MotoGP 2011 – Round Nine – Sachsenring
After a weekend off the premier class again goes into back-to-back rounds of action as the 2011 MotoGP World Championship reaches its halfway stage with the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland. Sachsenring follows a short break after the rounds at Assen and Mugello, races which have seen the factory Yamaha machine win both times out, and with Jorge Lorenzo’s victory in Italy the gap to Casey Stoner was closed to 19 points.
Whilst the Australian’s lead remains a considerable one at the top of the standings recent results have added a hint of intrigue to proceedings, after his three successive wins at Le Mans, Catalunya and Silverstone. However, with podium results at Assen and Mugello – the latter of which was his 50th premier class rostrum result – Stoner remains the standard bearer on board his factory Repsol Honda.
Defending World Champion Lorenzo moved level on GP victories (37) with Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’ thanks to his win at Mugello and with the former rider turned Team Manager is now joint second in the list of most successful Spanish riders behind Angel Nieto. Sachsenring remains just one of two circuits on the current calendar where Lorenzo is yet to taste GP victory in any class, but having finished second for the past two seasons the Yamaha Factory Racing rider will be confident of continuing to chip away at Stoner’s hold on the lead of the standings.
Second Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso has his sights set on closing further on Lorenzo and along with Stoner tested at Mugello on the Monday following the previous round. The Italian is yet to finish on the podium at Sachsenring, but is on a run of three straight rostrum results and is looking strong on the RC212V. His fellow countryman Valentino Rossi is the rider with the most victories at the ‘new’ Sachsenring (the circuit was newly built in 1998) having taken five wins across all classes, four of those in MotoGP. Last year he made his comeback from injury at Sachsenring, and this weekend the Ducati rider will make his 250th Grand Prix start making him only the sixth rider to reach the milestone.
Like Rossi his team-mate Nicky Hayden will also continue his search for a second podium of the season, with fellow American Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) aiming to build on the two podiums he has so far achieved this season. Dani Pedrosa won last year’s Sachsenring race and continues his climb back to full fitness after making his return to action at Mugello following a three-race absence. The Repsol Honda man and his fellow RC212V riders will be hopeful of building on Honda’s position as the most successful manufacturer at Sachsenring since the introduction of the current four-stroke format in 2002. The Japanese factory has taken five wins in the past nine years, Yamaha three and Ducati one. Interestingly, three different bikes have won at the track in the past three years; Ducati with Stoner on board in 2008, Yamaha with Rossi in 2009 and Honda with Pedrosa last year.
Marco Simoncelli continues to await his maiden premier class podium result and a turnaround in race fortunes this season, having started the last six races from the front row but without a top-three result to show for it. His San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama missed last year’s race through injury and is currently struggling with the aftermath of an injury picked up in a crash in practice at Assen.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow experienced mixed fortunes at Mugello, the American placing ninth and the British rookie failing to finish the race. In Sachsenring Edwards approaches a track at which he has a best finish of fourth (2007) whilst Crutchlow faces another new circuit. The satellite Ducatis of Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) and Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) are closely matched, and LCR Honda’s Toni Elías will seek inspiration from a fantastic Moto2 ride at Sachsenring last year that brought him victory. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) will both be hopeful of improving on their results from Mugello, whilst French rider Sylvain Guintoli is on standby to replace Loris Capirossi if the Italian is not fit in time to ride this weekend.
For the Moto2 class this weekend’s eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland provides an important opportunity to sign off for an extended summer break with a strong result, as the ninth of 17 rounds of the 2011 campaign takes place at the Sachsenring circuit.
Leading the way by some distance and approaching his home race with one eye on an almost one-month interval after this weekend is Stefan Bradl, the German of the Viessmann Kiefer Racing team who currently holds an impressive 52-point advantage at the top of the Championship. Bradl reinforced his title credentials with a solid second-placed finish last time out at Mugello, bouncing back from his DNF at Assen in style with an ever-strengthening Marc Márquez gaining momentum with a third win of the year in Italy.
Since Grand Prix racing returned to the Sachsenring circuit in 1998 there have been four podium finishes by home riders (one in 250cc, three in 125cc). Bradl has been one of those, having taken second place in the 125 category in 2008, and the 21 year-old will be keen to continue his impressive form in 2011 with at least repeat of that result.
