[Oldies] MotoGP Silverstone History: From Wandering Sheep to Formula 1 Cradle...

[Oldies] MotoGP Silverstone History: From Wandering Sheep to Formula 1 Cradle…

Silverstone is a small village located south of the city of Northampton, 100 kilometers northwest of London.

Built in 1943, like hundreds of airfields built to defend the British coast and to carry out bombing attacks on continental Europe, Silverstone Airfield became the base of the Royal Air Force’s 17th Operational Training Unit. His main task was to train the crew to fly twin-engine Vickers Wellington bombers.

Obviously, such large aircraft could not operate on small grass airfields, and so Silverstone was equipped with three runways, two of which were paved, one 882 meters long and the other over 1,000 meters long.

Like many wartime airfields, Silverstone was decommissioned at the end of the war, much to the satisfaction of one Maurice Geohegan, who used it in 1946 to drive his new Fraser-Nash sports car on a primitive car that formed something of a figure eight with tracks. and runways. He was so happy to be able to fully test his car there that he told several of his friends about it, and in 1947 an illegal race was organized with a dozen cars. Legend has it that these races became known as the “Mutton Grand Prix” after Geoghegan’s encounter with a stray sheep…

At the time, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) was scouring the country looking for a venue for the British leg of the new Formula 1 Grand Prix series. Word of the ‘Mutton GP’ reached them and one thing after another, they leased a former Royal Air Force base for the Army to stage its first Formula 1 GP there. It was won in 1948 Luigi Villaresi driving a Maserati in front of 100,000 people, protected by several straw bales, ropes and canvas barriers. The Italian relieves the crowd by winning from the back of the grid because he arrived too late for the official tests…

The first 3.67-mile track, in which cars raced toward the center crossing at breakneck speed, was deemed too dangerous and was changed the following year. King George VI attended the 1950 races and in 1951 the BRDC leased Silverstone from the RAC. They set themselves the task of transforming the airfield’s runway into a more permanent circle.

But history was in motion, and even today Silverstone is more than ever the melting pot of the F1 world.

On the motorcycle side, the first Grand Prix held at Silverstone in 1977 was also the first motorcycle Grand Prix to be held on the British mainland, as the British round of the World Championship had been held since 1949 at the Isle of Man circuit, Length 60, 72 km.

Over a distance of 4.71 km, the winners of this first Grand Prix at Silverstone, the last of the 1977 season, were Pat Hennen (Suzuki) in 500cc, Cork Ballington (Yamaha) in 350cc and 250cc, and Pierluigi Conforti (Marbidelli) in 125cc.

It will also be the last Grand Prix for Giacomo Agostini.

The British Grand Prix was held at Silverstone until 1986, after which it was moved to Donington Park, before returning there in 2010, after a 23-year absence, on a circuit layout that has been revised many times and increased to 5.9 km.

In 2018, unlike the tests, the races there did not take place due to torrential rain. In 2019, the track saw its last update (in a few episodes after much controversy) and the 2020 edition was canceled due to Covid.

To date, toAngel Nieto and Cork Ballington are the most successful drivers at Silverstone, with 6 wins each.

Since returning to the calendar in 2010, the MotoGP winners have become Jorge Lorenzo (2010, 2012 and 2013), Casey Stoner (2011), Mark Marquez (2014), Valentine Rossi (2015), Maverick Viñales (2016), Andrea Davizioso (2017) and ÁLex Rins in 2019 during a very busy edition for Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Davizioso

After canceling in 2020 due to Covid, Fabio Quartararo won there last year ahead of ÁLex Rins and Aleix Espargaroanother contender for the title this year: place your bets!

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