2014 Sachsenring MotoGP Preview - On Breaking The Streak, Fighting For Contracts And Keeping The Waterfall
After winning the first five races of the season, Marc Marquez said he feared the trio of Mugello, Barcelona and Assen, which were to follow. He would surely be beaten at one of those tracks, given they favored the Yamaha M1 and were strong tracks for both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Three races and three wins later, and Marquez is looking increasingly invincible. The Repsol Honda man keeps inventing new ways to win, and keep his opponents at bay.
So if Marquez is impossible to beat at a Yamaha circuit, perhaps he can be beaten at a Honda track. So far, Dani Pedrosa has been the only rider to get close to beating his teammate, after pushing him all the way at Barcelona. The Sachsenring is a track where Pedrosa has reigned supreme in recent years, having won four times in the last eight years. Impressive as it is, that does not do his record at the track justice. In his rookie year, he finished fourth in Germany, missing out by just three tenths of a second in one of the closest and most thrilling races to be held at the circuit. In 2008 he crashed out of the lead in the wet, a result that would lead him to concentrate on improving his riding in the rain. In 2009 he finished third, close behind the battle between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and in 2013, Pedrosa was absent after breaking a collarbone during practice.
There is just one minor problem. If you think Dani Pedrosa's record at the Sachsenring is strong – and numbers don't lie, Pedrosa is the man to beat in Germany – just wait until you see what Marc Marquez has done at the circuit. For the past four years, in three different classes, Marquez has won the race after starting from pole. The Spaniard won here in his last year in 125s, won both Moto2 races he contested here, then took victory in his first MotoGP race at the circuit. It was his second win in the class, after becoming the youngest ever winner at Austin earlier in 2013. Marquez did not have to beat either Pedrosa or Lorenzo, of course, both men having withdrawn with broken collarbones. So this race is a straight fight for Sachsenring supremacy. The winner in 2014 may rightly call himself King of the 'Ring.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone previewing this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring:
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, as well as Dunlop, ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix:
Rain is the great leveller, with some bikes that lack power or traction suddenly being just as rideable as the ones at the sharper end. Suddenly, being on a Fireblade or a GSXR isn't the handicap it would otherwise be, and the Panigale looks like a contender. It won't put the Evo bikes to the front, but if you're in the top ten, having the right bike is suddenly no longer as important.
As expected, Dani Pedrosa has signed on for another two years with HRC, and will remain in the factory Repsol Honda team until the end of 2016. Reports from Spain suggested that a deal was close to completion at Assen, and the details have now been finalized. The deal means that the Repsol Honda team will remain unchanged for a further two years, with Pedrosa lining up alongside 2013 world champion Marc Marquez until the end of the 2016 season.
The deal between Pedrosa and Honda had taken a little while to complete, with Pedrosa briefly flirting with Suzuki, who are set to make a return to MotoGP in 2015. That flirtation was never completely serious, and given the salary Pedrosa was rumored to be demanding to ride for Suzuki - said to be 8 million euros - Pedrosa was not keen to leave Honda. Staying at Honda does come at a price, however. Rumors in the Spanish media suggest that Pedrosa was forced to take a cut in base salary, with compensation coming in the form of performance-based bonuses. The veracity of such claims is hard to test, as HRC did not disclose any of the details of the contract with Pedrosa. Keeping salaries secret is common practice in MotoGP, teams and factories fearing it could unleash a bidding war.
Marc VDS Press Release: Michael Bartholémy Responds To Criticism Of Moto3 Project, Says No Team Orders In Moto2
The Marc VDS Racing team has been at the center of debate in MotoGP's support classes recently. First, there was the affair with Jack Miller and his contract with the Marc VDS team, and then at Assen, the team faced a hail of criticism from the Belgian and Dutch media over the level of support offered to Moto3 rider Livio Loi.
The team's response has been to issue press releases. On Friday, a press release was issued stating categorically that the team has a binding contract with Jack Miller. And today, in the team's Sachsenring preview, team manager Michael Bartholémy sets out in detail precisely what bike Livio Loi had been given to ride at Assen. The team had been disappointed in the progress of the young Belgian rider, but Loi was insistent that the Kalex KTM was no longer a competitive package. The team had demanded Loi lived up to the results set out in the contract they have with him. Loi countered that if he had a factory KTM, he would be competitive. Marc VDS purchased a KTM, but a factory bike was not available. Instead, they purchased a production RC250R, and then fitted it with all of the available factory parts to bring it as close as possible to a factory bike. Whether Loi will continue with the team after the summer break remains to be seen. In the press release, Bartholémy makes it clear that the project cannot continue if there is no improvement.
The Marc VDS Racing team press release preview, packed with more interesting details than most press releases, appears below:
Press releases from the series organizers, World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's races at Portimao:
Sykes pulls away and wins race 1 to extend points lead
Portimao (Portugal), Sunday 6 July 2014 - An enthralling 20 lap race 1 saw Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) emerge victorious at a cloudy and overcast Portimao to claim his 7th win of the season and the 21st of his WSBK career.
At the start it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea that took the holeshot, leading for the opening three laps before Sykes and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) overtook him into turn one at the start of lap four.
By half distance the constant swapping of positions had allowed reigning champion Sykes to stretch his lead to 3 seconds, before seconds later the white flag was waved to indicate that rain was beginning to fall.
Behind the leader five riders that included Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), and Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Haslam on the second of the Pata Honda’s slowly began to close the gap, giving the fans a six rider group battling for the podium places.
Leon Haslam collided with Chaz Davies, both riders able to remount with Davies later retiring. Haslam eventually finished 11th.
With rain pouring from the sky, the umbrellas were put to their proper use. Along with wet-weather tyres, everyone softened their springs, reduced their damping, put on the double-wide knee sliders and slotted clear visors in their helmets. The race was reduced to eighteen laps and everyone got wet.
The weather continued to look threatening for the start of the World Supersport race.
Grey skies loomed over the grid as most of the bikes lined up, with the EBRs starting from the pit lane with new engines ahead of their home round in Laguna Seca. The temperature was down on yesterday even if the wind wasn't.
After the light-hearted fun and games on Twitter yesterday, with Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty poking fun at Tom Sykes and his stated dislike of the hills at Portimão, the serious business of qualifying settled all the disputes.
Qualifying was done under the same warm and windy conditions as World Superbike.
Qualifying for tomorrow's race took place in a warm and windy Portugal.