Márquez is a man on a mission however, and the Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider became the youngest ever rider to win back-to-back races in the intermediate class with his result at Mugello. At Sachsenring he will be confident of challenging Bradl for victory once again.
Another Moto2 rookie impressing highly is British rider Bradley Smith, the Tech 3 rider who took a third straight podium finish at Mugello. In doing so Smith moved into third position in the Moto2 standings, ahead of Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing), and just three points separate Smith and the Italian.
Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) both finished inside the top six at Mugello and are currently level on Championship points, with Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) close behind. The Italian, who tested the Pramac Racing Ducati machine after Mugello – where he finished fifth in the Moto2 race – will be desperate to make a return to the podium and cut down the gap to the leading Championship riders.
Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) completed a short test at Albacete on Sunday, his first time back on a bike since breaking his leg in the Catalunya GP on June 5th, but there is no indication yet as to whether Sachsenring will see the Spaniard make his comeback. Meanwhile the German round provides MZ Racing with its home race, with Max Neukirchner and Anthony West joined by German rider Arne Tode as a wild card on the MZ. South African Steven Odendaal (MS Racing) will also ride as a wild card in the Moto2 class.
A superb return from injury for Nico Terol at Mugello saw the 125cc World Championship leader take his fifth win of the 2011 season in the previous round, and the Bankia Aspar rider leads the category to Sachsenring.
The decision to miss the Assen race and have finger surgery did little to dent the Spaniard’s hold on the 125cc class, as he returned to winning ways immediately in Italy. His lead at the top of the standings is a healthy 39 points going into round nine, following which the category has almost a month’s respite before the Brno round.
Having missed last year’s Sachsenring race due to injury Terol has a best finish at the circuit of fourth (2009), and it is one of just two tracks on the current 125cc calendar at which he is yet to score a podium result. His closest threat in the standings at present is Frenchman Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) who scored his best result of last year (sixth) at Sachsenring. Zarco has made a step up this year having taken four podiums to date, and the perfect birthday celebration for the man who turns 21 on Saturday would be a first GP victory.
Continuing to electrify the category with his superb displays in his rookie season is Maverick Viñales, and the young Spaniard took his fourth podium of the season at Mugello last time out. The Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing rider trails Zarco by just eight points in the standings, with German rider Jonas Folger only five points behind Viñales. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider and fellow compatriot Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) are separated by just three points themselves in fourth and fifth and will both compete for the home crowd’s adulation. Marcel Schrötter (Mahindra Racing) will also hope to be spurred on by the German fans.
Five wild card riders will also take part in the 125cc class, four of which will add to the German presence in Luca Gruenwald (Freudenberg Racing Team), Toni Finsterbusch (Freudenberg Racing Team), Marvin Fritz (LHF Project Racing) and Felix Forstenhausler (Schwaben Racing Team) joined by Australian Jack Miller (RZT Racing).
– Ducati Preview
The MotoGP World Championship prepares to hold its ninth round this weekend at the Sachsenring, which represents the midway point of the 18 race series. The 3.761 kilometer German track is the second-shortest of the season after Laguna Seca, and it is distinguished by a preponderance of left-hand corners, in addition to a narrow, technical layout.
It’s a particular track in some ways, but one that’s popular with Valentino Rossi, who has won there five times in his career. Along with this team, he’ll continue to work on settings for the GP11.1, which debuted two races ago. Nicky Hayden, who tends to like counterclockwise tracks, is also fond of the German circuit, where he has climbed the podium on four occasions.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Team
“At Mugello we started working with the setup in a direction that we had never tried before. We used it Sunday in the warm-up, so we weren’t able to spend much time on it. The bike worked better in the race than it had in practice, but we still need to do more experiments with these settings, so at the Sachsenring we’ll see if they might be a good starting point. The track is tricky in some spots, but it’s a circuit that I like. Last year I returned to racing in Germany after the injury to my leg, and it was a nice race. We hope the weather and temperature will be good because we need to work on the setup as much as possible before the race.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
“Sachsenring is a tight, scrappy little track, but it’s one I quite like. It’s got the shortest lap time the whole year apart from Laguna, but it’s a long race, and we’re on the left side of the tire for much of the time. There are a lot of big left-handers, which I always enjoy, and I’ve had some good results there. The thing that sticks out for me is that it’s almost two parts: the first bit is really tight and slow, and then the last bit is really fast and open, especially with what they call the Waterfall corner, which is fifth-gear, downhill and blind. That’s about as good as it gets, and I’m not sure there’s a better corner on the entire calendar.”
