The sun might not have shined on the MotoGP boys, with some dark clouds greeting them on their way to the grid, but there were some shining performances to be witnessed this afternoon. Although there were some doubts on the conditions to come, it proved to be a dry race and a fantastic one for Marc Marquez, the world champion reminding us he’s still the master of the Sachsenring with his eighth consecutive victory from pole on the German circuit.
As predictable as it looked at first glance, his crown was anything but secure until the final three laps, home crowd favourite Jonas Folger pushing the world champion and new world championship leader until the very end. The German eventually settled for second but could not be happier to get his first podium in front of his home crowd, much like his teammate did some weeks ago.
The final podium spot when to a low key Dani Pedrosa, the Spanish veteran dropping off after the first few laps and having to manage his spinning and overheating tyres to the checkered flag. It might not have been a fun race but a podium and another step closer to the title fight was a good weekend’s work.
The podium contenders introduced themselves right from the start, when Marquez kept the lead from pole and Pedrosa followed him through as Petrucci was struggling early on and dropped to fifth, Jorge Lorenzo and Folger getting past him soon after. The Repsol Honda duo set a rapid pace at the front but couldn’t quite get a gap early on, as Folger got past Lorenzo in a brave move in turn eight on lap three.
Lorenzo’s early charge on the soft tyres was already fading by lap five, the Spaniard dropping behind Petrucci, who already had to contend with a two seconds gap on the three leaders. That was pretty much the last we saw of the two, Petrucci and Lorenzo going backwards for the remaining of the race.
Folger warmed up the crowds even further when he made it past Pedrosa on lap five, one lap later also going past Marquez in turn twelve to grab the lead and give Herve Poncharal and most of the stands serious palpitations. The world champion was keeping up with the German but his teammate dropped almost two seconds back on the battle for the lead, steadily losing touch with the two in front.
Marquez took advantage of Folger running wide into turn one and retook the lead on lap eleven, the duo keeping the pace high, the only riders into the 1:21s. The Honda rider tried to build a gap, stretching ahead of the Yamaha by around half a second, but Folger was determined to catch up right away and left no breathing space for Marquez. The Tech 3 rider was putting pressure on the Honda leader but did not attempt another shift in the lead and he would not get another chance, the world champion setting a blistering pace until the very last lap to leave Folger over three seconds behind on the final three laps.
Behind the podium battle, Valentino Rossi had a decent start into sixth position on the first lap, while Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Viñales held station, not making an impression in the early stages of the race. Dovizioso put Aleix Espargaro between him and Vinales on lap four and the Italian made steady progress to get into the battle for fourth and rub fairings with Rossi, while Viñales was lagging behind in ninth.
Rossi got in the lead of the chasing group by lap ten, having to deal with a three and a half seconds gap to get any podium aspirations. The group included Dovizioso and Vinales, who made his way close to his title rivals halfway through the race, dropping Espargaro, Petrucci, Bautista and Crutchlow a second behind.
With three championship contenders in close proximity, the provisional standings kept changing with every overtake, but the trio was not making any impression on the podium contenders ahead, the gap a steady three and a half seconds.
Viñales fought his way to the lead of the small group with ten laps to go, keeping Rossi and Dovizioso behind and into the clutches of a resurging Bautista. The Aspar rider was on a charge and went past Dovizioso with eight laps to go, but the Yamaha duo was already running away in front of them. Viñales broke away slightly from his teammate in the final four laps to ensure a fourth place, with Rossi fifth and Bautista sixth.
The older Espargaro brother also sneaked ahead of Dovizioso on the final laps to get seventh place, leaving the former championship leader eighth, ahead of a subdued performance from Johann Zarco, Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo, who completed the top eleven. Front row starter Petrucci dropped as low as twelfth in the final laps of the race.
Marquez’s win puts him back in charge of the championship ahead of the summer break, 5 points in front of Viñales, with Dovizioso 1 point further back. Rossi drops one place to fourth but only 10 points behind the leader, while Pedrosa keeps fifth, 26 points down on his teammate.
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Suzuki||6 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||Aprilia||18 Laps|
|8||Hector BARBERA||Ducati||0 Lap|