Sunday Summary at Sachsenring: Marquez’s Perfect Record, Dangerous Starts, & A Spaniard-Free Zone

07/14/2014 @ 10:02 am, by David Emmett31 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Sachsenring: Marquezs Perfect Record, Dangerous Starts, & A Spaniard Free Zone Sunday Sachsenring MotoGP German GP Tony Goldsmith 08 635x422

The former England soccer player Gary Lineker once described the sport as follows: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” It feels somehow fitting to paraphrase that quote on the day that the Germans play in the World Cup final.

Motorcycle racing is a simple sport, where 23 people ride a MotoGP bike as fast as they can, and Marc Marquez always wins.

He found yet another way to win at the Sachsenring. A heavy rain shower between the Moto2 race and the sighting lap for MotoGP left the grid in disarray, with about three quarters of the field heading in to swap from their wet to their dry bikes at the end of the warm up lap.

That left fourteen riders to start from pit lane, five abreast, after jostling for position. At that point, the race should have been red flagged – more on that later – but instead, they all got out of pit lane safely. Just.

Marquez showed himself to be a master of improvisation, pitting quickly, swapping bikes and elbowing his way to the front of the pits. He took advantage of the chaos, exited pit lane first, and led the charge towards the shellshocked remainder of the pack who had started from the grid proper.

He was 8.5 seconds behind the leader Stefan Bradl by the end of the first sector, a deficit which he had cut to 7.7 seconds by the end of the first lap. Before the sixth lap was completed, he had caught and passed the LCR Honda man, going on to win his ninth straight MotoGP race with relative ease.

He faced an early challenge from his teammate Dani Pedrosa, but Marquez was more aggressive in getting past Bradl, where Pedrosa hesitated for a second. Pedrosa pushed hard once past, nearly caught Marquez, but faded towards the end.

His strategy, Marquez said afterwards, was to copy what Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi did, as they are his nearest rivals in the title chase. Pedrosa and Rossi went to the grid with wet tires, so Marquez went to the grid with wet tires. Pedrosa and Rossi both came in at the end of the warm up lap to change bikes, so Marquez came in to change bikes.

In the past, Marquez’s strategy has been more offensive, to do what no one else dares to do. That has paid off with victory. In Germany, Marquez did the opposite, and that was successful as well.

Marc Marquez retains his 100% record this year, winning every race so far. He becomes the first rider since Giacomo Agostini in 1971 to win the first nine races of the year, and the first rider since Mick Doohan in 1997 to win nine races in a row. With Indianapolis up next, he looks like equaling Doohan’s record of ten in a row.

Two supposed Yamaha tracks follow, Brno and Silverstone, but given the ease with which Marquez won at Mugello, Barcelona and Assen, the other so-called Yamaha tracks, he has to start favorite there. If he wins those as well, he would match first John Surtees, then Mike Hailwood.

The next goal would be Giacomo Agostini’s all-time record of twenty straight victories, which the legendary Italian recorded over the 1968 and 1969 seasons. That seems like an impossible goal, but the way in which Marquez has dominated the season so far makes the impossible look eminently feasible.

It is tempting to start idle speculation over whether he could manage to win enough to match his race number. Winning 93 in a row would only take a little over five seasons, after all…

Marc Marquez’s win wasn’t the only thing that went entirely as expected. The top four finishers were the top four riders in the world, on the four best bikes, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi filling the three slots behind the winner Marquez.

But the three veterans of the class looked and sounded resigned to their position behind Marquez, bludgeoned into submission by the brilliance of the world champion. Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa can all claim to have moved the bar in MotoGP, but they have been left behind by the newcomer.

Both Pedrosa and Lorenzo were happy with their pace, Pedrosa ruing his lack of aggression with Bradl. He said afterwards he felt he lost half a second there, and then matched Marquez for most of the rest of the race. He sat on Marquez’s tail, but could not close the gap, dropping away at the end.

