SILVERSTONE: Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia picked up where he left off before MotoGP’s summer break by winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday for his second victory in a row.
Spaniard Maverick Vinales had to settle for second for Aprilia, 0.426 seconds behind after a thrilling battle over the closing laps, while Australian Jack Miller was third on the other factory Ducati.
“I think this is the best win I ever had,” said Bagnaia, who went into the break celebrating a win in the Dutch TT in Assen. He has now won four times this season, balancing four non-finishes.
Bagnaia drove his car into a ditch in Ibiza after celebrating the previous win, the Italian subsequently found to be over the legal alcohol limit, and he will not be doing that again.
“Tonight I will take a taxi,” he assured reporters when reminded of that incident.
Yamaha’s reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo finished only eighth, after serving a long lap penalty, but increased his championship lead over Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who was ninth, to 22 points after 12 of 20 rounds.
Quartararo now has 180 points, Espargaro 158 and Bagnaia, last year’s overall runner-up, is closing the gap but still well adrift on 131.
“I recovered a lot of points in the last two races but I still don’t want to think about the championship,” said the Italian.
“Today it was important to take advantage of Fabio’s long lap penalty.” Espargaro crashed heavily on Saturday, when he was carried off on a stretcher, and raced with considerable pain in his legs after being cleared following the morning warm-up.
Quartararo went from fourth on the grid to second into the first corner but then dropped to fifth and just ahead of Vinales when he took the penalty on lap four.
Fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco had started on pole for the non-factory Pramac Ducati team but his record of most poles without a win continued after he slid out at Vale while leading with 16 laps to go.
Miller took over briefly at the front, going side by side with Suzuki’s Alex Rins down the Wellington Straight, but Bagnaia was coming through from fifth on the grid.
The Italian slotted into second with 14 laps remaining and hit the front five laps later with Rins struggling for grip on his tyres.
What looked like turning into a Ducati one-two, with Miller in second place, was then shaken up by Vinales surging into the runner-up slot three laps from the end. The Spaniard seized the lead with two to go but could not make the move stick, running wide at Copse corner and then Stowe.
“I tried. I felt very strong in the last part of the race,” said the Aprilia rider, who has now had two successive podium finishes.
“I pushed a lot the tyres, maybe too much. Today he (Bagnaia) was stronger.”
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022