Round Nine – Sachsenring – Day One
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) ripped up the Honda-drenched formbook on Day 1 at the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, taking Ducati to the top of the timesheets near the end of FP2 to set a 1:20.885 – only half a second outside the best pole position at the track, set by ‘King of the Ring’ Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in 2015.
Jorge Lorenzo – P1
“I’m very pleased with the way this first day went, especially because we made a big step forward and the bike improved a lot between FP1 and FP2. To be in first place and demonstrate that you are competitive is important, but we know that Marquez looks as if he has something a bit extra and he is the favourite for Sunday. Tomorrow we’ll try and continue this progress with the aim of getting a front row start for the race. In any case at the moment we’re much better off than last year and this is good news.”
Lorenzo left it late to top the provisional Q2 graduates, and was joined in the upper echelons by Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who was two and a half tenths back, and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who was another 0.062 in arrears. Iannone was the fastest man in FP1, too, on a close day that saw 18 riders within a second.
Danilo Petrucci – P2
“I am very satisfied with this first day of free practice. We started off well in the morning and then worked hard to reduce rear tyre consumption. Maybe we are not yet at the top of the race pace but the feeling is really positive”.
Andrea Iannone – P3
“Today hasn’t been bad. We started really well this morning, and we used this afternoon to try a few things. In the end we put new tyres in to get ourselves far into the Top 10. We’re having a few problems with rear grip, like everybody at this track, but I’m struggling quite a lot. So tomorrow we’ll try to improve this situation. We have good speed, enough to stay at the top, but it will be important to maintain it over the race distance.”
It was a first day characterised by surprisingly pleasant weather and some surprises on the timesheets – some key headlines from which saw Marquez, winner and polesitter for the last eight years, in fifth and teammate Pedrosa just inside the top twenty.
Marc Marquez – P5
“It was a good first day, even if our opponents are all closer compared to last year. The weekend will be completely dry, so things on Sunday should once again be very tight. Anyway, we started very well and were able to keep a good pace on both the soft tyre in the morning and the harder one in the afternoon, which is positive. Tomorrow we’ll try and take another little step with the setup, because I’m not yet able to make the bike slide like I want. I want to find a way to do that, as it’s important at this track. The grip isn’t the best and tyre consumption seems quite high, so we’ll have to try and manage that aspect well.”
Pedrosa, who announced his retirement at the end of 2018 on Thursday, is the man who won three in a row at the venue before Marquez’ roll began – making Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) the last non-Repsol Honda rider to take to the top step at the venue in 2009 and Rossi was another headline, ending Friday in P17.
Dani Pedrosa – P20
“Today the lap times were very fast from the start, but I didn’t have the right feeling to stay there with the others. I struggled with the fork setting and wasn’t able to be quick enough in the corners. We didn’t manage to take a step during the two sessions, so we’ll have to try something different with the setup tomorrow.”
Back at the top behind Lorenzo, Petrucci and Iannone, it was another Ducati machine in fourth as Borgo Panigale dominated the day, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in close company, and only 0.040 ahead of Marquez as it tightened up.
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“It has been a positive first day: we were quick both in the morning and this afternoon, and this is vital to be able to focus on the details during the weekend. I’m still not entirely satisfied with a few little things, but I think that we can improve them tomorrow. At the moment Marquez is the quickest man out there for pace, but there are a few Ducati riders who have good speed and so our base is a good one. Even though we are quick, we’ll continue to work on our pace because on Sunday the race will be held over 30 laps. At any rate, we went very well today for the first day.”
The gaps didn’t get any bigger going further down the timesheets either, with top Yamaha Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking sixth and by only 0.035 – no mean feat given the position of his fellow Iwata marque machinery. Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was in P16 and 0.007 ahead of Rossi, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) 0.003 off the Italian in P18.
