These just in from the land of sausage:
Everything goes down to the wire and it’s only half a tenth covering the top three at the Sachsenring
It was all or nothing for a ninth consecutive pole at the Sachsenring for reigning Champion and ‘King of the Ring’ Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – but the number 93 seriously had to work for it. By the end of Q2 at the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, it’s just 0.025 between Marquez on pole and top Independent Team rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) in second – with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) only another 0.032 off to complete the front row.
After the first runs in the session it was Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) on provisional pole as the Spaniard was the first to break Marquez’ previous pole lap record from 2015, before the first charge on the second exit saw Lorenzo threaten that – with Petrucci in close pursuit. Over the line the two took over at the top, with Petrucci just ahead, as Marquez began his third run – later crediting the two-stop strategy as a key to his ninth pole at the venue.
On that last dash with the clock counting down, the number 93 was just off in the first sector, put in a personal best second sector and then a red third one – meaning he was up on the previous best overall. But it was mere hundredths and it went right down to the wire, with a solid final sector seeing Marquez just maintain the advantage and pip Petrucci by the tiniest of margins. That means it’s exactly the top two from last season, except then it was over a tenth and a half – and this year it’s half a tenth covering the front row.
Viñales wasn’t able to improve and stayed fourth, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) moved up to fifth after coming from Q1 and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) found some more pace on Saturday to complete the superstar-studded second row – with every one of them keen to get the launch of their lives and move forward at lights out. With Lorenzo ahead of them on the front row, that could be a task. The front row share 11 titles between them – but so do the second.
On the third row, former podium finisher at the venue Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took P7, ahead of practice pacesetter Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and the on-form Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team), with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) rounding out the top ten. The number 26 has an impeccable record at the track – it’s the venue at which he’s had most success, along with Valencia – and could be one to watch when the lights go out.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) starts P11 and Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) starts P12, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) hot on their heels in thirteenth. Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) complete the top fifteen on the grid after Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who just missed out on a place in Q2, received a six-place grid penalty for the race following ‘irresponsible riding’ in FP3; now starting P19.
Think you know what’s going to happen in the German GP? You might be the only one…From 14:00 (GMT +2) the grid will be back out to race and see who will take the momentum into the summer break.
Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland
MotoGP 2018 Round 9
Marquez does it again: ninth consecutive pole at Sachsenring. Pedrosa improves to 10th
Qualifying day of the German GP followed one of Marc Marquez’s classic patterns. The reigning World Champion dedicated the FP3 and FP4 sessions to finalizing his bike’s setup in order to understand the tyre feedback and to test the limits to which he could push himself and his RC213V.
With all the dots connected, Marc and his team proceeded to Q2 with a clear strategy in mind: three attempts—with a long slide and an unplanned (but also unsurprising, really) near-crash—to take his ninth consecutive pole at Sachsenring. The 1’20.270” lap was a new pole record for the circuit, Marquez’s third pole this season, his 48th in MotoGP, and the 76th in his career. Chapeau.
The outcome from the other side of the garage was also positive enough, with Dani Pedrosa able to improve from yesterday’s 20th place to 10th this morning, earning a direct passage to Q2. The eventual 10th place in Q2 still may not satisfy Dani, but it will give him the chance to try and recover in tomorrow’s race, which begins at 2 p.m. local time.
Pole Position 1’20.270 (NEW RECORD)
“Honestly, I didn’t really feel we would be able to take pole today, but we did and it’s fantastic. The team planned the perfect strategy, which was to try and use three tyres, and I think that’s what gave me pole position. I knew the two Ducatis were very fast on new tyres, but already during my second run, I understood that I would be able to push more on my next and final exit, on the hard tyre option, which was the one I was feeling best with. I did it, but I also made a few mistakes, one in turn three where I nearly crashed! Anyway, I kept pushing and pushing on my final lap, and finally 25 thousandths of a second gave me the pole. I’m sorry for Danilo [Petrucci], but we’re both on the front row and that’s what ultimately counts. Regarding tomorrow, I think we’ll have two races—I mean the first 15 laps and the second 15 laps. In the first half, everyone will be fast but in the second half the tyres will drop, and that moment will be the key. We’ve worked a lot to try and keep our pace on used tyres in the high ’21s, but it’s tough and will also be tough tomorrow.”
“Today we made a good improvement from yesterday, but we’re still struggling to find the correct setting in some areas, particularly to fully exploit the new tyres in qualifying. So unfortunately, our grid position isn’t very good, also because lap times were very tight. Overall, we did improve our race pace, so tomorrow it will be important to try and start well and then manage the tyres well over race distance.”
