In the MotoGP era, Great Britain has never seen one of its own finish on the podium in the premier class but with the home Grand Prix at Silverstone just days away, the 11 year wait might, just might, be about to end. Cal Crutchlow has undoubtedly stepped up a level in his second MotoGP campaign with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 proving a serious thorn in the side of the factory outfits and all eyes will be on the Coventry rider on Sunday.
On his first MotoGP appearance in Northamptonshire, Cal didn't even make it as far as Sunday after a heavy crash in qualifying broke his collarbone. Besides last year's heartbreak, Crutchlow has an outstanding record here with podium finishes at three different levels of competition. Victory in 2006 saw him clinch the British Supersport title before he took the runner-up spot during his second BSB campaign two years later. He then announced himself on the world stage with a sensational double win in World Superbikes, his first two victories in SBK, and soon afterwards, a MotoGP ride was his.
Make no mistake, a place in the top three isn't certain for Crutchlow this weekend, far from it, especially given the form of the men at the very top. Catalunya victor Jorge Lorenzo hasn't been out of the top two so far this year but after narrowly missing out on his first win of 2012, Dani Pedrosa will be out to strike back against his compatriot. Casey Stoner had one of his quieter races in recent years two weeks back as he toiled to fourth but will surely be back on form, as long as he and the Repsol Honda team can get a hang of the new Bridgestone front tyre. Opinions on it in testing were mixed. Valentino Rossi may also be a threat on the improving Ducati.
James Ellison will also fly the flag for the United Kingdom but will have a very different set of objectives. The Kendal rider lies fifth of the CRT riders in the championship standings despite failing to score at Barcelona and like Crutchlow, has won here in his early career. His race will be against the likes of Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro at the head of the CRT pack.
“Going into my home round and I am proper excited”, said the Paul Bird Motorsport rider. “We are coming off the back of two really strong races and are improving each time we ride the Aprilia so my confidence is really high right now. We have had so much positive support from the fans worldwide and especially in the UK so I’m looking forward to meeting the home crowd at The Day of Champions on Thursday and having my friends and family cheering on the sidelines. I also have my new Ellison clothing range being released there at the Real Race Gear stall so hope to see a few people literally flying the flag. The weather looks like it could be a bit damp over the weekend but that should only make it more interesting but hopefully the fans will still come out in force and we really need their support.”
If the home crowd are to see a British winner, their best chance may come in Moto2 as Scott Redding chases a maiden victory in the intermediate class. The 19 year old underperformed slightly last time out but already has a podium finish to his name. He certainly knows his way around Silverstone too with top five finishes on both of his previous visits.
One of the rides of last year in any class came from Bradley Smith at this circuit after the Tech 3 rider charged from 28th on the grid to second in pouring rain. The Oxfordshire youngster will want to start a little closer to the front this time but his Mistral 610 machine doesn't appear to have the pace to replicate the heroics of 2011, unless the weather gods intervene once again. If it does rain, watch out for Gino Rea on the Gresini Suter as the Londoner races at a home grand prix for the first time. A points finish would represent a success for him on Sunday.
All pressure in Moto3 will fall on the 18 year old shoulders of Danny Kent as he looks to kick start his season. The burden of representing the factory KTM squad seems to have weighed heavily on him so far but his talent is unquestionable and now would be the perfect time to show it. Danny Webb's season hasn't really got going either but his troubles have largely been down to the equipment at his disposal. The Mahindra's speed and reliability has been far from solid so far so seeing the chequered flag must be their first priority. The same can also be said of John McPhee and Fraser Rogers who will compete as wildcards, the latter of the two making his Grand Prix debut.
The Hertz British Grand Prix weekend gets underway on Friday morning with the opining practice sessions. The Checkered Flag will have full coverage throughout the weekend.
Silverstone Former Winners:
|2011||Casey Stoner||Stefan Bradl||Jonas Folger|
|2010||Jorge Lorenzo||Jules Cluzel||Marc Marquez|
|*No Moto3 races have been held at Silverstone|