Pedrosa also lost out in the start from pit lane, forced to begin from the second row of riders after qualifying on the front row for the race. It gave him a little more work to do to come through the field, but the backmarkers also allowed him to quickly catch and stay with Marquez as he charged forward.

Lorenzo, too, suffered at the start. Cold tires, and worse, cold carbon brakes meant he found he had no brakes as he exited pit lane. He swerved out from between the lines marking pit lane exit and onto the track as he knew he needed some space to get his brakes up to temperature, the carbon not working until it is warm.

That meant he then had to give back a couple of places, after gaining them with his illegal maneuver. He held up his hand, let a couple of riders past, and then rejoined the fray.

After the start, though, Lorenzo rode a very strong race, despite not having the pace of the Hondas. It was exactly the boost he needed, after what he himself had described as the worst race of his career at Assen. He was able focus, and his physical fitness – always a key element for Lorenzo – meant he felt comfortable on the bike. It gave him confidence going into the second half of the season, though Lorenzo also pointed to the deficit which the Yamaha has to the Hondas. Yamahas engineers were working hard, but he still needed a little bit of assistance.

Most disappointed of the front foursome was Valentino Rossi. The Italian had been hoping for much, much more at the Sachsenring, but he never really had the pace of the other three. After qualifying, he had been confident of more, but Rossi slowly dropped off the back of his teammate, finishing the race 19 seconds behind Marquez, and 9 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Most disappointed of all was Stefan Bradl. The LCR Honda rider had taken a brilliant gamble to stay on the grid after the sighting lap while his mechanics swapped his bike around from a wet setting to a dry setting.

The team came very close to pulling it all off, but a wayward spacer ruined their plans. Bradl’s crew chief, ‘Beefy’ Bourguignon told the German publication Speedweek that they had planned to swap front fork springs, rear shock, and front brakes around for the start of the race. Normally, they would need 5:15 minutes to do all the work on the grid.

But as the mechanics removed Bradl’s rear shock, they dropped a spacer, losing precious time in recovering it. That left them with too little time to swap front fork springs, and with the softer of the front tires. The soft front forks meant that Bradl couldn’t brake as hard as he needed to, with a dramatic effect on his lap times.

He was quickly lapping in the 1’24 bracket, which gave him an advantage, but the riders behind were quickly up to speed. Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi were soon lapping in the 1’22s, and caught and dropped Bradl in no time.

The gamble which Bradl and his crew had taken was on building enough of a lead on the opening lap to give him a cushion to manage. If the team had managed to swap the front fork springs, he might even have pulled it off, though even then it would have been a push.

With a soft and springy front end, Bradl stood no chance. It was a brave gamble, but one he lost. It was also a gamble which could be costly come contract time, as the German is in need of a result to strengthen his position.

That is a problem with which Bradley Smith is all too familiar. The Tech 3 rider capped off a crash-ridden weekend with another crash in the race. He picked the bike up to continue, but finished nineteenth, well out of the points. Smith goes into the summer break concerned for his future.

Andrea Iannone heads to the break full of confidence, however. The Italian put in yet another strong result to finish as the best Ducati, and ahead of the two factory bikes of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

With Ducati set to announce their plans for 2015 in the next week or so, Iannone is almost certain to end up in the factory Ducati squad. The only question is, who will he replace? The smart money is on Cal Crutchlow making the jump to Suzuki, though that looks like being a leap out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Scott Redding, too, had an excellent race at the Sachsenring. The Englishman ended as the first of the production Hondas, beating Hiroshi Aoyama by over eight seconds. He also held his teammate on the factory RC213V at bay for a very long time, as well as battling with the Ducatis. In the end, he was overwhelmed with sheer horsepower. If the updates rumored for Motegi come, Redding should be a very great deal closer to the sharp end.

The biggest talking point of the race was the start, however. Once again, a gap in the rules created a dangerous situation at the start. The rules allow riders to come in and swap bikes at the end of the warm up lap, the penalty for doing so being to start from pit lane once the rest of the field has passed.

What the rule makers did not foresee was the situation at Sachsenring, where fourteen of the twenty three riders all came in and had to start from pit lane.

