MotoGP 2019: Alex Rins' last-corner win, Marc Marquez inching closer to title and other talking points from British GP

  • Alex Rins pipped defending champion Marc Marquez on last corner to win British MotoGP race

  • The triumph at Silverstone propelled Rins to third place in the standings

  • The second place finish for Marquez pretty much sealed the title for him

It could well go down in the books as one of the most unbelievable race finishes in the history of MotoGP (or motorsport, for that matter). Suzuki's Alex Rins snatched victory from Marc Marquez of Honda as they dashed down to the finish line. It was a thrilling photo finish, with the difference between the two riders only 0.013 seconds! The race gave strong testimony to how successful Dorna have been in keeping the grid tight and close. It is also the second consecutive race where Marqez — who seemed to be untouchable for most of the season — has been beaten to the line on the last lap. The final spot on the podium went to Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales.

Qualifying

The British MotoGP has conventionally been a mixed bag, with no rider or team stamping their authority over it. The 2018 edition of the race had been cancelled due to bad weather, and before that, the last five races had five different race winners. Would the 2019 edition crown yet another winner, or would one of the previous winners (Marquez, Dovizioso, Vinales, Rossi and Lorenzo) strike again?

Marquez's sole victory at Silverstone was way back in 2014 — but many believed that the new resurfacing work on the circuit would help Marquez. As he shared before the race, "Silverstone has been really bumpy in the past. This year is a new surface. It should be better in that aspect, our bike is not the best to absorb bumps". During qualifying, it seemed like this prediction was prophetic as Marquez shone once again, claiming his fourth consecutive pole position by setting an all-time lap record. He clocked in a dominating lap time which was 0.428 seconds quicker than his closest rival, veteran rider Valentino Rossi of Yamaha.

This really shows that while Marquez's rivals have been challenging him lately on race pace, he remains unparalleled on Saturday. Rossi's P2 on the grid was delightful, and was his best qualifying performance since Austin in April. Completing the front row was Jack Miller of Ducati. SRT Yamaha's rookie Fabio Quartararo, who has been the golden boy of qualifying this season, narrowly missed out and took P4. Marquez's Honda teammate Jorge Lorenzo, a multiple-times winner at Silverstone, returned from his back injury but could only manage a lowly P21. Race winner Rins started from P5.

The Race

The unusual rate of tyre degradation towards the end of a race distance was a concern for riders going in on Sunday, especially given that this was their first-time racing on the newly surfaced circuit. Marquez grabbed the lead straight off the line at the start with Rins breathing down his neck in P2, as the duo continued to battle closely for the rest of the race, all the way to the finish line. Interestingly, Rins mistakenly thought that the race was ending one lap earlier than was actually the case — and attempted to pass Marquez the same way at Woodcote on the prior lap. So when Rins' last corner charge actually came, Marquez was expecting it — but was still beaten.

A delighted Rins after the race said, "Unbelievable. I don't have words to explain. I was keeping the calm, I knew the was faster on the last part of the sector, but last corner for me was unbelievable, I was much faster than him, and finally we get it". This victory is Rins' second-ever victory in the MotoGP premier class and will certainly mean a lot to him. To be able to win races is one thing, but to do so by rising up against the champion of the era is something far beyond.

Marquez shared after the race, "Happy of course about the championship — about the race, no. Losing on the last straight is not the best feeling. I knew that Rins had a good chance, because I did all the race in front. And here when you are in front you just push more the tyres. But the one lap I just close the gas, and we help each other, but he was just closing, and I was afraid about Yamaha riders — I say, okay, I keep pushing, because my target was not the race, was the championship". It is fascinating to see how Marquez downplayed his second last corner defeat on the trot, while reframing the situation in context of the championship.

Meanwhile, Vinales overtook teammate Rossi for P3 but did not have the pace to battle with the two leading riders. He shared after the race, "Silverstone is a good track for me, but anyway now we come to tracks that I really like to ride. And I think we can improve. It's a good day for me, we need to keep working."

Rossi shines, Dovi avoids injury, Lorenzo struggles

Even though the heated battle between compatriots Marquez and Rins had all our attention during the race, we must take a look at some of the riders who had interesting race outcomes. Rossi rode a stable race to finish P4 and was pipped for the final podium position by his teammate. Even so, it is great to see Rossi regaining speed and confidence after a string of disappointing races. To ask the question on everyone's mind: how soon before he can return to the podium? His 2nd place start did raise fans' hopes pre-race.

Marquez's championship challenger Andrea Dovizioso had a dramatic incident where he was taken off in Turn 1 after contact with Quartararo's bike. His Ducati went up in flames and Dovizioso was taken off on a stretcher. It was a relief to learn later on that he was injury-free — what a shame it would have been if the championship title had been decided in favour of Marquez because of Dovizioso picking up an injury. However, the Ducati rider's retirement meant that championship leader Marquez was able to further open up the gap in the championship standings to 58 points.

Lorenzo returned to the grid after four rounds, having been out with a back injury. He finished in 14th place, after having started in P21 - but several of those places were gained due to retirements from other riders. Although Lorenzo is still recovering, he admitted that there is a "10 percent fear of falling, while 90 percent depends on my physical condition". Our heart goes out to Lorenzo, a champion in his own right, who seems to have hit the hardest patch of his career. A departure from Honda could seem imminent — the question is, where will he go?

Championship Standings

Before the race, Marquez elaborated that beating Dovizioso was also Marquez's primary race objective, as he said after qualifying on pole, "Our target is to try to fight for the victory, but don't be crazy...Try to finish the race. First target is to finish in front of Dovi". He met his target thanks to Dovizioso's retirement, which allowed him to further gain in the championship standings. The title pretty much sealed for Marquez, provided he stays out of trouble in the races ahead and brings his bike home consistently. The triumph at Silverstone propelled Rins to third place in the standings, ahead of Danilo Petrucci of Ducati.

Ducati leads Repsol Honda in the team standings, while Honda is leading the overall constructor standings. The beauty of this season of MotoGP is that although the titles leave little room for suspense or surprise outcomes, the races are still so exciting to watch.

An interesting observation from the British MotoP was the increasing confluence between Formula 1 and MotoGP — the two racing categories have always had mutual admiration for each other, but it was great to see F1 drivers such as Lando Norris and Lance Stroll in attendance for the MotoGP. Marquez also said that a head-to-head shootout with F1 champion and superstar Lewis Hamilton would be interesting proposing a race "face-to-face, first an F1 car and then a motorbike!". If that ever were to happen, surely motorsport fans everywhere would be in for the treat of a lifetime.

Updated Date: Aug 26, 2019 15:21:58 IST