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In 1977, the British GP moved to the mainland UK for the first time. Previously held on the Isle of Man TT course, when it moved it found a new home: Silverstone. Fittingly, the 40th anniversary sees MotoGP™ again racing at Silverstone.
The winners of the first British GP on the mainland were Pat Hennen (Suzuki) in 500cc, South African Kork Ballington (Yamaha) in 350cc and 250cc, and Pierluigi Conforti took the victory in the 125cc race for Morbidelli. That was on the 4.71km original circuit used, and it was Kenny Roberts who set the fastest lap in a race during that Silverstone stint – an average of 192.2 km/h in 1983.
In 1987, the British GP then moved to Donington Park – only returning to Silverstone in 2010. Donington had hosted some classic moments, including the 1992 British GP, which was a close-fought fight to the line between two legends: Wayne Gardner and Wayne Rainey. Only eight tenths separated Gardner and Rainey over the line, and the race saw Kevin Schwantz play marshal after a crash.
1992 British Grand Prix: 500cc Full Race
The highest-profile moment in modern racing history at Donington was the first premier class win for the ‘Doctor’ Valentino Rossi, however. Starting fourth on the grid in the 500cc race in 2000, Rossi wrote the first chapter in what would go on to become more a legend than simply a story, taking his first win ahead of Kenny Roberts Jr and British rider Jeremy McWilliams. After McWilliams, it would take until 2016 at Silverstone for a Brit to get back on the home podium in the premier class!
2000 British Grand Prix: 500cc Full Race
Donington Park also gave us a couple more history-making moments. One, for home hero Scott Redding, saw him win the 125cc race in 2008 to become the youngest ever GP winner – something that looks likely to stand now the youngest age for most entrants into the World Championship is 16.
2008 British Grand Prix: 125cc Full Race
Another one came only the year after, when Andrea Dovizioso also took a first at Donington – his first premier class race win, in 2009. He was also the final winner before MotoGP ™ moved back to Silverstone in 2010 after a break of 23 years.
2009 British Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race
Jorge Lorenzo was the first winner back in Northamptonshire, taking the first of his three MotoGP™ wins so far – making him the most successful rider in the premier class at the track. One of those wins was the stunning 2013 duel that pitched Lorenzo, then-reigning Champion, against Marc Marquez – the man who would depose him. After an almighty duel for pole position on Saturday, the race took the battle off the timesheets and onto the track. The result? An all-time classic.
2013 British Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race
Then we had a re-run in 2014 that saw Marquez come out on top, 2015 saw Rossi take victory at Silverstone for the first time – and 2016 was another first: Maverick Viñales’ first MotoGP™ win.
2017 remains to be seen – but with five riders in contention for the title, it’s sure to be another classic clash.
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