The riders lined up five abreast across a track three meters wide, with concrete walls on either side. The start went extraordinarily well, a testament to the reflexes of the best riders in the world, but it was incredibly dangerous. Both Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow said they came very close to crashing at the start.

Jorge Lorenzo suffered a problem with his brakes not being up to temperature, and basically not being able to brake. Andrea Dovizioso nearly caused problems for the riders behind him, as he could not get his Ducati out of pit lane mode (he had to change into second gear to do that), and was limited to 60 km/h off the line.

Though the start was exciting, we were lucky that nobody crashed and caused serious injury.

It was a surprise that Race Direction did not intervene. They have the power to make ad hoc calls for the sake of safety since the tire debacle at Phillip Island last year, and they would have been well-advised to make use of those powers. Seeing so many riders lining up to start from pit lane should have been cause to call off the start, and create a new procedure.

Cut the race by one lap, and rearrange the grid to have all of the riders who stayed out on the grid at the front, with the riders who came in starting from the back of the grid, if necessary, only being allowed to start once the original starters had passed pit lane exit. It may have delayed the start by another five minutes or so, but it would have been a good deal safer.

Afterwards, many riders complained of the danger of the situation, and said they would bring the matter up the next time the Safety Commission convened. It is likely that it will not be necessary, as there is every chance that a new set of rules to deal with just this situation is being drawn up as we speak.

If the MotoGP race was eventful, and with a predictable winner and an all-Spanish podium, the two support races provided much more interest. Moto3 provided the race of the day, as ever, though this time it was not the multi-rider slugfest which previous races have generated.

Jack Miller took a firm grasp of the championship again, leading the race from start to finish, though his victory was uncertain all the way to the line. Miller was harassed first by Alex Marquez, then later by Brad Binder, the South African coming close to beating the Australian on the last lap.

Binder rode a superb race, matching master braker Miller throughout the race. If Miller is a demon on the brakes, Binder has trained under the same djinn, forcing Miller to do all he could to hold him off.

Binder’s podium – the first South African podium since 1985 – put Mahindra on the podium for the second week running, and with Alexis Masbou taking third, it meant there was no Spaniard on the podium in Moto3.

Alex Marquez came close, but could not get past Masbou, the Estrella Galicia rider still doing well in the championship. Danny Kent rode a solid race in fifth, just reward after a tough first half of the season. Miller’s title rivals failed, though.

Romano Fenati crashed out while chasing through the field after a phenomenal start from way down the grid. Alex Rins, on the other hand,was knocked off his bike by Eric Granado on the first lap.

Moto2 also saw a podium free of Spanish riders, with a brilliant ride by Dominique Aegerter to take his maiden victory. All race long, he and Mika Kallio battled for the lead, with Kallio holding the upper hand for most of the race.

In the penultimate corner, Aegerter slipped through under Kallio, demoting the Finnish rider to second, and robbing him of vital points. Kallio had to settle for second, while Simone Corsi took third. Tito Rabat hung on to fourth spot, limiting the damage in the title chase.

The last time there was no Spanish rider on the podium in either Moto2 nor Moto3 was in Malaysia in 2012. That was in a soaking Moto2 race, so for both the support classes to have been run in the dry shows promise for an end to the utter domination of the Spanish in Grand Prix racing.

There is a strong mix of nationalities in Moto3, and while most of the best riders in Moto2 are Spanish, they are joined by a mixed bag including Kallio, Aegerter, Jonas Folger and Thomas Luthi. The Spanish stranglehold only really remains in MotoGP, but even that will come under threat once the current crop of Moto3 riders reaches the premier class.

It is they – and French youngster Fabio Quartararo, currently destroying the field in the Spanish Moto3 championship – who will challenge the hegemony of Marc Marquez. For now, Marquez reigns supreme, and now has a 77 point advantage over his teammate Dani Pedrosa in second place.

