Honda 1-2 at Sachsenring MotoGP
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has sealed a perfect weekend in Germany after his sixth victory in a row in Sachsenring, recording a new race lap record en route to victory, following his pole position record on Saturday. Teammate Dani Pedrosa also had a strong race, fending off Championship leader Valentino Rossi to take a well earned second place.
When Marquez came here a year ago, he was chasing his 9th consecutive win of the season. At this point in 2015 Marquez’s title hopes are weak but the Spaniard’s desire to win is anything but. Now that Marquez appears to be back on form, he’s showing no signs of making things easy for the Movistar Yamaha duo in the second half of the season.
Marc Marquez – P1 – “I am very happy with this victory. I’ve been chasing it hard over the last few races. In Assen we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel; after Barcelona which was very hard, I felt good on the bike again thanks to the changes we made. We have confirmed that they worked here at this circuit, but I want to be cautious because I am aware that this circuit has always been very good for me and also for the Honda. We have to keep working, because on the laps that I did behind Lorenzo I saw that in some aspects the they were stronger than us. Let’s see if we can continue improving at the Misano test next week.”
Dani Pedrosa has a very good record here in Germany too, having won here 6 times in total across MotoGP and 250cc classes. Before the race he said that if he could get a good start and stay at the front for the first few laps, it would make all the difference. This proved to be true as the Spaniard joins team mate Marc Marquez on the podium, securing a 1-2 for the Repsol Honda team.
However Pedrosa said the real turning point came at half distance: “When the tank emptied at the middle of the race I was comfortable and I went straight past Jorge. Then I went about catching Rossi but he wasn’t easy to pass. On corner exit the Yamaha is strong. Then I made the move and had to push at the end. I had to push a little more than him as he was really trying!”
Dani Pedrosa – P2 – “I’m so happy – above all with how we finished the race as I rode very strongly. I was under a lot of pressure from Valentino and, it had been a while since I had last fought with him and he is very difficult to beat, I gave my all and was able to finish ahead of him. I rode much better at the end and it is the first race this season in which I kept up a good pace until the finish. It’s true that here the bike had less of a handicap than at other tracks, due to the type of circuit it is, but at testing next week we have to work hard – because the both Jorge and Valentino were much closer today than in other years here. We’ll see if we can find something for the second half of the season to make us more competitive.”
This was Repsol Honda’s first 1-2 since this race last year, the team now head to Italy for a three-day test in Misano. The first two days will be on Bridgestone and the final day will be on the 2016 tyre manufacturer.
Valentino Rossi had started the German GP from sixth and quickly moved up to fifth. The Italian needed a little time to overtake Andrea Iannone, but succeeded as he completed the first lap and then set his sights on Dani Pedrosa. Rossi picked up his pace by temporarily signing a new lap record to his name, but received a stern warning when his rear wheel snapped violently sideways.
The Italian did well to hold on to the bike but didn‘t let it slow him down. Instead he set another fastest time on lap four and slipped past Dani Pedrosa one lap later. Rossi slotted in behind teammate Lorenzo and briefly took second in turn 12, but he had to give back the position at the next corner. It took the championship leader another lap to overtake his teammate and make it stick, before he could focus on reeling in Marquez, but the Spaniard had already pulled away too much.
Meanwhile Pedrosa started closing in. Rossi kept him at bay for six laps before he was pushed back to third on lap 17. Rossi did all he could to stay in contention for second place, but with four laps to go the distance between himself and Pedrosa had become too big to bridge. Rossi realized his ninth podium finish of the season in third place, 5.608s from first place.
