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Talking points ahead of the British MotoGP™

Thursday, 3 August 2023

The sweeps of Silverstone awaken MotoGP™ from its summer slumber this weekend, with history suggesting Ducati might not have it all their own way in England.

If it feels like a while since we saw MotoGP™ in 2023, your hunch is right; the last race weekend was the Dutch TT six weeks ago, with the world's best on two wheels back in action at Silverstone this weekend for the British Motorcycle Grand Prix (August 4-6).

The 22 riders in action in the premier class will need to have banked some pre-emptive rest, as the remainder of the season comes at us with the speed of a dialled-in Ducati. After the first eight rounds were held over a leisurely 13 weeks, the final 12 come at us in just 17 – with, of course, Phillip Island being part of that mix with the MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from October 20-22.

Silverstone – the longest track of the season – is a fearsome proposition for a first weekend back at work, with high-speed corners and changeable winds buffeting the riders as they negotiate the track that's a former World War II airfield. And – speaking of Ducati – while the Italian marque has had things mostly its own way so far this season, Silverstone tends to throw the form book out the window.

Here's three talking points we're watching this weekend.

A level playing field

We're not just referencing the flat and fast circuit layout here; the British GP has been a Grand Prix where no manufacturer has gained a foothold in recent times, with the last repeat winner at Silverstone being Jorge Lorenzo for Yamaha back in 2012-13.

Ducati riders have taken 13 of 16 top steps on the podium across the Sprint and Grand Prix formats this season, while on Sundays, seven of the eight long-form races have been won by one of the Bologna bullets, reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia arriving in England as the winner of the most recent race (Assen) as well as last year's British GP.

Normally that would mean the chances of hearing the Italian national anthem are high on Saturday and Sunday, but not here; Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda have also annexed the Silverstone silverware in the past seven visits, while Aprilia (second with Maverick Vinales a year ago) came within four-tenths of a second of adding their name to the honour roll. In short, this race could be as open as any all season.

Miller's time to make a move

If you've been following Jack Miller's movements over the mid-season break, you'll see the Townsville tearaway hasn't exactly been putting his feet up; the father-to-be has been doing everything from moving dirt (yes, really) to taking a hot lap with Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen when Australia's premier tin-top series visited Miller's home town in July.

Play time over, Miller returns to a circuit where things have gone up and up over the years from a less-than-auspicious start (who can forget him taking out LCR Honda teammate Cal Crutchlow – in Crutchlow's home race, no less – back when he was a MotoGP™ rookie in 2015?) Last year, Miller was in the mix all weekend – he qualified and finished third in a fight for the win with Bagnaia and Vinales – while he has a podium near-miss (fourth in 2021) and another front row start (2019) on his Silverstone CV.

The KTM has been a rocket-ship off the line this year, and while Brad Binder has used the orange bike more consistently than Miller so far to be the only non-Ducati rider in the top six in the standings, this weekend shapes as one where the Aussie can make a move to set up the second half of his season.

Marquez: fight, flight, or finish

October 23, 2022 – that was, remarkably, the last time Marc Marquez finished a MotoGP™ race, the Honda hero coming home seventh in Malaysia last year just one week after his superb second in Australia.

Since then, Marquez's lot has been regularly painful and completely pointless – he's scored just 15 points in 2023, but none from the three Grands Prix he's actually been fit enough to ride in, all of his meagre haul coming in Saturday Sprints.

The Spanish superstar's past three race weekends – Italy (where he crashed and gestured to his broken bike in exasperation), Germany (where he crashed five times before pulling out of Sunday's race with a broken hand) and the Netherlands (where he withdrew after Saturday's Sprint with pain from a fractured rib) – have had more drama than most riders have in a full season, and brought his future with Honda into sharper focus.

The six-time premier class champion has a deal with the Japanese manufacturer that lasts until the end of 2024, but that won't stop this topic being THE primary off-track talking point, regardless of whether the 30-year-old finishes a Grand Prix for the first time in 284 days this weekend or not.

British MotoGP™ fast facts
Circuit name/location: Silverstone, England
Length/laps: 5.9km, 20 laps (MotoGP™), 18 laps (Moto2™), 17 laps (Moto3™)
Grands Prix held/debut: 23, 1977
Most successful rider: Jorge Lorenzo (three wins)
2022 podium 1st: Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati), 2nd: Maverick Vinales (Aprilia), 3rd: Jack Miller (Ducati)

The 2023 British Motorcycle Grand Prix will be available to watch live on Foxtel and Kayo. See our What time does the 2023 British MotoGP™ start in Australia article for timings.