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“The Sachsenring is very different from Mugello, and it will be interesting to learn whether the latest changes to the setup that we tried on the GP11.1 during the Italian GP will be a good starting point. We’ll see if those settings can also adapt to features like those of the German track, which is narrow and winding. Vale has won there on many occasions, and last year he rode well on his return from injury. Nicky has also made the podium there a number of times. We hope it will be nice for the entire weekend so that we can finally do all the practice sessions and the race with the same weather conditions.”
– HRC Preview
The German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring marks the halfway point in the 18-round MotoGP World Championship with Honda riders first and third in the championship. The challenge to earn the final world championship of the 800cc era will be more difficult in the second half, with five of the final nine races being held outside the comfort zone of the teams’ European bases.
Repsol Honda team-mates Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso are first and third respectively, in the MotoGP World Championship after the first eight races. Both have ridden their consistency to the top of the order, with Stoner winning four of the first eight races, with three other podiums and five pole positions. Dovizioso has been on the podium in four of the past five races, including a fine second in his home round in the previous race in Mugello. Whilst Dani Pedrosa, the third member of the Repsol Honda team, made a successful return to racing in Mugello following surgery on his right collarbone.
Stoner has a win a third and a fourth over the past four years at the Sachsenring, which has a layout that is a departure from the previous two races in Mugello and Assen. Coming from two of the three fastest race tracks on the calendar, the Sachsenring has one of the slowest average speeds and the second shortest lap time of any grand prix venue.
Dovizioso arrives for the final European round of the first half coming off the best result of the season in his home grand prix at Mugello.
Following his second place finish, Dovizioso and the rest of the Repsol Honda team stayed on at Mugello for a one-day test to refine the RC212V for the second half of its final season. The team fine-tuned the RC212V’s set-up and tested a new swingarm, which they expect to put into use in Germany. Following the German GP is the U.S.GP, which has the slowest average lap speed and bears some resemblance to Sachsenring, with a preponderance of left hand corners and very little time to rest.
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa clearly knows his way around the 3671m track. The Spaniard won two of the last four races, including last year’s running and the race in 2007. In addition, he was on the podium in 2009.
Following surgery on his right collarbone, there were concerns about Pedrosa’s physical fitness in Mugello, but he put them to rest with an encouraging result. Though his result doesn’t show it, the Spaniard proved to himself and others that he still had the speed to be among the sport’s elite. With a two week break since Mugello, Pedrosa’s endurance should be greatly improved. That the Sachsenring is heavily biased to the left hand corners should benefit Pedrosa.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli had an important finish in his home grand prix after two difficult races. Simoncelli came close to finishing fourth before coming fifth under the searing summer Italian sun. Simoncelli has often qualified well, with two poles and four other front row starting spots, but hasn’t been able to continue his proficiency in the races and is still seeking his first MotoGP podium. That could change in Germany. “Super Sic” will be making his ninth visit to the Sachsenring, where he finished on the podium in the 125cc class and won the 250cc race in 2008 and 2009.
Simoncelli and the San Carlo Honda Gresini team also took part in the post-Mugello test and found a solution to his late-race traction issues caused by the hottest conditions of the year.
Team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama will be racing his San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V for the first time in Germany, having missed last year’s race through injury. Aoyama came off a difficult race in Italy, where he struggled with injuries suffered in the previous round in Assen. The Japanese star finished outside the top ten for the first time this season, other than a DNF in Catalunya. But he has had some success in Germany, winning the 250cc race in 2007 and finished on the podium in 2005. And in 2009 he was fourth to Simoncelli and less than a second behind.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) was never comfortable in Mugello and struggled with the front end, preventing him from taking full advantage of the RC212V. Elias is hopeful that a change of scenery brings a change of fortune. The veteran from Manresa, Spain won last year’s race at the Sachsenring, one of seven victories he earned en route to the inaugural Moto2 World Championship.