Valentino Rossi – P3 – “First of all, the podium is always good, but you always want to arrive better than third. For this weekend I think third was the maximum we could reach, because Marquez was stronger than us. The important thing was to arrive in front of Jorge for the championship. I think we did a very good race, because we worked very well and from the warm up to the race my bike was good and I could push a lot. It may only be three points more that we scored, but it‘s still another podium and I extended the lead a little bit. The perfect way to describe the race is that “I tried to beat Dani”. I tried, but on the last laps he was too fast for me. However it was also good for me, because he allowed me to get away from Jorge, just his slipstream helped me a lot. I tried to stay with Pedrosa for ten laps, because I knew that it was key on gaining some time on Jorge. Today‘s third place is crucial because Jorge arrived here with four victories in a row, where he gained 28 points, so it was a very important win in Assen and also to arrive in front of him here, so we extend the lead to 13 points. Now I need two weeks off, because I have worked very hard for this championship. I haven’t had a holiday since the beginning of February. It‘s been all work; going to the gym, ride the motorbike, train. Now it‘s time to relax.”
With Rossi’s team mate Jorge Lorenzo coming in 4th place, the Movistar Yamaha duo did enough to maintain their positions at the top of the championship standings, with Rossi now enjoying a 13 point lead over Lorenzo.
Jorge Lorenzo – P4 – “At a difficult track for rear grip but I could still ride some good lap times and be in first position. In the end, the only good thing was my good start and that, after a bad race, we only lost three points. When I started losing the rear and I had a lot of problems picking up the bike with good drive and on braking the rear didn‘t support the front enough to stop the bike and I had to start braking earlier and earlier. This made it very difficult to keep up the pace. I regret not trying a shorter bike in the warm up, that would probably have given me more traction and grip on the rear. Now it’s too late, but as I said, we lost only three points and that‘s not so bad for the championship.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) claimed 5th position, followed by British riders Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Cal Crutchlow (CWM-LCR Honda) in 6th and 7th respectively.
Andrea Iannone – P5 – “For sure today the situation was difficult to manage: we were once again capable of finishing in the top 5 and, as I have been saying since the start of the championship, this is one of our aims this season. Obviously it gives you more satisfaction to fight with the top riders but at this moment it was difficult to do anything more. At the start I tried to stay close to the leaders, taking some risks, but then I realized that in sectors T2 and T3 I was losing a lot and so I tried to impose my own pace and in the end it didn’t go badly. I want to thank all the guys in the team and all of Ducati for the faith that they are putting in me.”
Crutchlow had endured a heavy fall as he qualified in tenth on Saturday, but he defied pain sustained in that crash to improve in Sunday’s race. Crutchlow made up ground on the riders ahead of him before eventually ending in seventh spot, behind fellow Briton Bradley Smith.
Crutchlow acknowledged afterwards that a different selection of front tyre could have seen him finish even higher, but was satisfied with his result after a difficult weekend in Germany.
Cal Crutchlow – P7 – “Today’s race result is not the best, but I am happy to finish and get some points before the summer break. We had some problems in the race, I chose the wrong front tyre as we should have gone with the same one as Danny (Pedrosa) and Marc (Marquez). I think it would have gained us quite a few seconds over the race in certain places . I also had problems with the rear tyre which gave off vibrations throughout the race so obviously to finish was not a bad job, especially as I still has some pain in my elbow and arm from yesterday’s crash. I think the first half of the season has been only average and I believe we can do much better.”
Pol Espargaró (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaró (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top 10, with Espargaro battling hard with teammate Maverick Vinales over that tenth place all the way to the flag.
Aleix Espargaro – P10 – “I am sorry for the weekend because for the entire three days we couldn’t find a proper set-up. I felt very uncomfortable with the front in slow corners and we couldn’t find a proper way to improve. In the race, at the end, I’m happy I hit the top-10; it is important to think of the points, because I took many risks and I had to think about the championship and, most of all, the development process. We will go into Misano after this weekend and we will test as much as possible, with Tom – the Chief Technician. We already have some ideas about where to work on. Indy will not be easy for us and also the second half of the season we need to make a big step forward.”
Maverick Viñales – P11 – “Well at the end I really enjoyed fighting with Aleix. I’m proud to be so close to him because he is my point of reference as he has the same machine and a lot more experience and even though I would have preferred to be ahead of him, at the end of the day the real thing is that we both would like to be fighting with other riders at the top rather than with each other. In the race I felt the very same problems I’ve encountered the whole weekend; a bad feeling with the rear and a lack in acceleration due to a lot of spin. This was a problem at such a tight circuit as Sachsenring as it has so many slow corners and we definitely need to improve on this. I’m positive for the test we will do in the week and I trust my engineers can find some solutions to develop the bike still further so we can be more competitive after the summer break.”
