I know what you’re thinking; this is a car website, so why am I even daring to mention motorcycles, because they are they are fast and make a great noise, that’s why.
If you think of motorcycles and racing, you have many many variations on the sport, the Isle of Man is one, a bit far from my house so Silverstone and the 2016 MotoGP will have to do.
We wanted to go to Silverstone so badly to see the 2016 Octo British Grand Prix that we awoke at 5am on a Sunday morning, officially this was god’s day of rest, pah, to that, we were up and out while most were sleeping or suffering from insomnia.
We arrived at Silverstone by 7am which was a good thing, the traffic was light and already a metric-ton of Moto GP fans had already arrived, some were dressed in jackets with the displaying the number 46 or ‘The Doctor’ emblazoned on them, what did all this mean I wondered.
Now, I will admit, I have been motorcycle racing before, back in the late 2,000’s I decided to follow some of my friends around this great nation, and Wales, in order to photograph them as they rode motorcycles they had built themselves in an endurance racing series, the team was called MC-Racing, the riders, one survived off a diet consisting of chicken and chips, one let his kids decorate his bike for some reason, the last rider drank a lot of Guinness and generally slept a lot as preparation for a race.
For reasons that still escape me, I used to hang around the paddock attempting to help out, this usually mean getting in the way and changing the transponder from bike to bike during a rider change, this was my first exposure to a live racing pit lane and it was tremendous. If you have never done it then you have to, from the moment I attended my first race I was hooked, thankfully the riders never got to annoyed at my ineptitude and to this day somehow we remain friends, in fact, in our final season, we finished 3rd in the 600cc championship, with bikes built in sheds, sponsored by Thomas The Fucking Tank Engine and riders who think that Triathlon is just a store for sporting goods.
Now, this leads me on to my visit to Silverstone on 4 September, a Brit was on pole in the form of Cal Crutchlow, who last month became Britain’s first MotoGP race winner in a massive 35 long and painful years, therefore expectations were high at Silverstone for a British winner.
Now, I will admit to only ever watching MotoGP on television, basically I’d never seen Moto3 or Moto2, not ever, not even once, first up was the Moto3 race, for those of you that don’t know, this series is powered by a 250cc four-stroke, one-cylinder engine, across the teams, first thing to know, the noise these bikes make is amazing, like literal music to my ears, the race was won by Brad Binder on a KTM for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, I will admit that until Silverstone I had never heard of him, either way, the Moto3 race was great entertainment and the noise was even better even if I didn’t see a single overtake or any getting remotely close to a crash from my viewing point.
Next up was the amazingly titled Moto2 race, naturally these racers get a bigger motor to play with, a 600cc four-stroke production engine at that, during the morning warm-up session I may have remarked that compared to Moto3, Moto2 seemed a bit muted, kind of like someone had turned the volume down, once the race started I happily admitted my error, what a screaming symphony of noise, the race started with another Brit on pole in the form of Sam Lowes who confusingly has an identical twin brother called Alex who was making his debut in the MotoGP race later in the same day, anyway, poor Lowes was involved in an incident which I didn’t see as it was on another part of the track, the result of this incident was a 30 second penalty for the other rider involved and a 21st place rather dejected Lowes, the eventual winner was Thomas Luthi for the excitingly named Garage Plus Interwetten team, again I had not heard of him until arriving at Silverstone.
Now, onto the main event, The MotoGP, the big guns finally made it onto track, now if you have never heard a MotoGP bike at full chat then you are missing out, the sound these things make is utterly amazing, it’s like the sound of Nordic thunder times by a large number, then, you get this sound.
The race itself got off to a nervy start with a massive accident involving Pol Espargaro and Loris Baz, the two injured riders were taken to medical as a precaution, from my view on the jumbo-screen this accident did look really nasty, thankfully though both riders escaped serious injury as the red flag came out and the race was quickly stopped, after what seemed like an age the track was cleared and the race was finally restarted.
As a race, it had everything, overtaking galore, thrillingly close riding battles all over the track and oddly a Suzuki won the race which hasn’t happened in nine years. The rider is Maverick Vinales, after the restart for the shortened 19-lap race he had to wait until Abbey to pass polesitter Crutchlow, once he was in the lead, Vinales simply strolled away at the front as a thrilling five-rider battle for second played out behind him.
Having initially broken away from the chasing pack by two seconds during which Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi struggled to pass Marc Marquez, Vinales increased his lead to three seconds with 10 laps to go and his lead got out to nearly five seconds as he cruised home.
The main battle was Marquez and Rossi, it was a fierce one, with the two riders trading what became third place and – nearly – paint, until Marquez eventually squeezed past the Yamaha rider with five laps to go.
Marquez then began to reel in Crutchlow, and they too traded second place, this was until Marquez had a big dive up the inside at Stowe but overshot the corner massively with two laps remaining.
That meant polesitter Crutchlow cruised home in the final stages to finish second for LCR Honda, this was his first home podium coming only two short weeks after his breakout MotoGP victory, Rossi managed to break through all of the mini-battles to take third place during what was a frantic action-packed race.