It was a dramatic day at the GoPro British Grand Prix and after weather affected several sessions, the schedule for Sunday has been changed due to the forecast. The MotoGP™ race will begin at the earlier time of 11:30 (GMT +1), with Moto3™ now planned for 13:00 but Moto2™ remaining at 14:30.
On Saturday as the grid headed out for a delayed Q2, however, it was Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) who secured a sensational second pole position of the season at Silverstone, with teammate Andrea Dovizioso earning his third consecutive front row start in second on a track split between wet patches and a dry line elsewhere. That makes it a first Ducati 1-2 since 2006, with the two Bologna bullets joined on the front row by Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) as the Frenchman returned to his early season qualifying form to impress.
The start of the second qualifying session was delayed following an incident involving several riders in FP4, including Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing), who was taken to hospital nearby and will take no further part in the weekend. Once the green flags flew once again, the stage was set for a very close showdown for pole.
After graduating from Q1, Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the early pace-setter, before Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) led Dovizioso and Pramac teammate Danilo Petrucci over the line to give the Desmosedicis a provisional front row lock out. But that was just the start of the constant chopping and changing for pole, with home hero Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Zarco and Dovizioso then setting the fastest times of the session in tandem.
Not long after it was a case of deja vu for Miller as the Australian took the gamble to head out on slicks, just like he did in Argentina when it paid off for pole. This time, however, the cards – or the clock – didn’t deal him the same hand and at the front it remained a wet tyre dominated game as Lorenzo made his move to go provisional pole by 0.159, just pipping teammate Dovizioso. Ultimately that was all she wrote, and the two Ducatis stayed P1 and P2 as the chequered flag came out. There was a late change to who would join them on the front row though, with Zarco knocking Crutchlow out of third on his final lap – meaning the Brit starts P4 at his home GP.
For Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, it was a tricky session. Managing to salvage P5 on his final lap – 0.928 behind the Ducati duo – the reigning Champion and former winner at the venue will be gunning for a good start from Row 2. Petrucci eventually claimed sixth to join the Hondas of Crutchlow and Marquez on the second row.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) spearheads the third row for Sunday’s showdown, ahead of a stunning showing from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Q1 graduate Smith. The Brit took the Austrian factory’s best qualifying of the season in P8, just ahead of the gambling Miller. Smith’s fellow Q1 graduate Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) rounds out the top ten.
After such a strong start to the weekend, Q2 didn’t go the way Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and teammate Valentino Rossi would have envisioned. The Spaniard will start P11, with Rossi just behind after missing out on a final flying lap by a fraction of a second. It’s 12th for the ‘Doctor’, but he’ll have memories of his Austrian ride through the field fresh in his mind as he aims for a repeat.
The shake-up on the grid sets us up for a classic on Sunday, with former winners at the venue scattered over the first few rows and everything to play for. What will the weather bring? Find out when the lights go out at 11:30 local time (GMT +1) for the GoPro British Grand Prix.
MotoGP™ Qualifying Results
1 – Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) DUCATI 2’10.155
2 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) DUCATI +0.159
First Independent Team Rider:
3 – Johann Zarco (FRA) YAMAHA +0.284