Hector Barbera was the first ‘Open’ class rider home in 13th.
Alvaro Bautista rode his Aprilia RS-GP to fourteenth place for two more championship points to Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
Alvaro had a great start which took him to twelfth place at the end of the first lap and, more importantly, in contact with the central part of the group. Rear tyre wear and consequent loss of grip slowed him a bit in the second half of the race but didn’t keep him from winning a few battles, especially with Barbera and Miller, to finish in the points.
Alvaro Bautista – P14 – “I made a great start, moving up a few positions and in the early laps I was able to stay with the second group easily. With new tyres we do well. Unfortunately when the tyre started to wear I struggled with the lack of rear grip. We made some changes to the electronics with the team (and my thanks goes to them for the great job they are doing) specifically to handle this situation and by changing the settings I was able to finish without taking too many risks. The placement is good but now we need to improve this aspect in the second half of the race, just like we were able to successfully solve the chattering problem that hindered me at Assen.”
Jack Miller finished in the points as he came home 15th after a fine ride at the Sachsenring.
After qualifying in 18th, the CWM LCR rookie made an excellent start and looked well set for a solid points finish as he lapped in 13th. However, he endured some issues with his bike towards the end of the race which meant he had to ease up to ensure he saw the chequered flag.
The Australian still emerged as the top open Honda rider, though, finishing nearly five seconds ahead of former world champion Nicky Hayden and admitted afterwards he was pretty satisfied with his weekend’s work.
Jack Miller – P15 – “It was a really good start to the race for about the first 20 laps, but then I started to have problems with spin, especially down the hill, and I had a really big moment when the bike went sideways. That allowed Hector (Barbera) and Alvaro (Bautista) back through and it was hard to sit behind them as I was quicker than them through the corners, but they were able to get on the gas on the straights and make a big break. I really pushed hard behind them, but then I had a couple of moments and just thought I should take no risks and accept the one point we had. Nicky (Hayden) was about six seconds behind me so we could relax and take the last three laps a little bit easier. It’s not quite ideal, but it’s an improvement from last week and we are definitely improving each week. We’ve had some good results and some bad results, today could have been a really good result but it wasn’t to be. Anyway, I’m quite happy with my first half-season in MotoGP, it’s been difficult but it’s also been a lot of fun.”
Nicky Hayden was caught up in the chaos of the first corner and dropped back to 23rd position. The Kentucky Kid fought back to sixteenth but was cut adrift from the battle for points and couldn’t advance any further.
Nicky Hayden – P16 – “We set a decent pace in the warm-up this morning so we expected a better race. I made a pretty decent start but I wasn’t aggressive enough in the first turn and I got pushed wide. I cam back on track second last. I had a good feeling over the first couple of laps and made up a few positions. I got with Barberá and thought we could catch the group ahead of us but as the laps went by I lost grip on the rear, Barberá escaped and I spent the rest of the race on my own. I lost so much grip that I just had to concentrate on making the finish. It is a shame to finish the weekend like this because the team have done a good job here. I am not happy with the result and I was expecting much more from this Grand Prix.”
Hayden’s teammate, Eugene Laverty, by contrast, struggled for grip in the early part of the race but gained momentum as the laps passed, eventually making his way up to 17th place after starting back in 23rd.
Eugene Laverty – P17 – “The start of the race was tough because I didn’t have any grip on the rear. As soon as I opened the throttle the bike started to slide and I had a few scares. Suddenly halfway through the race the tyres hooked up and I was able to lap faster than I had on new rubber. I guess we need to work more on the bike to make it more balanced. The fact we set our fastest lap at the end of the race shows that the potential is there but we need to exploit it better. The new swingarm gave us more grip but we have to adapt to it and find a balance. It has been a tough weekend but we’ll come back after the summer break ready to work hard and improve.”
