Another domino has fallen in the MotoGP satellite team Silly Season. Danilo Petrucci has signed on to remain with the Pramac Ducati squad for the 2018 season. Petrucci had been courted by Aprilia, but Petrucci has elected to stay with the team and the factory with which he has scored his most recent successes.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at the Sachsenring:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at the Sachsenring:
After a quick shower mid-qualifying session for Moto3, the menacing clouds felt like doing a repeat in the final practice of the MotoGP class. With a wet final ten minutes, the first run decided the hierarchy.
While seeming to favour the medium tyre, Marc Marquez went straight out on the soft rear to give it a good run to the top of the timesheets. The Spaniard put in twelve laps on the tyre before joining his rivals in the pitlane as the first drops started falling.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at the Sachsenring:
With a glimpse every now and again at the dark clouds above, the intermediate class was in a hurry to get their homework done for the morning. The rain never came so Franco Morbidelli decided to be the main talking point instead.
Rain on Friday caused another ten minutes to be added to the third practice session this morning, giving a chance to the remaining ten riders who did not put in a compulsory run on the stiffer hard rear tyre to do so.
Marc Marquez did most of his work on a medium tyre combination but still managed to improve on his Friday times in the dry, before putting in the soft rear towards the end of the session and becoming the first of only two riders into the 1:20s.
The sun was playing games on Saturday morning, with sunshine distracting from the clouds, cold and wind around the track. Left without his main rival in such sessions, Joan Mir cruised to the top of the timesheets from the start and proved an immovable force. He also found time to tow his teammate, Livio Loi, into third position, the Leopard duo split by Bo Bendsneyder in second place, the Dutchman preparing a good follow-up to his performance in Assen.
Well, we knew the weather was going to be a factor at the Sachsenring, and we weren't disappointed. (Or perhaps we were, depending on your point of view.) The MotoGP riders started off on a bone dry track in the morning, spent an extended 55 minutes on slick tires, then suffered through a couple of full on rain showers in the afternoon. They had time on a dry track, and time on a wet track, and time on a track with a dry line forming. It was the perfect preparation for what promises to be a weekend of mixed weather. The chances of making it all the way to the race on Sunday without another wet session are very small. But they are also not zero.
Riding in both weather conditions gave the riders a chance to assess the grip of the new surface. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Aleix Espargaro summed up the general impressions, and entirely in character, he also summed it up with the most enthusiasm. "It's unbelievable," the Aprilia rider said. "They did a super job, a fantastic job. The tarmac has zero bumps, nowhere. The grip is super high. Actually, I think we finished five seconds from the dry times, which is very very very fast. So, German style, they did a great job!"
The grip was generally judged to be good in the dry, but absolutely phenomenal in the wet. "Honestly, in the wet you can’t believe it," Cal Crutchlow told us. "I left the pit lane. I was late because we were messing around in the garage. Marc had done three laps. I saw the blue flags, sit up and I looked down and Marc’s got his elbow on the floor! When I see someone’s got their elbow on the floor it means you’ve got to push."
Following the rain dance of MotoGP, the intermediate class was left with a drying line on a damp track. After a few exploratory laps on wet tyres, most riders chose to sit it out until the sunshine did its job in preparing the track for a proper race run.
The only real action started in the final twenty minutes, Tom Luthi one of the first riders to lead on slick tires. Pecco Bagnaia followed his lead (quite literally, chasing the Swiss rider on track), the two exchanging top position several times as riders were pouring out of the pits to make the most of a rapidly improving track.
A quick downpour after the end of the Moto3 session soaked the track and promised to cause trouble for the MotoGP class. With sunshine already breaking through the clouds by the time the first riders joined the track, it was a matter of how quick the new surface would dry.
You could almost describe the afternoon practice session for the lightweight class as sunny, if you were not afraid to jinx it. The temperature was definitely more welcoming and with the new track surface seeing some more running, the grip seemed a little better but still less than ideal and quite hungry for tyres. Many riders went out on used FP1 tyres before switching to new fast shoes in the final ten minutes of the session, a few final laps stopped by some late spits of rain.
A few drops of rain scared us in the beginning of the session but nowhere near enough to leave an impression on the track, a bit of sun almost showing up soon after. Unimpressed by the conditions, Miguel Oliveira would have missed some proper time in the limelight lately, the Portuguese rider making up for that by leading the field throughout the session.
A cloudy breezy 16 degrees didn’t exactly invite to some tyre testing on the resurfaced German track, so most riders played it safe with a softer tyre combination in the chilly morning, although a few brave souls decided to get the compulsory laps on the harder rear tyre out of the way early on. With ten extra minutes added to the session to see how Michelin gets along with the surface, the riders could sneak in an extra run to make sure any future rain won’t mess up their Q2 chances.
With a new asphalt to test, all eyes were to the sky as the lightweight class opened proceedings in Germany. The rain avoided them for the entire length of the session, although the improved surface didn’t really see them set rocket pace from the off, the track waiting for some rubber to build up.