2017 Sachsenring MotoGP Round: Notes On What I Missed

Every race weekend, there are dozens of things I either miss, or don't have time to write about. Here's what I missed from the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring:

About those chassis

Since the Barcelona test, the paddock has been awash with gossip about Yamaha chassis. Valentino Rossi was particularly enamored of one of the chassis tested at Barcelona, though his teammate Maverick Viñales appeared to be a lot less enthralled by it. At Assen and the Sachsenring, both riders had one each of the "new" chassis and one of the "old" chassis. (The new chassis is said to be a development of the chassis used last year – some even say last year's chassis – which was itself a slight revision of the 2015 chassis. The "old" chassis was a new chassis based on the chassis used last year, meant to save the rear tire, but sacrificing corner entry as a result.)

Valentino Rossi was constantly clear about which chassis he favored, and which chassis he used. Yet Viñales consistently refused to answer questions on the subject, claiming he had been banned from doing so by Yamaha. So how can one rider answer and the other refuse?

Yamaha, like all Japanese factories, are unnecessarily secretive. It was clear that Viñales had been banned from speaking about the chassis when he was asked a question about it, and before answering it, he cast a glance at his PR handler. The imperceptible shake of the head was enough to ensure his silence.

If Viñales has been banned from speaking about it, then Rossi has almost certainly been banned from speaking about it too. But Rossi knows Yamaha's options are limited. After all, what are they going to do, fire him? There are often financial penalties involved here too, (honesty compels me to point out I have no idea if this is true in this specific case) yet a man of Rossi's wealth is unlikely to be sensitive to the fines imposed by a strict employer. Yamaha probably know better than to even try. Yamaha and Valentino Rossi have a long and prosperous future together, both before and after he retires. You don't throw away that kind of money over a petty dispute over chassis.

Whither Jorge?

Jorge Lorenzo's travails at Ducati continue. He worked hard, with very mixed results: 6th in qualifying, 23rd in warm up, and all sorts of results in between in various sessions. Lorenzo ended the race in an unremarkable 11th place, three places and five seconds behind his teammate. A track with grip helped him sometimes, but when conditions where half and half, damp patches on a drying track, he was truly awful. He acknowledged that is very much his Achilles heel. He will have to improve, and soon. The Brno test will be important. He will have to hope it does not rain.

He will also have to hope that the new aerodynamic package Ducati will bring to the Brno test will be an improvement. Lorenzo has struggled with feel from the front end, and having some pressure on the front wheel should help. But the new aero package will have to be better than the long since abandoned hammerhead fairing. Danilo Petrucci and Michele Pirro will be testing the new aero package at Misano next week. So if anyone happens to be on vacation in Rimini, they may want to plan a little day trip...

Improvement for Iannone?

If Jorge Lorenzo's problems are much dwelt upon, Andrea Iannone's are even more public. Iannone suffered criticism from Suzuki legend Kevin Schwantz at the Sachsenring, who stated that if Iannone is worried about taking too much risk, then perhaps he should go off and race karts. Iannone replied rather cheekily by tweeting a picture of a kart after the race, with a comment about how he now had time to spend in his kart.

In truth, Iannone had a slightly better weekend than in previous races. He was still a long way from the front, but he was making forward progress during the race until he crashed. He looked at last as if he was at least putting some effort into it.

We will have to see what happens now with Iannone and Suzuki. I spent 30 minutes talking to Suzuki boss Davide Brivio at the Sachsenring, for a series of articles for MotoMatters.com subscribers on identifying talent and choosing riders. Brivio spoke at great length about nearly all of the riders Suzuki has signed at one time or another. The one rider he barely mentioned was Andrea Iannone. Make of that what you will.

KTM improving

Pol Espargaro got into Q2. Both Espargaro and Bradley Smith scored points in the race. Smith finished ahead of seven other riders. All these and more are clear signs of progress for the Austrian factory.

Smith and Espargaro both spoke of the main problem the bike has: it won't turn easily, and so you end up carrying too much lean angle, which uses up the tires faster. That will not be addressed until next year, which suggests that it requires a major change to the engine. Espargaro was optimistic the proposed change (which they would not tell us about) would fix the problem, Smith wanted to ride the new engine first before making a judgment. Until then, they will have to see what they can do with just chassis and suspension modifications.

