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MotoGP Britain: Qualifying and Sprint Saturday Summary

Written by Owen Bradley

Credit: Steve Wobser

Qualifying: Wet, Windy and Wild!

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone began their weekend under heavy rain, and extremely treacherous conditions. Quick times would come, but only to those who were prepared to risk everything for a great qualifying session.

Franco Morbidelli topped the session in Qualifying 1, and this comes just after the announcement that he will be replaced in 2024 at Yamaha by Alex Rins. Unfortunately for Morbidelli, his chance to prove himself to Yamaha is now over as they’ve made their final decision. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to prove his worth to all the other teams, and making it into Q2 in some of the trickiest conditions, is definitely a great result for Morbidelli, who is currently riding for his career.

Augusto Fernandez ended up 2nd in Qualifying 1, which is a really impressive result after a somewhat mixed rookie season so far in MotoGP. The Moto2 reigning champion even managed to get a P5 on the grid, an absolutely spectacular result for the GasGas Tech3 KTM team, who really have been fighting hard this year, and their hard work is seemingly beginning to finally pay off.

However, it was Marco Bezzecchi who took pole position for both the Sprint Race, and the main Grand Prix on Sunday. He managed to be three tenths clear of Jack Miller, who also managed to set an extraordinary lap, being one of three riders to put it into the 2:15s, with the rest of the field well outside of that margin, by nearly half a second or more.

Reigning MotoGP World Champion, Francesco Bagnaia - managed to put himself on the second row, starting from fourth on the grid, but crucially behind his main championship rival, Marco Bezzecchi of the Mooney VR46 Ducati Squad.

Credit: Clive Mason

By far the biggest surprise, was the result for 2021 MotoGP World Champion, Fabio Quartararo, who ended up dead-last and well off the pace, seven seconds down on the Q1 pole time and well behind his Yamaha teammate, Franco Morbidelli.

Another surprise was Luca Marini. Marini ended up qualifying in Sixth position, which is a decent result. The difficulty with this, is that it is yet another session where Marini has been outperformed by his own teammate. Of course, these were extremely tough conditions, but with Marini still awaiting his first ever victory in MotoGP - could the British Grand Prix bring him the luck that he needs? His own brother, Valentino Rossi, got his first ever MotoGP premier class victory at Donnington Park, and also his first ever GT World Challenge podium, at Brands Hatch. Could Luca Marini follow in the family footsteps and claim a maiden victory? It will be a long and tough race, but an entertaining one nonetheless, and the Sprint race is bound to teach us a lot more about track conditions and who can perform the best in this tough weather.

Sprint: Satellite’s Supreme as VR46 and Gresini beat out Factory Ducati

Credit: Clive Mason

With the standing water and subsequent spray mostly cleared from the track thanks to the junior categories of Moto2 and Moto3, the Sprint took place in between the track getting sprinkled with rain, which unfortunately MotoE and Moto2 had to deal with. Bezzecchi was caught at the start, with Jack Miller’s KTM managing to fly through on the start, as the KTM often does. Miller took the lead of the race. Maverick Vinales made an extraordinary comeback through the field from 8th on the grid, battling his teammate, and also Francesco Bagnaia. Jorge Martin also stormed through to take the lead at the end of the first lap, after starting from 6th on the grid. Bezzecchi and Miller would come right back at Martin, but it was Alex Marquez who managed to pull off a beautiful overtake on Marco Bezzecchi heading into the Maggots/Becketts section.

With Jack Miller running wide, Marquez seized the race lead, and Bezzecchi came through as well, and began the hunt for the race lead. It was a really painful Sprint for our championship leader, Francesco Bagnaia, who started in fourth, but ended up sinking through the field, which is very easy to do with this level of water on the track. Bagnaia would finish in P14, and as he exited the garage and into his team hospitality, it was very clear to see his disappointment, which now brings his main two championship rivals back into the fray, with Bezzecchi closing the gap to just 27 points, All it takes, is just one race victory along with a DNF from Bagnaia, which we have seen before in MotoGP even in 2023. Of course, in 2022 Bagnaia managed to overcome a 91-point deficit to Fabio Quartararo, and subsequently won the championship. But unfortunately for him, his season so far and also back in 2022, was full of small mistakes, and sometimes even bigger ones. This time, he is the one with the championship to lose, and perhaps where he is trying not to take too much risk, this is allowing somebody like Marco Bezzecchi, who has nothing else to prove, to maintain some consistency and chip away at the deficit to Bagnaia. As they often say, somtimes it is easier to be the predator, than the prey. and with Bagnaia so used to being that predator, catching the other riders, perhaps it is a strange scenario where he is now the one being chased.

Alex Marquez would fly over the finish line, with just about three tenths of a second separating himself and Marco Bezzecchi, who came across in second place. And it was also a great result for Maverick Vinales, who took a brilliant Sprint Podium finish, after starting from eighth.

Well, a rain-struck Silverstone and a fairly popular result with many people in the MotoGP paddock, saw out the Sprint Saturday!

Sunday’s main Grand Prix gets underway at 13:00 BST, and looks set to be another thriller, with rain estimated to hit, just as MotoGP begin their race. It might end up being a flag-to-flag race potentially, so be sure to tune in!

What did you think of the Sprint Saturday at Silverstone?

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