Michael Laverty, riding his first race astride the Aprilia V4, was the final finisher in 20th place.
Michael Laverty – P20 – “I got off the line well and was battling with the Open Hondas and Baz. I felt comfortable but at a certain point I began to lose rear grip going into turns. I dropped back a few positions and then I wasn’t able to make up the lost ground. It’s a shame because in the last ten laps I began to figure out how to ride in those conditions, moving my position forward and putting more weight on the front tyre. I learned a lot in this race. It was a great experience and I am quite pleased with how it went.”
Andrea Dovizioso had a tough race after starting from row 4 with the eleventh quickest time in qualifying. The 29-year-old Italian from Romagna worked his way up to eighth place by lap 10 and kept that position until lap 14, right behind Crutchlow. Unfortunately a crash on the next lap put an end to the Ducati Team rider’s race.
Andrea Dovizioso – DNF – “I am very disappointed about the crash: I really didn’t need that. Starting from row 4 I wanted to make up some places, even though on this track it’s anything but easy. I was pushing hard and lapping quite quickly, but as I was always on the limit I couldn’t be smooth and so I made a mistake. I’m disappointed for the team and it’s a real pity for the championship, but apart from this it also confirms that at the moment we don’t have the same speed as we had at the start of the season. We knew it was going to be tough on this track, so now I’m looking forward confidently to Indianapolis, which might give us some more indications about our current level as it is a track that is a bit more suitable for the GP15.”
Scott Redding was left to reflect on what might have been after the British rider suffered an early exit in today’s 30-lap German MotoGP race. While making early progress towards the battle for the top 10, the 22-year-old lost the front-end of his Honda RC213V machine at the final corner on the opening lap.
Scott Redding – DNF – “I am very disappointed. I had good pace for the race and I was recovering some places after an average start when I crashed at the final corner. As soon as I released the front brake the front unloaded. I tried my best to save it but there was nothing I could do. I am annoyed and frustrated because I am confident I could have fought for the top 10 or higher based on my times from earlier in the weekend. All I can do now is train hard in the summer break and look to bounce back in Indianapolis.”
As the season reached the midway point and the teams have a chance to enjoy a Summer break, Marc has closed the gap slightly in the World Championship. Valentino remains on top with 179, Jorge second with 166, Andrea Iannone is in third with 118 and Marc is just four points off him on 114. Dani has moved up to seventh in the standings on 67.
MotoGP will be taking a four week summer break before continuing the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the 9th of August.
MotoGP Race Classification
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) finished in second place, followed by Álex Rins (Páginas Amarillas HP 40) in third.
Zarco started from pole for the third consecutive race, but the Frenchman dropped down to 3rd after turn 1, as Xavier Simeón (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) started as he meant to go on, firing off the line to push up in to second. Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team) took the lead through turn 1, but Zarco quickly regained the lead.
The entire Moto2 grid opted to use the medium front tyre. However with Morbidelli choosing a softer rear tyre than Zarco, the Italtrans Racing Team rider was able to move in to second and keep the pressure on Zarco early in the race, but he dropped back in the second half as the tyre began to go off. As a result he was overtaken by Xavier Simeón at turn 12 with 9 laps to go, as Simeón started his push to catch Zarco which resulted in Simeón passing Zarco with 4 laps left to go.
Simeón held off Zarco to take the win. He was overjoyed to claim a long overdue first victory, also making him the first Belgian to win since 1983.
Xavier Simeon – P1 – “I’m very happy, it’s an amazing feeling! Yesterday, in qualifying, we were already very fast and we knew we could have a good race today; the only question mark was related to which tyre use, because both specs were very similar. We made the choice at the last moment, on the grid, and it proved to be the right one. Even in the final stages of the race my bike was very fast, and I was able to push at the maximum. I got a good start and in the first two laps the fight was very tight: everyone wanted to stay in front, but I remained calm behind Zarco and Morbidelli, in third. We managed to open a good gap from the other riders, then when I saw that Zarco tried to pull away, I said to myself that it was time to overtake Morbidelli: I was feeling good and I didn’t want to let him go away. When I reached him, I gave everything and I managed to beat him. I would like to thank all the team, Federal Oil for their support and my family. I’m really happy”.