Marquez could wrap the title up as soon as Aragon, though it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he manages it even earlier than that. The title race is effectively over in MotoGP. The only mystery is how Marc Marquez will manage to win the rest of the races this year.

Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Brizzy says:

    I disagree that it was exciting. Boring after about 5 laps, you saw MM was going to dominate. No one even seems close to him. The 4 person race thing is getting boring as well. Was hoping Aleix would be able to get in there on the smaller track. Not sure why they need 20 people racing when only 4 can compete each race. Ducati’s are still slow. Really hoping for Suzuki and Aprillia to add some excitement in the coming years. Anyways, just my opinion, flame on guys.

  2. sgt hulka says:

    gotta agree. i used to watch the motogp website and watch the positions change lap by lap -very early in the morning.

    now,i dont even bother.

    i catch the results a day or two later.

    boring.

    bring on 2016 as soon as possible.

  3. I see your Betty Draper, and raise you a Louis C.K.

  4. L2C says:

    Well done, Mrs. Draper and Mr. Beeler. LOL…

  5. Betty Draper says:

    Nicely played, Mr. Beeler… nicely played: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wGCjMYB1Kk

  6. irksome says:

    I cannot, for the life of me, imagine how someone can be bored watching MM ride; perhaps you’re overly focussed on who’s winning. What I find watching MotoGP these days are a number of excellent battles going on throughout the field, ie racing.

    Would I rather someone was ale to run with MM consistently? Hell yeah. But rather than focus on that, I marvel at a rider who can consistently turn into a corner riding on the front wheel.

    I remember shooting at Daytona in the early ’90s and watching Gobert consistently sliding the front and rear while turning into the chicane. Effin’ brilliant. I lived near Laconia in the late ’70s and got to watch the 2-stroke battles and the original Superbikes and could tell you stories of Lawson, Spencer et al.

    Same goes for what MM is capable of doing. My advice? Sit back and enjoy watching something you’ll be proud to talk about years down the road. Imagine if you could tell people you saw Agostini; would you term that boring?

  7. Betty Draper says:

    The next goal would be Giacomo Agostini’s all-time record of twenty straight victories, which the legendary Italian recorded over the 1968 and 1969 seasons.

    I bet the whining on this forum during the 1968-69 MotoGP seasons was pretty much unbearable!

  8. Brizzy says:

    @Irksome, Its boring to me because its not a competition, maybe that didn’t come across in my previous post. I would like more competition in this sport. It’s uneventful for the majority of the race. The biggest thing this race was starting from pit lane. Sounds like you guys are happy watching just MM… so why bring the other 19 riders? Overly focused on who’s winning? Nope, because that’s determined after lap 2-3 nowadays. I agree that there are some battles throughout the field, but this is the pinnacle of the sport, watching 5th – 10th seems a little silly to me.

    When Rossi dominated in early Honda RCV days, it was pretty boring. When Stoner dominated in the first 800cc days, it got pretty boring. Doohan in 97 again, boring. It’s not interesting to me when you can predict the results without having to watch, is all I’m saying. MM is a god, no dissing him there boys. I think there’s two arguments going on here, is MM amazing, and is MotoGP non-competitive this year. IMO the answer is yes to both.

  9. SVO says:

    MM is a great talent and a pleasure to watch. If you think it is boring fine do not watch it. No one cares. Why do you come on here and post about it? Don’t like it don’t watch it. No one cares if you are bored. You are boring ….that is your problem.

  10. L2C says:

    Frankly, I think the comments by Betty Draper and Jensen Beeler were the most interesting things said in this thread. How’s that for boring?

  11. Justaguy says:

    “At that point, the race should have been red flagged – more on that later – but instead, they all got out of pit lane safely. Just.”

    Absolutely. Or are Doppler radar weather sites blocked on Dorna’s computers? OR……. did they not dare interfere with the World Cup pre game tv shows schedules, which I assume are an all day affair ‘over there’ like what Super Bowl Sunday is here (ugh).

    Indy? Um, yeah, rain. Or tornados.
    I would very much enjoy an article on how they’ve redone Turn 2(?) or whatever horrible place that was that nearly ended Nicky and Casey’s careers.

