Cal Crutchlow proved his first MotoGP victory two weeks’ ago was no fluke as he secured second place in the British Grand Prix to the delight of his home fans, but a seventh different race winner in seven races saw Maverick Vinales end Suzuki’s nine-year wait for victory with his first ever win in the top class.
Vinales seized the lead in the early exchanges and was never challenged as he mastered the difficult Silverstone track to come home 3.4 seconds ahead of Crutchlow, who emerged triumphant from a race-long duel with Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez to take his second successive podium finish.
For the second year in succession, the British Grand Prix had to endure a restart, although unlike last year’s downpour on the formation lap this year’s race got underway before being red flagged. A frightening accident involving Loris Baz and Pol Espargaro flip through the air as they collided on the entry to Maggotts, and both riders were left motionless on the track with debris surround them.
Dorna, the organisers, had no option than to stop the race before the first lap ended and while both riders needed to be taken by ambulance to the medical centre, they were confirmed conscious before a quick restart was announced for the race.
Having been jumped by both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales on the original start, Cal Crutchlow was able to hold the lead on the restart. Rossi though was going backwards, and after seeing the Suzuki of Vinales pass for second at Stowe on the opening lap, Marc Marquez quickly relegated him to fourth as they ran through The Loop.
Marquez was on the march and managed to pass Crutchlow for second the next lap by, but out in front Vinales was exceeding all expectations and rode away from the field to build a healthy gap over Marquez. Having taken four laps to find his feet, Rossi decided to do something about the 21-year-old breaking away at the front. Within a lap, Rossi made his way past Crutchlow at Brooklands to bump the home favourite off the podium, before a mighty exit onto the Hangar Straight saw the Yamaha edge past the Honda on pure grunt alone.
Both Marquez and Crutchlow were happy to tuck in behind Rossi and follow the nine-time world champion in their effort to catch Vinales, but when the young Spaniard’s lead stretched to three seconds at the halfway stage, it quickly became apparent that they weren’t going to close the gap with the Italian leading the charge. Crutchlow’s clean exit out of the turn one Copse enabled him to pass Marquez on the exit, and the charging Ducati of Andrea Iannone passed both Dani Pedrosa and his Honda teammate Marquez to move up to fourth a lap later.
Iannone’s presence was growing quickly in the chasing group, and he worked his way into third when he out-dragged Crutchlow along the International Straight before diving underneath Rossi for second at the start of the next lap. Rossi replied immediately on the Hangar Straight where the Yamaha’s exit speed was noticeably quicker, but Iannone repeated the move the following lap and this time maintained the position to consolidate second place.
At his home grand prix and fresh off the back of his maiden victory in Brno, Crutchlow was not giving up on a home podium finish lightly, and he made up two places in two corners as he worked beneath Marquez through the final corner before yet another quick exit at Copse ensured he moved up to third as he passed Rossi. Third immediately became second when Iannone lost the front through Luffield to end his afternoon, much to the home fans’ delight.
Despite Marquez’s large lead in the world championship, it suddenly dawned on both he and Rossi that they were the two lead riders in the standings. The fire was lit by Marquez when he pushed Rossi out to the edge of the track in The Loop, and the pair squabbled for two laps to let Crutchlow break away. Marquez had clocked the danger though, and once he saw off Rossi, he immediately bridged the gap to Crutchlow before passing the Coventry-born Isle of Man resident.
Each time Crutchlow was challenged though, he came up with the answer, and for once Marquez could not respond. The two-time MotoGP world champion run deep into Stowe and went off the track, allowing not only Crutchlow to go by but also Rossi and Pedrosa.
Out in front though Vinales was creeping towards Suzuki’s first victory since Chris Vermuelen’s win in the wet at Le Mans in 2007, and he crossed the line to spark wild celebrations not only in the Japanese manufacturer’s garage, but also in the stands as they heralded Crutchlow’s podium finish on home soil. Crutchlow responded by pulling a wheelie side-by-side with Rossi the length of the international straight, and while the day belonged to Vinales and his maiden win, there was no looking beyond Crutchlow’s brilliant back-to-back podium finishes to send the fans home happy.
“I put up that. It was a long race,” an exhausted Crutchlow told BT Sport after the race. “Good fun, great fun to be battling with the guys at the front. I think we deserved that result here, I think the crowd deserved it. They’ve backed me through thick and thin here and I’ve usually been in the hospital.
“I wanted to be in the top six so second is great, pole and a second place, I’ll take that every week.”
Marquez’s late error saw him lose points again to Rossi, although he did work his way past Pedrosa on the final lap to limit the damage to three points and ensure he heads to Misano next weekend with a 50 point buffer over the Italian.
1 Maverick Vinales (Spa) Suzuki 39mins 03.559secs
2 Cal Crutchlow (Gbr) Honda 39:07.039
3 Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 39:07.662
4 Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda 39:09.551
5 Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 39:09.940
6 Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 39:15.862
7 Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Suzuki 39:20.231
8 Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 39:22.991
9 Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati 39:29.177
10 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Aprilia 39:35.643
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