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Angels and Demons in Britain

Angels and Demons in Britain

Some riders flourish when racing at home, the roar of local fans spurring them on to greatness but others struggle to overcome misfortune.

At the end of Free Practice 2 on Friday at the Octo British Grand Prix, Bradley Smith was up in third, flying the flag for Britain on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’ Scott Redding also showed well in front of his home crowd, ending ninth after spending much of the day in the top five. However, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) struggled to 15th overall. These initial results are surprisingly similar to how they’ve finished at home in years past.

Both Smith and Redding have done well at Silverstone, often putting in their best results of the season, home crowds having a seemingly angelic effect and lifting their performance. Back in 2011, when still in the Moto2™ World Championship, Smith put in a stunning ride at Silverstone from 28th on the grid to claim second on his Tech 3 Moto2™ machine. This result came after a disappointing 19th in the Catalan GP the round before. Not only does Smith have the roar of home fans to aid him in 2015, he also has the pressure of fighting for a 2016 contract lifted as it was announced this week that he would remain with Tech 3 next year.

Redding has shown a similar ability to produce miraculous rides at home, in 2008 he won the 125cc British GP in the middle of a season that saw him finish in the top five on only two other occasions. His first year in Moto2™, 2011, saw him battle with Smith for the podium before ending in fifth, having scored points in only one race before that season. The Moto2™ race in 2012 is perhaps one of Redding’s most memorable in Silverstone, the Brit gritting his teeth and trading blows with Marc Marquez who was at the peak of his Moto2™ dominance. Redding overcame his significant size disadvantage to wrestle second from the eventual champion in a thrilling last lap tussle.

While both Smith and Redding have enjoyed great home success, Crutchlow has been plagued with crashes and bad luck. When Crutchlow joined the MotoGP™World Championship in 2011 he was forced to miss his home round after a horrific crash in Qualifying broke his collarbone. The following year saw him start in 20th, crashing during practice and suffering a badly dislocated ankle forcing him to miss Qualifying. Crutchlow battled through the demons and pain and secured a stunning sixth that year.

Two crashes on Saturday in 2013 at Silverstone left the Brit battered and bruised, finishing down in seventh position after having taken four podiums earlier. Silverstone marked the lowest point in Crutchlow’s 2014 campaign on the Ducati, struggling to 12th. At this early stage it appears 2015 is yet another year where home round demons may see the Coventry rider struggle despite his clear speed earlier in the season.

The last time British fans saw a British rider on the podium in the premier class at home was in 2000 when Jeremy McWilliams was third, but 2015 has promise. Smith has shown top five speed and consistency all year and the home fans have boosted him to season highs in the past. Now he has a contract secured he may also push to take more risks in his hunt for glory. Of the British MotoGP™ trio, Crutchlow is the only one to step onto the podium this season but to repeat his Argentinian performance he’ll have to overcome the demons and his historical bad luck.

MotoGP, 2015, OCTO BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Bradley Smith, Scott Redding, Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda, EG 0,0 Marc VDS, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

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