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Espargaro leaves it late to bump Bagnaia at Silverstone

Monday, 7 August 2023

Spanish veteran Aleix Espargaro won the British Grand Prix in dramatic fashion, the Aprilia rider passing world champion Pecco Bagnaia on the final lap to take his second career victory in 310 starts.

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro won his second MotoGP™ race in his 310th world championship start at the British Grand Prix, the Spanish veteran hunting down and passing reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) with a stunning last-lap overtake at Silverstone on Sunday.

Espargaro added to his sole success from Argentina last year with a brilliant ride from 12th on the grid, the 34-year-old shadowing Bagnaia for much of the final five laps of the race held in spitting rain before arrowing past the world championship leader into the Maggotts-Becketts sequence of corners on the last of 20 laps, and repelling Bagnaia in the final sector to win by two-tenths of a second.


While Bagnaia was denied a fifth Grand Prix win of the season, the Italian extended his series lead to a season-best 41 points after nearest title rival Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) crashed out in pursuit on lap six after the pair had cleared away from the rest of the field.

KTM's Brad Binder won out in a battle with former teammate Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) to round out the podium, while Ducati's Jorge Martin, who came to Silverstone in second place in the standings, could only recover to sixth place after contact with Binder on the first lap dropped him to the back of the field.

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With the race taking place under grey skies, the race was declared wet on lap 13, meaning riders could pit to switch to bikes with a wet set-up. The rain didn't escalate from much more than drizzle at certain corners, with only four riders – Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati), Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha), Iker Lecuona (Honda) and Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) – taking the gamble to swap machines, Di Giannantonio (13th) the highest-placed finisher from that quartet.

In Saturday's 10-lap Sprint, Ducati's Alex Marquez took his first victory since his 2019 title-winning Moto2™ season, the Spaniard beating Bezzecchi and Vinales in a race held in half-wet, half-dry conditions after the track had been lashed with rain in qualifying earlier in the day.

Aussie watch

Jack Miller finished eighth after an eventful race at Silverstone, the Australian starting from second on the grid and leading the opening lap of the race before being shoved off track at Copse by Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) on lap three from third place, falling all the way to 14th.

The KTM rider dropped to 15th on lap four but moved forwards as the rain began to make conditions tricky in the final stages, improving from 15th with seven laps left to pass Ducati's Johann Zarco for eighth on the penultimate lap, finishing 9.298secs behind race-winner Espargaro.

Earlier in the weekend, Miller finished seventh in the Sprint, his haul of 11 points over the weekend seeing him drop one place to eighth in the world championship with 90 points.

Miller's Moto3™ compatriot Joel Kelso had a similar tale to tell from his maiden visit to Silverstone, the 20-year-old's high point of the weekend similarly coming on Saturday when he qualified an outstanding fifth in dreadful conditions on his CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP machine.

Kelso was part of a mass battle pack that raged for the duration of the 15-lap Moto3™ race, finishing just two seconds behind first-time race winner David Alonso (Colombia), but in 16th place and outside of the world championship points.

Surprise packet

It was a day of days for Aprilia at Silverstone, which placed four bikes inside the top 10 for the first time in MotoGP™ history on the day it won its second premier-class Grand Prix with Espargaro.

Espargaro's factory teammate Vinales looked primed for a podium result until the rain hit before settling for fifth. The Spaniard was one place behind an on-song Oliveira, who flew to fourth and missed the podium by 0.070secs after starting way back in 16th place.

Oliveira's RNF Aprilia teammate Raul Fernandez kept the good news coming for the Noale-based factory, the 2021 Moto2™ championship runner-up taking his best MotoGP™ finish in 25 Grand Prix starts with 10th place.

Number to know

9: Espargaro's victory made it nine different winners from the past nine MotoGP™ races at Silverstone, his win coming after Bagnaia (2022), Quartararo (2021), Rins (2019), Dovizioso (2017), Vinales (2016), Rossi (2015), Marquez (2014) and Lorenzo (2013).

British Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 40mins 40.367secs
2. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.215secs
3. Brad Binder (KTM) +0.680secs
4. Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) +0.750secs
5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +2.101secs
6. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +7.903secs
7. Luca Marini (Ducati) +9.099secs
8. Jack Miller (KTM) +9.298secs
9. Johann Zarco (Ducati) +9.958secs
10. Raul Fernandez (Aprilia) +19.947secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 214 points
2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 173 points
3. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 167 points
4. Brad Binder (KTM) 131 points
5. Johann Zarco (Ducati) 122 points

What's next?

Round 10: Austria (Red Bull Ring), August 18-20