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David Emmett

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In the dying minutes of the Q2 session for MotoGP, it looked like we were witnessing a miracle. Jorge Martin flashed through the second sector nearly a second and a half up on the best time at that point.

If he kept up that pace, he would be on his way to destroying the Silverstone pole record held by Marc Marquez, set on the newly resurfaced track back in 2019.

Martin looked to be on his way to being the first rider to break the 1’58 barrier and lap the track in the 1’57s.

It’s only Friday, so the times don’t mean all that much. You don’t win MotoGP races on Friday. But you can certainly lose them, and even lose championships if you’re not careful. Especially on a Friday.

That was the lesson of Silverstone, as both Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo found to their cost. Marc Marquez had a fairly simple lowside, but managed to do so at 274 km/h at one of the fastest parts of the circuit.

Quartararo’s crash was much, much slower – 75 km/h, rather than 274 – but could have been much more serious. The Frenchman lost the rear, then the bike tried to flick him up and over the highside, twisting his ankle in the process.

It is hard to overstate just how different Silverstone is from Spielberg, where the last two MotoGP rounds were held.

Sure, both have very high average speeds – Silverstone at 179.7 km/h is among the fastest tracks on the calendar, and Spielberg’s 188 km/h is the fastest of the season – but that is pretty much where the similarity ends.

Silverstone has 18 corners, where Spielberg has only 10. The Austrian circuit is 4.3km long, while Silverstone is 5.9 kilometers.

The Red Bull Ring is three fast straights with a bunch of corners holding them together, while Silverstone is a complex of flowing corners and combinations of turns which present a real challenge to get right.

Oh, and Spielberg has steep climbs and sweeping drops, built on the side of a mountain (the clue is in the name, SpielBERG), while Silverstone is pretty much flat as a pancake, built around an old airfield on the top of a hill.

It is not really news, after Petronas made the announcement in their press release stating they would be ending their sponsorship of the Sepang Racing Team, but today, the team officially announced the end of the current structure.

At the end of the season, the Sepang International Circuit will close the Sepang Racing Team, and with it, the MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 teams.

The MotoGP team will continue, however, though under new management.

The fallout from Maverick Viñales’ precipitate departure from the Monster Energy Yamaha team continues to reshape 2022, and perhaps even 2021.

First, Aprilia announced on the Monday after Austria that Viñales would be racing for them alongside Aleix Espargaro in 2022.

Then, at the end of that week, Yamaha announced they would be terminating their contract with Viñales with immediate effect.

Maverick Viñales’ decision to leave Yamaha at the end of the 2021 season raised all sorts of questions.

Who would take his place in the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team? Can Franco Morbidelli be bought out of his contract with the Petronas SRT team? And if Morbidelli goes to the factory team, who do Petronas take to replace Morbidelli?

Valentino Rossi added another layer of complexity to those questions at the Styria Grand Prix by announcing he would be retiring from MotoGP at the end of this year. Now, Yamaha had not one, but two seats to fill.

There has been yet another change to the MotoGP calendar for 2021. As had been expected, the Malaysian Grand Prix scheduled for October 24th at the Sepang International Circuit has been canceled.

In its place will be an extra race at the Misano circuit in Italy. Misano will be the second circuit, after Portimão, which will host two races this year, but not back to back.

The thing about back-to-back races is that everyone gets faster. Or at least, that’s the idea.

With an extra weekend of data under their belts, the teams should have a pretty good idea about the ideal setting for the bike at a track, and returning to a circuit where they had raced a week before, the riders should be able to navigate every corner, bump, and braking zone with their eyes closed.

The track should be better too. With a weekend of motorcycle rubber on the track to replace the residue left by cars, there is more grip for the riders to exploit. The stars should all be aligned for everyone to be faster the second time around.

We know that the weather in the mountains is changeable, but Friday at the Red Bull Ring took the cake.

A bright, sunny morning, with ideal conditions for riding – so ideal that Johann Zarco sliced another tenth of a second off the outright lap record in FP1 – and in the last ten minutes or so of FP2 for the Moto3 class, a few drops of rain, and then lightning, and a hailstorm in 30°C heat.

The MotoGP riders went out on a soaking track, but by the time the session finished, it was almost dry.