Suzuki’s Alex Rins was a surprise winner of the 2019 British Motorcycle Grand Prix at a sun blessed Silverstone circuit yesterday.
Qualifying fifth, the Spaniard was able to move up to third on the opening lap after a spectacular crash took out two of the fancied runners at the very first corner.
The incident happened when French rookie Fabio Quartararo, starting from fourth, had a big slide on the first corner and was spat off his Petronas Yamaha. Andrea Dovizioso was the hapless victim as his Ducati ran over the stricken Yamaha, firing man and machine through the air. The Italian rider was concussed in the accident, which saw his bike burst into flames, and both he and Quartararo were taken to hospital in Coventry, being released a few hours later. Explaining the incident, Quartararo said: “Rins had a small slide in front of me and I shut the throttle a little too much to avoid him and then highsided. It’s a pity for the result, but more importantly I hope that Andrea is OK. It was a racing incident, and just bad luck for both of us. All weekend we were fast and the worst position of the weekend was fourth in qualifying. I had the same pace as the top guys and I’m really happy with the improvements we made this weekend. The team made a big step forwards together and it’s something we can build on.”
That left world champion Marc Marquez out front, with Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Rins in close attendance. Marquez and Rins were able to pull away and play a high speed game of chess. With Silverstone’s highly acclaimed new asphalt providing high grip levels there were fears that the tyres would run out of grip in the closing stages of the race, and Rins was able to stay in his countryman’s tyre tracks and set up a sensational last lap. After unsuccessfully attempting to ride around the outside of Marquez’s Honda on the penultimate lap, Rins outfoxed his rival to cut back on his rival on the very last corner to take his second win of the season by just 0.013 seconds.
After the race, a delighted Rins said: “Today has been unbelievable. I won in Austin, beating Valentino. And now I’ve won here, beating Marc. These guys are very fast and are ‘legends’ of the sport. I knew it would be difficult to beat Marc today, but I really wanted to try, and it was fantastic to do it. In a couple of the sectors he was faster than me, but I could make it up in some other areas. But towards the end of the race I felt I had better pace than him, and I told myself that I must go for it and take the chance, I saw the opportunity and I made it happen. Big thanks to everyone in the team!”
Amazingly, Marquez’s second place equals his worst finish of the season and with closest rival Dovizioso failing to score, the multiple champion now holds an advantage of a colossal 78 points at the top of the standings, with Rins moving into third, ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Maverick Vinales, the Yamaha rider who made it an all-Spanish podium at Silverstone.
There was some disappointment for the local fans with home favourite Cal Crutchlow unable to challenge for the podium. The Coventry born star crashed during qualifying but was still able to take a third row start on his LCR Honda, but tyre troubles meant that he never really got into his stride come the race and he finished a low key sixth, some 19 seconds off the win.
Things fared less well for the Brits in the Moto2 race. Sam Lowes crashed out while battling for points on the last lap, while Bradley Smith was another faller in his one-off ride in the class. British superbike runner-up Jake Dixon’s torrid season continued on his KTM, and he came home a distant 23rd in a race where the top four were covered by less than a second – with Spain’s Augusto Fernandez taking the win.
Indeed there were Spanish winners in all three races, with Marcos Ramirez taking the honours in a thrilling Moto3 race. The 250cc bikes were close all weekend and in the race a pack of 11 riders were covered by less than two seconds at the flag. John McPhee was Britain’s best in the race, in seventh, while Tom Booth-Amos continued his tough first season in the class with a 24th place finish.
Some of the best racing of the weekend came from the kids of the British Talent Cup. In the final round of the season, the championship went down to a straight shootout on Sunday between 18-year-old Cameron Horsman and 15-year-old Scott Ogden.
The pair were equal on points after Saturday’s race, which Horsman won after Ogden suffered a clutch problem, but the younger rider was able to take his revenge with a last lap pass to take second behind Jack Nixon on Sunday, which was good enough to take the title by four points.
MotoGP now takes two weekends off, before regrouping in Italy and Rossi’s local track, the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.