Espargaro is currently 21 points behind Quartararo but after suffering a major highside at over 110mph during FP4, the Spaniard’s attempts at winning the British MotoGP appear to be in major doubt. 

Even if Espargaro manages to ride during today’s race, a significant injury to his right foot is unlikely to allow him the chance of fighting with the likes of Quartararo, his team-mate or Francesco Bagnaia. 

That’s why Vinales could play a key role after qualifying second behind Johann Zarco, his first front row since moving to Aprilia from Yamaha.

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Asked what he can do to potentially help Espargaro should the man second in the championship require it, Vinales was clear: “The best way to help is to stay in front. I think this is the best way to help Aprilia. 

“We didn’t talk about anything and at the end it’s a question of being in a position where I can help Aleix. 

“On my mind right now is the way I want to go about the race which is to be in the first [few] places and push. In MotoGP now, the first ten laps decide the race. 

“I want to be there, I want to be battling and of course if I have the opportunity to help I will do [it]. But I'm very focused on my job in these last few races and we are getting faster every time.”

Although Quartararo failed to secure a front row start and is only two places ahead of Espargaro after the Aprilia rider produced a heroic effort in qualifying to claim sixth, the momentum has certainly swung back into the French rider’s favour. 

Prior to Espargaro’s violent crash in FP4, Quartararo looked to be the main challenger to the 33 year-old, making him the potential clear-cut favourite despite also needing to serve a Long Lap penalty.