Keith Huewen: Silverstone is Aleix’s chance, Quartararo penalty ‘tricky’ to overcome | MotoGP

After a five-week summer break, MotoGP blasts back into action with reigning champion Quartararo leading the standings by a reduced 21-points over Aleix Espargaro after suffering a first DNF of the season at Assen.

But the aftermath will controversially carry over to Silverstone, where Quartararo needs to serve a Long Lap penalty – in the hectic early laps of the race – as punishment for the fumbled pass on Espargaro.

As such, Keith Huewen thinks Espargaro is now poised to take another bite out of the Frenchman’s title lead – and that Quartararo, the 2021 race winner, might even struggle to finish on the podium this Sunday.

“Aleix Espargaro, this is his chance,” said former British champion and Grand Prix rider Huewen.

“You’ve got Quartararo doing the Long Lap penalty after his shenanigans in Assen, which is going to make a massive difference.

“The racing is so tight, so to work your way back from that [penalty] is going to be tricky.

“Meanwhile, Espargaro is looking absolutely superb. I just think he’s going to perform so well and that the Aprilia is the kind of motorcycle that will really work at Silverstone.

“I think Aleix is race winner this weekend and can grab a handful of points from Quartararo, when there are not going to be many given away by Quartararo this year.

“So the Race Stewards may just have assisted Aleix Espargaro in closing this up and making it something a little bit special as we go well into the second-half of the season.

“My predictions are Aleix Espargaro as number one for Silverstone. Bagnaia in second place and then I had a real difficulty over Quartararo and whether he will make a podium or not.

“I think Quartararo probably will force his way through into third. So that’s my top three. Unless it rains, then Jack Miller!” MotoGP editor Pete McLaren also backs Espargaro and Aprilia to shine but thinks – if Quartararo can qualify well and start strongly – he can still emerge victorious on Sunday.

“Quartararo’s going into Silverstone feeling he has a penalty he didn’t deserve. Yamaha also feel that way. But carrying that anger into this weekend could work for him, or against him.

“I certainly think, after Assen, he’s going to want to go out there and blow everybody away from first practice.

“We know how important it’s been for Quartararo to get the holeshot and run away at the front. But it’s going to be almost impossible to do that with this penalty, so I think we’re going to see a fight on our hands.

“I’m still going to back Fabio to overcome his penalty, so I’ll go Quartararo first and Aleix second. But I hope we are going to see a great battle between them. Third was a struggle for me to pick, with people like Vinales back on form, but I’m going to go for Alex Rins.

“Silverstone is one of Rins’ tracks, he just goes well there, that last corner victory over Marc Marquez a few years back comes to mind and Suzuki has also won at Silverstone with Vinales.”

Aleix needs to keep ‘nothing to lose’ mindset

McLaren believes the key for Espargaro will be to repeat the ‘nothing to lose’ mindset that worked so spectacularly in Assen, where he charged from 15th to 4th after the Quartararo incident forced him off track:

“Look how well Aleix rode in Assen when he decided, ‘my race is over, I’m just going to go for it’. It’s easy to think he was just riding over his head, but he wasn’t banging into people or missing apexes. He just rode fantastically.

“So now Aleix and Aprilia need to try and keep that mindset going, and not think too much about the championship.

“The bike only took its first MotoGP podium one year ago and here they are coming back to Silverstone fighting for the world championship. Nobody would have imagined that in such a short space of time.

“But if Aleix can stay relaxed and ride as he did in Assen, anything is possible now.”

As well as making his own predictions for Sunday’s top three, podcast host Harry Benjamin also raises the future of Suzuki’s test rider Sylvain Guintoli and who might be the next British star to make it into MotoGP.

“I’ve also got Aleix Espargaro for the win. I do think Fabio Quartararo will fight back but don’t think he’ll make the podium so I’ve put Bagnaia second and I’ve gone for Miller in third,” Benjamin said.

Download Episode 57 at the following links…

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