The 12th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom, and after a titanic battle between Ducati and Honda, and in particular Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez at the Red Bull Ring in Austria a couple of weeks ago, MotoGP is set to roar into action at the home of British motorsport.
Márquez heads into the British Grand Prix with the championship lead on 174 points on his factory Honda after finishing second at the Red Bull Ring last time out, 16 points ahead of Dovizioso, who is on 158 points on his factory Ducati after winning the Austrian Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, which was his third race victory of the season. This is the most victories by a rider on a Ducati in a season since Casey Stoner back in 2010, who won three races in that season.
Maverick Viñales is third in the world championship on 150 points, 24 points behind Márquez after finishing sixth at the Red Bull Ring on his factory Yamaha, and is nine points ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi.
Rossi, who will start in his 300th premier class race on Sunday, is fourth in the world championship on 141 points. The factory Yamaha bike has been performing inconsistently of late, and things will need to change at Silverstone, a track that should suit them, especially if the conditions are cool.
Fifth in the championship is Dani Pedrosa. The teammate of Márquez is currently on 139 points after achieving three podiums in the last three races, and is still in championship contention, 35 points behind Márquez in the world championship battle.
Johann Zarco is a clear sixth in the world championship on 99 points after finishing fifth at the Austrian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, and has finished inside the points in all but one race, which happened to be at the opening race of the season in Qatar.
He is 20 points clear of Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who sits seventh in the championship on 79 points after a fourth place finish at the Red Bull Ring. It has been a tough season for the Spaniard who has only achieved a single podium finish so far in 2017, by far his worst season in the premier class in this regard since he made his debut in 2008.
Lorenzo is closely followed in the championship by Jonas Folger (77 points), Cal Crutchlow (76 points), and Danilo Petrucci (75 points), with four points separating Lorenzo in seventh and Petrucci in 10th.
Looking ahead to the British Grand Prix, only the top 10 riders in the standings have made it onto the podium, with only the top five riders winning races so far in 2017.
This looks set to continue again, however, if two riders were to break through to claim a race victory in the remaining seven races in 2017, it would likely be Johann Zarco and Jorge Lorenzo.
As far as the circuit characteristics are concerned, this should be the perfect place for Yamaha to hit back in the championship, and both Viñales and Rossi need a victory to kick-start their championship challenge.
Viñales hasn’t won since the French Grand Prix back in May, while Rossi hasn’t won since claiming his sole victory of the season so far at the Dutch TT back in June, and considering the cooler conditions that you usually expect at Silverstone at this time of year, and considering the performance of the Yamaha in cooler conditions this year, both Viñales and Rossi should be considered the favourites to win this weekend.
However, if Yamaha aren’t on song again, then we can expect Honda to be very strong, and their bike has really improved recently, and both Márquez and Pedrosa have greater confidence with the front of the bike, particularly under braking.
And while you cannot rule out Ducati this weekend, I believe that the Yamaha will be stronger around Silverstone, and both Viñales and Rossi are due to break their victory droughts. However, if the Yamaha doesn’t prove to be the stronger bike, I expect Márquez on his factory Honda to move one step closer towards his fourth premier class world championship, and his sixth world championship across all classes.
MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (6:55pm, and 11:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (6:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (10:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (11:10pm and 11:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 11:00am local time (8:00pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 3:30pm local time (12:30pm Monday morning AEST).