British GP, Silverstone Preview: MotoGP, Moto2, 125cc
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) leads the standings in the FIM MotoGP World Championship as the premier class heads to Round 6 of the 2011 season this weekend, the AirAsia British Grand Prix.
The battle for the title ensues as the season moves on to the next round at Silverstone, with Lorenzo heading up the Championship and the top contenders changing after the fifth round in Catalunya saw Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) move up to just seven points behind the Mallorcan in second. But Lorenzo is ready: he likes the Silverstone circuit and dominated the proceedings last year with pole position, race win and fastest lap, calling the 2010 race at Silverstone one of his best.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) finished second on the podium last year at Silverstone and is prepared to shoot for another podium finish at the British circuit, one he enjoys and is confident on. The Italian sits third in the Championship standings.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) missed the British GP last year due to the injuries suffered in his crash at Mugello. He has finished in the top seven in all sixteen races since returning from injury at the German GP last year. Rossi’s team mate Nicky Hayden crossed the line fourth last year at Silverstone, after qualifying and finishing one place higher on the grid than his then team mate Casey Stoner.
MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is fired up for his home GP, fresh from claiming his best result of the season so far with seventh place at Montmeló on Sunday. Crutchlow took a double win, from pole, in last year’s Silverstone superbike round. His finish at Catalunya is the best result by a British rider in MotoGP since James Toseland finished sixth at Indianapolis in 2009.
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) finished third last year at Silverstone, his first podium in Grand Prix racing, after passing Nicky Hayden on the last lap. The Texan’s third place finish at the Catalan GP last weekend was his first podium since Indianapolis last year, and he is currently seventh in the Championship.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team ) enters the British Grand Prix confident after marching to pole position during qualifying at the Catalunya Grand Prix, despite being unable to convert his first MotoGP pole position beyond a sixth place finish. His pole in Catalunya was the first for a Honda rider who was not part of the factory team since Casey Stoner was fastest qualifier in Qatar in 2006. Simoncelli finished seventh last year at Silverstone which was his best result from his first seven starts in the MotoGP class.
Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Team) had a good showing at Silverstone in 2010 when he qualified second on the grid. During the race he was in third with just four laps remaining but then suffered with front tyre problems and dropped to sixth by the chequered flag.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) raced in the Moto2 class at Silverstone last year, though he crashed on the last lap. He has scored points in four of his first five MotoGP races, including three top ten finishes.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is set to return to racing at Silverstone, the Catalunya GP being the first race the Texan missed since making his MotoGP debut in 2003 after he crashed and fractured a collarbone in FP2 at Catalunya. Edwards qualified tenth and finished ninth last year at the Silverstone circuit.
Hiroshi Aoyama of the San Carlo Honda Gresini Team is hoping to redefine the Silverstone circuit for himself, after he suffered a high side during Sunday morning warm up last year, resulting in a broken vertebra that caused him to miss the British race and the following five rounds.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will not be participating in the British GP round as he continues to recover from a broken right collarbone sustained at the Le Mans race.
Stefan Bradl enters the AirAsia British Grand Prix fresh from his third victory of the 2011 season. The Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider stretched his lead at the top of the standings to a 43-point advantage after winning the Catalunya GP, his fourth since moving up to the intermediate class of GP racing and his third win of the season. His pole position in Barcelona made him the first rider to take five successive poles in the intermediate category since Toni Elías in 2003.
The German appears in form to make a run for another podium at Silverstone, having qualified third on the grid for the Moto2 race there last year. His closest rival is Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), and the Italian has something to prove at the Silverstone track after his race there last year was ended on the second lap after a collision with Bradl.
Andrea Iannone sits ten points behind Corsi, and at the British GP he will become the sixth youngest rider to reach the milestone of 100 Grand Prix starts. The Speed Master rider finished twelfth last year at Silverstone and is matched in Championship points by Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar). The Spaniard will however miss this round after fracturing the tibia and fibula in his right leg in a crash at Catalunya last weekend.
Just two points behind Iannone and Simón is Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) who finished in 18th last year at the circuit, and Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2). The Swiss rider finished second last year at Silverstone after leading the race until the last lap, and it will be a result he will be eager to repeat after his Catalunya race ended in a DNF on Sunday.
Marc Márquez is poised to lay an assault on the Moto2 field, having won the 125cc race at the British Grand Prix last year after a race long battle with Pol Espargaró. The Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider has finished first and second in the last two races, making him the second youngest rider to have back-to-back podiums in the intermediate class after Marco Melandri.
Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) who missed the British Grand Prix last year due to injuries received in a crash in practice, enters Silverstone with 42 Championship points, followed by Aleix Espargaró (Pons HP 40) who finished tenth in the MotoGP race last season and who scored his first ever World Championship podium at his home GP last weekend.
British riders Bradley Smith (Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) will be looking for an advantage on home soil. Smith was third in the 125cc race last year at Silverstone and Redding was fourth in Moto2 after making his way through the field from a twelfth place qualifying position.
Nicolas Terol stretched his lead to a comfortable 48 points in the 125 Championship standings after an action packed fifth round at Montmeló, and the Bankia Aspar rider shows no signs of slowing down.
The Spaniard’s win in Catalunya was the fourteenth successive race at which he has stood on the podium. If he should land on the podium this weekend at Silverstone, he will set a new all-time record for successive podium finishes in the 125cc class. And a top three finish for the 22 year-old at Silverstone is likely, as Terol just missed out on a podium finish there last year, when he lost out to Bradley Smith on the last lap.
The closest challenger to Terol remains Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany), though Cortese had his worse qualifying position of 2010 at Silverstone, when he started from 11th. Just four points behind him in the third place standings is Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), who has finished on the podium in two of the five rounds this season.
The Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing rider Maverick Viñales sits just three points behind Folger in fourth, whose second place finish at the Catalunya GP made him the third youngest rider at 16 years old to take back-to-back Grand Prix podium finishes. Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) is two points behind Viñales, and has shown himself a strong contender this year by already finishing twice on the podium, though he was denied his first win in the class when he was penalised 20 seconds for an illegal overtake on Terol on the last lap at the Catalunya GP.
Lone wildcard rider John McPhee of Racing Steps Foundation KRP enters the 125cc class this weekend on his Aprilia, having ridden at Catalunya as well, whilst Norwegian youngster Sturla Fagerhaug again replaces the injured Sarath Kumar on the WTR-Ten10 Racing Team.