The German round marks the final race before the summer break for the Moto2 class, which doesn’t race in the U.S., and no one is looking forward to the race more than rising German star Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer, Kalex). The 21-year-old son of 250cc vice-champion Helmut Bradl heads to his home race, where he made his race debut in 2003, with a 52 point lead. Bradl has had a remarkable season, with four wins, a second, third, and fifth. The only blemish on his otherwise sterling record was a spill in Assen, but he quickly recovered by finishing second to reigning 125cc champion Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol, Suter) in Italy.
Marquez, 18, scored no points in his three Moto2 races, but has had a near vertical rise since. The Spaniard’s maiden Moto2 win came in Le Mans, after which he finished second in Catalunya, fell in Great Britain, then won in Assen and Italy, becoming the youngest rider to win back to back races in the intermediate class. Mugello was the springboard for Marquez’s 125cc World Championship, with his victory in Italy the first of five in a row, culminating with a win in the German Grand Prix. With nine races remaining after Germany, Marquez will be looking to cut into Bradl’s lead before the summer break.
Like Marquez, Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3) also had a slow start to the season before catching fire in the past three races. At his home race at Silverstone, the 20-year-old broke through with his first podium, a second place, which he followed up with thirds in both Assen and Mugello. The string of podiums launched him up the order to third in the championship behind Bradl and Marquez.
Sachsenring replaced Hockenheim as the site of the German Grand Prix starting in 1998. Five-time Honda world champion Mick Doohan christened the track with a victory, his third success in Germany on three different tracks. A year earlier he’d won the German GP at the Nurburgring (1997) and he also won the German GP at Hockenheim (1992).
In the 15-year grand prix history of the Sachsenring, Honda has more premier class wins than any other brand. Six different winners have won on three different Hondas, the NSR5000, the RC211V, and the RC212V. The winning riders include Doohan, Alex Barros (2000), Valentino Rossi (2002), Sete Gibernau (2003), Max Biaggi (2004), and Dani Pedrosa in 2007 and 2010.
The history of racing in Saxony dates back to the 1920s on public roads near the town of Chemnitz. In 1996, the Sachsenring was built as a purpose-built track in the years after the former West and East Germanys reunified. Originally 2.9k, the track underwent revisions in 2000, 2001, and 2003 all of which increased the length to its current 3.671k, and average speed. The circuit is no longer the shortest venue on the calendar; Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which follows the German race, is shorter by 60 meters.
The anti-clockwise track has ten left-hand corners and only three rights, with a longest straightaway of 700m. The first corners are the slowest before the riders encounter a series of increasingly faster lefts heading to the right hand turn 11, a blind, off-camber kink that sends riders descending precipitously to the last two lefts, where much of the passing takes place. From turn 12 the track heads uphill to the final 60 degree turn 13, which feeds onto the front straightaway.
The Sachsenring is one of the most popular races of the year, with crowds approaching 100,000 lining the hills of Hohenstein-Ernstthal near Chemnitz in Saxony.
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says: “I’m looking forward to going to Sachsenring, it’s a circuit where we’ve enjoyed good results in the past few years. The track is very tight and technical so it demands a different style of riding and we also need to set the bike up in a different way. It’s pretty tough on tyres as the majority of corners are long left-handers so the wear on the left hand side of the tyre is quite significant. It takes a lot of work to get a good set up in order to have a good pace for the race distance. I really enjoy this race, the atmosphere is amazing and the countryside is beautiful. We’ve always been pretty fast there and I’m sure with the Honda we can be competitive.”
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says: “We arrive in Germany strong and competitive. The second place in front of the Italian crowd at Mugello gave us an extra boost to continue working and improving race after race. The post GP test at Mugello was an important occasion to fine tune the set up of the bike and try a new swing arm. We had good feedback so we arrive in Germany with a good base and I think we will use the new swing arm as the feeling was positive and lap times came easier. I enjoy going to Sachsenring, it has a good atmosphere and there are always a lot of spectators. However, as a circuit it is very different from Mugello, it’s a quite short racetrack, with a very slow first section followed by a very fast second half. We will work hard from the first practice session, as we did in Mugello, this is very important to prepare the machine for the race. I’m very motivated, we are third in the championship and we want to continue gaining important points for the season.”