After the race Zarco congratulated the amazing performance of the Belgian and came away feeling like the real winner today. Between his 2nd place finish and Rabat’s crash, his championship lead is more secure than ever: “I stayed close to him planning something for the last corner, but he was really constant and strong, he did well to catch me and win. It’s bad for Tito, but at the end I am also a winner today because my advantage in the championship is bigger – the target was reached and I’m happy.”
Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) didn’t have so much luck today. On the last lap he running in 3rd place, only to be taken out by Morbidelli on turn 13 – the last corner – after the Italian came in too hot in a final attempt to get on the podium. Neither rider finished the race.
Tito Rabat – DNF – “I didn’t get a great start, but I was able to improve my position in the early stages, despite getting involved in a big battle with Corsi and Kallio as I tried to chase the leading group. I had some pain in my shoulder in the hard braking areas and in my back through the first part of the track, bur once clear I was able to chip away at the gap to the front, to get a little bit closer with every lap. Eventually I caught Morbidelli, passed him for third and was lining myself up to get the best drive out of the final turn when he crashed and took me with him. We were in a difficult position this weekend, but I think we did a good job overall and for that I have to thank the team. Now I have some time to recover so that I’m back at full power for Indy.”
Simone Corsi (Athiná Forward Racing) finished in 4th place, ahead of Briton Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing) and Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Intewetten) in 5th and 6th respectively.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Athiná Forward Racing), Julián Simón (QMMF Racing Team) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag Racing Interwetten) complete the top 10.
Moto2 Race Classification
It’s safe to say that this Moto3 round belongs to Danny Kent. The Briton topped the timesheets in every single session so far this weekend, starting from pole for the third time in 2015 to take his 5th victory of the season after dropping the rest of the pack early. No one was able to come close to the championship leader’s pace around the 2.28 mile German circuit.
Kent’s victory comes with extra honours: he is the first British rider to win a lightweight-class (125cc/Moto3) Grand Prix at the Sachsenring since Dave Simmonds won around the original road circuit in 1969. He’s also the first Honda rider to win a lightweight-class GP in Germany since Marco Melandri won the 125cc GP at the Sachsenring in 1999.
Kent said: “I didn’t have a great start, the first few laps I was sliding a bit, but the tyre got better after about 5 laps. We’ve been strong all weekend which gave me great confidence and I knew I had a chance to pull away. I’m really happy to get another win and extend our championship lead.”
Kent’s team mate Efrén Vázquez came in second place making it a Leopard Racing 1-2, with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) completing the podium in Germany.
The majority of riders opted for a medium front and rear, with Niccolò Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) risking it with a soft front. He finished in 5th place, behind Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) who was just denied a podium finish in a last lap battle with Bastianini.
Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) came in 6th, followed by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 7th. Alexis Masbou (SaxoPrint RTG), Andrea Locatelli (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) and Niklas Ajo (RBA Racing Team) complete the top 10.
Quartararo was bumped up to the front row for the race start despite qualifying in 4th, since Enea Bastianini’s penalty knocked him down the grid. Eleven Moto3 riders had their start positions moved due to penalties given for riding slow close to the racing line during qualifying. However Quartararo’s race ended early when he high sided coming out of the final corner (turn 13) with 21 laps still to go, thankfully escaping uninjured.
Hiroki Ono (Leopard Racing) crashed out on the first lap. Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) also retired from the race after his bike cut out due to unidentified technical problems. The German wild card rider Maximilian Kappler (SaxoPrint RTG) crashed out of the race at turn 10, ending a difficult weekend in which he was also taken out by Danny Kent during qualifying practice.
Australi’s Remy Gardner finished the race 23rd.
Remy Gardner – P23 – “My start it’s been not bad but during first laps I’ve been placed in the middle of a not so fast group. After this point it’s been impossible progress and catch the people that was in front of me. Definitely practices went better than race but I feel that I’m progressing and learning at every race and this is the main goal”.