Marc Marquez won on a drying track in Germany
Image by Honda Racing
Conditions had looked to be improving after the Moto2™ World Championship race, but brief showers of heavy rain hit the Sachsenring as MotoGP™ riders waited in the pits. The race was declared wet and flashbacks of the Dutch GP ran through the mind of every rider on the grid. When racing got underway there were almost no further signs of rain, making tyre choice more important than ever.
As the race began Andrea Dovizioso (Ducat Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) emerged as the two favourites. Dovizioso had opened up a lead of almost two seconds as the track began to dry, riders considering a bike change. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was the first rider to pit for intermediate tyres on lap 12. Over the course of the following laps most of the field followed suit, choosing a variety of slick and intermediate combinations.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was simply unable to match the pace of the leading riders as the race began, battling with Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) for fifth. He was clearly struggling, running off at Turn 8 and lucky to stay upright. On lap 17 he entered the pits for slicks. It proved a masterstroke as his lap times were immediately four seconds faster than those on wets leading the race, his pace only getting faster. With six laps to go he took the lead and never looked back, going on to take a seventh straight victory at the Sachsenring. His lead at the top of the championship continues to grow, seemingly unable to put a foot wrong.
Lap after lap the track dried and lap after lap Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) got faster and faster. The Brit found himself in fourth on the 19th lap as several riders began to pit, Crutchlow still pushing his wets around. He followed Dovizioso into the pits soon after, re-joining with his former teammate to battle for the podium. Having opted for slicks, Crutchlow found himself right behind Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) and in the hunt for second place. There was no love lost between the Brits, Crutchlow breaking Redding to secure second place and return to the podium for the first time since Argentina in 2015.
Known for his ability in the wet, Andrea Dovizioso shot straight into podium contention as the race began, pressuring for the lead. ‘Desmo Dovi’ sat behind Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) for several laps, gifted the lead when the Italian fell on lap 11. He continued to forge ahead on wets, his lead rapidly depleting. After multiple laps struggling on wets he finally made the call to pit, prompting every rider behind to follow him. The group re-joining to battle for third place, unable to match the pace of Crutchlow the factory Ducati man did well to pass Redding on the final lap and take his second podium of the year.
The disappointment was clear to see on Scott Redding’s face after holding onto third until the very last lap. Fourth is still a great result for the Brit, his second best finish of a year plagued by technical issues. Like Redding, Iannone opted to switch to intermediate tyres and while he made progress, was ruled out of the final podium battle and settled for fifth.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) took a solid sixth ahead of Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), the Australian the last to swap tyres.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was strong from the start of the race but waited until Dovizioso and Crutchlow, with whom he was battling with, had pitted for tyres to come in. As a result he came home in eighth, closing in on his teammate in the championship but losing out to Marquez once more.
Jorge Lorenzo’s (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) weekend didn’t get any better. The World Champion was inside the top ten as the race got underway, but as in Assen he began to fade as the race went on and slowly dropped back. It was even worse than in Assen, Lorenzo taking a single point for 15th place.
Danilo Petrucci’s reputation as a wet-weather specialist continued to grow in Germany. ‘Petrux’ was on a mission and quickly took the lead, comfortably sitting at the head of the race. That was until he crashed at Turn 3 on lap 11, he pitted for his second bike just as the one he was on burst into flames. He eventually retired from the race, another disappointing end to a race with so much potential.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crashed while chasing Marquez after pitting for new tyres, ending his run of scoring points in every race.
Local rider Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was forced to miss him home race after a fall in Warm Up. He was taken to the local hospital for a CT scan after suffering a concussion in the crash.
Johann Zarco in action on Saturday
Image by Honda Racing
Conditions were as wet as ever as the Moto2™ World Championship lined up on the grid. The intermediate class had some of the worst weather on Friday, but the 20-minute Warm Up session was their first taste of a properly wet Sachsenring. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was on pole for the first time in 2016, but in the wet conditions bravery would be the deciding factor of the day.
As the lights went out it was Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) who grabbed the lead into and out of Turn 1. He was hotly pursued by Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and Nakagami, the pair getting ahead not long after as Zarco faded early in the race. Several crashes ahead soon saw him back in podium contention and closing in on the leaders as he adjusted to the conditions. Soon Zarco was one of five riders fighting for the win, taking no prisoners as he battled. He was on a charge to chase down Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), but the Italian crashed out of the lead. Folger tried to pressure Zarco but the Frenchman kept his nerve in the final corner to take a crucial victory and extend his points lead.
