On Friday, at the meeting of the Safety Commission, where MotoGP riders meet with representatives of Dorna and the FIM to speak freely and without penalty about matters pertaining to every aspect of safety (the clue is in the name) at MotoGP events, the riders invited Rivacold Snipers Team Moto3 rider Andrea Migno to attend, to discuss ways to improve safety in the smallest capacity class of Grand Prix racing. The invitation had been issued in response to the terrifying scenes at the Barcelona Moto3 race, where riders were sitting up and backing off in the middle of the track in the final laps of the race. It was a miracle that nobody was seriously injured.
Stern lectures were given, and serious thought given to how to improve the state of affairs, and how to avoid such extremely dangerous situations in the future. The riders and officials gathered there did their level best to find ways to improve the safety of the sport.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at the Sachsenring:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at the Sachsenring:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at the Sachsenring:
Under 32 degrees of air temperature, the asphalt gave a searing welcome to the premier class for their final practice session and it was the same familiar names towards the top of the timesheets. However, Fabio Quartararo had to share the limelight with compatriot Johann Zarco, with the Yamaha man leading for most of the session but eventually getting demoted from top spot by the Pramac rider, who was tempted by fresh rubber in the final few minutes. Quartararo did do the most laps – not that he needed it, with the scary pace he already showed all weekend.
The final chase for the top 14 looked like it got settled early on for the intermediate class, but a few riders had other plans for the final handful of minutes of FP3. Behind Remy Gardner, who led the way throughout the session once more, there were some late improvements from teammate Raul Fernandez and Fabio Di Giannantonio, who climbed into a top three covered by two tenths of a second.
The premier class fought for that valuable top 10 in a sweltering Sachsenring and after refining their race pace for a bit, the first of two time attacks started in the final 15 minutes. What both of those attacks had in common was Fabio Quartararo’s name at the top of the timesheets, the Frenchman ending the session quickest and with few rivals able to threaten him with red sector times or match his pace over the session.
It was another hot morning in Germany and the battle for the top 14 was just as hot in the lightweight class. Riders miraculously avoided leaving pitlane at the very last second – and sometimes a few seconds too late – and started a first time attack halfway through the session. They even snuck in a generous two or three flying laps for the second attack in the final four minutes or so. Andrea Migno made the best of those final few laps to jump from outside the top 14 to the top of the timesheets, less than a tenth of a second ahead of compatriot Stefano Nepa.
Day one of the German Grand Prix is in the bag, and is Marc Márquez still the outright favorite for the win on Sunday? If you went by FP1 on Friday, you would say yes: the Repsol Honda rider took three flying laps to set the fastest time of the session, before turning his attention to working on race pace. He used one set of medium tires front and rear for the entire session, ending with a 1'22.334 on a tire with 24 laps on it. That lap would have been good enough for thirteenth place in FP1, just a hundredth of a second slower than Miguel Oliveira's best lap.
Oliveira made it clear that he considered Márquez to be the favorite at the end of the day as well. "For me since the beginning Marc is the clear favorite for the win on Sunday," the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider told us. "We have been trying to understand what he is doing different to the others on this track because he is so successful."
By the end of the afternoon, Marc Márquez didn't look quite so invincible. The Repsol Honda rider finished the day twelfth fastest, six tenths off the fastest rider Miguel Oliveira. The KTM man had achieved his first objective. "I believe together with him will come another couple of riders that are able to challenge for the win. I am working to be one of them," Oliveira said on Friday afternoon.
Reading the tea leaves
It was a fairly unusual session to end the day for the intermediate class, who had to deal with a delayed start due to some grass being blown on track and then saw a short red flag after pit board signs flew all over the finish straight. Once clean-up was sorted, the session quickly resumed with Sam Lowes in prime position and with FP1 times under attack straight away. Remy Gardner might have been slower to improve but when he did, he took over the top of the timesheets and left teammate Raul Fernandez three tenths of a second behind.
The second practice session for the premier class got hot and hard – hot in terms of track conditions and hard when it came to tyre choice in sweltering Sachsenring. After laying low in FP1, Barcelona victor Miguel Oliveira traded the lead of FP2 with Marc Marquez and ended up on top after acing the time attack in the final five minutes of the session. The KTM man eventually demoted the factory Yamaha duo of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales, the Frenchman particularly focused on long runs and only joining the top 10 for the time attack.
Moto3 riders started the second round of practice sessions under a burning sun and despite an attempt at a late time attack, most FP1 times stood on the combined timesheets. John McPhee remained the fastest man on track at the end of Friday’s action, courtesy of his FP1 time, but it was championship leader Pedro Acosta grabbing the headlines for FP2. The Spaniard was one of the few to improve their time in the afternoon session, which he finished half a tenth faster than Gabriel Rodrigo.
The intermediate class took their turn in the heat of the Sachsenring and their first practice session ended with championship leader Remy Gardner in prime position. Joining him not only in the top 2 of the session but also in the premier class next season is Fabio Giannantonio, the Gresini rider a tenth of a second off the lead. Xavi Vierge led the way at the halfway mark of the morning session, before dropping to third, ahead of rookie sensation Raul Fernandez, who started FP1 at the top and ended it two tenths behind his teammate.
The Sachsenring welcomed the premier class after a pandemic-induced hiatus and its monarch enjoyed the welcome more than most, Marc Marquez quickly placing his name at the top of the timesheets. The Spaniard did the most laps and demonstrated over the course of those 25 laps that he didn’t lose any of his speed or rhythm around his German-made playpen. It even looked like a Honda top 3 for a while, until Fabio Quartararo dusted himself off from an early crash at turn 12 and climbed to second on the timesheets, a tenth and a half off the leader.