Strange place Sachsenring. Sandwiched between the high-glamour rounds of Catalunya and Assen, it’s the shortest track on the calendar, and this year, at least for Pecco and HRC, maybe the cruellest.
Clearly, the Fabio Quartararo “Catch Me, Bitches!” Racing Academy is still schooling the rest of the paddock. With added spanking.
Pecco, from whom I expected a massive resurgence this round – and it sure looked like that after Practice and Qualifying – spanked himself. Last round, he was the victim of an over-stimulated Nakagami. This round, he slid out all by himself.
Rins, the other victim of Taka’s enthusiastic entry into Turn One at Catalunya, nursed his broken-in-two-places wrist through Practice, but chose (wisely), not to contest the race saying the pain was intolerable. And one has to wonder what an iron-man like Rins deems intolerable in that regard.
Aleix Espargaro, the other championship contender, still smarting from an epic race-distance miscalculation in Catalunya which cost him a podium and nine valuable points, found himself being utterly outclassed by Miller and Zarco – which used to be a regular occurrence back before his balls dropped and he managed to win a race. And, even more disturbingly for him, his team-mate, Maverick Vinales, also looked to be hunting him down until a technical problem put paid to Top Gun’s long-awaited return to form.
It was the ride-height device that did Maverick in. Aleix runs a manual version of the doohickey. Maverick has been given an automatic one to…erm, “develop”. It developed itself so much it locked itself on, lowered the bike (which looks great but rides shit), and forced Mav back into the pits to exchange pleasantries with his long-suffering boss, Massimo Rivola.
As I watched Maverick pressuring Aleix, I couldn’t help but wonder if their much-vaunted bromance would survive Mav bitching Aleix – especially given the obvious mental fragility of the Spanish Dream Team. Hopefully, we may all get to see this again.
Happily, Maverick has not run out of Crazy Ivan manoeuvres. Now and again, he runs wide, which is what he did this time when Jack was chasing him. And that was before his ride height device shat itself.
Jack acquitted himself magnificently. It seems his team did some work on his Ducati, apparently raising the forks and changing his seat ergos, and Jack certainly rode faster, better, and more consistently than he has in the past few rounds.
There was lots of speculation on Social Media in the wake of Pecco’s self-annihilation from the race and the championship, that maybe Davide Tardozzi was backing the wrong pony. Maybe he should have kept Jack and dropped Pecco, they oinked. I guess Social Media doesn’t understand that MotoGP is about Spain versus Italy. All the other nationalities are there as fillers and TV-rights incentives. And Ducati will never pick an Aussie over an Italian in the factory team. Just ask Stoner. And he was the one winning championships for them.
The race itself was rather processional. Fabulous led from start to finish. The reigning world champion doesn’t make many mistakes. Sure, there’s the odd wardrobe-malfunction – and this time it was a loose visor in FP1 – but Fabulous doesn’t crash much. And while he seems to be feeling his way through the Free Practice sessions, the one to watch is FP4, which is the race-pace set-up. He normally qualifies well, hits it hard from the start, and then just Jorge Lorenzo’s his metronomic way to victory.
Behind Fabulous all sorts of exciting and distressing things were occurring. Certainly for HRC, which would struggle to crawl any further into the sewer of fail. For the first time since the 80s, HRC scored no points in MotoGP round. The Marquez basket into which Alberto Puig had placed all of HRC’s eggs has crashed to the floor and is leaking egg yolk like a bastard.
Marc’s recovery proceeds in its own good time, doctors are pleased, but until he gets on a race-bike and fires it at Turn One, his future remains undetermined. And his future is HRC’s present.
Bradl, his stand-in, is never going to win, and struggles to make it into the points each round. He came 16th in Sachsenring. Still, it was better than Pol Espargaro, who DNFd after busting himself up in Practice. He actually crashed twice in quick succession at the notorious Turn One – the first a front-end lose, the second an off-throttle high-side which left his team with two busted bikes to fix in a big hurry. Is it any wonder Puig is going bald?
The two LCR Hondas also ploughed the ground, with karma paying Taka Nakagami back for his caper at Catalunya, and Alex Marquez also sailing back into the pits.
There were quite a few DNFs in the race. Mir assured Suzuki of complete misery by crashing out at Turn One, and Darryn Binder also kicked the stones. Only 16 riders saw the chequered flag.
Miller rode brilliantly, and worked his way into third behind Zarco, who clearly put everything he had into the race, and was so exhausted at the end, he had to sit down on the podium for a few seconds before hoisting his trophy into the air.
It was certainly hot in Saxony, which the Pom commentators banged on about with annoying repetition. I put that down to the Poms losing their shit if the temperature climbs above 28 degrees. Suddenly it’s a “race of attrition” and some kind of hell on earth. It’s just hot, ladies. There have been lots of hot races in the past and there will be in the future.
The circus now proceeds to Assen, the heralded Cathedral of Speed. And Assen being Assen, will invariably provide some kind of Dutch-fuelled weirdness for the entire grid. It never disappoints in those terms.
The championship has reached a pivotal moment. It’s hard to see how Fabulous will not take the crown again this year. Aleix is still in with a chance, and only a fool would discount him making a serious tilt for the title. The Beast seems to have hit a low point in his chase for the gold, but I doubt we’ve seen the last of his podiums. Jack seems to be riding better, and Zarco is certainly not over making his bones this year, and currently sits in third on the ladder.
The title seems to be Fabulous’s to lose. And if the others are just depending on him having a run of bad luck, then they might well be disappointed. The Frenchman is on a roll.
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.
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