  12. Jw says:

    I am not board..

  13. Brizzy says:

    @SVO, bahahaha, easy buds, pretty sure this is a motorcycle racing site, where opinion’s on racing are allowed? Again, I never said that MM is not a pleasure to race, he’s amazing. Enjoy the rest of your school day.

    @Justaguy, Agree about the Indy comment, a month off and then we get to watch such a poorly laid out race track. Why Laguna Seca got pulled is beyond me.

  14. damn says:

    It was so boring. Almost fell asleep. This year began very hard for yamaha with lots of trouble. Honda had it all sorted already. And i think that yamaha with more heavy rider and with less fuel has more to overcome then honda. Plus yamaha still isnt as good as the honda. They are comming closer a little but not enough. Hope they find something soon to challenge. But im waiting for 2016……….

  15. “I bet the whining on this forum during the 1968-69 MotoGP seasons was pretty much unbearable!”

    THAT made me laugh.

  16. David says:

    All boring stuff aside.

    Splain this to me then.

    Seems like I remember when Hayden came on the scene and everyone said there is no way he can win if he keeps sliding into corners like he does. Same was said about Spies I think. That Spies was to out of control and sliding around to much.

    But now MM comes on the scene sliding all over the place entering corners and now everyone has to learn that style and start sliding into corners.

    I think I remember Hayden working on becoming smoother. I think I even remember Kevin Schwantz saying Hayden and Spies needed to learn to ride smoother.

    Seems like Stoner was the first to show that you could be more aggressive entering corners and still win.
    Isn’t that when the riders started hanging out their foot coming into corners?

    Do I remember that incorrectly?

  17. Justaguy says:

    I recall the ‘end’ of sliding being a result of the drop in displacement from the 990’s to the 800’s and the announcers talking about how the lower power numbers meant you couldn’t wind up the chassis like you could on the 2 strokes and 990’s even if you wanted to, or something along the lines of it being strictly a matter of less displacement/power with the 800’s.

  18. Brizzy says:

    @David, I remember that as well and agree with @Justaguy that they stopped sliding when they switched to 800’s but, now MM is doing it again. I believe this is due to three things, the 990cc engines, the harder Bridgestone tires and more advanced traction control that allows MM to enter the corner like that. Actually, Yamaha guys have said they’ve tried to do that but the bike bucks and kicks when the rear tire comes back down if its out of line with the front… so Honda must have a pretty sweet chassis that allows this technique as well.

    Dunno really, would like to hear what others think as well.

  19. “Seems like Stoner was the first to show that you could be more aggressive entering corners and still win.
    Isn’t that when the riders started hanging out their foot coming into corners?

    Do I remember that incorrectly?”

    Uhm. I don’t think you do. Garry McCoy was spinning up and getting sideways on 500s back in the ’90s. Meanwhile, Vale was the guy who started the whole hanging the leg out thing. The sliding done by the fast guys these days is courtesy of dialling back the traction control as much as possible while still reducing the tendency to high side a bit. Riding GP bikes has always had the element of sliding. The degree of that is down to rider preference. Lorenzo is often cited to be a wheels-in-line rider, but even he is constantly sliding the bike at both the front and rear. The main difference in style is that Stoner, MM and Pedrosa like to steer the Honda via the back slide so as to do the ol’ point and squirt.

  20. “how the lower power numbers meant you couldn’t wind up the chassis like you could on the 2 strokes and 990′s even if you wanted to, or something along the lines”

    You could definitely wind up the chassis. IMO, that was actually the problem. The combination of the lower power and increased reliance on traction control meant that you were more likely to load the chassis and then high side rather than be able to predictably break traction and steer with the throttle. It made the bikes rather more ‘digital’ to ride.