Having briefly led his home Grand Prix early in the race, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) lost contact with the leading riders during the middle of the race. His hopes of a home podium looked over until the rain stopped, the track drying ever to slightly and allowing the German to push closer to the limit. Before long he was past Rins and up into second place. The German did all he could to take victory at home, sliding up the inside of Zarco at the final corner but was unable to get the drive to the line. Second place is Folger’s first ever podium at home in Germany and by far his best result at the Sachsenring. Second place sees him step onto the podium at the Sachsenring for the first time in his career and give the fans something to cheer about.
Rins looked comfortable in third place until he crashed out at Turn 1 late in the race, promoting Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) to a surprise third position. This saw Simon return to the podium for the first time since the Valencia GP in 2012, despite nursing an injured ankle. The Spaniard was almost in tears as he was interviewed after the race, elated to return to the podium after such a long time since his last.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) had originally been declared unfit for the race after dislocating his right shoulder in Warm Up. The Italian elected to have his shoulder put back in and lined up on the grid. It was a tough race even in the wet, Baldassarri crossing the line in fifth thanks to a number of falls ahead.
Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) was battling with Zarco for a top five finish, but the German’s hopes of home glory came to an end at Turn 8 on lap five, lucky to walk away from the crash. Turn 8 would also claim Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten).
Championship front-runner Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) fell foul of the conditions at Turn 6, picking up his bike to try and salvage some points. The determined Brit did all he could, but would crash later in the race at Turn 1. Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) fell several laps later at the same corner.
Like Lowes, Nakagami remounted and was able to cross the line in 11th. Disaster continued to hit the front-runners as Morbidelli crashed at Turn 1 on lap 23, his chances of a first race win slipping through his fingers. A second fall towards the end of the race was the final nail in the coffin.
After a promising start, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) crashed from yet another race. Marquez remounted but would crash once more, this time at Turn 7. He was unharmed in both falls.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) jumped the start and was awarded a ride through penalty as a result.
Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) was also ruled unfit after injuring his ribs between races. His teammate Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) would be the first faller of the race, coming off at Turn 8.
Brad Binder in the rain at the 2016 Moto 3 race at Sachsenring
Image by Focus Pollution KTM Media Library
Having topped Warm Up and won a wet Argentina GP, Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) could hardly contain his smile on the Moto3 grid. With rain continuing to hammer down, everyone on the grid knew it would be a long and hard race, staying safe and upright the key to a good result.
By the end of the first lap, Pawi had shot from 20th to seventh and was well and truly in the battle for victory. As lap five began he hit the front and as in Argentina, with clear track ahead of him he was able to fly and easily set times a second faster than those behind. As lap 14 began he ran off track, a clear warning sign to ease off. But he didn’t relent, growing his lead with each lap and crossing the line 11.131s ahead of second place. Pawi was the first Malaysian to win a Grand Prix and now becomes the first, and so far only, Malaysian to win two Grands Prix.
Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) had a quiet opening lap but rallied as the race went on, battling for the podium. The Italian would be pushed back and found himself battling with John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) for third, soon promoted to second by Hiroki Ono’s (Honda Team Asia) near-fall. He briefly came under pressure from Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), but a solid rhythm saw him cross the line in second and take a career first podium. This was also Leopard Racing’s first podium of 2016 after claiming the lightweight class championship with Danny Kent in 2015.
Pole-man Enea Bastianini made an excellent start to the race and led into Turn 1, followed by Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The Italian lost several positions during the opening half of the race but gathered himself as the race went on, charging back into podium contention. He and John McPhee sparred for third in the treacherous conditions, soon joined by Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team). He was able to break the pair and get his second podium of the year, a little dissapointed by the wet conditions.
With Pawi powering away at the front, very few people noticed the charge of Jakub Kornfeil. He battled hard for the podium but was unable to match Bastianini in the last laps, taking fourth. Behind was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Team) who won a tight three-rider battle to complete the top five.
Further down the order, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) battled for seventh place, neither wanting to risk as much as the likes of Pawi with a championship on the line. Navarro would win the battle, crossing the line in seventh and gaining one point on Binder, who was eighth.
Speaking after the race Binder said,
“Today has been neither very good nor very bad. I felt great in the warm-up. Everything was working incredibly. In the race itself things were more difficult. I found it hard to get a good feeling with the rear, and I felt as if it would go at any moment. The positive thing is that I never went over the limit and we were able to finish the race. Obviously I’m not entirely happy with eighth place, but I have only lost one point and that is a lesser evil. Aki (Ajo) told me before the start that I should focus on doing what I know, and not to worry about anyone else.”
After their falls in Qualifying, both Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) were forced to miss the race. Herrera sustained a broken wrist while Antonelli broke his collarbone. Both will have the summer break to recover.