Fabio Quartararo roared back from the MotoGP summer break in style, extending his lead atop the premier class standings with an emphatic win at Silverstone in the U.K.
The 22-year-old from Nice, France, “El Diablo” took his factory Monster Yamaha YZR-M1 to a solid 2.6 second edge over second-placed Alex Rins aboard the Ecstar Suzuki GSX-RR.
The success was the fifth win for Quartararo over the opening 11 races of the Championship, and the first podium in 2021 for Rins, the heroic winner at Silverstone in 2019.
The early race battle for first was an entertaining, unexpected tussle between pole man Pol Espargaro, age 30, on the factory Repsol-Honda RC213V and 32-year-old brother Aleix Espargaro on the Gresini Aprilia RS-GP.
As Rins eventually established himself in second, Aleix Espargaro came under intense pressure for the final podium spot from the works Ducati of Jack Miller.
The pair traded third during the final lap, but A. Espargaro held on by just over one tenth of a second to score Aprilia’s first MotoGP Podium.
Miller was fourth, while Pol Espargaro faded to fifth after an off-track trip. Brad Binder, winner of the previous, crazy wet-dry affair in Austria, worked his way up to net sixth for KTM, making it six different manufacturers represented in the top six of the results.
“It’s like a dream, I am super happy,” explained father-of-two Aleix Espargaro post-race. “It has been a long way to finally arrive here. Step-by-step I always believed in this project, and I work more than ever. So, for everyone at Aprilia this is like a dream.
“I want to enjoy but believe me I want more and more, and we are in a good moment,” reflected Espargaro of his impressive pace on the long-unloved Aprilia this season. “We have to keep working hard and I would like to say thanks to everyone at Aprilia.
“It wasn’t an easy race, and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I had a little bit more pace (than third indicates), but this is the first podium and it is for everybody. Now I will have a lot less pressure because everybody is asking me when we will get this first podium.”
Winner Quartararo, limping from a big practice fall, indicated that he “will not change his approach” heading in to the final six races of the 2021 Championship.
With a total of 206, Quartararo is now a massive 67 points clear of second overall second overall Joan Mir, Suzuki’s Champ at 141 points.
A front-runner for much of the season, Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco had an off-weekend at Silverstone and is now third in the standings with 137 points, just one point up on rising works Ducati hero Francesco Bagnaia. Zarco was 11th in the U.K. round, while Bagnaia was down in 14th.
In a race with limited passing in cool conditions, riders unsure of tire choices, Quartararo moved forward with authority, passing both the Espargaro brothers and Bagnaia to take the point. From there, he gradually pulled away, with little drama compared to his pursuers.
“It was nice,” explained the understated victor. “During the race I was felling really comfortable. The most stressful part was the start because you never know if a rider is going to hit you or if you are going wide.”
Quartararo also confirmed that the mechanical device that locks down the forks for the start of the race was problematic, stating that “here the holeshot device was also difficult. But yeah, as soon as I made the second lap, I was behind the Espargaros and Bagnaia, and I overtook them step-by-step, which was nice. I really enjoyed those overtakes. From there my pace was really strong but I never expected to pull away a second in one and a half laps.
“I’m enjoying so much to fight for the victories. Then the Championship is something that comes when you make the results. At the moment, my approach remains the same and of course if one race I feel like it’s not possible to win I will not make any stupid mistakes. If we have the chance to fight for the Podium than I will continue to do this.”
Continuing his recent up-and-down form, former class king Marc Marquez was out early on the factory Repsol-Honda, taking Jorge Martin’s factory Ducati with him when the pair tangled twice on the busy opening lap. The first bump wasn’t too severe, but then Marquez made a bold move and ducked under Martin, only to tuck his front Michelin and take the pair out.
Marquez took the blame for the collision between the two 2021 race winners, saying “I want to apologize to Martin and his team because it was completely my fault. I was too optimistic on that overtake. Races are sometimes like this and today I made a mistake.”
Martin took things in stride, impressive behavior from the MotoGP rookie.
“At the end, Marquez came to say sorry,” confirmed Martin. “This is really good from his side, but in the end, he destroyed my race. This is the main problem. He can destroy his own race, but not the others. He thought there was space and for sure there wasn’t. But I hope he can learn from this one and improve in the future.”