Front row start for Jorge Lorenzo, who qualifies third for the German GP at the Sachsenring. Andrea Dovizioso finishes fifth and lines up on row 2 for the ninth round of the season
Jorge Lorenzo will line up on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s ninth round of the championship – the German Grand Prix – after setting the third quickest time in qualifying at the Sachsenring. This morning the rider from Mallorca finished FP3 in eighth place, but this was enough to see him through into the afternoon’s Q2 session, in which he set a time of 1’20.327 to line up on row 1 alongside Marquez and Petrucci.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso set the fifth quickest time in 1’20.444, which puts him on the second row of the grid for the 30-lap race. This morning the Italian missed out on a top 10 place by a whisker and he had to work his way through Q1 in the early afternoon, which he did brilliantly with the quickest time.
The German Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow at 14.00 CET and will be held over a distance of 30 laps.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99): 3rd (1’20.327)
“I’m really pleased with my lap time and a front row position and I would have signed on the dotted line for a qualifying result like this if I had known before arriving here at the Sachsenring. I even think I could have improved on my time and fought for the pole with Marquez if I hadn’t made a small mistake in the final corner, losing a little bit of precious time. I’m working well with my team but the race will be a long and very difficult one, so it’ll be important to make the right choice of tyre, get a good start and save some energy for the final stages. In any case we are set up well and I think that tomorrow we can fight for the podium and maybe even for the win.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04): 5th (1’20.444)
“All in all today went well, even though this morning we just missed out on getting into the top 10 by a few thousandths of a second. We tried various set-ups but the grip drops off so much that it’s difficult to have precise feedback. In any case in the FP4 session we lapped in line with the other riders who used new tyres, demonstrating that we had a good pace. Then we stayed calm during Q1, where we ended up with the quickest time, and we went through Q2 without any problems in fifth, which earned us an important row 2 start. For the race we are fast for sure but the unknown factor for everyone will be tyre management and it’ll be the wear and the drop in the rear tyre that will make the real difference.”
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow secured seventh position on the grid for the German Grand Prix after a predictably tight day of qualifying at the Sachsenring on Saturday. The Briton made solid progress after a difficult opening day of free practice yesterday and was up alongside the leading riders in terms of race pace throughout.
Crutchlow demonstrated his overnight improvement in FP3 as he produced the third fastest time of the morning session. However, a couple of costly errors undermined his push for a front row spot in Q2 and he eventually had to settle for seventh and a place at the start of the third row. The Briton subsequently emphasised the importance of a fast start on Sunday as he bids to stay with the leading group and fight for a podium spot.
Cal Crutchlow – 7th
(1’20.675 – lap 7 of 8)
“The team did a good job, I feel better with the bike than I did yesterday. Starting on the third row at the Sachsenring is never good, but I made a couple of mistakes which affected my performance. I’m a little disappointed because things are so close, Marc did an incredible lap but was only fourth tenths ahead, which is only one tenth per sector, and I lost two in one”.
“But we have to take the positives, we’ve made progress today and I think we can battle tomorrow. The problem is we need to get up to the lead group straightaway because if something happens or breaks up it’s so difficult to come across here. But I look forward to trying to do a good job tomorrow.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales was in early contention for pole position in today‘s qualifying session and secured fourth place on the grid for tomorrow‘s Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland. Teammate Valentino Rossi’s continuous pushing earned him a hard-fought sixth position, as all 12 riders taking part in Q2 were covered by 0.7s.
Viñales started the 15-minute shoot-out with confidence. He fired up his YZR-M1 to briefly top the rankings with his first flying lap, and he was just getting warmed up. His second attempt put him firmly back on top with a 1‘20.441s before he headed into the pit box with eight and a half minutes to go.
The Spaniard let the majority of the rider field leave pit lane before him, so he had clear space out on track to defend his provisional pole. Although the youngster was pushing on the three laps he had left, he dropped to fourth in the final four minutes. Unable to improve on his best time he ended the day 0.171s from first.
Teammate Rossi had a more difficult start to the session. He dipped under the 1‘21s mark on his second hot lap, setting a 1‘20.972s for seventh place, before he decided to return to pit lane.
