Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales proved he could be the next ‘Alien’ with a stellar ride at Silverstone, claiming a historic first win for Suzuki since their return to MotoGP and becoming the seventh winner so far in 2016.
Viñales, who got his first podium in Le Mans in the French GP, got a front row start and simply pulled away once away in the lead – putting in an incredible performance to cross the line 3.4 seconds clear. After an almighty battle behind him, it was home hero and pole man Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda and Valentino Rossi on the factory Yamaha who completed the podium.
As the race started all eyes were firmly on the grey threatening clouds, and many riders on the grid were still making their final tyre decisions just minutes before the warm up lap.
As the race got underway it was Viñales who got the holeshot, before a big crash between Loris Baz on the Avintia Ducati and and Pol Espargaro on the satellite Yamaha on the opening lap brought out the red flag, with both riders sent to the medical centre.
On the restart, the front row of the grid of Crutchlow, Rossi and Viñales fought for the lead, with Crutchlow taking the position early before Viñales pounced and began pull away.
As Viñales continued to build his lead at the front, the racing behind him was close, with Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda leading a five bike train of Rossi, Crutchlow, Andrea Iannone on the factory Ducati and Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda.
Rossi then pounced to take second, before Iannone began reeling the riders ahead of him, charging to the head of the chasing pack. However, he slid off with six laps to go and was unable to remount.
The crash saw Crutchlow elevated to second, ahead of Rossi and Marquez.
With the Italian and the Spaniard the two men at the top of the championship, it was a battle royale for points, pride and supremacy as the two fought tooth and nail. With characteristic hard racing and some brutal moves from Marquez, the Spaniard eventually broke away from his Italian title rival to close on Crutchlow, before another hard move saw him clip Crutchlow and run too deep into a corner, losing time and dropping back behind teammate Pedrosa into fifth.
Viñales maintained his composure out front and crossed the line in front of Crutchlow and Rossi, with Marquez eventually finishing in fourth, just ahead of Pedrosa. Ducati’s Dovizioso finished sixth, a solid performance after twisting his knee in a testing crash ahead of the race, with Aleix Espargaro on the second Suzuki similarly riding after a recent hand injury to come home in seventh. Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line eighth after another disappointing outing struggling for grip, with Danilo Petrucci on the satellite Pramac Ducati and Alvaro Bautista on the Aprilia completing the top ten.
Viñales said: “This victory has been really emotional, my first in MotoGP and also the first for Suzuki since 2007.
“I felt I was in a good condition and that here we had the potential, but until the race ends you can never know. The team did an absolutely great job, improving the bike since the last races and also in the whole weekend.
“After the first start I felt really confident and I thought I had a margin to keep ahead, and this gave me the needed confidence to do it again after the second start. My feeling with the machine was perfect, I tried to push hard at the beginning to take advantage and then I just controlled the race. After the last races we felt we had the potential and finally we proved that the job we are doing is really in the right direction.”