Posts Tagged ‘german motorcycle grand prix’

MotoGP 2015 Sachsenring Results

July 12, 2015

Marc Marquez dominates in German flashback.

By Bruce Allen.  Exclusive to Motorcycle.com. 

The Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were so fast this weekend they seemed to exit the space-time continuum, re-entering in 2014 amidst a rewind of last year’s German Grand Prix.  Marquez, loving himself the 2014 chassis he hauled out after Barcelona, comfortably led every practice session.  As in 2014, he and Pedrosa qualified 1-2 and finished 1-2, relegating the factory Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to also-ran status.  Rossi, however, extended his championship lead over Lorenzo to 13 points, and left for summer vacation in a fist-pumping celebration of a near-perfect first half season. 

pedrosa_marquezMarquez now owns pretty much every record worth owning at The Sachsenring.  Six consecutive wins from pole.  Fastest lap ever.  Sure, teammate Pedrosa owns the most career wins here, but the most recent, coming in 2012, is fading into memory.  It would surprise no one if Marquez ties that one next year and pummels it into submission in 2017.  And while Karel Abraham’s dad owns the Brno circuit, Marquez can now claim to own The Sachsenring, lock, stock and podium.

Today’s race was contested only until Lap 5.  Lorenzo got off to a slingshot start from the three hole and held the early lead; my notes on Lap 3 read “JL won’t hold up.”  Marquez went through Lorenzo easily two laps later and disappeared into 2014, leaving Lorenzo, Rossi and Pedrosa in his contrail.  The three remaining Aliens hopscotched positions from there.  Rossi went through for good on Lorenzo on Lap 9.  Pedrosa repeated the Mallorcan assault on Lap 11.  Pedrosa, then, looking like a 2010 version of himself, went through on Rossi on Lap 17, delivering the final top four standings.  Rossi would get close to Pedrosa several times before submitting around Lap 27 determined, above all, to extend his 2015 lead on Lorenzo.

Marquez, celebrating his first win since Austin in April, would probably concede that today’s triumph falls under the Marquez at Aragonheading of a Pyrrhic victory, coming after so much devastation as to mean relatively little.  There are no bad wins, but, trailing series leader Rossi by 65 points, there aren’t very many good ones, either.  Meanwhile, the resurrected Rossi now has 13 successive podia under his belt; the expression “regular as a piston” comes to mind.  Even if Marquez returns to the form he showed us over the previous year and a half, there do not appear to be two other riders capable of consistently keeping The Doctor off the podium.  Rossi is living proof of a lesson Marquez is learning only this year—you don’t need to win every round to take the title.  Being consistently competitive will overcome occasional flashes of brilliance.  Consistently.

Elsewhere on the Grid

dovizioso-iannone-658x437Coming into Saxony, the Ducati contingent was surprisingly candid about their chances this weekend, conceding that the layout was not favorable to their bike’s strengths.  Then, Andrea Iannone on the factory team and Yonny Hernandez on the Pramac team, neither of whom received the memo, went out and qualified 4th and 5th respectively. Iannone would finish 5th today which, as teammate Andrea Dovizioso crashed out for the third time in the last four rounds, elevated him beyond question into the #1 seat on the factory team, sitting an astonishing 3rd for the year.  (I recall writing about Dovizioso only a month ago that “the guy never crashes.”  Since then, he has determinedly made a liar out of me.)  Hernandez slipped to 12th at the finish after battling for eighth place most of the day, while teammate Danilo Petrucci, in the midst of a highly gratifying season, came home in 9th, the #2 Ducati on the grid.  Maverick Vinales, on the Suzuki Ecstar, set an all-time record today by becoming the first rookie ever to score points in his first nine races.25vinalesmaverick__gp_6818_original

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith, he of the rapidly vanishing hairline, described by Nick Harris as “the best starter on the grid,” again finished a respectable 6th after qualifying 9th, putting just a little more distance between himself and Cal Crutchlow.  Prior to the start of the season, Crutchlow gave the clear impression he and his factory-spec Honda would be the top Brit on the grid, but such has not been the case.  With Dovizioso’s fortunes sinking below the horizon, Smith has now pulled into a tie with the Italian in 5th place for the year.  All Smith needs to do in the next couple of years to become a credible candidate to succeed Rossi on the factory Yamaha is secure dual British/Spanish citizenship and some high quality hair implants.

