Sachsenring MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Why Marquez Wins, Ducati's Decline, Viñales' Resurrection, And Impressions Of MotoE

Some things changed at this year's edition of the German Grand Prix, held at the Sachsenring. The race was organized by the ADAC, the German equivalent of the Automobile Association, instead of the former promoter, a local organization based at the circuit. The difference was immediately evident: the event appeared to run more smoothly and more efficiently, and some of the old peculiarities ("we've always done it that way") replaced with things that actually work. It felt like a much better Grand Prix, without losing any of the charm which had marked it out before.

Then there was the inaugural round of MotoE, the new electric bike racing class which joins the MotoGP series. History was made on Sunday morning, when eighteen Energica Ego Corsa motorcycles lined up for the first ever all-electric motorcycle race. The race was shortened from 8 to 7 laps after being declared wet, and then red flagged after 5 laps when Lorenzo Savadori crashed out at Turn 8 after being clipped by Eric Granado.

But some things didn't change at the Sachsenring. Marc Márquez became the first rider to win for ten years consecutively at a circuit, and the second to win seven in a row in the premier class, matching Valentino Rossi at Mugello, the Repsol Honda rider dominating the race very much as expected. He led into Turn 1, held up the field for the first couple of laps until he was sure his tires were up to temperature, pushed for eight more laps at a low 1'21 pace, breaking the back of any resistance even Alex Rins could offer, then settled back to manage the gap to the group behind. He made it look breathtakingly easy.

Follow the plan

"The plan was there and I followed my plan," Márquez said. "My plan was try to lead the race from the beginning until the end. Exactly what I planned and exactly what we spoke about with the team." They mapped out precisely what they needed from the electronics and from the tires, and put it all into practice on Sunday. In the end, Marc Márquez made everyone else look silly.

Why is Márquez so unbeatable around the Sachsenring? First of all, because of the nature of the track, according to Danilo Petrucci. "This track is strange for sure," he said after the race. "You have to be on the lean angle a lot of the time. From Turn 2 to Turn 12, you just brake one time. There are only two or three hard braking areas, and especially there are very, very long corners where we don't feel the front turning."

Andrea Dovizioso added to his teammate's assessment. "The characteristic of the Honda, they can go fast with the angle. Here you don’t go straight. You just have to keep the angle. He’s so good at riding at a track when you don’t have grip on the rear, when you don’t have grip from the first lap. Here when you manage the slide he’s so good at that. He has a really good front – what we don’t have. He uses the front to go fast and doesn’t use too much the rear so he can be more consistent than the other riders. Also his talent, he’s so special to do that. "

Angle

Though Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo might not necessarily agree with the factory Ducati riders' assessment of the Honda's front end, it is clearly better than the GP19, at least in the middle of the corner. The Honda needs to be turned with a lot of lean angle – generally a disadvantage, as that means the bike is spending a lot of time on the edge of the tire, and using it up at a rapid pace. But Márquez is also able to manage the throttle better, to slide the bike on the throttle and get it to turn more quickly. Perhaps this is allowing him to spare the rear, as Dovizioso says.

"This track suits him in a perfect way," Dovizioso said, and that sums up Márquez' dominance neatly. At the Sachsenring, a lot of things come together. The track doesn't get much use, so it tends to be slippery. The track consists of mostly long corners, where the riders are hanging off the bike and balancing grip front and rear. The track has 10 left corners and just 3 rights, playing to Márquez' strength. The Honda does what he wants it to do: it is agile, twitchy, and gives a lot of feedback as it moves around. The unusual nature of the tires – very hard on one side, very soft on the other, to deal with the extreme asymmetry of the circuit – means that grip drops off relatively quickly due to wear and heat. Low grip, a sliding bike, fast left turns: it is just like riding dirt track. And dirt track is probably Marc Márquez' favorite thing.

Title secured?

