England fried as the 2022 summer wave continued, but the latest instalment of MotoGP hiked-up the temperatures at one of the fastest, longest, oldest and coolest racetracks in the world. Silverstone, all shimmering width, kinks and speed, was the home for the Monster Energy British Grand Prix and it was Pecco Bagnaia who got a sun-kissed attendance all hot under the collar.
The factory Ducati rider either strikes - or strikes out - this year. Bagania’s scorecard for the season to-date has seen the charismatic Italian go: win-DNF-win-DNF-DNF-win-win for the last seven rounds. The former Moto2 world champion delivered another all-or-nothing performance in the UK as he ripped around the outside of teammate Jack Miller and then kept a roving Maverick Viñales at bay to clinch the flag by half a second, in what was the closest top-ten MotoGP race finish of all-time.
“This is one of my very best,” said Bagnaia. “I was not competitive all weekend, but we were able to find something for the hard rear tire and today was a big improvement. I was able to take advantage of things that were going on around me. This is the first time from a difficult situation, where I could win!”
Just 6.6 seconds split Pecco Bagnaia down to countryman and outstand rookie rider Marco Bezzecchi in 10th place. Among the melee was world champ and last year’s victor Fabio Quartararo. The Monster Energy Yamaha man was hunting the lead for two laps – the front and rear end of his M1 machine twitching with intent – until he had to take the Long Lap penalty, surprisingly awarded for his mistake at the previous round in Assen. From that point the Frenchman was stuck: he was unable to scythe through from the top five and was eventually hobbled by his lagging rear tire that meant he had to drop his pace.
Fabio rode to 8th but was one place ahead of main title rival Aleix Espargaro, who tested the Silverstone gravel in a fast Free Practice ‘get-off’ on Saturday. The points lead actually bumped-up from 21 to 22 points. There was frustration for Suzuki duo Joan Mir and Alex Rins. Mir, the 2020 world champion, crashed out at mid-race distance while trying to manage his front tire temp, while Rins hit the front and looked set to repeat his awesome 2019 win at Silverstone, until he also had to suck-up the effects of fading rubber performance. He blasted across the line in 7th.
Between the races and when the rasp and howl of the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 wasn’t pulling fans to the fences then the vast Monster Energy Compound thrilled thousands of onlookers thanks to BMX demos, freestyle challenges, banging tunes and further distractions with Rig Riots also on the agenda.
The 20 laps of MotoGP was the ‘main event’ but Moto3 and Moto2 served up the usual gripping scenes, fuelled by youthful verve and the unpredictable parity. It was Dennis Foggia and Augusto Fernandez who surfaced from the pack in both classes and by hundredths of a second as the race action did not disappoint.
MotoGP thunders on with a globe-trotting schedule into the fall. Austria, Spain, San Marino, Japan, Thailand, Australia and Malaysia are just some of the territories to feel the pace of a championship chase that will have plenty of coils yet.