bradley_smithRich Men, Poor Men

Most of you are probably too young to grock the 1980’s TV miniseries reference.  But since the ouster of Gresini Aprilia #2 Marco Melandri this past week, the grid is now graced with two sets of brothers.  First and foremost are the Espargaro brothers Aleix and Pol, riding a factory Suzuki and satellite Yamaha respectively, with little brother Pol sitting in 9th place for the year while Aleix, the victim of some bad luck and poor decision-making, resides in 12th.  Aleix’s streak of front row starts ended today at two, the Suzuki somewhat surprisingly struggling at a track seemingly well-suited to it.  At the other end of the food chain are the Laverty brothers, Ulstermen Eugene and now Michael, toiling on an Aspar customer Honda and the #2 Gresini Aprilia, respectively.  Collectively, for the season, the Spaniards lead the Irish 108 to 7, this comparison only slightly skewed by the fact that Michael completed his first MotoGP race since last year today in 20th place.

Junior Class Headlines

Danny Kent tightened his stranglehold on the Moto3 title with another convincing win today, which is not news.  The fact that riders three through nine—seven riders!—were separated by .64 seconds IS news, something that could only happen in Moto3 and maybe the Rookie’s Cup.  Imagine losing out on nine championship points by 6/10ths of a second.

Belgian Xavier Simeon won the Moto2 tilt today, holding off season leader Johann Zarco over the last three laps for his first career win.  Never having heard the Belgian national anthem during a podium celebration, I was not surprised that Simeon got choked up, as it sounds like a cross between Richard Strauss, Josef Hayden, Todd Rundgren and ELO.  Personally, I too would hate to have that mess as my national anthem, preferring “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, for example.

First Semester Exams, Then Vacation

A number of teams are going off for some private testing this week; if you must know who and where, go to David Emmett’s site.  Then it’s off to summer vacation for a few weeks of Early Silly Season before returning for Round 10 in Indianapolis.  Today’s podium occupants must feel pretty good heading out of town for holiday, Jorge Lorenzo somewhat less so.  Despite the fact that we have now returned to an Alien class comprised of the Usual Suspects, things at the top of the food chain are sufficiently unsettled to promise an interesting second half.  One would have to be completely jaded to complain about the prospect of watching Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa in their current forms slugging it out for the rest of the year.2015 Aliens

MotoGP 2015 Sachsenring Preview

July 7, 2015

Marquez reduced to spoiler as season hits halfway mark.  By Bruce Allen.  Exclusive to Motorcycle.com. 

Round nine of the 2015 MotoGP world championship returns to The Sachsenring, arguably the most Honda-friendly circuit on the tour.  Hondas have taken the checkered flag the last five times out, three wins from Dani Pedrosa followed by two from Marc Marquez.  Although the fortunes of the Repsol Honda team have suffered a downturn in 2015, both riders could easily be in contention for a spot on Sunday’s podium.  It’s that kind of track. 

motogp-suzuki-espargaro-vinalesMidway through the season, it can be said that Honda and Suzuki have opposing problems.  Suzuki’s problem, historical in nature, is a lack of horsepower available to complement the bike’s sweet handling.  Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales have combined to make the Ecstar team immediately competitive, far more so than it was in its previous iteration when sponsored by Rizla.  The bike and the riders are both better.  Espargaro, who was showing steady improvement early in the year, has been dragged down by consecutive DNFs at rounds five through seven, and sits in 12th place for the year.  Vinales, the consensus rookie of the year having finished in the points every round, sits in ninth place for the year, and deserves an Oakley contract to deal with a future so bright…he’s gonna need shades.

The factory Honda’s problem, on the other hand, is a surfeit of power, the result being a bucking bronco of a bike that pedrosa-marquezconsistently wants to get away from Marquez and, to a lesser extent, Pedrosa.  The veteran Pedrosa is dealing with it better than Marquez, the result of having spent 10 seasons on the bike or its previous iterations.  Marquez, whose early season escapades (DNFs in three of the first seven races) cost him a third consecutive world championship, is now engaged in a series of workarounds—2014 frame, harder front tires–in an exhausting effort to stay relevant while the engineers in Japan figure out how to make the RC213V rideable again.  (If he doesn’t mind a little pinging, perhaps the team should consider using regular gasoline rather than the high-test stuff.)

