2012 Silverstone Moto2 Preview: Bureaucracy Comes To Moto2
After the announcement of Casey Stoner's retirement a few weeks ago and Jorge Lorenzo’s confirmation recently that he will be staying with Yamaha for the next two seasons, everybody is trying to guess the answer to the million--dollar question: which factory will Valentino Rossi be riding for next season?.
But none of this has anything to do with the real interest of the World Championship, where Moto2 and Moto3 classes show the real thrilling action on the track, and we all expect more of the same from a new edition of British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Even though the Silverstone racetrack has a great tradition and long history in British Grand Prix racing, I must confess that I still miss the technical and demanding layout of Donington Park. But business is stronger than passion or any other influence in motorsport in recent times, just as it is everywhere else. With Donington gone since 2009 -after hosting 22 rounds of the British Grand Prix-, at least the speedy Silverstone is still a great place for racing, as we will all enjoy this weekend.
The Moto2 Class was born in 2010 at the same time as the Silverstone racetrack was coming back to Grand Prix racing, after dropping off the calendar in 1986. Even if we would have loved to watch Andrea Iannone, Thomas Luthi, Marc Márquez or Pol Espargaró coming down the hill on their Moto2 bikes at Craner or saving braking slides coming into the Melbourne Hairpin at Donington Park, Silverstone’s ultra fast layout still ensures amazing races too.
Looking forward to the Moto2 British Grand Prix, on the sporting side Swiss rider Thomas Luthi is leading the standing thanks to a smart season. Being on the rostrum in four of five races, plus a psychological win at a wet Le Mans, Luthi is now the leader of the series with 88 points after the last race in Catalonia, just two points ahead of the flying Spaniard Marc Márquez -86 points-. Behind them Andrea Iannone -71 points-, is showing again his mighty talent, although it is been mixed with some poor performances as seems to happen every season. Pol Espargaró -71 points-, went to his local race in Catalonia and after his encounter with Marquez left Barcelona with an injured ankle and no points for him, and is now fourth in the standings.
Because of this last affair, the intermediate class is taking a strange atmosphere to Silverstone, as an air of bureaucracy hangs over the race. The fact in this case is that those last sixteen points earned by Márquez from his third position in Barcelona are still up in the air, after Espargaró's 40 HP Tuenti team lodged an appeal with the FIM, to have the points taken away from Márquez due to his risky action with Espargaró, especially when all this ended in disaster for Espargaró while fighting for third place behind Luthi and Italian Andrea Iannone.
Race Direction decided to apply a one minute penalty to Márquez in Barcelona, but that decision was soon revoked by FIM Stewards later the same day. Espargaró’s team then appealed, understanding that their rider had lost a serious amount of points and many of his options in the championship due to the Montmelo crash. So, we do not exactly know at this moment if Márquez is second in the standings –with 86 points behind leader Luthi-, or if he stands fourth after Luthi, Espargaró, Iannone with just seventy points.
At least this is happening during the early part of the season. Otherwise, a situation like this later in the year could likely give an surreal view at the end of the season for riders, teams and viewers alike. Hopefully, we will soon find out the final decision of the FIM, something more significant than just a different point of view between such important racing institutions as the FIM and Race Direction.
Whatever it is, it is not going to finish at Silverstone this week. Marquez and Espargaro meet each other again at the same track where the pair fought tooth and nail for victory in the 125 class in 2010. Marquez beat Espargaro then, after a thrilling and eventful last lap full of contact between the two riders, something similar to what they did a few weeks ago in the last lap of the Portuguese or Catalonian races.
Espargaro was injured after his crash in Barcelona, suffering a sprain in one of his ankles. His team has sent out a press release interviewing him about this round at Siverstone. The sprain seems to be OK, but his extremely nice words towards Márquez reveal a maybe not so clear attitude. HP Tuenti team boss Sito Pons must have been clear on this affair, forbidding any pugnacious words from any of his crew. From the side of Márquez, silence seems to be the main priority too. Either way, both riders will surely be fighting for victory at Silverstone. We’ll find out once they are back on the about the real lessons learnt by each rider in Barcelona.
Guessing the winner of the Moto2 race at the British Grand Prix a very difficult task at this moment. 2011 British race winner Stefan Bradl won’t be among the fastest riders of the 2012 season –Luthi, Márquez, Espargaró and Iannone-. Looking back at the 2011 race, of these latter four, only Luthi was able to earn a disappointing single point by finishing 15th in the wet. Marquez crashed again during the race after smashing up his Suter in the warm up session on Sunday morning, so no points for him. Nor for Espargaró either –also crashed - or Iannone –finished out of the points, in 16th.
So, what can we expect from the Moto2 race this time? For sure, we’ll enjoy an amazing race with the four fastest guys out on the track in almost physical perfect conditions, plus some local riders like Scott Redding, Bradley Smith or Gino Rea, and some inspired guests in the front like Claudio Corti, Mika Kallio, Toni Elías or Tito Rabat.
Last year’s MotoGP British Grand Prix was held under the rain. Some predictions say that weather will be fine this weekend, others predict cold rainy days like 2011. For those disappointed if rain finally falls, we all know dry racing is always faster and safer too. But we all surely recognize that the seemingly mutually exclusive concepts of heavy rain and riding a motorcycle very fast takes talent and sensitivity to a higher level of perfection.