Welcome to Germany. Thanks for Coming
It was a battered and bruised MotoGP field at the last race before the summer break. All except for Marquez. He was not bruised at all. In fact, apart from maybe a little boredom, he seemed to be in tip-top form.
The reigning world champion made it 10 out of 10 at Sachsenring – easily. He was dominant in Practice and Qualifying, and that domination just extended all the way to the end of the 30-lap race.
He led from start to finish, hammering out 1m21s laps like a machine, which I’m sure some people are starting to think he actually might be. Meanwhile, everyone else is counting the cost of that domination.
No-one more so than Valentino Rossi, who was out-qualified by a bloke who needed crutches to walk (Nakagami), and then beaten by a bloke who is so clumsy, he fell over in the street and broke his knee. Yes, I’m looking at you, Cal.
Still, Crutchlow heroically managed to bring it home in third place behind Vinales. It actually looked like Cal might have a go at Maverick in the closing stages of the race, but after a stern warning from his front-end, chose discretion over valour and settled for the bottom step of the podium rather than his usual feast of fresh gravel and a trip to Clinica Mobile.
The race itself was largely processional. Once Marquez cleared off, the rest were just chasing. Quartararo and Rins certainly appeared promising, as did Miller, and Vinales looked like he might make Marquez work for it in the beginning.
But Fabulous’s promise ended fairly quickly. He crashed out on the first lap, directly in front of Dovizioso who barely avoided running over him. The young Frenchman can now spend three weeks licking his wounds – he partially dislocated a shoulder thanks to a vicious tank-slapper in Practice – and consider how he will contest the second-half of the season.
Zarco also came unstuck on the following lap. But no-one seemed to care much, including Zarco – who was once a shining Yamaha light, but since his switch to KTM, now rides like he’s lost all hope and interest.
Rins too dug up the gravel, but he left his ploughing a bit later in the piece. He was second at one stage, having passed Vinales and was equalling Marquez’s consistent 1m21s lap-times. But there was no catching Marquez, who was leading by a contemptuous six seconds towards the end of the race.
He dropped that lead to four-seconds, but still rolled across the line with his arms crossed in disdain. What little action there was all seemed to be happening over fourth place.
Petrucci, who must be one big purple bruise under all that hair after a spectacular high-speed dismount in Qualifying, made a race for it with his team-mate, Dovi, and Miller – and the three Ducatis came home in fourth, fifth and sixth after a largely lacklustre pissing contest. Sachsenring is tight, so their normal grunt doesn’t really come into play down any long straights. Still, it is amusing to see the Bologna pissing contest going on – and I think it will be going on for a few seasons yet.
So where was Rossi in all of this?
Nowhere. He started in 11th and finished in eighth. Mir pasted him. Morbidelli looked like he was going to paste him, but then he might never be invited back to The Ranch.
Rossi is at a loss to understand why he is 20-seconds slower this year than he was last year.
“We continue to suffer and we need to understand why,” he lamented post-race. “Because last year, these five races were the better part of my season, I was always very competitive and did some podiums, but always good races,” he said.
“Today I was 20 seconds slower than my race time last year. This is very difficult to understand; we need to find a way. We need to find our bike.”
I’m betting he may well go and visit Yamaha HQ over the break and see if that bike might be there under some sheets in a forgotten warehouse.
I’m sure he would have a serious argument if Vinales was down the back racing Rabat, and if Quartararo was duelling with Abraham. As it stands, that’s just not the case.
Vinales seems to have found what he had lost earlier, and the rookie Fabulous just doesn’t know any better. He rides Rossi’s head-shaking hand-me-down Yammy so hard his joints separate. And doesn’t care.
So the Doctor heads into the break somewhat discombobulated.
The injured, and there are a few of them, are now heading off to heal, doubtlessly watched by Lorenzo, who’s languishing in a body cast while his spine mends itself hopefully in time for Brno on August 4th.
Marquez, by contrast, will certainly be bathing in pools full of supermodels on Ibiza and planning his next utterly naff World Championship celebration – possibly as early as the Thailand round.
|DNF||Aleix ESPARGARO||APRILIA||2 laps|
|DNF||Alex RINS||SUZUKI||12 laps|
|DNF||Johann ZARCO||KTM||28 laps|
|DNF||Fabio QUARTARARO||YAMAHA||29 laps|