“Oh look!” Marquez might have said as he lined up on pole, “The old emotional guy has put qualifying tyres on for the race. That’ll be funny.”
The old guy is, of course, Jorge Lorenzo (as distinct from the Really Old Guy, who is Rossi), and yes, he did wheel his Ducati out onto third place on the grid sporting soft Michelins.
Pretty much everybody else who mattered opted for a hard/medium, or a hard/soft, or in Rossi’s case a medium/medium set-up.
But not Jorge.
Lorenzo is conducting his seemingly resurgent 2018 campaign his way. The ergonomics on his Ducati remain a work in progress, with yet another arm-resting configuration appearing on the tank. And as always, Lorenzo chooses the stickiest tyres he thinks he can get away with. It’s worked twice so far; his tyre choice has dovetailed with his riding style and the track, and he has come away with two solid victories.
Not so much at Sachsenring – a short, stunted German affair with lots of left-handers. Marquez has won there every year for as far back as anyone cares to remember, and on everything he’s ever thrown a leg over.
Lorenzo’s choice of tyres might well have been a dice-throw to see if that run of victories could be curtailed.
Glancing at the starting grid, one could almost understand this. Less than a second separated the top 15 players. If Lorenzo could get away and gap the field, and nurse his rubber, and if Marquez was not as sharp on the day, and if…if…if…
How often have people started a MotoGP conversation with that word?
When the red lights went out, Lorenzo was once again the first rider into Turn One. Should he ever decide to retire from MotoGP I’m convinced he could make a name for himself running Top Fuelers down the quarter in Louisiana. The Mallorcan starts races like a round leaving a gun.
Behind him, Petrucci, Marquez and Rossi set themselves for the chase and the race quickly settled into a somewhat staid affair.
The change of tempo from the previous round’s feral savagery could not have been more different. Assen was a knife-fight in an alley. Sachsenring was a chess match.
Because Sachsenring is shorter than most MotoGP tracks, the race is 30 laps. And Marquez stated before the start that it would be a race of three 10-lap segments, with the real business beginning at Lap 20.
And that is pretty much what came to pass.
Lorenzo led for 11 laps.
Then Marquez, who had already passed Petrucci, came for him.
Everyone watching could see it was going to happen. As Lorenzo’s tyres steadily went off, he began running wider and wider lines – especially into Turn One.
While his Ducati could still out-do the competition down Sachsenring’s not-too-long straight, it’s not much good if you can’t turn the bastard into the corner.
Rossi had also passed Petrucci and he also then duffed up Lorenzo, who made a half-hearted attempt at fighting back, but then decided he’d rather finish the race and sailed steadily backwards to ultimately finish in sixth. This was a solid two seconds ahead of his team-mate, Dovzioso, who’s last season’s show of dash and daring seems to have deserted him this season.
As the race entered its final third, some interesting things began to happen.
One of them was not Crutchlow ploughing through gravel. That was somewhat of a given, especially after Cal declared himself to be a contender not all that long ago – and is now trying harder than ever to make that a fact rather than a deranged fantasy.
The interesting thing was Rossi looked to be catching Marquez, while behind him a bloke called Bautista was the fastest man on the track and carving up the likes of Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Vinales, and Petrucci, like so many Christmas hams.
But then all that intensity for the last step of the podium sort of petered out.
Marquez looked at his pit-board. Saw Rossi was closing, turned the wick up and just rode away. As he does.
Rossi, who had been flubbing about midfield and worse most of the weekend, wisely decided that second was not so bad a thing, and cruised home.
Behind him, a hard-charging Vinales claimed third and put Bautista (5th) and Petrucci (4th) into their respective places, and even looked like he was going to catch Rossi for a brief moment.
And so they are now on summer holidays for two weeks and will reconvene in Brno.
Some will dance in Ibiza nightclubs with supermodels.
Others will go dirt-bike riding and break important bones.
And a few of them, like Dani Pedrosa, will just kick-back and maybe enjoy the short break.
Before the race, Dani announced his retirement at the end of the season. An ineffable sadness gripped me. The sports biggest heart, who has raced and beaten the greatest riders of all time, is hanging up his guns after 18 seasons and three world championships.
It could not have been easy being Dani Pedrosa – seemingly damned as the perennial bridesmaid and cursed with freakishly skilled team-mates. But the Little Samurai is leaving the sport with a dignity and an integrity that cannot be approached.
I wish him every happiness, even as I am genuinely saddened by his decision.
Sachsenring MotoGP Race Results 2018
MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 25 Repsol Honda Team Honda 41’05.019
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 20 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2.196
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.