Since his MotoGP debut in 2013, no one has beaten reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to the top step at the Sachsenring – or even before. The number 93 has eight straight wins at the track: one in the 125 World Championship in 2010, two in Moto2 in 2011 and 2012, and every year since in the premier class. That’s makes the goal for the rest of the grid a simple one as we barrel towards the summer break: beat the King of the Sachsenring.
It won’t be easy. The final battle of the first half of the season will take place at another venue steeped in history and although the track itself is newer, the anti-clockwise venue is a unique one. The weather could also play a role, with the German GP always more of a question mark than many other tracks on the grid. But the field won’t leave it to chance – with the points gap behind Marquez only continuing to grow, they can’t afford to.
So who will be taking on the king of the 3,5km Sachsenring? His biggest competition may well come from teammate Dani Pedrosa, whose MotoGP record at the German track is equaled only by his record at Valencia. The number 26 has won four times at the venue, and with a Press Conference on Thursday at which he’ll be announcing details of his future, it will be a big weekend for the three-time World Champion.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is another name with a great CV at the track, including four premier class wins. He’s also the closest challenger to Marquez in the title fight as it stands, making it everything to play for for the nine-time World Champion. A winner at the venue for two manufacturers, too, Rossi will surely be a threat – as will teammate Maverick Viñales. Viñales’ record isn’t as shimmering, with two podiums in the lightweight class, but the Spaniard beat the ‘Doctor’ over the line last season and has his own aspirations to the crown, sitting third overall…
Last season, however, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) beat both the Movistar Yamahas to complete the podium. The Italian has a solid record at the track added to by the rostrum finish, and the Borgo Panigale factory have won there before, back in 2008 with Casey Stoner. ‘DesmoDovi’ needs some form and began to recover that in Assen, taking fourth to move up to fifth in the standings – can he keep the tide turning a little on teammate Jorge Lorenzo in Germany? The Sachsenring is one of very few venues where the number 99 has never won, but two out of the last three wins for Lorenzo makes it a big statement for Dovizioso if he can turn the odds against the Spaniard.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is on song and took his best ever finish last time out, teammate Andrea Iannone will want to fight back and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) has a solid record at the track – as do Honda as a manufacturer. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), meanwhile, has a tough act to follow after then-teammate Jonas Folger pushed Marquez to the limit last season – but the Frenchman says he has the data. Will that help him turnaround what was one of his toughest weekends as a rookie and make it second time lucky?
It’s the final race before the summer break and the last chance for many to regain some momentum before we take some time off. With Marquez so far ahead the reigning Champion can afford to take a few risks in Germany – but his competitors can’t afford to let him. Tune in for the German GP from Friday 13th of July, before the race puts another 25 points on the table on Sunday 15th.
The Moto2 World Championship pendulum swung back into Francesco Bagnaia’s (Sky Racing Team VR46) favour at the Motul TT Assen after the Italian took a dominant win, extending his overall standings lead to 16 points over Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
Next up on the calendar is a short trip over the border for the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring – a homecoming for Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP). Fresh off the back of a new two-year contract extension with the team, Schrötter comes into his home GP in a rich vein of form having secured three P4 finishes in the last four rounds – Le Mans, Barcelona and Assen – and qualified on the front row in the previous three. Furthermore, the 25-year-old has already accumulated 13 more points this season (63) than he tallied up in the whole of last season (50) – but his agonizing wait for a maiden Grand Prix podium goes on. Can that change with the added boost from his home crowd?
Two riders who will be out to spoil the German’s party will be Assen winner Bagnaia and his Championship rival Oliveira. The Italian was in sublime form in the Netherlands, topping every session and leading every lap of Sunday’s race to walk away with that all important 16-point standings lead. Moreover, Bagnaia was third at the Sachsenring in 2017, his career best result at the venue.
Oliveira’s Dutch GP wasn’t as plain sailing, with the KTM’s qualifying struggles continuing after starting from P17 for the second race in a row. A P6 was the best the 10-time Grand Prix race winner could manage in the race, but he did show his Sunday pace is a real threat. The 23-year-old was second in Germany last year, too – beating Bagnaia by 0.5 seconds. Could we be treated to a Sachsenring showdown between the leading title protagonists?
Hopefully, but the upturn in Fabio Quartararo’s (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) form suggests he’ll be in the hunt with the two this weekend. The Frenchman backed up his incredible Catalan GP victory with a stunning second at Assen and looks set to become a threat at every round between now and the end of the season – is a third consecutive podium on the cards? Elsewhere, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) recorded his fifth rostrum of the season at the Dutch GP to consolidate his P3 in the Championship, 34 points behind Bagnaia and 18 off Oliveira, and Lorenzo Baldassarri’s (Pons HP40) desperately cruel rear tyre puncture while on for a P2 at Assen is something he’ll use as extra motivation in Germany. After his crash at the 2017 Dutch GP, the Italian missed out at this venue last year, but Baldassarri has recorded two top ten finishes on a Moto2™ machine at the Sachsenring and is another rider who has a Championship challenge on the radar.
With fifth in the Championship Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and sixth overall Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) always in the mix, Round 9 of the season should throw up another unpredictable weekend of Moto2 action. Which way will the title pendulum swing this time out?
Five riders, one Moto3 World Championship. The pendulum swung again at Assen with Dutch GP race winner Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) taking the reins at the top of the standings. But he’s not alone, with just 24 points splitting first to fifth place Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as we head to the Sachsenring for Round 9.
Martin emerged victorious from the five-rider battle in the Netherlands that involved four of the five overall standings leaders - a win that propelled him two-points ahead of main Championship rival Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) after the Italian crashed out on the last lap. Now, the Spaniard returns to the scene of last year’s nasty right tibia and ankle breaking crash in FP2 at the Sachsenring, looking to consolidate his title lead as the paddock heads into the summer break.
Bezzecchi’s last lap Assen heartbreak meant his 23-point lead was diminished, but the Italian has only been off the podium three times this year as he revisits the Sachsenring – a track where he picked up one of his four-point scoring riders in 2017. Meanwhile, it’s been a trickier couple of rounds for third place in the Championship Fabio Di Giananntonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), but the consistency of the Italian this year has seen him remain just 14 points off his teammate – can ‘DiGi’ add to his podium tally on German soil?
Both Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) and Canet stood on the podium at the Dutch GP to keep themselves within touching distance of Martin in the title race. Bastianini backed up his Catalan GP win with third at Assen and having secured two podiums in the last three years in Germany, you can fully expect the Italian to be up the sharp end again this weekend. Canet on the other hand didn’t manage to score last year at the Sachsenring, but rebounded from his unfortunate Barcelona crash this year with a fantastic second in the Netherlands – will the 24-point deficit shrink before the summer break?
Elsewhere, Jerez winner Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) will be hoping to get his season back on track in front of his home crowd. The German is currently on his worst run in the lightweight class having scored just one-point since his famous Spanish GP triumph, but Oettl finished P5 at the Sachsenring last year and has scored points in all but two of his visits to Saxony.
The German faithful will also have wildcard Luca Grünwald (Freudenberg Racing Team) to cheer on, winner of the WorldSSP 300 race at Assen this season.
Two questions will be answered this weekend: who will surface as Sachsenring’s winner? And who will take the Championship advantage into the second half of the Moto3 season?