Maverick Vinales – P6
“The first day was difficult. I’m really focused and pushing my hardest on every lap, but it looks like our bike changes between one track and another. Anyway, Sachsenring is a good track for me. I’m giving it my all, because I want to be at the front, but we still have a lot of things to improve. The track is slippery, so you need really good electronics. We are working really hard on that and I think that for tomorrow we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P16
“The first day here I felt really good. I’m here for the first time with the GP bike and especially in turn 11 we have to be really carefully as it’s the first right corner after many left ones. I wanted to try to understand everything on the first run. On my second run, I felt really good with the medium tyre. Afterwards I changed to soft, but I felt that I’m losing the front, especially when braking hard. We are very close, just 0.8 seconds. I try to give my best for tomorrow. I’m really happy with the first day and hope that we can improve a bit more on Saturday.”
Valentino Rossi – P17
“We had a lot of problems here on acceleration. When we try to put power on the ground we spin the tyre a lot and we suffer, because when we lose acceleration we lose drive. We tried to do something about it this afternoon, but unfortunately we weren’t able to improve. We have to continue and try to be stronger tomorrow.”
Johann Zarco – P18
“The first day at Sachsenring started well and also finished quite well. We are working hard, because we do so many laps during the race and therefore, it’s truly important to feel comfortable. It’s a complicate track and I want to feel good on it. This morning the lap time was coming while riding easy, which made me happy. In the afternoon, we could improve and we didn’t put the new tyre in at the end, because we wanted to keep working for the race, so it’s necessary in FP3 tomorrow to push hard in order to go directly to Q2. What we did today, I think, brought us on a good way to have a successful race.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“After the positive weekend in Assen we weren’t expecting such a difficult start. Though we began the weekend well in the morning, the track became quite slippery in the afternoon and this isn’t helping us. All Yamahas suffered from the change in track conditions, losing a lot of rear grip. We have to understand what has caused it, considering the track temperatures didn’t change much from the morning to the afternoon. We will prepare a different set-up with the aim to increase the rear grip. We’ll try this new setting in the morning, but it will also be fundamental to try it again in the afternoon, when the circumstances might be different, like we saw today. However, this change in programme makes our work more difficult, because we have less time to decide on a tyre for Sunday’s race.”
Takaaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was another headline on Day 1 as the Japanese rider took P7 after a slew of impressive laps. Traditionally a Honda hunting ground, the LCR rider was the fastest rookie by a long shot on Friday, impressing to gain provisional entry to Q2.
Takaaki Nakagami – P7
“I’m very, very happy with the work we’ve done today. We did not really expect FP1 to go as it did, this track is quite tricky and not easy to understand, especially with MotoGP bikes. But I’m really comfortable with this bike and in FP2 we tried a completely new idea for the set-up and it worked well. So both bikes are good, our base bike and the new set-up are working really well here and the lap times are quite consistent. I’m very happy about our performance today, the team also looks very happy so that is the main thing. It’s only the first day, but FP1 and FP2 are very important for us to get the starting position. Tomorrow in FP3 and qualifying we will look to keep our position inside the top 10 and hopefully get into Q2.”
Nakagami was just ahead of Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), riding a Ducati at the venue for the first time, and LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow, a former podium finisher at the Sachsenring.
Jack Miller – P8
“I couldn’t find a good feeling with the hard rear tyre. Things went much better with the medium one. In the time attack I pushed to the maximum but I think we have room to do better. Tomorrow it will be important to enter Q2 directly”.
Cal Crutchlow – P9
“I didn’t feel great today, we struggled to be honest. It’s Friday 13th, I never push on Friday 13th! The reality is that we weren’t going well, I didn’t really find a great set-up with the bike and (didn’t find) a very good rear grip. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t improve by tomorrow and we’re quietly confident that we have a trick up our sleeve to improve the bike. I didn’t have a good feeling with the tyres and tomorrow we will have to select our race tyre from the allocation we have but also we have to improve our bike as a team. The last races have gone quite well and we’ve been pleased with our progress in the top six every week. But we need to make the podium. At the minute the podium doesn’t look great for this weekend, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try tomorrow and Sunday. Honestly speaking, I still think we can be in the top five.”
Alvaro Bautista completed the top ten on combined times for the Angel Nieto Team, with the Spaniard’s recent run of form remaining with him in Germany.