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says: “The last race in Mugello was good because after a long time without racing, I saw that I haven’t lost the ability to go fast. I have to regain fitness and this week I have worked hard. I’ve always had very good races at Sachsenring and it’s good to get to a track where you know you can do well. Contrary to Mugello, Germany is all almost left hand corners and this must help me. Last year, we had a great race there and hopefully we can do a good job again during practices, hope nothing goes wrong and come out with a good chance for the race.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli says: “Mugello was definitely a positive weekend with a positive end result although I wasn’t completely satisfied. It was important to get to the end of the race without any dramas and put the misadventures of Silverstone and Assen behind me. The test on Monday was also positive – we tried some solutions that could help us overcome the problems we had in the race at Mugello, where I seemed to struggle more than the others with a loss of grip due to the increased track temperature. Overall the visit to Mugello has given me confidence and motivation for the next round in Germany. Sachsenring is a circuit I like a lot, I have always been fast there in 125 and in 250, in fact I won the 250 races there in 2008 and 2009. Last year I had a good race in MotoGP, battling for fifth place. My objective is to do my best along with the team and try to improve on the result from Mugello.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama says: “After the experience at Assen on the factory Repsol Honda Team RC212V I struggled a little bit to get a feel for my team San Carlo Honda Gresini machine at Mugello. To complicate matters I was still in a lot of discomfort from my crash in Holland but I gradually got back on the pace and with the help and dedication of all the guys on the team we came out with a satisfactory result. The test on the following day was much more positive with a view to Sachsenring. I actually missed the race there last year through injury so I have to go back to my 250 days for my last experience there. I was on the podium in 2005 and won the race in 2007 but the difference between 250 and MotoGP is too big to predict what kind of feeling I will have for the track with this bike.”
– Yamaha Preview
With two consecutive Grand Prix wins under their belts, Yamaha Factory Racing are preparing for The Grand Prix of Germany at the Sachsenring circuit this weekend in confident mood. A superb victory at the Assen TT for Ben Spies followed by a flawless ride by Jorge Lorenzo to claim the chequered flag at Mugello has left the team and riders eager to get straight to business in Germany.
Sachsenring remains one of the few tracks on the GP calendar where Lorenzo has yet to win, taking second place on the podium in 2009 and again in 2010. Last year’s race had been looking like another victory for the championship leader until a red flag changed the circumstances. The reigning World Champion will be looking to add the circuit to his list of vanquished tracks on Sunday.
Spies has unfinished business in Germany; the Texan was characteristically quick to learn the circuit on his first visit last year and had been on track for a strong grid position until an incident packed qualifying saw him relegated to 13th. Despite the setback the then MotoGP rookie put in a blistering performance and was at times one of the five fastest on track, eventually finishing in a hard fought eighth place.
The tight and twisty Sachsenring circuit which flows through the wooded hillsides of East Germany will be immediately followed by Laguna Seca in the USA. These will be the last of the back to back races before the MotoGP teams take a well earned summer break ahead of Brno in the Czech Republic on 12th August.
Jorge Lorenzo – “I feel very good after our victory in Mugello; an amazing victory that we needed for our confidence. We’ll take more power from it for future races, especially for the next two in a row. Now it’s time for Germany; Sachsenring is a unique track which I’ve ridden since 2002 and still not won! I would like to do it, it’s an interesting challenge in front my German fans. The team and I are ready to again try to reduce the gap to Casey, our aim is the podium, but we will try to push for the win.”
Ben Spies – “I’m really looking forward to the next two races. I got on pretty well at Sachsenring last year; the end result didn’t reflect how good we were. I think if qualifying had not been so incident filled we would have started closer to the front. We are in pretty good shape right now with the team, the bike is feeling really good, I’m feeling confident on it and the results are showing it. Of course afterwards we head to my home race in the US and I get to run the red and white colours again!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “I’m very much looking forward to the next two rounds after a great race in Mugello, coming back from a difficult period to win again. When we are able to deliver a great package like in Italy then Jorge is able to fight for victory. That is our target again in Sachsenring and Laguna. It is very important to make these next two rounds count before the holidays; we are only 19 points behind the lead with still half the season to go so anything can happen.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “We are going to Germany with some optimism, in the last few races we got good results and we would like to continue this. In the last three years Yamaha proved to have a good bike for the Sachsenring track and we have a good set up for both riders now. I don’t know the circuit myself, it will be my first visit with the team but I am confident that we can perform well after looking at our history there.”
