With its longstanding monarch busy walking the dogs (and recovering from major surgery), the Sachsenring was looking to crown some new royalty – although it did not make it easy for the contenders, with rather tropical conditions during the premier class race. But at the end of a long gruelling 30 laps, there was finally a new occupant on the top spot of the podium and a very deserved one in Fabio Quartararo, the world champion taking over the crown of the Sachsenring with a commanding victory, ruling by nearly five seconds over his rivals. After Ducati’s main man bailed out early on, Johann Zarco and Jack Miller were left to pick up the pieces, the Frenchman claiming second to solidify his position as Ducati’s lead title contender, while the Australian recovered from a long lap penalty to steal the final podium position.
Pecco Bagnaia’s start from pole didn’t do him much good, with Quartararo immediately attacking him into turn one and although the Italian tried to retaliate next time around, the Yamaha man immediately snuck back past on the exit. Having started on the second row, Aleix Espargaro gained one position to trail the feisty leaders but was soon under fire from Zarco, while Miller lingered half a second back after the first couple of laps, the Australian yet to serve his long lap penalty for crashing under yellow flags the day before. The opening laps were a particularly tricky affair for the likes of Jorge Martin, who dropped down to the bottom of the top 10, Joan Mir who was stranded in 12th and Enea Bastianini, who lost ground from an already poor grid position to find himself 21st.
No such issues for Quartararo, who was immediately attempting to make a break at the front and his escape was promptly aided by Bagnaia throwing his machine at the turn one scenery at the start of lap four, prompting a festival of yellow flags, with crashes in quick succession for the likes of Mir and Darryn Binder. Bagnaia’s mistake left Zarco with the task of reeling in his compatriot, who was already one and a half seconds ahead, while seemingly dropping the Aprilias of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, the latter’s progress helped by Miller serving his penalty on lap five, which dropped him to seventh position, behind Fabio Di Giannantonio and Martin. Brad Binder was making good progress as the lead KTM man in 8th, ahead of Luca Marini, while Pol Espargaro was the sole Honda representative in the top 10, after Alex Marquez retired and Takaaki Nakagami took a tumble on lap seven.
Only a third into the race, it already looked like a third successful escape of the day, with Quartararo managing his 1.5 second gap over Zarco, while Espargaro’s focus was on keeping teammate Viñales out of his hair in the battle for third. Hoping to re-join that particular battle, Miller had progressed through the chasing pack to take fifth by lap 12 and had a two second gap to close on the Aprilia-powered podium contenders.
If Zarco was keeping Quartararo honest for the first half of the race, the world champion doubled his advantage going into the second half, the Aprilias dropping a sizeable four seconds behind. If Viñales looked like a serious threat to his teammate’s podium in the early stages, a moment at turn eight lost him fourth in Miller’s favour and the Spaniard was then forced to retire with a rear ride-height device failure a couple of laps later. That left Espargaro under fire from Miller, while Martin picked up the lead of a feisty group battling for fifth, including Marini, Binder and Di Giannantonio.
Back at the front, Quartararo had steadily stretched a four second gap with five laps remaining, with Zarco enjoying a five second gap of his own over Aleix Espargaro, who still had Miller glued to his rear tyre. Miller made a few attempts, but the accompanying mistakes kept him behind the Spaniard until Espargaro himself left his braking a bit late at turn one and allowed Miller past with three laps to go. As soon as he found himself ahead, Miller managed to keep Espargaro at a respectable half second distance and secured the final podium spot behind the Frenchmen. Marini’s impressive pace in the closing stages equalled his best result in the class with fifth place ahead of Martin, while Binder and Oliveira sandwiched Di Giannantonio in positions seven to nine. Bastianini saved a top 10 from a particularly difficult weekend in Germany, but nowhere near as difficult as Honda’s, whose sole finishing rider was Stefan Bradl, the local rider coming home last after Pol Espargaro retired eight laps earlier.
The freshly crowned King of the Ring adds a whole pile of points to his world championship tally, Quartararo extending his advantage to 34 points over Aleix Espargaro, while Zarco fronts Ducati’s campaign on a 61-point deficit.
|8||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||15.851|