On top of the world: Fabio Quartararo
Silverstone (United Kingdom) (AFP) - MotoGP returns from its mid-summer break with championship leader Fabio Quartararo aiming to resume his own winning streak while ending the long run of different victors at Silverstone.
The French world champion’s three-race streak ended in spectacular fashion in Assen at the end of June and he will still be dealing with fallout from that race at Silverstone.
He crashed twice in the Netherlands. The second time he ended his race by flipping over the handlebars of his Yamaha after 15 laps.
The first crash, when he slid on a corner and forced his nearest rival in the championship, Aleix Espargaro, into the gravel, could prove costly on Sunday.
He was judged at fault and still has his long lap penalty for the crash to serve.
“I am really looking forward to Silverstone,” Quartararo said on his team’s web site.
“I won there last year. This time will be tricky because we know that we have that long-lap penalty. But if I’m really honest, that only motivates me to do even better.”
While winning last year might give Quartararo confidence, it also highlights one of the statistical oddities of the British Grand Prix.
No one has won the race twice in a row since Jorge Lorenzo in 2012 and 2013, a total of seven races because the 2018 (heavy rain) and 2020 (Covid-19) events were cancelled.
Quartararo dominated last year as he won on the way to the world title.
This year he leads Spaniard Espargaro, who turned 33 at the end of July and is having a breakout season, by 21 points.
After his brush with Quartararo pushed him down to 15th in Assen, Espargaro fought back on his Aprilia, completing a daring double overtake at the end to finish fourth and claim 13 points, but complained “I lost a victory.”
Espargaro calculated that he was better off than if he had finished first and Quartararo second and gained just five points.
Yet he lamented that he did not collect a second MotoGP win after his first, in his 200th race, in Argentina in April.
“I have just one victory in my career, so I would prefer to gain five points and have the victory.”
Francesco Bagnaia, who chased Quartararo home in last season’s championships is fourth in the standings – behind fellow Ducati rider Johann Zarco – after winning in Assen.
Last year his 14th place at Silverstone, after tyre problems, ultimately left the Italian with too much ground to make up in the title race.
At the moment, he is 66 points off the lead.
Quartararo said the five-week break had done him good, although he made clear he had not just been relaxing.
“I’m happy to start riding again,” he said.
“I used the summer break to get some rest, but I also put in a lot of hours of training. My mind was always still on returning to action in the best shape possible.”