Moto2 rookies

Though everyone was focused on the race at the front, and especially the battle between Franco Morbidelli and Miguel Oliveira (and also the crashes of Alex Márquez and Tom Luthi), perhaps the most remarkable part of the Moto2 race was the strength of the current crop of rookies. Pecco Bagnaia gained his third podium of the season (he has four in total, but one came after Mattia Pasini was disqualified at Barcelona for using illegal oil), confirming the sense that he is a very special rider. Bagnaia benefited enormously from spending time riding the Mahindra, which was clearly an inferior bike in Moto3. (So inferior that they have withdrawn from the series.) That is paying off now, with the Italian finding ways to be more competitive than his bike sometimes warrants.

Further back, Jorge Navarro bagged 6th and Brad Binder took 7th. It was a strong showing by both riders, but especially for Binder, who is still struggling with pain in the wrist and arm he injured in testing late last year. Three Moto2 rookies in the top 7 is a very healthy showing, and promises much for 2018.

Vacation? What vacation?

The Sachsenring was the last race of the summer break, with five weeks until the next race. The riders all head off for some well-earned rest and relaxation, before returning with a vengeance at Brno.

That doesn't mean they will spend the next four and a half weeks laying on a beach though. All of the riders we asked about the vacation plans said the same: one week doing very little, then the next three weeks training harder than ever, working especially on their fitness. There is very little time to train during the season – especially with so many back-to-back races, and so turning up in the best physical shape possible at the start of the second half of the season is crucial. MotoGP may be taking a five-week break, but the riders only get a week of real rest.


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Total votes: 49
Total votes: 76

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Comments

thanks.

The way you describe it does make it seem as if Rossi's poker game can beat both Maverick and Yamaha itself.

Total votes: 28

valentino is still the boss  ;)  

Total votes: 30

I just have a huge amount of Respect for you David, day in and day out you produce one of the best news articles which are worth reading line by line. 

In the tough and highly competitive business you always end up pulling one out of the bag every single time. Even though I end up viewing the races a zillion times, still your article will give me a perspective I some how ended up missing.

The articles are full of knowledge and helps me view the races with more knowledge, its quiet fun to do so.

As Marc is a certainty in Germany, your articles are always a certainty to deliver a delightful reading.

 

Total votes: 41

Hi David

One thing that has just crossed my mind is this with the Yamaha.  Last years chassis in the Tech 3 team is way more competetive than the previous years (2015) chassis was for Brad and Pol.  I know that Michelin have an extra years worth of data to hand, but my thinking is on the aero or now the lack of aero.  I also can't beleive that the two Js are any better as rookies than Pol and Brad.

Could it be that the 2016 package was badly effected by the addition of the strakes, and now that they have been all removed is now showing how good a bike it was?  Could this also have been the reason behind the direction change for this years frame that has been the issue.  All along, there was nothing wrong with last years bike, other than having to keep up with the others on Aero? 

The performance between factory and satellite team needs some explaining, so any other theories out there?

Total votes: 24

Well David this is the stuff i was missing about lately on the website 

is there more subcriber stuff on coming ?

sharing the article on twitter !!!  

dankje wel  ;) 