With less than six minutes remaining, the Doctor began his second run with a fresh set of tyres. Finding himself in eighth place, he knew he had to take it to the next level. The Italian moved up to fifth on his fourth attempt with a 1’20.532s. He had one more shot before the end of the session but didn‘t better his time. He finished in sixth place, 0.262s from pole and will join his teammate on the second row of the grid tomorrow.
It’s been a busy second day at the Sachsenring. Like we said yesterday, we had work to do on the settings and tyre specifications for the race, so that kept us occupied during today’s two practice sessions. Maverick showed confidence at the start of Q2 and it was nice to see him hold on to provisional pole until three minutes before the end. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to improve his time even further on his second run. Valentino experienced the opposite: he struggled to get into the 1’20s on his first try, but managed to climb up to sixth position on the second one. Having both riders finish on the second row is not a bad result, especially considering that this circuit is not an easy place to overtake. We‘re still expecting a hard race. We’re looking to make another step before tomorrow’s warm up with a view to the race.
Qualifying was positive. Honestly, the first run was really good. On the second run I tried to push, but the front tyre was already a bit used, so that made it more difficult. I think it was possible today to make the pole, but we are mostly focused on tomorrow anyway. We have some things we want to improve tonight and let’s see. We’re going to work on the electronics and also my riding style, so I think we can improve.
Today was a lot better for us. We improved the balance of the bike and the acceleration, using the electronics. Our pace isn’t fantastic, but it’s also not so bad. It’s true that, like many times this year, we’re all very close, so it’s important to start from the second row and try to have a good start and a good first few laps. After that we’ll see. I think that the rear tyre choice will be crucial, because it’s still open and we still haven’t understood which is the best one. We have to see, check the data, work, and also continue to work tomorrow.
ESPARGARÓ AND REDDING TO START FROM THE SEVENTH ROW IN THE GP OF GERMANY
ALEIX PENALISED SIX POSITIONS
Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding will start side by side from the seventh row in the GP of Germany that will be held tomorrow on the Sachsenring circuit.
However, while Redding’s spot on the grid was decided by his 20th place time (1’21.749), for Espargaró it is the result of a penalty levied for having slowed Marc Márquez during the FP3 session. Aleix did not realise that Márquez was approaching him from behind and he involuntarily slowed him down. For this, the MotoGP Stewards Panel penalised him six positions, moving him back from the thirteenth place that he had earned in Q1 with a nice time of 1’20.972.
Luck was not on the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini number 41 rider’s side either who, first saw his chances at going straight through to Q2 go up in smoke by just 235 thousandths in FP3 and then in Q1 he missed his shot by just 9 thousandths of a second. On the track, Aleix demonstrated a good pace, so much that he finished FP4 in fifth place.
Scott Redding is expecting a fiercely fought race where he’ll be able to play his cards thanks to the good feeling he has demonstrated in terms of consistency in his long runs.
“Today we managed to be quite competitive and unfortunately we didn’t have direct access to the second qualifying session for a few tenths of a second. We worked on both the setting and the choice of tyres, trying to use them for many laps and evaluating the behaviour of the different options. The lap in Q1 was very good but it was not enough, 9 thousandths in this case have made the difference. As far as the penalty is concerned, I am obviously not happy. I don’t feel I made a mistake, I was off the line and for this I find the penalty exaggerated. In case of contact between riders we have seen penalties of 3 positions, as yesterday in Moto2, and this is incredible. We will start a long way back on a circuit where it is not easy to recover positions. I will have to give it my all”.
“Overall the situation is good. There are still a couple of corners where we lose a bit compared to the others: in the first sector I’m fast and in the second the bike works rather well, but in the final part, downhill coming out of the turn, the others seem to have more traction. We worked on this aspect today, but we did not find a definitive solution. I did a long run in FP4 with good sensations in terms of consistency. Unfortunately, in Q1 I did not have the right feeling with the front tyre. Usually I don’t feel good with the medium, but I thought it could work here. I think that tomorrow could be another very interesting race. The times are rather close and all the riders will want to save their tyres.”
Zarco and Syahrin primed for Sachsenring comeback race
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 racing duo has to launch the German GP tomorrow at 14.00 local time from the fifth and the sixth row respectively. Johann Zarco lowered his practice time from Friday morning by 1.431 seconds during Qualifying today but was unfortunately missing out on Q2 by just 0.116 seconds as the premier class features an incredible close field on the shortest track of the calendar.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin faces the hard task to learn the unique circuit aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 in the course of this weekend. The Malaysian rookie did well in improving by more than 1.5 seconds from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon and eventually, has to attack from the sixth row of the starting grid tomorrow.
