BAGNAIA BAGS 2ND PLACE AT BRITISH GP - EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO 41 POINTS
The English weather couldn’t make its mind up for the 2023 Monster Energy British Grand Prix but MotoGP World Champ Francesco Bagnaia showed much more resolve as the series burned around the longest track on the calendar for a riveting ninth round of the campaign.
The English weather couldn’t make its mind up for the 2023 Monster Energy British Grand Prix but MotoGP World Champ Francesco Bagnaia showed much more resolve as the series burned around the longest track on the calendar for a riveting ninth round of the campaign. The cool Italian guided his blood-red #1 Ducati into the lead at Silverstone and held off rampaging threats from the bizarrely cold British temperatures, gusty winds, a pair of Aprilias, a KTM and main title threat Marco Bezzecchi for almost the entire distance. He even withstood a flurry of brief rain drizzle that coated the first and final sectors of the layout and made the two-minute lap-times across 3.6 miles even more hazardous with the smooth, slick tires.
With a handful of turns until the checkered flag, Bagnaia could not deflect Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia through the epic Maggotts and Becketts sweep. The gap was a slender two tenths of a second. Eight tenths split the top-four as the weather-bashed British fans – some of whom had been soaked through the storms on Saturday – got their rewards for perseverance in the stands.
Espargaro toasted his second career success and his first of the season. Bagnaia’s result was bittersweet. The champ could smile for his competitiveness, his second Silverstone podium in a row, the return to form after a disappointing outing in the sodden Saturday Sprint (where he ranked 14th) and, crucially, the 20 points that allowed him to reach a hefty margin of 41 over Bezzecchi, who had binned the Mooney VR46 Ducati into the gravel while trying to chase his foe on lap six. The joy was tempered by the proximity to victory. Nevertheless, Bagnaia continues to be the force of regularity in MotoGP. His champagne bottle was the sixth from the nine to-date.
“It takes time to understand how to be constant in this category,” he says. “I worked a lot with my team, at home and the track, to understand, to improve myself. Now the consistency is there. When everything is okay, we know that we can fight for top positions. This is something that right now for me is the only goal.”
Do Grand Prix races come any more intense than Silverstone? “I love tracks with a lot of history and Silverstone is different; wide, fast with a lot of line-choice it is actually easy to be slow here and get it wrong,” said Bagnaia on Thursday. The technicality of the 18 corners and near 6km trajectory means a mean mix of fast, tight, open, inviting turns and high speed. “This track is fantastic and is one that suits very well a MotoGP bike,” smiles VR46 stablemate Luca Marini, who finished 7th on Sunday.
Still, adding rain to the mix with slick tires could have been a recipe for disaster. It brought the field closer together and tested the nerve and the judgement of the world’s best motorcycle racers even more. “In the moment you are leading, when it starts to rain, it’s very critical,” Bagnaia surmises. “It’s more difficult to understand how to push, where to push, in which way you have to push.”
Heading over the limit was Marco Bezzecchi; MotoGP’s breakout star. “I had to release the brake and as soon as I released it I went inside the slipstream of Pecco,” he explained of his crash. “So instead of slowing down, I was accelerating, so I had to brake more, but the front was already on the limit and I lost it. For the championship I’m sad…but I am sad for the race because I think I could have fought for the win.”
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli was the first rider on a Japanese motorcycle to the flag in what continues to be a European-dominated MotoGP term. 2021 Silverstone winner Fabio Quartararo had reached as high as 7th but also ruffled the British gravel trap.
Tens of thousands of fans passed through the Monster Energy compound to enjoy a raging display from some legends of FMX like Harry Bink, Bilko, Josh Sheehan, as well as Freestyle Snowmobiling, DJ’s, Haircuts and Tattoos. The new Monster Energy Backyard let loose the unruly Drifting talents of Baggsy, the Harley-stunt kings Unknown Industries, and Moto stunt queen Sara Aydin.
As for MotoGP, the pace stays near the top of the speedometer. The CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich lurches the series onto Austrian asphalt in two weeks for more throttle abuse.