Márquez' victory at the Sachsenring leaves him with a lead of 58 points. Though there are still ten races left to go, and a theoretical total of 250 points to be gained, the championship is already out of Andrea Dovizioso's hands. Even if he wins every race from Brno until Valencia, all Marc Márquez has to do is finish second, and the Repsol Honda rider would still win the 2019 title by 8 points.

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Source: 
year: 
2019
round_number: 
9
Total votes: 42
Total votes: 69

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Comments

It seemed he made them (teams, riders, coaches ... et al) look rigid and unable to adapt to the course as nimbly as he (and his team et al did.)  Maybe he recovers better week to week than most riders, too.  When MM did a "box jump" onto the top position to receive the winner's accolades and trophy, I half expected him to do some flys and dips.

Total votes: 27

I thought the MotoE race was very good. I appreciate your (David) support for the series and hope to see it grow!

Total votes: 37

 Enjoyed the heck out of the race and the superpole session as well! Remarkable the event actually is even taking place after the machines all burned down. 

You voted 2. Total votes: 43

Nakagami was MotM for fantastic pace all weekend through to qualifying although inevitably it was impossible to maintain for full race distance on Sunday. Those images of him hobbling to and from the bike on crutches will stay a long time in the memory. What a hero! I also think it looks ominous for the other teams that both LCR riders seem to be mastering their Hondas. Up to now Ducati Suzuki and Yamaha have had a clear run at MM93 most Sundays. There might soon be at least two if not three other Hondas parking mid corner during races and stealing points.

Total votes: 24

The problem seems to be this:

The young riders, who may otherwise be fast enough to challenge MM, are not yet smart enough to beat him.

The old riders, who are smart enough to challenge MM, are no longer fast enough to beat him.

Possibly some of the younger ones can get smarter (next year). The older ones will not, sadly, be getting any faster in the future. Marc's HRC Team in the paddock is superb. The bike is almost always fast off the trailer Friday, and his weekend proceeds without drama...or the occasional inter-team handbag fight. Marquez is the master of qualifying, and every lap he takes in practice has a purpose. Too many others seem to be just riding around hoping the set-up fairies will sprinkle some magic pixie dust on their rides, turning camels into thoroughbreds. Marc's race strategies are on another level than the rest of the field. It is more than you are playing checkers and he is playing chess, and more like you are playing checkers and he is lunging across the table to stab you in the eye with a fork.

Marc is fully in synch and supported by Honda. He gets what he needs, which may be quite different from what he wants, and he is mature enough to accept this as the reality imposed by large organizations. He doesn't, in public, ever bad mouth his bike. The RC213V is far from perfect, but as Hurley Haywood famously said about racing Porsche 911's; "You can't make a race horse out of a pig...but you can make a real fast pig". There will never be a perfect MotoGP bike for all tracks in all conditions, but MM makes damn sure when he lines up on Sunday (always on the first two rows) that he is riding the best version of the RC213V for that particular time and place. He is more adaptable in his riding style than the rest of the field combined, and understands that at times what God (HRC) has left out, Marc needs to supply. He is impervious to mind games, has great family support, and spends most of the weekend grinning from ear-to-ear. By comparison the rest of the grid has the grim continence of men who have been tasked to hunt a Kodiak Bear armed with a piece of hand held bacon.

So get used to it. Until someone young and blindingly quick copies all the elements of MM's approach, the next few years will be "Marc, rinse, repeat". Cheers.

You voted 3. Total votes: 73

Just want to add that he's truly like this on and off camera. I had the pleasure to hang out at the Honda motor home during the Sepang weekend last year. Everytime I see Marc, he had a big smile on his face. I was particularly impressed on Sunday when after the race, he came out a couple of times to talk to the press before disappearing into the pit garage again for debriefing and other duties, busy (and tired I'm sure) as can be yet he still took time to meet his contingent of fans waiting to catch a glimpse of him up close to pose for photos and sign a cap or two. He was one of the very last ones to leave the paddock, along with two of his crew, at around 630pm when the paddock was already almost entirely deserted.

