Heading into round nine of the 2016 MotoGP Championship at Sachsenring, two immediate threats were present – rain and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.As for rain, it affected Friday’s German MotoGP practice, and threatened Saturday’s qualifying. Come Sunday, the race was declared wet, with the 20-rider field – missing Aprilia’s Stefan Bradl due to a concussion during a warm-up crash – all on wet tires.
The other threat, Marquez, was just as significant as the rain. Marquez earned his seventh-straight pole position at Sachsenring across all classes (125cc, Moto2, and MotoGP), and was also chasing his seventh-straight win there.But Marquez’s threat initially subsided on Sunday; first, he crashed at turn 8 of 13 during warm up. Then, with 20 of 30 laps to go, he ran off at that same turn of the tight and slow track while in fifth. Marquez was able to skillfully save the RC213V from crashing, but rejoined the grid in ninth.
Things were looking sour for the two-time MotoGP Champion. But with a dry line appearing at the 2.28-mile track, the Repsol Honda team took a gamble and sent Marquez out on slicks. He rejoined the grid in 11th, and was soon six seconds faster than everyone else.With quick lap times and riders ahead pitting to switch tires, this tactic paid off. Marquez took over the lead with six laps remaining, and was unchallenged to the checkered flag. The 23-year-old Spaniard earned the win by 9.857 seconds ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, and 11.613 seconds ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who claimed Ducati’s 100th premier-class podium.With his win, Marquez’s Blitzkrieg in Germany continues; he has now won the past seven-straight races across all classes from the pole at Sachsenring.Ahead of 93,000 fans braving the rain, Marquez got to turn one first ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, and Dovizioso.By turn three, Rossi took the lead off Marquez, and Dovizioso – starting from seventh on the grid – took second off Marquez ahead of turn eight. Marquez was then passed by Petrucci, but fought back at turn 13.Behind, Jack Miller, who won Assen GP two weeks ago in the rain, was up 10 spots in one lap to sixth. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS pilot was quickest on the track at this time.With 28 laps to go, Pull & Bear Aspar Team Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez crashed out, though he rejoined the grid to eventually finished in last place.Up front, Dovi got a strong drive out of turn 8 on lap three, and passed Rossi; Petrucci followed two turns later, pushing Rossi back to third. Miller was up to fifth with Marquez in fourth. With 27 laps to go, Petrucci passed Dovi on turn 12 for the lead.The rain stopped around lap five, and by lap 10 a dry line was forming. This is when Petrucci crashed out of the lead at turn three – a slow right hander. Behind, Marquez headed into the dirt where he crashed during warm up – turn 8 – but did an amazing job saving it. Marquez rejoined the grid in ninth.As the line began drying, the race came down to tire wear. Either brave it on degrading rain tires, or change to a bike with slicks. The first to head into the pits was Iannone, but instead of going with full-on slicks, he went with intermediate Michelin tires, which no rider had prior race experience with. Next was Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz, who went with an intermediate front and a slick rear.Most riders pitting did just what the Frenchman Baz did – except Marquez. He pitted with 13 to go as Dovi led Rossi, Crutchlow and Barbera up front. When he got back on track, Marquez was an immediate threat. During his first lap on slicks, he was four seconds ahead of the lead group’s pace – on his second lap, six seconds quicker.Finally, with seven to go, Dovizioso, Rossi, Crutchlow and Barbera pitted, placing the Australian Miller out front as the leader. By the following lap, though, Marquez made quick work of Miller, passing him like he was standing still. Miller then pitted for a bike swap with five to go, eventually finishing seventh.Marquez held nothing back, and went onto to win ahead of Crutchlow, the Brit earning his first podium since Argentina last year, and Dovizioso, who passed Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Scott Redding for third at turn 12 of the final lap.Redding finished fourth, ahead of Iannone and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Rounding out the top 10 were Miller, Rossi and Barbera. As for the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 rider continued to struggle in Germany, finishing 15th and earning only one point.With the first half of the 2016 MotoGP Championship complete, Marquez now has 170 points, 48 ahead of Lorenzo. In third with 111 points is nine-time World Champion Rossi.The series now breaks for a month ahead of round 10 of 18 at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!