GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, Sachsenring: Weekend preview – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The 2015 German Grand Prix will be the 77th time that a GP has been held on German soil, with the legendary Sachsenring having been the venue since 1998. The 3.6km Saxony course first hosted the East German GP in 1961, but now it is due to play host to the latest chapter of the enthralling saga that is the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship season.
The touch paper was well and truly lit at the Dutch GP, as Rossi and Marc Marquez made headlines all around the world with their incident at the last chicane, and now it is time to stand back and watch the fireworks once again.
Rossi, after taking his third win of the season last time out in Assen, has a ten-point advantage over his teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the championship standings. The “Doctor” has four MotoGP™ victories at the Sachsenring, although his last came back in 2009 when he arrived at the German GP in incredibly similar circumstances. The Italian had a nine-point advantage in the standings over his closest rival Lorenzo, and also had three victories to his name that season. Rossi will be hoping that history repeats itself, as he went on to take victory at the Sachsenring from Lorenzo by just 0.099s in a season defining battle, on the way to lifting his ninth World Championship title. The Italian could only manage to finish fourth during last year’s rain-affected race, 19 seconds behind the eventual winner Marc Marquez.
Lorenzo will be keen to bounce back from a performance in Assen that saw him cross the line in a lonely third. The two-time MotoGP™ World Champion struggling to find the rhythm that had seen him lead the last four races from start to finish. The Sachsenring is one of only three circuits on the current calendar that the Spaniard has not won at before, with the others being the recent additions Austin & Argentina. Lorenzo finished third in last year’s race, and has not finished off the podium in the last 5 races he has started at the German track.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez will be out for revenge at the German GP, after losing out to Rossi in the last chicane battle at Assen. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion seems to have regained some confidence on his RC213V by using a hybrid bike made up of 2014’s frame and this year’s engine, swingarm and electronics, that he says gives him more margin for error. Marquez may trail Rossi by 74 points in the standings, but he could still have a vital role to play in the outcome of the 2015 title, as he showed at the Dutch GP. The Spaniard has dominated the last two years at the Sachsenring, winning both races from pole plus also recording the fastest lap, and his newfound confidence with his bike will make him a real threat once more in Germany.
Dani Pedrosa finished the Dutch GP in eighth after experiencing issues during the race with his second bike due to a crash in Warm Up, which meant that his number one bike was out of action. The Spaniard will be looking for his second podium of the season, since his return from arm pump surgery, at a track where he finished runner up in 2014 and is the most successful rider in history with 6 wins (2x250cc 4xMotoGP) throughout his career.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone consolidated his third place in the championship standings by claiming fourth at the Dutch GP, the third race in a row he managed to finish as the leading Ducati, in the process extending the advantage over his teammate Andrea Dovizioso to 20 points. Iannone finished fifth in last year’s race at the Sachsenring on the Satellite Pramac Ducati, his best MotoGP™ finish at the circuit, although he did achieve a Moto2™ podium in 2010. Dovizioso will be hoping to turn around his recent fortunes after a vibrating seat unit caused him to finish in 12th at the Dutch GP. This result came after two DNF’s in Catalunya and Mugello, and the Italian will be looking to bounce back at a circuit he finished eighth at last year, and stood on the MotoGP™ podium (3rd) back in 2012.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales finished in 9th and 10th respectively at the Dutch GP, after they both complained of a lack of acceleration with their GSX-RR’s compared to their rivals. The Japanese manufacturer will be hoping to make further strides forward at the German GP as they continue to impress on their return to the premier class. Espargaro crossed the line in last year’s race at the Sachsenring in sixth on the Forward Yamaha, while Viñales was fifth in the Moto2™ race.
The battle to be the leading satellite rider intensified in Assen as Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro (5th) led home Cal Crutchlow (6th) on the CWM LCR Honda and his teammate Bradley Smith (7th). Smith, who could only manage to cross the line 19th in last year’s rain affected German GP, has now had his lead in the standings over his compatriot Crutchlow cut to 20, with Espargaro just one point further back. Crutchlow equalled his best ever MotoGP™ result at the Sachsenring in 2012 when he finished in second, while Espargaro has also finished on the podium (3rd) at the German circuit in the 2013 Moto2™ race.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding has admitted his frustration at his performance so far this season, and knows he needs to start producing results on the Factory spec Honda soon. The Brit would love to head into the summer break on the back of a good finish at the Sachsenring, although it is a track he has struggled at in the past and could only manage to cross the line in 11th last year.
Athina Forward Racing’s Loris Baz (14pts) took the Open class victory at Assen to close the gap in the standings to just two points to leader Hector Barbera (16pts). Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) will be looking to follow up his 16th placed finish in Assen by getting back amongst the points at circuit he completed 3 successive podiums at between 2005-2007. Hayden’s teammate Eugene Laverty was disappointed to have crashed out of the race in Assen after finally receiving the new swingarm from Honda and will be looking to make amends, while Jack Miller will be hoping to be back fighting for the class win at a track he was victorious at in the Moto3™ race last year.