I was heading to the paddock car park just behind him and a couple of fans called out to him just as he was about to reach his car and he stopped for a selfie with them - and as you might expect from him - grinning from ear to ear. It's amazing how hard he works and how positive he is. Marc has many weapons in his armory and being freakishly quick in riding a bike is just one part of it. 

Total votes: 40

Jinx, you are SPOT on mate.
Keep contributing posts, and I can just relax and give them *'s.

Dovi pushes Ducati for a future plan. While 3 good riders click off the same lap times, stating "3 of us all reach the same limit so it must be the bike."
Nope.
Ducati's future plan? An Alien. At half the Lorenzo rate. Grab a young guy. Yes, make this bike turn a bit better. But it is fine. It can win a title NOW. Get a "rear wheel rider" comfy pivoting aggressively w the gas. Zarco will do. Or maybe Pol. Or try a brand new Moto2 kid tailor fit for the style. Don't get me wrong, I sincerely like the decent mid pack riders you have now. Of the 4 of them (no, not 6) the most promising of them is Bagnaia. That is not good.

Suzuki too will have 4 bikes, and is the best bike for rookies. Second is the Yamaha. Honda and Duc are a tougher adaptation. 2021 will have several challengers.

Hey Jinx, where is home? I am in Portland, OR. Used to race. Now track time on a Triumph 675R and blasting a Buell 1125R around town. Went 160mph yesterday on twisties stopping at the store for vegetables. Have a switch on the bars that makes the plate tuck away James Bond style, no need to stop for the sluggish authorities.
You?
;)

You voted 2. Total votes: 42

I very rarely agree with Crutchlow, but when he said Dovi had "lost his way", he was exactly right.  Dovi's latest criticisms have the sound of a man grasping at straws - praising the Honda's front end?  Not one Honda rider agrees.  The Ducati won't turn and the Sachsenring doesn't have strong braking points?  Ducati hasn't ever won a dry race at the Sachsenring, and the only reason they have won any is because a certain bloke named Casey Stoner got atop the podium when Pedrosa cartwheeled his RC212V into the Turn 1 airfence.  There is no way anyone at Ducati goes to the Sachsenring and expects a W, or thinking it will somehow play to the bike's strengths.  Ever.  Dovi had to know the Ducati was going to be slow in Germany; complaining about something this obvious is like complaining that McDonald's doesn't serve Whoppers.

Dovi has to focus on Marquez and stop imagining his bike is magic.  Marquez is making the difference for Honda; on equal equipment Marquez will still wins.  The RC213V isn't an all-conquering motorcycle, it just has an all-conquering rider.

You voted 5. Total votes: 52

Marquez has repeatedly stated that he has been working with HRC to improve the weaknesses of the RC213V by surrendering a little bit of the strengths. Is Ducati willing to do the same? Look at the results: the two tracks that Ducati are historically strong at in recent years, Qatar and Mugello, Marquez finished second by milliseconds breathing down the winners' backs all the way across the line. At Assen he harassed first Quartaro then Viñales before backing off near the end of the race. Yet by comparison the tracks that Ducati are historically weak at, like Assen and Sachsenring, they finished many seconds from the front. Dovi was strong during the second half of the season last year, and Ducati management are probably banking on he and Petrucci repeating that this year. If not then what? Ducati puts all their eggs in one basket. It's culturally understandable since the factory is based in "Motor Valley". 

The future of MotoE is the death knell for MotoGP. As batteries evolve with increasing energy density and decreasing weight one big advantage will be seen clearly-there will no longer be an internal combustion engine creating gyroscopic forces due to large reciprocating mass that negatively affects the handling characteristics of the bike. The electric motor has a lot less moving parts and it is more centered between the wheels. The MotoE pilots raved about the cornering speed of the bikes. What's it going to be like when they are more powerful and lighter?