Álvaro Bautista – P10
“Today I felt good on the bike and it shows in the lap time and the position. This morning the track was a little slippery but we were still quite competitive. We tried some different tyre options to see which works best for us and after ruling out the hard option for the race we are left to decide between the medium and the soft. Tomorrow we will try to stay on this upward curve. Today is the first Friday we have finished in the top 10, so let’s see tomorrow if we can find some more tenths. My pace is good but I feel that in some points of the track I could have pushed more for a better lap. I had a crash this morning in turn one when I lost the front with the change of lean. I was on the soft tyre, which was a little unstable, but I wasn’t hurt.”
Bautista beat Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) to provisional Q2 entry, with Rins looking to move forward in FP3.¡ after his best ever MotoGP finish last time out at Assen.
Alex Rins – P11
“Today has been productive. We did a lot of laps with a set of tyres, in FP1 we used just one tyre. We tried the soft rear to see how the degradation would be. At the end of FP2 I put a new tyre in just to try to get into the Top 10, but finally I was 11th. All of us are so close, so tomorrow we’ll put in even more effort and try to get into Q2. Spinning has been an issue and the tyre can drop off quite quickly, so this is something we hope to solve for Sunday. We hope to continue this weekend in a good way.”
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took P12 as top KTM, ahead of his brother and top Aprilia Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).
Aleix Espargaro’ – P12
“I am satisfied with the way we worked today. We focused on race pace. In the afternoon I did a 15 lap long run at a pace in the high 1’21s that I am happy about. Tomorrow morning the goal is to place the RS-GP in the top 10 to go straight through to the second qualifying session and I am confident that it is within our potential. On this track, starting from the front three rows is fundamental, given the difficulty overtaking here.”
Bradley Smith on the second KTM took P14, with the top fifteen completed by Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing), who was a crasher in FP1.
Mika Kallio was another who crashed on Day 1, but this time in FP2 as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing wildcard took a massive tumble. Kallio lost control around Turn 8 of the winding, twisty and challenging Sachsenring layout and entered the gravel trap. The former Grand Prix winner tried to lose as much speed as possible before arriving to the air fence but tumbled dramatically into the padding followed by his #36 race bike. Damage to his knee ligaments has ruled the Fin out of further proceedings this weekend.
“I was tipping into the corner on the front brake and the rear lost contact. I had to pick up the bike and I knew I was into the gravel. I saw I had quite a lot of speed and unfortunately I could not turn enough and the barriers came closer and closer. Everything happened in one or two seconds and I had to make a decision really quick. I tried to put it down and avoid the big impact but I flew into the wall. Somehow the bike hit me because we went into the fence together and maybe it caused the problem with the knee. Anyway, considering the speed, I think we had a lot of luck with that crash. It could have been much worse. I felt that something wasn’t right with the knee but at the same time a bit relieved. Anyway this is definitely not the way we wanted the weekend to go. I’ve had broken ligaments before but not quite as bad as it feels right now. To move it means a lot of pain. I initially hoped it might just be a big impact but when they made the MRI the doctor said I need surgery. We need to make a plan now and hopefully come back when everything is fine. Racing in Austria this season would have been a highlight for me and it is four weeks away. I cannot say what will happen but I hope there is some way I can be on the grid.”
Speaking of wildcards, one man on to make an appearance as one after the summer break in Brno is Stefan Bradl, but the German is back on track earlier than expected after getting a call up to ride for EG 0,0 Marc VDS this weekend. The HRC test rider took over for FP2 in place of the injured Franco Morbidelli, who damaged his hand in a crash at Assen, and Bradl’s best put him only a tenth and a half off Pedrosa.
2018 MotoGP – Sachsrenring Friday Combined Times
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team 1’20.885
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Alma Pramac Racing 0.257
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.319
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 0.424
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.464
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.499
- NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN LCR Honda 0.562
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS Alma Pramac Racing 0.612
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 0.655
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Angel Nieto Team 0.683
- RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.731
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.795
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.833
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.858
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 0.892
- SYAHRIN Hafizh 55 MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.892
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.899
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.902
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.118
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1.420
- BRADL Stefan 6 GER Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.572
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Angel Nieto Team 1.670
- LUTHI Tom 12 SWI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.882
- KALLIO Mika 36 FIN Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2.309
- SIMEON Xavier 10 BEL Reale Avintia Racing 2.552
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) topped the Moto2 timesheets after the opening day’s track action at the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland in what was an incredibly tight FP2 session. The Spaniard beat second quickest Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by a slender 0.025 seconds, with fellow Dynavolt Intact GP rider and home favourite Marcel Schroetter 0.004 back from Marquez in third.