Stefan Bradl (Athina Forward Racing) will be forced to miss his home Grand Prix after breaking his scaphoid in Assen, his team have elected to run Claudio Corti as a replacement. Corti has previous experience with the team competing in both Moto2™ and MotoGP™ with Forward Racing. AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham will also sit out the Sachsenring as the Czech attempts to recover from a foot injury sustained during the Catalan GP, HRC test rider Hiroshi Aoyama will ride in place of Abraham this weekend.
Last year’s MotoGP™ race at the Sachsenring was affected by mixed weather, and saw a manic race as fourteen riders had to start the race from pit lane after deciding to change bikes after their warm up lap.
The GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland kicks off with the official press conference at 17:00 local time on Thursday, with the on-track action starting at 9:00 local time on Friday with Free Practice.
Assen saw Ajo Motorsport’s Johann Zarco claim his third win of the season, and his second in a row. Zarco is just the fourth French rider to win three intermediate-class GP races in a single season along with Christian Sarron (1984), Olivier Jacque (2000) and Randy de Puniet (2003).
No French rider has ever won four intermediate-class races in a season, but Sachsenring is a track with mixed memories for Zarco. In 2014 Zarco fell from the race at Turn 12 and saw his bike burst into flames, he himself luckily to avoid injury, but in 2011 Zarco secured second in the 125cc race.
Since taking the lead of the championship in Argentina, Zarco has increased his lead in the standings at each round. Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing) has done his best to close the gap, but so far the Frenchman has had the edge. The Sachsenring is the only track currently on the calendar where Rabat has not finished on the podium in the Moto2™ class, furthermore Kalex have never claimed victory here either, a win could be a first for both bike and rider. Rabat will also have to contend with a recently plated collarbone, the reigning World Champion breaking his right collarbone in a recent training crash. He was operated on soon after, and today he has been dismissed from the Barcelona Hospital. He is already planning on jumping back on the bike as soon as possible in order to evaluate his physical status before getting on a plane headed to Sachsenring.
Third in Assen and in the championship overall, Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing) returned to the podium for the first time since Argentina, where he was also third. This comes after a run of fourth place finishes in three successive races, which, despite being solid point scoring finishes, left the Brit hungry for more. Both Lowes and Speed Up continue to work on improving the bike, looking to bring a new frame with more flex to hopefully grant him the few tenths he needs to battle Rabat and Zarco for victory.
Jonas Folger (AGR Team) sits sixth in the championship standings and is the highest placed German. When the Assen race was restarted Folger was in contention for victory but faded to seventh in the closing stages. The German has so far had a mixed season, two victories alongside a series of inconsistent results. 2014 saw him fail to finish in Sachsenring.
Sachsenring will also be a big race for Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) as he attempts to move within the top ten of the World Championship standings. Cortese is currently 14th with 30 points, ten points behind Julian Simon (QMMF Racing) in 10th. Since moving up to Moto2™ Cortese’s best finish in Germany is 14th in 2013 and he crashed out in 2014, but he did win the 2012 Moto3™ race.
Having recently switched to the KYB suspension, Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3) will continue to assess their performance in Germany. The Tech 3 rider struggled to 18th in Assen in what continues to be a difficult 2015 season.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rode a masterful race to secure his second Moto3™ victory of the season, expertly defending his line in the closing stages of the Dutch GP. The Portuguese rider’s season got off to a troublesome start, failing to score points in the first two rounds, but he has since finished in the top five at five of the last six races. KTM have classically gone well at the Sachsenring, claiming victories in all three of the Moto3™ races held there. Oliveira has only scored points once at Sachsenring, when he was fourth in 2013.
A strong headwind and lack of top end speed saw Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) cross the line in third at Assen. Despite this Kent was able to extend his championship lead over closest rival Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3), now leading the Italian by 57 points in the standings. This 57 point lead is the greatest points lead in the lightweight-class standings after the first eight races since Haruchika Aoki led Stefano Perugini by 69 points in 1995.
Second in Assen was Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the rookie’s second podium of the season. Sachsenring will be another new track for Quartararo, but so far both his podiums have come at tracks where he has not raced previously. Of the three tracks he has experience with (Jerez, Le Mans and Catalunya), he has a best finish of fourth at Jerez after an aggressive move in the last corner dropped him out of podium contention.
Sitting fourth in the championship with 86 points, the title challenge of Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) appears to have faded away. Fenati took victory in France followed by a podium at home in Mugello but has only managed an eighth and a fifth place finish since. The Italian is now qualifying in the top ten, poor grid position one of his previous weaknesses, but seems to suffer when battling with other riders leading to mixed results.
Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) is the only German rider participating full time in the Moto3™ Championship. He has finished tenth twice this year, currently his best finish of the season, and sits 16th in the standings with 18 points. Oettl’s best result at home came last year when he was 12th in the race. So far in 2015 Oettl has shown flashes of speed, particularly in practice and Qualifying but has been unable to deliver come race day.