What I see from lounging on the couch is that Ducati may be screwed. And I'm a Ducati fan. Some in the Italian media point the finger at Dovizioso. I see it as a fundamental problem with Ducati strategy. Due to the desmodromic valve actuation the Ducati has the largest V4 in the paddock that has to be shoehorned into the chassis. Reversing the crankshaft rotation in 2015 helped keeping the bike from lifting the front and running wide when opening the throttle, but there is a downside-the engine tries to lift the rear causing traction problems. Honda learned this back in the nineties during Doohan's reign. The Ducati is the longest and slowest turning Motogp bike in the paddock. Even Bautista said the V4 wouldn't go straight down the straight at Donnington. That's reminiscent of Pedrosa's comments of the RC212V during the 800 cc era.

The cure is to design the most compact powerplant with the least amount of gyroscopic forces that could be moved around in the chassis. Thus a "long bike" could be set up for high speed tracks with heavy braking or a "short bike" could be set up for tracks with lots of turns. But motorcycle manufacturers are in the business of selling bikes and it makes no sense to design a powerplant that is a radical departure from the product that is sold.  

You voted 1. Total votes: 29

then I don't know what to say, because bikes "racing" in near silence is just...ridiculous.

As a technical exercise, yeah they're kinda cool.

But to listen to the announcers "Just listen to them, thundering down the Waterfall..." Thundering?! Whaat?! All I hear is a vague, high pitched whining...may as well be crickets.

Total votes: 43

MotoGP races what the manufacturers want to sell. Once Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, KTM decide they want to race electric bikes, that will be the premier class. That's why four strokes replaced two strokes.

Total votes: 48

In my opinion what may be perceived as Ducati's greatest asset, the powerful motor, is also their limiting factor in the GP19. In theory, all things being equal (power), could you see Ducati changing to a radically different powerplant if it were to solve or at least greatly reduce their turning woes, David? Contemplating a desmodromic inline 4 or VR4 hints at bordering on blasphemy. And on the bigger scale I'm saying that eventually the MotoE bike will beat the MotoGP bike on track because gyroscopic forces created by the internal combustion engine's rotating mass messes with the handling (turning, braking and accelerating). The ICE is a limiting factor and it is the competitive spirit bewteen the manufacturers that will bring this to light. And I always thought that racing at the top level was more about manufacturers flexing their technological prowess muscles with the bragging rights of determining who's the best. And I guess that is one of the things that the manufacturers are selling-the image of being the best.

Total votes: 23

Are you suggesting an electric motor has no rotating mass? The rotating magnet of a brushless motor seems like a serious piece of rotating mass to me. I don't know how it compares to an internal combustion engine of similar power, but you sure can't discard it. The revs of the Energica Ego motor are up to about 11.000, I believe, so that is also not that much less than an ICE. Of course they will rev lower than ICEs in corners, because they are always in top gear (no gearboxes). So yes, probably the gyroscopic forces of the rotating mass are smaller, but will it compensate for an extra 100 kilos of weight (so far)?

And then there is the counter-rotating crankshaft nowadays, that actually compensates for the gyroscopic forces of the wheels, so is less rotating mass of the engine still really a pure benefit..? I'd like to see a full calculation of the total gyroscopic forces on both type of motorcycles. Lots of variables here. I didn't even mention the clutch and gearbox of the ICE yet, but there too we have different directions of rotation. And what is the effective diameter of the rotating mass? A crankshaft with a stroke of 48,5 mm (in MotoGP) is not that big in diameter and the weight is rather centralised. And the different positions of the ICE and electric motor will play a role too. Interesting for sure. Somebody somewhere will definately have made these calculations.

Total votes: 23

GP made the switch to 4T because they were looking increasingly irrelevant against growing WSB popularity. In ‘96 Troy Corser broke the GP500 lap record on an agricultural 2 cylinder “streetbike”.

