2014 German MotoGP PreviewThere is not one single reason why Marc Marquez is the absolute favorite heading into this weekend’s Germany Grand Prix at Sachsenring – there are many.
Firstly, the 21-year-old Spaniard has dominated the opening eight rounds of 2014 MotoGP, winning all eight – six of them from the pole.His latest victory arrived under a mix of weather conditions at the Dutch TT two weeks ago. The win was his 40th victory across all GP classes, and his 24th MotoGP podium, which includes 14 wins.Impressive? Think about the numbers; since his debut race at Qatar in 2013, Marquez has competed in 26 races, finishing on the podium 24 times. His only non-podium finishes were races, well, he didn’t finish. The first was a due to a crash at Mugello 2013, and the second a disqualification due to whacky circumstances at a slick Phillip Island last season (remember the mandatory pit stops?).These numbers place Marquez in the same ranks as John Surtees, Luca Cadalora, Jack Findlay and Carlos Checa.And with his performance this season that gives him a perfect 200 points, he is the only rider to take eight-straight wins since 2002, the dawn of the modern age of MotoGP. That year, Valentino Rossi completed the same feat. Others to have won eight or more straight races? Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.OK, the stats are more than there to make Marquez a favorite this weekend in Germany. But there’s more – he has also won at Sachsenring the last four years he competed there – former 125 class in 2010, Moto2 in 2011-2012, and last year in MotoGP.The favoritism seems more than justified. And if Marquez wins in Germany, he will have won the entire first-half of the season.Looking ahead to this weekend, Marquez says “It was a tough and complicated weekend in Assen, but I was really happy to win a race under such tricky conditions. Now we have Sachsenring which is a nice circuit, but quite special as it’s so small!“Last year I had a good race but we must remember that neither Dani or Jorge were able to race so this year I look forward to racing them, especially as Dani is so strong at this track! It seems the Honda is well suited to this circuit so we will look to make the most of this advantage.”But just as all season, many threats will be present at Sachsenring, including Marquez’s top rival so far in 2014 – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi.The nine-time World Champion, who just extended his contract with Yamaha through 2016, is second in the point standings, 72 behind Marquez after eight of 18 rounds.Rossi has finished on the podium five times so far this season, including four second-place finishes. Also, if Rossi finishes on the podium this weekend, he will become the only rider to garner 4,000 GP-career points. And Sachsenring is the perfect venue for such an accomplishment, considering this will be the 76th GP in Germany.Ahead of Sachsenring, Rossi says “I am very happy to go to Sachsenring after the contract renewal with Yamaha for another two years. I’ve been saying that we are very close to signing for many races and finally we did it! For me it is really important, I am very happy!“At Assen we did a good race but at the Sachsenring we’ll try to do better. I like the track; it’s very difficult, very tricky and very small. In the last few years it was not so bad, especially with the Yamaha. It’s strange and something different, but it’s always good to ride MotoGP there. In Germany we can also have issues with the weather. It is always difficult, so we hope for good weather so we can make a good result.”As stated earlier, Pedrosa is tied with Rossi in the point standings. And like Rossi, Pedrosa arrives in Sachsenring with some good news; the Spaniard has extended his contract with Repsol Honda for another two years.“It was a tricky weekend in Assen and in those kind of races, it’s easy to lose many points in the Championship, so I’m pleased with our podium finish,” Pedrosa says.“Now we’re heading to Germany where I had a disappointing weekend last year after being declared unfit to race due to my crash on Saturday. I always enjoy racing at Sachsenring and finding the right set up is critical – especially as you spend a lot of time on the left, but the fastest corner is to the right, so tyre performance will be key. I’m looking forward to getting there to make up for missing last year!”Fourth in the point standings is Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who finished second at Assen. This was Ducati’s best result since Misano of 2012 when Rossi finished second at San Marino.Dovi is 109 points behind Marquez, and 10 ahead of the other factory Yamaha pilot, Jorge Lorenzo. The two-time MotoGP Champion Lorenzo has struggled most of this season, and admitted that the mix of weather conditions at Assen instilled some fear of crashing. It was at Assen last season where Lorenzo broke his collarbone.Lorenzo will have some incentive at Sachsenring, though. If the Moto2 and Moto3 contests are won by Spaniards, and the MotoGP won by Lorenzo, Pedrosa, or Marquez, or any other Spaniard, Spain will move up a rank in total GP wins. If this occurs, the country will achieve a total of 500, and be second only behind Italy. With 90 wins across the 125cc, 80cc and 50cc classes, Angel Nieto has the most of any Spaniard rider.Rounding out the top 10 in point standings as MotoGP heads to Sachsenring are Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing, 67), Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 58), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda, 56), Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing Ducati, 51) and Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 48).As for the Americans, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden continues to struggle with his wrist. The Kentuckian has 27 points, and is in 13th. NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, who will retire following 2014 MotoGP, is 18th with eight points.2014 Sachsenring MotoGP TV Schedule:Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage of the Germany Grand Prix beginning at 7 a.m. ET. The coverage includes a rebroadcast of Assen TT.2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after eight of 18 rounds):
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.