Edwards and Crutchlow set for Sachsenring
The 2011 MotoGP World Championship reaches the halfway stage this weekend with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow determined to deliver strong performances at Germany’s Sachsenring circuit.
Experienced American Edwards is looking to consolidate his place inside the top 10 in the overall rankings having scored points in six of the seven races he’s started in 2011.
And he’s determined to leave Europe full of confidence ahead of his crucial home round at the spectacular and challenging Laguna Seca track in California on July 24.
His best result at Sachsenring was fourth position in 2007 and he is confident the improving handling perf ormance from the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 this season will be a crucial advantage in dealing with the demands of the 2.281 miles track.
This weekend presents another big challenge for British rookie Crutchlow, who will be making his Sachsenring debut. The 25-year-old is concentrating all his efforts on bouncing back from difficult races in Assen and Mugello recently and is aiming for a welcome return to the top 10.
Sachsenring is the shortest track on the World Championship schedule but certainly one of the most challenging, the undulating layout made up of predominantly left-hand corners.
A tight and twisty first section is ended by one of the most jaw-dropping turns on the calendar. Turn 11 is taken flat-out in fifth gear with a blind entry that drops down to a left-hander at the bottom of the hill, which has become a favourite overtaking point.
Immediately after Sunday’s 30-lap race, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team heads off to Laguna Seca for the first of two visits to America in the space of five weeks.
Colin Edwards – “The last two races haven’t been that fantastic but we can point to a bad tyre choice in both for that. We’ve got to take some responsibility for that but sometimes you roll the dice and gamble but the result doesn’t go your way. That’s all behind me now and I’m just concentrating 100 per cent on getting a good result in Germany this weekend. This track is pretty special with so many left-hand turns but our chassis is much better than last year, so I’m sure the bike will be easier to ride in the tight and twisty sections. The break after Mugello has really helped my physical condition. I’ve been able to get some good rest and the muscle damage around the r ibs on the right side of my body isn’t as painful as it was. I’ll only understand how much of an improvement there’s been on Friday when I get on the bike, but I’m expecting a lot less discomfort than in Mugello where it was quite tough. Aside from 2003 when I had the fireball at the bottom of the hill, I’ve really enjoyed my time at Sachsenring. The German fans are really knowledgeable and they love MotoGP, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them. I’ll be looking for a good result to take some momentum into my home race at Laguna Seca, which is a huge weekend for me and one I’m already excited about.”
Cal Crutchlow – “Like a lot of tracks so far in 2011, I haven’t seen this one before but it looks really good on TV and I can’t wait to get started on Friday. The track is obviously dominated by left-hand turns but I’m not worried that is going to be a big p roblem for me. The left collarbone I broke at Silverstone last month is fine and I’m happy with the progress it is making. After all the weather disruptions of the last few weeks, I’m just hoping for a dry weekend so I can learn the track quicker. And I’m also hoping for hot conditions because that will give me an opportunity to solve some of the front-end issues I’ve been experiencing lately. When the temperature is hot I’ve had some issues with front-end feeling, so hopefully some hot weather will give us the perfect opportunity to find a solution. I’m confident I can be running back inside the top ten and getting the results I know that the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is capable of.”
– Suzuki Preview
Rizla Suzuki will be at Sachsenring in eastern Germany for the ninth round of the MotoGP World Championship with Álvaro Bautista looking to take the positives from Mugello last time out.
With his fitness back to 100%, Bautista is looking for a confidence-inspiring ride at the German circuit to propel him into the second half of the season. He was challenging for a top-six finish at the Italian Grand Prix before a huge front end slide put paid to his ambitions as he ran off the track and lost valuable time. Bautista completed almost 90-laps at Mugello in a post-race test and made some significant advances with the set-up, handling and electronics on the Suzuki GSV-R, all of which he hopes will assist him for the remainder of the season.
The historic Sachsenring track is situated near the town of Hohenstein-Ernstthal, about 80km from Dresden. The original street circuit was incorporated into a new purpose built track in the 1990’s, but modifications and alterations to the layout have meant that no part of the original track is now used. The 3,671m configuration of 13 corners is certainly a circuit of two halves; the first part is as tight-and-twisty as anywhere on the calendar, before the anti-clockwise layout opens out to include a scary right-hand blind crest taken at over 200km/h on to a fast downhill section, some sweeping bends and 700m long finish straight.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday for two 45-minute free practice sessions, followed by a further practice session on Saturday morning, with an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 30-lap race is scheduled to get underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).
