As always, Silverstone is an unknown and today the script read the same as always. Between sudden showers, crashes and continuous delays, there was truly nothing lacking on one of the most troubled afternoons ever. Indeed, because the water that fell on the British track during FP4 led to an unlucky Tito Rabat crashing to the ground to then be struck by Franco Morbidelli’s bike.
The Spaniard suffered some serious injuries, including a fracture to the tibia, humerus and femur, enough to be medevacked by helicopter to the nearby Coventry hospital. The lack of a second medevac aircraft therefore forced race direction to delay the start of Q2. It had initially been scheduled for 2:35 PM local time and was then delayed until 3:30 PM. So, everyone waited in the garage with one eye on the skies and one on the track, hoping to figure out what the track condition would be.
In conditions that were mixed and anything but simple to decipher, most of the riders relied on the medium rain tyre. This was a choice that paid off for Jorge Lorenzo, who did a mad pole position time. On his last attempt, the Majorcan bested the rest, pulling a time of 2’10”155 out of his hat: “Today I managed to be competitive in these conditions – the number 99 rider said – On some laps I decided to slow down to save the tyres for the end and I can say that I am very enthusiastic about this result. We will obviously need to take care in the event of a wet track tomorrow.”
Attempting to thwart the Spaniard’s efforts was Andrea Dovizioso, but a matter of just 159 thousandths forced the Italian to settle for second place: “It is important to be up front – Andrea said – We are fast on a dry track, whereas the water is still a question mark. Unfortunately, today we were in the garage for a long time and it was no simple thing to go back out on the track and push.”
Ducati aside, the news of the day is that after five races on the front row, there will be no Honda there this time. Indeed, because Marc Marquez (+0.928) was unable to do better than the fifth place time behind Cal Crutchlow, with a gap of almost a second behind Lorenzo. Number 93 stayed out on the track for the entire session with the same tyre and only toward the end did he manage to shave off a few tenths. Keeping the two ‘Reds’ company will be Johann Zarco’s Yamaha (+0.284). The Frenchman had the fastest M1, since Valentino Rossi had to settle for twelfth behind Maverick Viñales.
It was a tormented session for the Doctor, with his team caught unprepared in preparing the second bike with new tyres. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of what happened two years ago on Phillip Island with the nine-time champion cursing after returning to pit lane. Consequently, the Italian was unable to go back out on track for a time attack. Going back to the top spots, Danilo Petrucci’s sixth place ahead of Andrea Iannone is worth a mention, whereas Jack Miller was ninth behind Rins. Like in Argentina, the Australian gambled with slicks, but this time it did not pay off.