It has been a pretty brutal weekend for the MotoGP riders at the Sachsenring. With less than a week to recover after a punishing race in Assen, everyone is stiff, sore, and tired. But those who crashed in Assen or had a physical problem have it doubly tough, having to deal with the tight and tortuous layout of the Sachsenring circuit.
Such conditions inevitably create tales of motorcycling heroism. Taka Nakagami is one such, the LCR Honda rider still badly beaten up after his crash at Assen, where he was taken out by Valentino Rossi. Nakagami has a badly damaged left ankle, but is trying to ride anyway.
Having an injury on his left ankle is one of the worst possible injuries at the Sachsenring, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because is mostly left corners, meaning that the left ankle is bearing much of the load for a large part of the lap, riders leaning much of their weight on their inside leg through the corner. And secondly, because there is so much gear shifting to do, riders going up and down through the box through the tight and twisty circuit.
In FP4, Nakagami had to spend a lot of time in the garage having his ankle retaped, as he hadn’t been able to move his ankle sufficiently to actually shift gear. But once that was done, he put on a heroic display to post a blistering lap in Q1 and make it through to Q2 behind Valentino Rossi, displacing a despairing Andrea Dovizioso along the way.
How tough was the laps which Nakagami put in? He hobbled out to his bike on crutches to go out, and then had to be helped off the bike and onto crutches after he had come back in again.
What was the big surprise on Friday at the Sachsenring? The fact that there were no real surprises. The first day of practice played out pretty much as you might expect based on the first few MotoGP rounds of 2019. Marc Márquez put in a push on FP2 to wrap up top spot at the end of the first day, a third of a second clear of Alex Rins on the Suzuki.
Besides Márquez, Rins was quick, as were the Yamahas of Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Viñales, and even Valentino Rossi. Cal Crutchlow got into the top 6, just behind Pol Espargaro – the KTMs and the Hondas were the only bikes which could gain a chunk of time from using the soft rear tire – while the Ducatis are not far behind.
Fabio Quartararo felt he could have been quicker, if he hadn’t come across his teammate while he was chasing a fast lap. The Frenchman came up behind Franco Morbidelli, who was cruising around the tight interior section between Turns 2 and 3. For a few minutes, Quartararo was fuming, waving his arms in the air and gesticulating wildly.
There are two things which any motorcycle racing fan needs to know about the Sachsenring circuit in the east of Germany.
The first is that the track has an awful lot of left-hand corners, which all flow together into one long turn, the bike spending a lot of time on its side.
The second is that Marc Márquez has started from pole position and won the race since 2010, nine years in a row, in 125s, Moto2, and MotoGP. These two facts are probably not unconnected.
Marc Márquez loves turning left, his win rate at anticlockwise circuits hovering around 70%. If a track goes left, there is a more than two in three chances that Márquez will come out victorious.
Márquez is especially good at the Sachsenring. The reigning champion starts every race as the man to beat, but the German Grand Prix is different.
Here, riders speak of how close they hope to finish to him, rather than how they are going to beat him. His name is penciled in on the winner’s trophy, the race almost, but not quite, a formality.
Even though the race is something of a foregone conclusion, the track itself is a fascinating circuit. On paper, it seems far too short and far too tight to be a MotoGP track, the bikes barely cracking sixth gear, and spending little time at full throttle. But that doesn’t mean the track isn’t a challenge.
The possible permutations in MotoGP rider line up for 2020 are limited, with almost everyone already under contract for next season. At the Sachsenring though, Danilo Petrucci was added to the ranks of confirmed riders, with Ducati extending his contract in the factory team for 2020.
A contract extension for Petrucci had been on the cards for some while, the Italian’s victory at Mugello making it an inevitability. Ducati is very pleased with Petrucci’s performance, and the way that he and Andrea Dovizioso have worked together.
While motorcycle sales in the United States continue to slip, this is not the case across the pond (and in the world at large), with the European Union quoting a nearly 10% increase during 2018 in the number of motorcycles registered.
In total, 1,004,063 motorcycles were registered last year in the EU, according to the figures published by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM). This represents an increase of 9.9% compared to the figures from 2017.
After a lengthy legal battle over the intellectual property found in the Alpinestars Tech-Air and Dainese D-Air airbag systems, the Munich Court of Appeals has ruled that Alpinestars violated a Dainese patent (EP 2 412 257 B1), which confirms the decision of the Munich Court of First Instance.
While the motorcycle market in the United States continues to struggle in 2018 (despite gains in consumer spending), things across the pond are doing substantially better.
This news comes from the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM), which is reporting an 8.2% increase in motorcycle registrations in Europe during the first nine months of 2018. This trend was additionally buoyed by the third-quarter registration results from 2018, which are up 10.4% over Q3 2017 figures.
The belle of the INTERMOT ball, the Indian FTR1200 made its debut in Germany this week to much fanfare. We should all make note that the American brand has released its first non-cruiser motorcycle…and it did so on foreign soil. This is not an accident.
The FTR1200 marks an important moment in the Indian Motorcycle Company’s history, as it is the first of several machines to come from this historic marque that will take it into the future.
As I have said before, we should all pay attention, because Indian doesn’t want to be the next Harley-Davidson…it wants to be the next Honda, and that means worldwide domination.
BMW Motorrad is looking for new ways to get motorcyclists on the German brand’s two-wheelers, and as such BMW has created its “Rent a Ride” program. The name sort of gives things away, as the BMW “Rent a Ride” service is a short-term rental program that will be based out of BMW dealerships.
The concept is in its pilot phase right now, and focused on the German, Austrian, and French markets, with two dealers from each of these markets having a small fleet of motorcycles that renters can choose from.
If successful, the BMW “Rent a Ride” program will be rolled out to all BMW Motorrad dealers, effectively giving the German brand the largest motorcycle rental network in the world.
The Glemseck 101 is not an event that is known well in the United States, but in Germany, it is a gathering of like-minded two-wheeled enthusiasts, who celebrate the classic style of motorcycles.
Now in its 13th year, the three-day festival held outside of Leonberg, Germany plays host to tens of thousands of motorcyclists, all who pay homage to the old Glemseck 101 races from the 1960s.
This year, Honda is bringing a number of special machines to the event, including this specially prepared Honda CB1000R. This sport naked isn’t just for looks though, it plans to race.
Participating in the ⅛-mile sprint races, the “Glemseck” Honda CB1000R will be piloted by none other than Mick Doohan, and Honda Europe has built the machine to win.