Total votes: 26

Off season needs this level of journalism and much appreciated David. I won't even bother with the Yamaha chassis stuff and intrigue. Yamaha are a great outfit, win and have won many championships and will no doubt continue to do so. Rossi has been fundamental to their success since 2004. HRC are HRC. Suzuki are in a spot of bother. Rins, like Lowes at Aprilia can be cut some slack, but Crazy Joe? This brings me to Ducati. The best move they made was to get rid of AI and retain AD. Ducati has a history of silly choices dating back to whenever.Always chasing the golden goose that could never lay a golden egg. Whenever they had a golden goose that did lay a golden egg, they fobbed them off because their corporate bike did not win the riders championship. I was reading my monthly rag and the test of Sir Alan Cathart's sojourn on the 1299 Superleggera at Mugello. Interestingly, he noted that Stoner said that had he not gone to Honda in 2011 he would have probably won every race in 2011 with the CF D16. That is a bit of a stretch for sure. However it does beg Bologna's mindset. Their problem has been for years now chasing after riders with mammoth credentials, rather than throwing the kitchen sink at riders that actually adapt to the DNA of the bike quickly!!! Off the cuff, I can site Gibernau replacing Bayliss (mistake),Melandri replacing Capirex (mistake), Hayden replacing Melandri (stet), Rossi replacing Stoner (mistake), Dovi replacing Hayden (Smart). Crutchlow bailing out...smart and honest with himself. Lorenzo... I opined back then that Rossi would never win with Ducati and Lorenzo won't. Suzuki DNA may suit him aswell as Yamaha did back then. Rossi must have been laughing his head off when Lorenzo fell for the trap and signed with team red. To go full circle chassis wise, KTM have proven that there is nothing wrong with the trellis frame in a short 6 months. To go full circle rider wise re Ducati...if Jorge does not jump before his pushed, team red need to keep Dovi and Petrux on board whilst making serious overtures to the likes of some junior class KTM riders and a bunch of others. I reiterate. Team red need to run a few M3 250 desmo's next year. The money they blew on Rossi's bike development skill set and Lorenzo's first 6 months could cover that pretty handily...eh Audi?  If they want to again sign a superstar for superstar money to get superstar results, they only have one option... Marc Marquez 2019. If not, select someone like Olivera, Canet, any Binder, Ramirez, Mir, Fenati or a host more for next to nothing from the junior ranks. Fenati brings a little mirth. Imagine...tempestuous, super tallent fired by equally tempestuous boss(rider back then, still now) goes on to to MGP world champ on tempestuous red bike that erstwhile tempestuous boss could not win with. Italian affair. Hell! Its off season... forgive me.

Total votes: 32

Marquez certainly has the potential to match Casey's performance on a Ducati.  I'd love to see him try.  But much like Lorenzo and Yamaha, I suspect Marc will spend another 4 or more years at Honda cementing his legacy. 

Total votes: 26

Is the KTM engine a stressed member (ie integral part of the frame) as were the pre alum frame Ducati's?

Ducati even pivoted the swing arm from the back of the engine, whereas the KTM has the swing arm pivoting off the  rear of the trellis frame.

Total votes: 26

The KTM trellis frame does not use the engine as a stressed member. The frame reaches from headstock to swingarm mount. That is a fundamentally different concept, and allows for much more tunable flex. 

Total votes: 22

write up and additional info, thank you David for being the only place to get this level of coverage! 

As I've stated previously I think Yamaha's problems stem from the preseason and the ever increasing questioning of Rossi's declining abilities, which is understable he is getting very close to 40! However once again he has proved most and even his employers wrong-MV has looked like a rank amateur at 4-5 rounds this season and as we all know he is much better than that. What is a shame for them is the lost time, this has however benefitted the series immensely and I for one am not complaining as if things were all rosey at Yamaha we could have had a runaway leader by now, with possibly only the other factory Yamaha a threat. 

I'm sure the Moviestar team is looking to avoid controversy after the last few seasons, however gagging their riders is probably not the best way to achieve this-particularly when one of those riders simply cannot be gagged-by anyone.

I can't see any major changes to that Ducati to favor Lorenzo when Dovi is in the hunt for the title and winning races, Ducati spent $20M Euros to win the title-I guess whatever way works?  

Total votes: 34

I thought the "They should listen to Rossi in development decisions" myth was buried halfway through 2011, but then again people have short memories...

Total votes: 32

I thought the Anti-Rossi brigade has been proven wrong so many times they might not waste time with points like this, but some only remember what they wish to...

 

Total votes: 37

My thought exactly: the energy and the effort spent in trying to bring down Rossi never fails to amaze me....
On a side note but on this very topic: it's now almost painful to read the flood of crazy angry anti-VR comments on Mat Oxley column... funny too in a way. Someone should collect them and make a book.: "Zen and the art of Motogp, not"

Total votes: 35