Marc Marquez is fastest, no surprises there, but he pushed hard and would have expected a bigger margin than the scant tenth of a second that he got. A lot of effort for not much of a reward. The surprise is that it was Bradley Smith leading the pursuit, the Englishman again showing how well he’s been working this season.
The real question is has Marquez rediscovered his mojo? Well, the jury is out on that. The old braking with the rear wheel flapping in the air while turning in is still absent. The first turn and the lefthander at the bottom of the back straight demand heavy braking and are exactly the sort of places where the old Marquez technique would have been brought into play. This is a track where Marc has won for the last five years and the Honda works well, yet he could only take a tenth of a second out of a satellite Yamaha whose rider crashed five times at last year’s Sachsenring GP? OK, the wind got up this afternoon but conditions weren’t that bad. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow but sector times show that the Honda wasn’t as dominant as you might expect. Also expect some back-to-back comparisons of the asymmetric and standard front tyres in FP4.
Marquez has always been able to do one quick lap, even on the 2015 bike, the hybrid bike seems to be more forgiving but it has yet to let him make the shapes of last year’s bikes—running up the inside curb with the back end hung out; rear wheel waving in the air as Marc lays the bike into a corner, you know the kind of stuff. There is no doubt he’s going to be competitive, especially in the next couple of races, but no-one believes all the bike’s problems are solved.