his team-mate. The 2017 Silverstone Moto2 winner ended the session less than two tenths of a second off the third row, despite making an error on his fastest lap. Tomorrow will be Nakagami’s first Silverstone MotoGP race, because all races at last year’s British GP were cancelled due to poor race-day track conditions.
Marquez’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) returned to action yesterday after a two-month lay off following an injurious crash during practice for June’s Dutch round of the session. The heavy tumble left the 32-year-old three-times MotoGP World Champion with a long recuperation. Lorenzo says he is in some pain and that riding the bike isn’t easy, because he’s lost so much muscle mass during his eight-week recuperation period.
This is therefore a tentative return to racing which allows the Spaniard to slowly rebuild confidence and strength, while he step by step regains his former speed. Tomorrow he will start a Grand Prix start from the back of the grid for the first time in his career, but this is all just part of the process of getting used to riding and racing again.
Tomorrow’s race schedule is different to the usual format. The Moto3 race will get underway at 11:20 UK time, followed by the MotoGP race at 13:00 and the Moto2 at 14:30.