ROUND 9: SACHSENRING
The German track might be a classic venue on the MotoGP calendar but it found itself in a difficult position as Sunday’s race at the Sachsenring could very well have been the last one there.
1. The SachsenKing
And one more that makes 9! Marc Marquez won the German GP, starting from the pole position, for the 9th consecutive time. A record to give nightmares to anybody else on the grid to the point where his opponents starts to wonder if the only way to stop the « SachsenKing » from winning the German Grand Prix wouldn’t be to get rid of the Sach track once and for all.
Sources may seems to indicate though that the Sachsenring track should stay on the calendar for, at least, 2019.
There’s still hope though for Marquez’ opponent as his victory wasn’t as easy as we’ve been used to… or at least it seems so.
Not looking a dominant as everybody expected, Marquez was blown away by the Ducati armada’s apparent force at the German track. An armada led by Lorenzo during the race as, once again, he bursted into turn 1 as first. Seeing Lorenzo not being able to open the needed gap to run away with the win, Marquez kept his cool and, once he saw the older spaniard’s pace was dropping, he made his attack and took the lead. From there, the Honda rider made sure to always have all the cards in hand in order to control the whole race.
One should not be fooled by the pace being slower than in the previous years. Marquez explains it as a result of improvement on the RCV that forced them to do compromises on the strong points the bike always had at the Sachsenring.
Comprise or no, Marc Marquez always had something more up his wrist and was smartly waiting for Valentino Rossi to come back on him to deliver an higher pace and run away: “Honestly speaking at the end of the race I had something more, I didn’t feel the drop in this race. I just tried to manage the distance to me and Valentino but I had something there. It was not necessary to use.”
The spaniard now goes into the (very short) summer break leading in the championship standings. The title seems more than ever, his to lose.
2. The Yamaha illusion
It was a real surprise on Sunday to see the two factory Yamaha on the podium. They’ve been consistent all season but their lack of improvement on the bike as left them chasing their first win in a year.
To huge situation, you take huge mesure. Last year, Jonas Folger found himself behind Marquez’ only challenger at the German track and, to Yamaha’s logic: if it worked for Jonas, it must work for Valentino and Maverick! Both factory riders decided to use Folger’s set-up as a base for the German weekend, and one can say, it worked out well!
Rossi felt stronger but still needs a little Something more coming from the electronic: “Me and Maverick are stronger and we are second and third in the championship but we need some small help from Japan to improve the electronics system Under acceleration.”
Vinales also think things are getting better but he, too, hopes for improvement from the factory: “It is good to have a little bit more consistency in results but i think here being on the podium at Sachsenring, as last year we suffered a lot, this year seems to be much better so i think with the bike we’ve improved”.
The spaniard’s problems though remains the same as he still struggles in the early stages of the race no matter where he starts from on the grid: “It went really well for the last 10-15 laps but i expected to be at the front trying to battle. It is time to work and try to become even stronger and i think at the moment we are recovering this feeling that i can be fast at the end so i need to improve my riding style to be fast at the beginning”.
If the official riders are better, Zarco isn’t. Since Le Mans, the frenchman has been struggling and looking like only the shadow of himself.
Rumor has it, Johann founds himself in a huge disagreement with his confident and manager, Laurent Fellon, regarding the way the deals with HRC and KTM were andled. It’s true a place at the HRC, even next to Marc Marquez, would have been the chance of his life but his management team decided to let it go in favor of KTM where he should be number one and not only Marquez’ helper.
3. Ducati’s hope of a better future
Even though both factory Ducati riders’ frustration was palpable on Sunday night, they both decided to remain positive, hoping for better days after the summer break.
On the pace and clearly showing they should be a force to reckon with all weekend, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso couldn’t keep the illusion living during the race.
The spaniard tried, but so much he was left without any rear grip for half of the race: “I was leading but i realized that i was unable to shake off the riders behind me and when the rear tyre began to lose grip it was impossible to keep up the pace. (…) Maybe we went in the wrong direction with the setting of the bike: we focussed too much on trying to get a lot of grip at the front and we probably neglected the rear”.
