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Haydn Cobb assesses this weekend’s British MotoGP, the 12th round of the 2019 MotoGP world championship.
In a run which started in 2013, the British MotoGP has witnessed different winners every year coming into this weekend.
Starting with Jorge Lorenzo’s triumph for Yamaha in 2013, Marc Marquez claimed his sole win in Great Britain in 2014 which was followed by a Valentino Rossi masterclass in the wet in 2015 before a barnstormer of a battle which saw Maverick Vinales clinch his maiden premier class success in 2016 with Suzuki.
Andrea Dovizioso kept the run going in 2017 with Ducati before, arguably, the MotoGP Safety Car led the most laps at the cancelled event in 2018.
From the fast and flowing Maggotts and Becketts to the tight and complex infield, Silverstone’s layout offers a little bit of everything – perhaps the reason why wins have been well spread out in recent years – while the new surface will provide an unknown for all teams and riders to get to grips with.
With no MotoGP testing prior to the race weekend, it means Michelin has opened up its front and rear tyre compound options which gives riders and teams extra work loads to assess the ideal tyre combination for the 20-lap race.
Can one of the MotoGP stalwarts end the winning rotation or could the likes of Alex Rins, Danilo Petrucci or Cal Crutchlow keep the record going?
Despite being absent from the paddock in Austria, Lorenzo created the biggest storm off track as speculation brewed linking the Spaniard back to Ducati and out of his Repsol Honda deal early.
While the rumours were quashed by Jack Miller’s long-awaited contract extension with Pramac Ducati for 2020, Lorenzo returns to MotoGP with all eyes on him.
From fractured vertebrae to future discussions, Lorenzo will be braced for the spotlight during the media pre-event routine before he makes his track comeback for the first time in almost two months.
Not a stranger to stunning recoveries – who can forget the five-time world champion’s Assen 2013 comeback – but with his list of injuries growing longer each year it will be another tough challenge for the Spaniard who isn’t expected to be 100% fighting fit at Silverstone.
“While away from the track, I have been working hard to be as ready as possible for Silverstone but I know it will take some time to get back up to speed,” Lorenzo said.
“I am pleased and ready to be back with the team so we can keep improving and get the results we know we can achieve.”
A true test of Yamaha’s recovery
While fighting for the MotoGP world title hasn’t looked within Yamaha’s capabilities in 2019, green shoots of recovery have been on show at the Iwata factory.
Last time out in Austria, Rossi finished 12 seconds faster than his 2018 race time at the round which acted as the manufacturer’s toughest moment with a public apology to its riders after a poor showing.
A win apiece for Marquez and Dovizioso since the summer break has worked in the Repsol Honda rider’s favour given he holds a 58-point advantage with eight rounds to go.
But if Marquez has a weak spot on the MotoGP calendar it is Silverstone.
Just one win in five attempts in the premier class (during his all-conquering 2014 campaign) plus one other rostrum appearance means the British track is home to his worst MotoGP record on paper – run close by his three podiums and no wins from four rounds in Austria.
Fresh from an emotional victory in Austria by beating Marquez at the final corner, Dovizioso is the last MotoGP winner at the British track back in 2017.
But the Ducati rider will know he must win again this weekend to keep alive his MotoGP title hopes with stronger circuits on the horizon for Marquez.
If three Yamaha riders inside the top five at the Red Bull Ring is encouraging, then Silverstone should provide the team with one of its best opportunities of winning. The Japanese manufacturer has taken victory in four of the past eight races at the British circuit, while in the rounds it didn’t win at least one Yamaha rider has been stood on the podium.
Both Rossi and Vinales have tasted victory at Silverstone in recent years and Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo can’t be discounted given his superb run of results over the summer rounds.