With the factory Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo hitting on all cylinders this season, and Pedrosa having missed three of the first four rounds of the year to arm pump surgery, Marquez’ role has been reduced to that of a spoiler.  He can still contend for wins and podiums to salve what has had to have been a miserably disappointing year.  But more importantly, he can have a material effect on the competition between Rossi and Lorenzo.  He can be the fly in the ointment, a wild card mixing it up with the Bruise Brothers and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Lorenzo - MarquezAssen is a perfect example; had the drama at the final chicane turned out differently, Lorenzo might have won the race, Rossi might have ended up in the gravel, and the standings at the top would be reversed.  The boys in blue have ten rounds of this stuff to look forward to, not to mention Marquez’s reputation for risky business in the turns.  If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, there will be plenty of Rossi and Lorenzo fans pulling for #93 to assert his influence during the remainder of the season.  On the other guy.

Recent History in Saxony

The 2012 German Grand Prix had all the makings of a Repsol Honda clambake.  The Hondas had been fast in practice, with Pedrosa and Stoner flanking the briefly brilliant Ben Spies and his factory Yamaha on the front row.  When the lights went out, the two Hondas went off to wage war by themselves, leaving Lorenzo by himself in third place, Andrea Dovizioso and Spies battling for fourth, with homeboy Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi scrapping over sixth place.  Amazingly, Stoner lowsided out of the race on the “penultimate” lap (I hate that word), awarding the win to Pedrosa.  Lorenzo moved up to second, and Dovizioso punked Spies for third; three Yamahas finished in the top four.  At the end of the day Lorenzo led Pedrosa by 14 points on the way to his second MotoGP title that fall.

2013 was to have finally been Dani Pedrosa’s year.  He had avoided injury early in the season, and led the championship heading into Round 8 in Germany.  Lorenzo was wounded in Assen, Rossi was still getting re-acquainted with the Yamaha after two years at Ducati, and rookie Marquez was, well, a rookie.  Instead, Pedrosa went flying over the handlebars in FP3 on Saturday morning, returning to Spain for yet another surgery on his pulverized collarbone.  Lorenzo, pressing, crashed yet again on Friday, re-injuring his own wing; with the two Spaniards missing, the other riders all jumped up two spots.  Marquez won that day, seizing the championship lead he would not relinquish for the remainder of the season.  Cal Crutchlow, who had qualified brilliantly in the middle of the front row, finished second for his best premier class result ever on the Tech 3 Yamaha ahead of Rossi, chosen over Crutchlow by the suits at Yamaha corporate to ride for them in 2014 and beyond.

Last year’s fiasco started memorably with nine bikes on the grid and 14 in pit lane, the result of rapidly changing weather conditions.  Fan fave Stefan Bradl might have won the race that day, lining up at the start on slicks and enjoying a 12 second advantage over the Alien contingent on the first lap.  Alas, though his crew had thoughtfully mounted slicks on his LCR Honda, they had neglected to change the setting from W(et) to D(ry), causing him to lose two seconds per lap to the big dogs and leading, ultimately, to a demoralizing 16th place finish.  Predictably, the race was won by Marquez, followed closely by Pedrosa, with Lorenzo, Rossi and Andrea Iannone spread out over the next half mile.  What fireworks there were that day were extinguished in the first five minutes.

Arm Pump: An Occupational Hazard of MotoGP

015129-rod-laverBack in the 60’s there was an Australian tennis player, “Rocket” Rod Laver, whose left forearm—he was a southpaw—was roughly twice the diameter of his right.  When he wasn’t playing, just standing around, he looked like one of those photoshopped pictures you see of guys with one arm and one leg extending from their shoulder sockets.  MotoGP riders are going to have to do more than they’re already doing to build up their right arms, as virtually all of them suffer the effects of operating throttle and brake against heavy centrifugal force while wrestling several hundred pounds of steel and rubber.  Perhaps if they were to spend the offseason dipping cones at Baskin Robbins they could build large enough forearms to withstand the rigors of an 18 round season.

Not that arm pump is the only occupational hazard in this sport.  Road rash, crushed digits, cracked skulls and shattered collarbones all contribute to the festival atmosphere at races, followed by jetlag, jock rot and a variety of, ahem, social infections.

This is a man’s sport.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If Marc Marquez is capable of winning again in 2015, it should be at The Sachsenring.  We’ll have results and analysis right here Sunday morning.


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