Position: 14th – Time: 1’21.059 – Laps: 8
“Today has been a tricky day. I don’t really understand what is going wrong. It’s very difficult to go fast and improve myself during the weekend. So, tomorrow in the race I will fight and see where I can finish, but it’s a truly complicate moment that I hope we can overcome soon.”
Position: 18th – Time: 1’21.460 – Laps: 8
“In the afternoon I felt better than this morning, as in FP3 I tried to find a good setup and was struggling a bit. Anyway, for the two sessions after lunch time, the team found the best bike for me, which I used in FP4 and with which I also tried to make a long-run to be well prepared for the race. In the last exit of the Qualifying I was a bit nervous, but I believed that I could go 0.2 or 0.3 seconds faster and therefore, we would have been able to fight for the top 15. Yet, we were very close. I try to make a good start tomorrow and to do a strong race in order to score some points for the team. I hope I can fight with my fellow rookie Nakagami, who seems to be very strong here.”
Red Bull KTM less than a second from pole position time at German Grand Prix
QUALIFYING 9th Rd. MotoGP 2018, Sachsenring (GER)
Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith were 15th and 16th fastest respectively after qualification for the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix of Deutschland at a hot and sunny Sachsenring today and will form-up on the fifth and sixth rows of the grid after registering lap-times close to Marc Marquez’s pole position effort.
The acute demands of the spiralling German layout presented a different challenge for the Red Bull KTM crew compared to the fast flow of Assen two weeks previously. The team suffered an early blow when Mika Kallio crashed out of FP2 on Friday and injured his right knee.
It was left to Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith to push the KTM RC16 to the limit around a course with ten lefthanders and only three right corners and with multiple elevation changes. The pair worked on optimum set-up for what was only KTM’s second ever attempt around the unique trajectory and neared the top ten through the latter Free Practice sessions. QP1 took place in warm summer temperatures and #44’s best lap-time – with a medium tyre choice – meant that he was marginally less than one second away from the pole effort. Smith was just four hundredths of a second slower. Both riders are optimistic for Sunday and their pace for the 30 lap distance.
Espargaro: “A little bit like in Holland: we did a good FP4, a bad qualifying and a good race. It feels like Assen. We have very good rhythm and I can do quick laps with the medium tyre and this means we are good for the race. It also that we have a bit of a problem: we cannot get the best performance from the soft tyre and the extra grip to give us a better lap-time in qualifying. We’ll see tomorrow but it looks like we will go from the back to the top.”
Smith: “Generally not too bad. I think we have better race pace than we do over one lap and that bodes well for tomorrow. Tyre life seems to be quite good for us so the goal is to get a decent start and push to try and be inside the top twelve. Qualifying was a bit frustrating as I was held up a couple of times but the weekend has been positive and consistent. We also managed to improve the bike a little bit in terms of rear grip. It doesn’t feel like we are in sixteenth place. It feels like the potential should be higher. We’re optimistic for tomorrow. It will be crucial to make some passes and not get stuck behind people.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “We’ve been working hard and consistently to make steps with the bike this weekend. With Pol we also tried a few more radical things. Some worked out, some didn’t so it was important to also keep the focus on normal setting work and understanding the tyres etc. It was a compromise but when we got to qualifying we brought it all together and again it was very tight. It was not the top ten position that we were looking for but when you see the gaps and the lap-times we have to be happy today. We have done our fastest lap with the race tyre and it seems to be constant. We cannot get better in terms of relation between qualifying and race pace. Let’s see what the others can do…but we are confident that we can have a good race here tomorrow.”
Moto2 & Moto3
In Moto2 Swiss innovative Investors Sam Lowes took his KTM Moto2 to the 4th fastest lap-time while Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder capped a day where he extended his contract with the team for 2019 with 10th place.
Binder: “I am very happy with our final position, and besides that my pace is really good. I am a little disappointed that I did not find the tenths that we needed, because my goal was to start from one of the front two rows of the grid and, unfortunately, we will start from the fourth row. My plan for tomorrow is to make a good start, try to overtake as many riders as possible and focus on my pace until the end.”
Jorge Martin will start from Moto3 pole position for the sixth time this season but Bester Capital Dubai’s Marcos Ramirez will line-up second on the grid and was just six hundredths of second slower than his countryman in the QP session on the KTM RC250 GP.