If the searing heat wasn’t enough, the Sachsenring was out to intimidate with some spots of rain ahead of the premier class race. Despite all the question marks and the nerves, all talk of rain ended after the first few laps and all talk was about miraculous comebacks and other such superlatives addressed to Marc Marquez. After 581 days, there were tears of joy for a change and the King of the Ring set off the fireworks after he achieved his 11th consecutive victory in Germany. Miguel Oliveira put up a fight but had to admit defeat and settle for second, in a pretty good day for KTM. After a hard race, Fabio Quartararo claimed the final step on the podium to strengthen his position in the world championship standings.
Against all odds, the Ducatis were beaten off the line and a busy turn 1 saw Aleix Espargaro grab the lead ahead of Marquez and poleman Johann Zarco, with Quartararo, Jack Miller and Oliveira close behind. Impatient as ever, Marquez was quick to make his move at the final corner to lead the way at the start of lap 2. Espargaro hit back next time around turn 12 but the Honda immediately repeated the move at the final turn to resume the lead. Behind them, Zarco was keeping Miller, Quartararo and Oliveira at bay, while Brad Binder had arrived to the party from 13th on grid. Amongst the Q1 brigade, Joan Mir joined the top 10 by lap four but Maverick Viñales made no progress off the line and very little progress for the rest of the race.
Back at the front, there was no more progress needed for Marquez, who continued to push from the lead of the pack, but so were the rest of the favourites behind him. However, Aleix Espargaro was the only obvious threat in the initial stages, with the Ducatis holding station while Oliveira got ahead of Quartararo for fifth. The leading group was still sizable on lap 5, with the leaders joined by Binder, Alex Rins, Jorge Martin, Mir and Pol Espargaro, although they were not making much noise at the back of the pack.
With the early pace not quite as hot yet as what riders showed in practice, it looked like the leading group was riding a bit more cautiously, maybe because of tyre wear concerns or maybe because of drops of rain on their visor. It wasn’t long until the white flag was shown on lap 9 and it looked like Marquez was the only one not spooked by it, gapping the pack by one second over the next lap. Miller saw the Spaniard run away and got ahead of Aleix Espargaro despite the rain flag coming out and waving in his line of sight.
The rain never got significant enough to concern him and Marquez extended his advantage to a second and a half by lap 11. Miller and Oliveira were the keenest to chase him down, leaving Aleix Espargaro half a second behind and with Quartararo and Zarco looking for a way past. Oliveira got past Miller at turn 12 to lead the chase with the fastest lap yet but the gap to the leader was slow to come down. Drops were soon forgotten and the pace at the front was picking up by lap 14, mainly courtesy of Marquez and Oliveira, leaving Miller almost a second behind and with only Espargaro and Quartararo seemingly able to keep up with the Australian, while Zarco and Binder dropped half a second back.
Marquez’s gap was still two seconds as he entered the second half of the race, but Oliveira was just as determined to keep him in his sights and stretched the same gap back to Miller. Quartararo started to make some moves mid-race and got past Espargaro to pursue Miller with 13 laps to go. With 12 laps remaining and tyres entering a critical period, the gap at the front reduced under 1.5 seconds for the first time, while Quartararo got past Miller at turn 12 to join the podium party that was now taking place over three seconds behind Oliveira.
Marquez pushed to cling onto his advantage for the next few laps but Oliveira continued to apply pressure and dropped Quartararo and the growing group battling for fourth over four seconds back. With the leading Honda quicker in the first two sectors and the KTM having the upper hand in the final two, the gap at the front continued to fluctuate and Marquez going a bit wide at turn 1 reduced the gap to under a second for the first time with seven laps to go. The Spaniard was quick to recover the couple of tenths he lost at turn 1 but Oliveira was not showing any such weakness behind him.
Marquez was anything but smooth as he entered the final five laps, as tyre wear and perhaps exhaustion was starting to show but that didn’t slow him down much and he was able to rise to the challenge set by the KTM man. Oliveira looked like he eventually admitted defeat with three laps to go, when the gap went back to over a second and a half and the Honda started the final lap two seconds in the lead.
Against all odds, Marquez proved to be unbeatable once more at the Sachsenring, with Oliveira a still impressive second and Quartararo a solid third. The battle for fourth got heated in the final couple of laps and Binder ended up victorious ahead of Pecco Bagnaia, demoting Miller to sixth on the last lap. Aleix Espargaro took seventh place, while poleman Zarco faded all the way down to eighth. Mir and Pol Espargaro rounded out the top 10, Rins missing out by two seconds on his return from injury.
Quartararo’s late progress coupled with the Ducatis fading means that the Frenchman extends his championship lead to 22 points over Zarco, 31 over Miller and 32 over Bagnaia.
|32||Lorenzo Savadori||Aprilia||25 Laps|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||KTM||26 Laps|
|73||Alex Marquez||Honda||26 Laps|