Overall though, Lorenzo stays positive, knowing he took important points at his two bogey tracks (Assen + Sachsenring): “I made a great start again today and i led the race for a good number of laps. (…) Overall we made progress throughout the whole weekend but weren’t able to confirm with a good result”.
Marquez might be already too far in the standings but 2nd and 3rd could very well be possible knowing most of Lorenzo’s favorite tracks are coming and judging by his second half of season for the last couple of years: “Now the World Ducati Week awaits us at Misano and then, after a few days of rest we will concentrate on Brno where i’m convinced we will be back stronger than ever”. Read between the lines: “Where i’m gonna Hammer them all”.
If Lorenzo’s frustration was due to Petrucci’s behavior, Dovizioso’s was more regarding his results and the fact he is unable to reach last year’s level of performance: “We still don’t have the situation in hand in terms of the tyres. I don’t know if it is because there tyres are not the best for us. I cannot be pleased with my result. i did not bring home the maximum and i lost a lot of seconds so it’s better to look forward”.
Much like Lorenzo though, the italian preffers to stay positive and focus on the good points: “You cannot forget the past and so many fast Ducatis have never been seen on the Sachsenring, this is a confirmation of our improvements”
Dovizioso is currently 4th in the standings but with his team-mate’s new found revival, he has to do, at least, as good as last year in the second part of the season if he still wants to be First Ducati and have a place on the final podium.
4. Pedrosa’s retirement
After two press conferences held with nothing new to say about his future, Dani Pedrosa finally announced on Thursday that he decided to retire from the sport and put a final point on his career as a championship rider at the end of 2018.
Even though Dani did his best to keep the tears to himself, the news broke millions of hearts across the world. Indeed, Dani Pedrosa’s departure is of the ones that means a lot for the fans much like Casey or Nicky before him. As he’s one of the very best rider in history, the spaniard’s story will always be marked by being the most deserving and talented rider to never get the ultimate prize that is a MotoGP title. It wasn’t by lack of trying though. Pedrosa wen’t close to get the title on 3 occasions, 2012 being probably the most obvious one. History though will remember that each time the spaniard was close to get it, fate had other plans and injuries always had the best on him.
Pedrosa’s work ethic, passion, riding style and personality made him the only one adored by all no matter if they initially wear yellow, red or blue. His retirement will leave a huge hole on the grid, not only because of his incredible skills on track, but especially because in a motorcycle world where fans (and riders) argue to know who’s the best of all, Dani’s intelligence and humility made him the voice of wisdom and the only one able to assemble in a paddock divised by the recent year’s events.
If the fans will miss Dani Pedrosa, so will his opponents on track:
JL99 « Se retira un referente del motociclismo español. Siempre recordaré nuestras grandes batallas desde 125cc hasta cuando luchábamos por el título de MotoGP. Técnico, rápido, respetuoso y por si muchos no se acuerdan, tricampeón del mundo! Disfruta de todo lo conseguido. #GraciasDani »
MM93 « Gracias @26_DaniPedrosa por ser el referente de muchos pilotos que crecíamos en busca de nuestro sueño. Has sido un gran compañero! #GraciasDani »
MV25 « Gracias @26_danipedrosa ! Enhorabuena por toda tu trayectora deportiva. Siempre serás un referente para el motociclismo español. #GraciasDani »
5. Honorable mention
– Another hard day at the office for Cal Crutchlow as overheat in his tires forced him to DNF.
– Scott Redding seemed to have only one purpose: put the helmet down. Now that it’s done, he might found it hard to stay in the championship as he still has no ride for next season.
– Pol Espargaro went from Hero in the Morning, topping the Warm UP with KTM, to Zero in the afternoon causing lap 1′s big incident.
– Not all hero wear cape, some wear white and gold leather as Alvaro Bautista made an heroic ride to P5!
– Aleix Espargaro had a weekend to forget. He went from getting a 6 places grid penalty to not being on the grid at all suffering a huge and scary crash in the Morning warm up.