MotoGP: Vinales Wins British Grand Prix

Maverick Vinales leads flag-to-flag to win his first MotoGP race and Suzuki's first in seven years

2016 British Grand Prix
The first start of the British Grand Prix, with Maverick Vinales (25) already pulling away while Eugene Laverty (50) runs up the inside of Valentino Rossi (46) for second. The race was red-flagged for an incident in turn 2 on the first lap.Courtesy of Suzuki

Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales put in a masterful performance to lead every lap of the Octo British Grand Prix, eventually winning by 3.5 seconds over pole-sitter Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi. The win is Vinales' first MotoGP victory, and the first premier-class win for Suzuki since Australian Chris Vermeulen won at Le Mans, France in 2007.

After Saturday's downpours and Sunday's morning warm-up also wet, conditions for the start of the race were cool and overcast. When the lights went out, it was Rossi with the holeshot into turn 1 from the front row, with Vinales close behind and eventually passing for the lead before the end of the lap. Eugene Laverty on the Aspar Ducati made an excellent start from the second row of the grid and passed Rossi, but the race was soon red-flagged after a huge incident involving Pol Espargaro and Loris Baz. The crash left both riders and a significant amount of debris on the track; both riders were taken to the infield medical center but are expected to be back in action for the next event.

2016 British Grand Prix
Maverick Vinales celebrates his first MotoGP win with the Suzuki Ecstar team. Vinales is the fourth first-time winner in the last five MotoGP events (joining Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone on that list), the first Suzuki rider to win a MotoGP race since Chris Vermeulen in 2007. Seven different riders have won MotoGP races so far this year.Courtesy of Suzuki

Restarted as a new, 19-lap final with riders in their original grid positions, Cal Crutchlow let the field into the first turn, with Vinales in second while Dani Pedrosa from the second row slotted into third. A hectic first lap saw Marc Marquez pass his Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa to move into third position, while Vinales moved past Crutchlow in the Abbey corner to take over the lead. Further down the field, Ducati rider Andrea Iannone was moving up quickly from the third row of the grid, at one point passing three riders under braking to move into the top five.

At the end of the first lap it was Vinales leading with a half-second gap over Crutchlow, followed by Marquez, Rossi, Iannone and Pedrosa. Of note is the tire choices of the top riders, with Vinales, Crutchlow and Rossi all opting for the medium front Michelin and hard rear, while Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo went with the soft front and hard rear. Most of the field was on the soft/soft combination for the cool (64 degrees Fahrenheit) conditions.

2016 British Grand Prix
A fierce battle for second place was fought between Valentino Rossi (46), Cal Crutchlow (35) and Marc Marquez (93).with Dani Pedrosa (26) and Andrea Dovizioso (partially hidden) close behind. Crutchlow eventually finished second, with Rossi third and Marquez fourth after running off the track twice. "I have some black on me from Marquez’s tires," said Rossi, "because we touched two or three times. The battle was good but hard, fair and I enjoyed it a lot. When you try at the end to fight for the podium, between Marquez and me, it’s always difficult, but it was a very good battle and I want to see it on television."Courtesy of Yamaha

Vinales continued to pull out a gap over the next few laps, gaining almost a half-second every lap over a growing battle for second place. Marquez moved into second place on lap 2, and Crutchlow and Rossi would hound the Repsol Honda rider continuously for the next few laps but were unable to get by. By the end of lap 5, Vinales had a cushion of more than two seconds, whiles Marquez, Crutchlow and Rossi continued to fight over second with Iannone and Pedrosa at the tail end of that group. Andrea Dovizioso was further back in seventh place on the second Ducati, while Lorenzo and Aleix Espargaro on the other Suzuki Ecstar machine were fighting over eighth place.

The battle for second continued until the halfway point of the race, when Iannone put on a charge to move up from the tail end of the group to second place in the space of four laps. But just a lap after moving into second, the Ducati rider crashed out at the Luffield turn, leaving Crutchlow in second spot with five laps to go.

2016 British Grand Prix
Marc Marquez: “Today was one of those difficult Sundays because there were many ways of approaching the race, with many options for both the front and rear tires. Perhaps we got it wrong with the front, because we chose the soft tire, but that was what we thought was best before the race. I realized the mistake once the race was underway, and from there I decided to make the most of the situation."Courtesy of Honda

A huge battle erupted between Rossi and Marquez for the next several laps, with the two swapping positions (and paint) several times. Marquez at one point swept alongside the Movistar Yamaha rider on the exit of turn 1 and tried to dive under on the brakes, but ran off the track. The Repsol Honda rider was able to rejoin without losing any time or positions, and their battle continued. This allowed Crutchlow to open up a gap in second place, and for Pedrosa and Dovizioso to close in from behind.

With four laps to go Vinales was continuing to lead by almost five seconds, with Marquez rapidly gaining on Crutchlow The two Honda riders swapped positions several times; at one point, with just two laps to go, Marquez pulled up alongside Crutchlow on the Hangar straight, but tagged Crutchlow as they both went for the brakes and Marquez again ran off the track, this time into the grass. He was able to rejoin, but behind his teammate Pedrosa and Rossi.

Vinales eventually cruised to a 3.48-second victory, with Crutchlow in second and Rossi third. Marquez was able to get by Pedrosa for fourth position, while Dovizioso finished a distant sixth. Aleix Espargaro got the better of Lorenzo for seventh, while Danillo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) rounded out the top 10.

2016 British Grand Prix
Jorge Lorenzo's (99) run of bad luck continued at Silverstone, with setup issues keeping the Movistar Yamaha rider to an eighth-place finish, behind Aleix Espargaro (41). "We tried a different setting in the race that we couldn’t test in the warm-up, so we gambled a bit on the setting and it didn’t work. I could see the second group there in front of me but I couldn’t catch them. All of a sudden I felt the bike was vibrating a lot, so I had to close the throttle and relieve the pace and I couldn’t keep up the pace I had at the start of the race."Courtesy of Yamaha

"My feeling with the machine was perfect," said Vinales following his first MotoGP victory. "I tried to push hard at the beginning to take advantage and then I just controlled the race. After the last races we felt we had the potential and finally we proved that the job we are doing is really in the right direction."

For Crutchlow it was his second podium finish in as many races, and a strong return to form following a difficult first half of the season. “In the race I felt I gave as good as I got, it was a good battle with Marc and Valentino," said the British rider. “To stand on the podium in front of my home fans is pretty special and I’m really proud to do so. I feel in great shape at the moment and in good form and I hope that Misano can be another good race."

The Silverstone race marked Rossi's 250th MotoGP start, and his second place finish drew him three points closer to Marquez in the championship points. "Unfortunately, after eight or nine laps, I started to slide a lot on the rear, so it was very difficult to control the bike," said the Movistar Yamaha rider. "But at the end it was very funny with Marc and Crutchlow and I’m very happy with this podium."

2016 Octo British Grand Prix Results:
1. Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 39'03.559
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda +3.480
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha +4.063
4. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda +5.992
5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda +6.381
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team +12.303
7. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar +16.672
8. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha +19.432
9. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) OCTO Pramac Yakhnich +25.618
10. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +32.084