Round Nine Sachsenring
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) topped the timesheets on Day 1 of the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, but the reigning Champion had some competition at the venue he’s reigned nine times in a row.
Marc Marquez – P1
“We started today well, from the first run I felt good on the bike. Today we were able to try two different bikes to understand some things as well trying all the tyres available. It was a busy day but tomorrow we need to keep working even if we have the best pace now, the others aren’t as far as it seems. We need to keep working in this way, analyse everything and shape our plan.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was second quickest, but Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) stole a few headlines in both sessions.
Alex Rins – P2
“I’m happy with my performance today, the bike felt really good from FP1 onwards. When I tried the different tyre configurations I found the best feeling with the hard one, and that surprised me a bit. In FP2, I kept a strong rhythm and stayed near the top. I’ll give my all tomorrow to get a good grid spot, ideally on the front row.”
The French rookie was fastest in FP1, and in the latter stages of the day he was denied the chance to improve his lap first as he got held up by team-mate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), and then was also baulked by Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) at the end of his final push. Quartararo was absolutely livid at both his fast runs being upset by traffic, punching the air, his helmet, and his bike, in what was very much a throwing the dolly out of the pram performance from the young Frenchman. His ‘official’ quotes are below but they are far from what he would have really been saying when he returned to pit-lane at the end of the session.
Fabio Quartararo – P3
“It was a positive day for us, because we were able to try all the tyre compounds and we’re good with all of them. We didn’t really push for a lap time with the soft tyre, but we know we’re really strong with the medium and hard. My arm is feeling good. It’s a special track with so many left-hand corners, so for my physical condition, it’s one of the most favourable configurations. My flying lap was a little bit interrupted, but I’m still very happy because although it’s not one of my favourite tracks, we’re feeling strong.”
Conditions were warmer in the afternoon and almost the entire premier class field were able to improve their FP1 times within ten minutes of FP2 on a day of good weather in Germany – sometimes easier said than done – and two action-packed sessions, including 66-degrees of lean for Marquez and Quartararo’s determination to try and dethrone the king of the Sachsenring didn’t disappoint.
And although the Frenchman didn’t manage that in the end, Quartararo’s rookie run of form in recent sessions is akin only to Marquez’ speed in 2013 – with the rookie now in the top three for 16 sessions in a row; a good omen for the rest of the weekend.
Assen winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who finished on the podium here last season, was the man in P4 after the first day and just over a tenth off Quartararo, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) next up to complete the top five; the Spaniard putting in another stunner of a performance for Austrian factory KTM.
Maverick Vinales – P4
“I think it was a very positive day. Even though I didn’t feel great on the bike because the grip level was low, our lap times were pretty competitive. I tried to ride with a race set-up to find out which direction to take in preparation for the first few laps. We tried the tyres as well and know more or less what our feelings are for tomorrow, so tomorrow instead we can focus on riding style and improving some more, especially in sector 2. At one point I had a fresh tyre and I was ready to push really hard, but then in the third corner I was held up by some other riders. It’s important to pay attention to what’s happening on track at such a narrow circuit. Sometimes one bad lap in FP3 can make you go to Q1.”
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was P6 despite struggling through the pain barrier after a cycling mishap, just ahead of the fastest Ducati on Day 1: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing).
Cal Crutchlow – P6
“Honestly speaking it (the injury) wasn’t too bad, I expected it to be worse. The swelling has built up again since yesterday, but I’m not allowed to get it drained as it’s now the race weekend. It’s blood that’s in the knee, so I’m trying to ice it and get the fluid out of the joint. But it’s ok, I can bend it how I want to go round corners and I didn’t feel it too much. I don’t feel that comfortable, but it’s not the reason why I’m not going fast enough. The bike feels ok at the moment, but I’m just having the same problems as usual. I feel competitive though, I haven’t got the pace I want yet, I need to improve in some areas. We need to find about three or four tenths a lap, but that means only one tenth each sector. I know it’s easier said than done, but if we can manage that we’ll be right there in the mix.”
Miller led a Borgo Panigale 7-8-9 as he headed Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) by half a tenth, with Petrucci’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso only a further 0.005 in arrears.
Jack Miller – P7
“I can’t say this has been an ideal day. Especially in the time attack, I wasn’t able to make the most of the soft tyre. I found some traffic on track but the feeling with the rear tyre was not the best. I was only able to improve by a tenth of a second the time I set with the hard tyre at the very start. Let’s try to improve tomorrow”.
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“Today has been a bit more complicated than what we expected because, despite knowing that Sachsenring is not the most ideal track for the characteristics of our bike, we’ve always been quite competitive here in the past. However, we struggled a bit in the first two sessions. Not only we need to improve our speed on a single lap, but first and foremost our consistency in terms of pace. We also need to be more efficient in managing the rear tyre, because when we try to save it we’re not quick enough and the race is really long here. We have our work cut out for us to find a better balance and now we’ll analyze the data into detail. I believe our potential is higher than what we’ve shown so far.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P9
“We’ve been able to progressively improve our performance but, at the moment, we still haven’t reached the competitiveness we’re aiming for. In particular, we’re struggling a bit with corner speed but I’m not too worried because it’s only Friday and we still have plenty of time to work on the bike. I wasn’t able to ride a ‘clean’ lap towards the end, also because I’m still suffering a bit due to a small issue with my back, and I preferred not to push too hard in the final laps and instead pace myself ahead of the rest of the weekend. For sure we’ll be quicker tomorrow morning, but so will be our rivals. We just need to stay focused and keep working, on consistency even more so than pure speed, because the race distance is 30 laps here.”