  21. Justaguy says:

    Well put. I misused the term. I meant getting the wheels out of line, i.e. more Marquez and less Lorenzo. I think Nicky complained a lot when the 800’s came out as he came from a dirt track background. I constantly ask myself how some of these younger ‘aliens’ would perform on the 500’s. It is Rossi’s ability to have won on everything thrown at him pre-Ducati that makes him, like Carmichael in Supercross, the GOAT in my mind.
    Unless F1 KERS type things enter into GP I don’t foresee any of the youngsters having an opportunity to race such drastically different bikes as Rossi did, granted he was born at the right time and obviously with the right abilities to participate in those classes. Of course I didn’t foresee Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when I ran all of those cables in my house so what do I know.

  22. smiler says:

    Why is it that modern MotoGP bikes have launch control? This must be one of the best ways to differentiate riders during the important first few seconds of the race. Why give it to the best software developer to determine first corner position.

    It’s use for road bikes would seem to be redundant.

  23. crshnbrn says:

    ^ Valid question and point, but the way this season is going, it wouldn’t make any difference.

  24. Justaguy says:

    The launch control question reminded me of when Pedrosa first moved up to GP and they had that box for him to use to get onto the bike and he had to practice holding the bike up on his own for starts because his wee little legs barely touched the ground. Thanks for a good chuckle!
    (for the record, I’m in the ‘eliminate launch control for exactly the reason smiler is’ camp)

  25. One of the defining differences between F1 and MotoGP is that the former disallows any form of traction control, launch controllers (beyond double clutches) or anti-lock braking systems. MotoGP’s reliance on LC/TC systems gets in the way, IMO. While I am completely in favour of keeping the riders as safe as possible, I believe The Show might be better served by eliminating the sophisticated electronics and by engineering tires that give up ultimate traction for more predictable breakaway. In other words, we may not be seeing 64 degrees of lean angle, but we’d get to enjoy lots of backing it in and moving around in the corners. Add everybody’s favourite ‘steering with the throttle’ and it’s a recipe for good times.

    IMO, YMMV and all that.

  26. Westward says:

    @ David

    Pilots Hanging hanging their foot or legs out before coming into and turn was something Rossi introduced to the Motogp premiere class. Stoner had an unusual manner of hanging off the Ducati around turns due to the engineering of the bike and its understeer, then when he joined HRC, he began dragging his elbows and shoulders on the tarmac because the superior handling allowed him so…

    As for boring, the battles are a little tame, no doubt, but watching pilots go around a circuit at the highest level of talent, is like truly watching art in motion. ADD aside, it some pretty amazing stuff. Not really for the video game crowd.

    Remember, most sporting events take over three to four hours to digest. MotoGP is made up of three races that are around 45 – 50 minutes a piece. Most people only watch the Premiere class and miss out on two thirds of the spectacle.

    No one can truly say any sport is 100% exciting all the time. Football, American Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Cycling, Tennis, and Cricket, all can be pretty boring most of the time. That is until something really exciting happens. It all feels like Golf to me.

    Boxing can be slow most of the time. Even MMA fighting is just three rounds of five minutes each. Why, to avoid becoming as boring as Boxing. That’s why they have so many fights per event.

    As for MotoGP, we often forget, the Pilots life is literally on the line the whole time he is out on the tarmac. Their skill and talent makes it seem so easy that we the spectator often take it for granted…

  27. Betty Draper says:

    I was on another forum and someone asked what the record was for consecutive wins in MotoGP. I started to cite the info above (28 victories by Agostini) but then decided to use the Google and found this: http://www.redbull.com/us/en/motorsports/stories/1331635781805/longest-winning-streaks-motorsport-history

    So is it 28 or 58?

  28. “So is it 28 or 58?”

    The key phrase in the Red Bull article is he entered. For example, in 1969, he skipped both Italy and Yugoslavia in the 500s. If he raced, he won, but there were other winners during the period.

  29. Betty Draper says:

    Ah, thanks for the clarification, TF. Much appreciated!

    That’s a hell of a run even if he skipped some races! Who could blame him… All that winning must have been exhausting!

  30. crshnbrn says:

    re: “All that winning must have been exhausting!”

    Either that, or he got bored of it.