Esteve Rabat struck a major blow in the fight for the Moto2 world championship by beating chief rival Mika Kallio in a thrilling British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The Spaniard chased down his Marc VDS teammate in the closing stages before snatching victory in a gripping final lap.
Having led away from pole position, Johann Zarco was quickly shuffled back to second by Kallio at Copse on the second lap but the Caterham man was in typically aggressive form and dived back through at The Loop on lap three. Mika was keen to lead and slipstreamed straight back past on the approach to Brooklands before dispatching Zarco at Copse for the second time after the Frenchman had outbraked him into Stowe on lap four.
Zarco was now coming under increased pressure from the AGR Kalex of Jonas Folger but that particular threat was seen off by Maverick Vinales who was making rapid progress through the field. Having eased past Esteve Rabat for fourth seconds earlier, the Moto3 champion produced a sensational move around the outside of Folger at Vale but if Zarco thought his life would be easier, he was in for a nasty shock at Stowe on lap nine with Vinales barging his way past the Caterham Suter, sitting Zarco up in the process.
To his credit, Zarco regrouped and was able to regain second soon afterwards and when Rabat set his sights on third, Vinales would run out of room at Maggotts, forcing him to take a detour across the tarmac run-off. No damage was done to his race in terms of position with the Pons rider slotting back into third but as he, Rabat and Zarco continued to fight tooth and nail, Kallio serenely eased into a two second lead.
The penny finally seemed to drop among the chasing group with five laps to go as Rabat muscled his way to second spot before unleashing a blistering sequence of laps to close down on Kallio. The injection of pace was such that Vinales and Zarco fell back, leaving them to dispute the final podium position but Esteve had his eyes on a much bigger prize.
With a lap and half to go, Rabat was within striking distance of his teammate and charged through at Village. Having been reeled in so quickly, Kallio didn’t fade as many would have expected and used all of his experience, plus a little brute force, to edge back past at Woodcote. Just a solitary lap remained and Esteve would make his move at Vale but crucially, the Spaniard was able to fend his title rival off on the drag race towards Brooklands and held on to win by 0.063s.
Vinales rose back into contention as the Marc VDS riders swapped paint but he eventually had to settle for third ahead of Zarco while Thomas Luthi and Franco Morbidelli completed the top six, marginally ahead of British hope Sam Lowes. Jonas Folger’s absence from the leading group late on could be attributed to a collision with Simone Corsi, the German barrelling into the Forward rider at The Loop six laps from home.
The top ten was completed by the superb Hafizh Syahrin, Mattia Pasini and Axel Pons but there were no points for Britain’s Gino Rea or Jeremy McWilliams although the fact the 50 year old returnee completed the race was a triumph for Brough Superior as well as the Ulsterman who picked up injuries in qualifying.