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top ten on Friday and therefore currently holds the last of the provisional places in Q2. The ‘Doctor’ was also in the top three in the morning.
Valentino Rossi – P10
“Today was not so bad, especially my feeling with the bike and my pace are quite good with the race tyres, so I’m quite competitive. Unfortunately, with the soft tyre at the end, I didn’t make a very good lap and I didn’t improve much. I expected to be more towards the front, now I’m just in tenth position, but the pace is quite good, this is the most important thing.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was a tiny 0.005 off that fastest ten, and he’ll be the first pushing to try and crack it on Saturday morning in FP3, ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and home hero Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team), who is standing in for the injured Jorge Lorenzo. An injured, from his crash with Rossi at Assen, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the fastest fifteen.
It was a day with low rates of attrition and only Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) suffered a crash, the Italian going down in FP1. He missed FP2 as he headed for a check up in Chemnitz in the afternoon, rider ok.
MotoGP Friday Combined Times
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) won the 2018 German GP, and as we return to the venue for the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland this season, it’s the South African on top once again. Binder was a stunning 0.380 clear on Friday, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in second and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) in third, but with an identical laptime. That speaks volumes of the competitive field behind Binder; second to P26 covered by less than a second.
In the morning it was home hero and replacement rider Jonas Folger (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – a premier class podium finisher at the track – who went quickest, leading compatriot Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) – who made a stunnnig save at the ‘Waterfall’ and suffered a crash – before Binder turned the tables in FP2. The warmer conditions in the afternoon allowed the Moto2™ riders to hit the ground running and the majority of those in the field improved their laptimes, with Folger and Schrötter the only exceptions in the top ten.
Folger therefore ends the day in fourth overall with his FP1 time ahead of Schrötter, with Assen winner Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) slotting into sixth. Key Championship contender Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended the day in seventh as a crash in FP2 saw his session come to an early end – rider ok, bike briefly on fire – and it was just after that Binder struck to lead.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) was right behind Marquez in P8, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) impressing to finish Friday in ninth. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten and beat Championship leader Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) to the honour, with the Swiss veteran tailed by two rookies: Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) is currently the last man set to move straight through to Q2, with the Spaniard only 0.035 off the top 14 despite a crash. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) is also close despite a fall for the Brit on Friday.
Moto2 Friday Combined Times
|12||F.DI GIANNANTO||SPEED UP||1m24.556|
It was close at the top on Friday in the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, with Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) just edging out Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) for P1, with the Japanese rider fastest in FP2 and the Spaniard in FP1. They were split by just 0.065, with Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completing the top three despite a crash in FP1 for the Catalan GP winner.
The top 21 riders were within a second on Day 1, and the biggest gap amongst them was back to Ramirez in third as Sasaki and Fernandez ended the day with some breathing space at the top. Only 0.029 kept Assen podium finisher Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) out of the top three, and it was an even smaller 0.002 back to Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) as he completed the top five.
Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Racing Team) was sixth quickest overall, just under a tenth off Toba, with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) 0.060 behind him. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had a solid first day in eighth, ahead of Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who completed the top ten. The Italian also took the famous ‘Waterfall’ side-by-side with Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) in one stunning moment on Friday.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) was P11 and didn’t improve in the afternoon, although the now two-time winner was only 0.015 off the top ten, with Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) half a tenth in arrears. Foggia’s sparring partner Salac took P12 and showed some impressive form on Friday, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who completed the fastest 14 and the provisional list of riders heading straight through to Q2.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), who was a crasher on Day 1, is the first man who stands to lose out and will be hoping to move forward in FP3, as will Championship challengers Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) – down in P16 – and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in P19.
Moto3 Friday Combined Times
|16||L.Dalla Porta Ita||HONDA||1m27.238|
MotoE Friday Combined Times
|1||M.Di Meglio||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1m28.547|
|3||H.Garzo||Tech 3 E-racing||1m28.644|
|4||J.Raffin||Dynavolt Intact GP||1m28.696|
|5||B.Smith||One Energy Racing||1m28.801|
|6||E.Granado||Avintia Esponsorama Racing||1m29.166|
|7||A.De Angelis||OCTO Pramac MotoE||1m29.209|
|8||X.Simeon||Avintia Esponsorama Racing||1m29.439|
|9||N.Terol||Openbank Ángel Nieto Team||1m29.441|
|10||M.Ferrari||TRENTINO Gresini MotoE||1m29.496|
|12||S.Gibernau||Join Contract Pons 40||1m29.885|
|13||K.Foray||Tech 3 E-racing||1m29.975|
|14||M.Casadei||Ongetta SIC58 Squadracorse||1m30.145|
|15||J.Hook||OCTO Pramac MotoE||1m30.255|
|16||L.Savadori||TRENTINO Gresini MotoE||1m30.676|
|17||R.De Puniet||LCR E-Team||1m31.001|
|18||M.Herrera||Openbank Ángel Nieto Team||1m31.182|