Vierge ended FP1 down in 20th position, but improved his time by over a second in the afternoon to head into qualifying day as the fastest man in the intermediate class. Marquez was sixth this morning, with Schroetter also vastly improving from FP1 – the German jumps from P16 to P3 in FP2.
Another rider to improve his time from the morning session was Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who ends the day a fantastic fourth after finishing FP1 down in 26th place. And despite a crash at Turn 3 during the afternoon session, Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was fifth quickest on the opening day – a 20 place leap from his P25 in FP1 and just 0.086 back from Vierge.
Behind him was FP1’s third fastest rider Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), who ends the day sixth quickest despite being only 0.093 back from the top spot. Compatriot Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) ends Friday in seventh, improving from P15 in the morning, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finishing as the leading KTM rider on the opening day at the Sachsenring in eighth.
0.051 back from the South African was Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), dropping two spots from his FP1 position despite leading FP2 for a considerable amount of time, with Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) rounding out a top ten that was split by just 0.202 seconds.
Second in the Championship Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ended Friday in 13th on a track he claimed P2 at last season, with double podium finisher Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) down in P17 – 0.407 off the pace.
The Red Flag had to be shown with 11 minutes remaining as Federico Fuligni (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) crashed at Turn 2 after contact with Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team). The Italian’s Kalex machine damaged the air fence, which forced the session to be halted for a short while as it was being re-deployed – rider ok.
Manzi himself then crashed at Turn 1 as the riders went back out on track for the final ten minutes, with Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) also crashing during the session – riders ok.
Remy Gardner started well with a strong pace and was able to finish today just 0.399 seconds behind the top riders in the extremely close combined standings of the intermediate class.
Remy Gardner – P16
“Today was quite good. I think we could have gone a bit faster today in the end, but I got messed up a little bit in the last sector by another rider, but anyway our rhythm is really good. I could do quite a few strong laps easily. The next question is about the tyre for the race on Sunday. Overall, it has been a good day. The position could have been a bit better, but we know we can be there, which is the most important thing.”
It’s advantage Vierge in Moto2 but with the top 28 riders covered by less than a second, the fight for pole looks set to be an incredible battle.
Home rider Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) went quickest in FP2 to end Friday at the Pramac Motorrad Deutschland Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets, beating second fastest Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) by 0.042 seconds, with Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) in third.
Despite the threat of rain mid-way through the second Free Practice session, all but three of the lightweight class field set their fastest laps of the day in the afternoon. German Oettl started his weekend off by setting the third fastest time in FP1, with the Jerez race winner then going over half a second quicker in the afternoon to give the Sachsenring faithful something to cheer about. Arbolino was P11 in the morning, with the Italian improving his time by over a second to jump up to second quickest, with FP1’s quickest man Martin having his final lap time cancelled for exceeding track limits in FP2 – he ends the day 0.046 off Oettl.
John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) continued his solid start to the German GP, the Scotsman ends the opening day fourth fastest after finishing second in FP1 – 0.136 back. Rounding out the top five on the opening day was Bester Capital Dubai’s Marcos Ramirez, the Spaniard climbing one place from his P6 this morning to end the day fifth on combined times.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was sixth on the combined timesheets, cementing a top ten place at the end of day one in Germany – 0.239 back, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) in seventh after finishing FP1 in ninth.
Eighth after the first two Free Practice sessions was Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), who improved from 13th in the morning despite a crash at Turn 1 at the end of the day. Ninth quickest was Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrustelGP), finishing 0.068 ahead of tenth place Fabio Di Giananntonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) – the Italian improving from P14 in FP1 as he hunts down the points leaders in the title fight. Ai Ogura (Asia Talent Team) and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) crashed in FP2 – both riders ok.