Álvaro Bautista: “I cannot wait for the race to come – it will not be soon enough for me! I made some really big steps at Mugello in both the race and the test. We now have all that info to use at Sachsenring and the rest of the tracks this season. I think we are capable of running with the top-six or seven at most tracks now and just need a little bit of something to get us there – I don’t know if it’s luck or what it is, but we will keep trying until we find it! I like the Sachsenring circuit and I’ve been on the podium there three times. It is not an easy track to get the bike set-up right for, but when you do it’s great fun to ride at. It’s about a lot of edge grip, so we will have to work on that and get the bike set-up as quickly as we can.”
– Bridgestone Preview
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Hard, Extra Hard. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
After a week’s break since the Italian Grand Prix, MotoGP gets underway again in Germany on 17 July with the first of a back-to-back pairing of races that marks the end of the busiest period of the season with six races in eight weeks.
At the start of the year when tyre compound selections were first made, Bridgestone took the decision to bring softer rear slick tyres to the German Grand Prix this season, utilising the extra soft compound rubber developed at the end of last year in a bid to maximise warm-up performance.
The Sachsenring circuit has an anti-clockwise layout which means that for this race the left shoulders of the rear tyres need to be harder to cope with the temperature and wear, and it is the right shoulders that need to be softer.
The East German venue is a peculiar one for tyres however. It is a short lap, the second shortest of the season only 60metres longer than Laguna Seca, and the weather is unstable meaning it can become overcast and cool down quite quickly, but it is very severe on the left side of the tyres. The flowing nature means that corner speed is high, and on the abrasive tarmac front tyre wear can be high so for the first time since the opening round in Qatar, the extra hard compound front slicks have been selected. In fact, for the left side of the front tyres Sachsenring is the most severe test of the season. Front slick tyre compound options remained unchanged from last year.
Rear slicks are now available in medium and hard asymmetric compounds this season, one step softer than last year. Both options use the extra soft compound in the right shoulders, and are a special construction developed for Sachsenring and Philip Island specifically to cope with the high tyre temperature developed by a few corners. It is particularly the string of interlinked lefts from turn six to ten and the fast final two corners that generate the highest temperature.
Last year’s German Grand Prix was run in two parts after a red flag caused by a crash involving Randy de Puniet, Aleix Espargaró and Álvaro Bautista. Dani Pedrosa took his second victory of the season, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner in third.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“We saw a brilliant race last time out in Italy that was very exciting for the fans too, so I hope for a similar race in Germany! Dani, Valentino and Casey have each won in Germany in the last three years, each with a different manufacturer, so I hope this is a good sign that we may have a different winner again this year. Having spoken at length to the riders and teams recently we have confirmed that we will change our tyre allocation to bring softer spec tyres to four of the remaining races, but we had already decided at the start of the year to bring softer rears to Germany as part of our continuous assessment of compound selections, so I hope they are well received.”
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Sachsenring is a challenging balance for tyres because the circuit is very severe on the left side of the tyres, where we see some of the highest temperatures of the season, but by contrast the right shoulders of the tyres have a relatively easy time. This means that we need great heat and wear resistance from hard compounds on the left side with soft compounds in the right side for good warm-up. In fact, we have a special construction of slick tyre that we use just in Germany and at Philip Island to deal with tyre temperature. Having said this, this year we are bringing softer rear slicks to Germany as using our special construction we can achieve sufficient heat resistance whilst using a softer compounds than normal to maximise warm-up and tyre performance on what is otherwise quite a low ambient temperature race.
“Sachsenring starts with two slow right-hand corners but then opens into a series of very high speed long lefts that sweep onto the back straight and to the finish, generating a lot of temperature in the left shoulder of the tyres. The tarmac is abrasive too, and because of the loads on the left side of the front tyres we have selected our hard and extra hard compound options for good wear resistance and stability. If the bike, rider and tyre package is not working well, it is easy to overheat the left side of the tyres, particularly in the rear.”