A warm but windy Sachsenring set the scene for FP3 and Yamahas enthusiastically sampling the gravel at turn one was a more consistent sight than any race pace on display. After Fabio Quartararo provided the early off track entertainment, the Frenchman did a long stint in the pits for some adjustments before coming out swinging and laying the benchmark for the rest of the session.
Sunshine made an early appearance on Saturday morning and times in the lightweight class came tumbling down, Marcos Ramirez taking down the lap record with five minutes left on the clock. Rivals fought on to snatch the achievement but orange sectors were not enough and the Spaniard got to keep the laurels to the checkered flag. The Leopard bikes had been doing their tag team thing and Can Oncu tagged along to the reluctant duo for a fast lap that brought him within seven hundredths of a second of Ramirez.
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.
After the session ended, the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider was a touch more contrite. "I was upset for five minutes," he said. "But you know it's really special, when you put a soft tire in, it's the best moment of the day. You make all the work, and that's the most fun part of the day. Fortunately we can't really make a good lap time with these tires, but that's OK. I was too angry, I should be more calm in these conditions."
Niki Tuuli was the bridesmaid once again in the second practice session, this time getting demoted from the top of the timesheets by Mike Di Meglio, the Finnish rider having led the way for much of the session. Hector Garzo in third came less than a tenth of a second short of top spot, while FP1 leader Jesko Raffin kept close in fourth. Bradley Smith joined the top five, while Eric Granado was left with over half a second to find ahead of Saturday’s E-Pole.
After an underwhelming morning, the men left stranded outside the top 10 in FP1 fought back and held the lead throughout the second practice session, starting with Luca Marini, continuing with teammates Alex Marquez and Xavi Vierge and finally Brad Binder taking charge for the final handful of minutes. The KTM rider followed through on the promise he showed in Assen and finished the day almost four tenths faster than his rivals. Brushing off an early off-road adventure in turn one, Vierge recovered to second position, setting an identical time to Iker Lecuona in third.
The welcome for FP2 was a bit warm and a bit breezy but Marc Marquez resumed control of the Sachsenring, preparing the fastest time of the weekend with little warnings in turn 1. His new brigade of rivals, comprising Alex Rins and Fabio Quartararo, tempted him with new rubber throughout the session but Marquez didn’t take the bait and continued his dance on worn hard tyres. The Honda man was also busy comparing his two chassis options: the carbon reinforced one first, before switching to his standard one and his times were equally impressive on both, in the low to mid 1:21s.
Minimal patches of blue sky broke the cloud cover by the time the second set of practice sessions started off and with conditions not much different to the morning session, lap times did not get significantly quicker either. Sun reflected on the Petronas Sprinta fairing for the final couple of minutes, when things clicked for Ayumu Sasaki and the Japanese rider climbed at the top of the standings.
MotoE finally joins the MotoGP circus at the Sachsenring and Jesko Raffin steals the first headline for Dynavolt Intact GP, after leading the way for most of the session from Niki Tuuli. Alex de Angelis completed the top three, with Hector Garzo, race simulation winner Eric Granado, Xavier Simeon and Bradley Smith all finishing within a second of the leader.
The perhaps unexpected championship lead gave a little boost to Tom Luthi, who set an early benchmark before the intermediate class went for a bit of a shootout due to very slight concerns about the weather on Saturday. A hint of sun was casting shadows on track for the attack in the final ten minutes and the third session of the day brought some joy to the local crowds as Jonas Folger continued his comeback by leading the way in FP1.
A bit grey and a bit gloomy but the weekend in Germany started in predictable fashion at the top of the timesheets. Sachsenking Marc Marquez found over half a second on the competition from his very first outing and went unchallenged until the very last minute of the session, when Fabio Quartararo swapped to fresh tyres for one flying lap to steal the headlines. Marquez reverted to his standard strategy and focused on finding a steady pace of low to mid 1:22s on used rubber (and new chassis) as he settled for second by only seven hundredths of a second.