Not forgetting the Fireblade had just been released and the R1 was probably off the drawing board and into prototype form. The “premier” 500’s were in danger of looking like a quaint anachronism in an age where you couldn’t really buy one save for the company-killing V-due.

I can see e-bikes taking over the utilitarian role, and filling a sporting niche in the near future. But mainstream recreational sportsbikes? We spend millions, if not billions, on aftermarket exhausts for bikes that are already too powerful for our over-policed world, so I’m not seeing a real threat to the status quo in the short term.

Formula 1 is showing us the way here: despite all the hoopla over MGU’s and KERS etc the popular opinion was the latest turbo V6’s may have been new but were not so improved. Why? Because they sounded crap. 

 

Total votes: 40

The sound thoroughly. Yes ICE will always hold a special place in my heart but I gotta say I loved how those bikes sounded. I frlor one am sold Hook line and sinker on the MotoE bikes. Can't wait for something similar for the road! I would totally pair it up in my garage with my 2007 F4 Senna that spits flames out the exhaust.

Total votes: 28

The Energica bikes are (more or less) stock production bikes. You CAN go out and buy one.

😀

I can't seem to paste an address on my mobile here still on the road, but just google Energica.

Total votes: 26

And when it does come to prototype MotoE racing who has been spending the money and has the fastest electric bike that wins in the TT every year Mugen, so Honda already set for the future.

As for the racing itself, yes a realluy good start to the season 

 

Total votes: 25

Interesting that Vinales feels like FP1 is the closest to what the race will be. But in David's interview with Marquez, MM stated that FP2 and 4 are what they concentrate on.

Is this the difference in the bike? The rider? A combination of the two? Or are we looking at what separates a consistent winner/champion vs. an occasional podium rider?

Total votes: 28

One of the differences between FP1/3 and 2/4 is morning vs afternoon which, in turn, implies heat of the track.

Total votes: 25

Also one would think the Moto2 rubber plays havoc with their feel of the track as well.

Total votes: 22

Aside of David's great journalism, your comment was a memorable one and right on the money. Ducati turning woes at certain tracks, Yamaha bemoaning lack of brute power at others, Honda being a bucking bronco, Suzuki being a very good military medium, KTM finding their way and Aprilia as ever, lost in the fog due to financial constraints. The single shining star is Marquez. Most everyone is out of contract post 2020 current. I expect the manufacturer's to go on a culling spree of note within their ranks pertaining to the established class of 'club 30+ riders' early next year. No matter how fondly we reflect on their great races and achievements, they have passed their 'sell by' date. Next year this would include, Rossi, Dovi, Lorenzo, Petrux, A Espargaro, Zarco as factory riders. Even in the sattelite teams riders have had their best shot. Crutchlow ain't going to a factory team and won't win a title. On the other hand his mate Jack Miller does have potential at Ducati in 2021, perhaps alongside his old mate Brad Binder. The pair of them are young enough and physical enough to rear wheel steer the bikes. Speaking of Binder, if KTM's Pit wants him on their GP bike, they should offer him the ride alongside Pol in the factory team and buy Zarco out of his contract as soon as yesterday (Escape clauses et al). Oliviera is a great smooth rider but in its current form it requires a 'neck wringer'. Marc would put that bike in its current form first 2 rows weekend in and weekend out. On the GP19 he would win 3 out of every 5 races. Their exists such a depth of hungry tallent in M2 that could be bought very cheaply. Looking forward to 2020 silly season and 2021 teams. Until then it will be the Marc Marquez era and well earned.

Total votes: 19

Zarco would love to get off of the KTM and out of his contract. But where would he go that is preferable? He isn't yet ready to give up on MotoGP in favor of WSBK. Even if he did, KTM has no SBK there to place him on. So it has to be a break up. And there is zip open for 2020. Agreed that Binder is impressing. All those Yamaha riders in Orange! Horrible idea. It is like the Honda.

The Orange bike is actually coming along! Not for him though. Oof. Wish he could be on the Suzuki. Funny thing is, he MAY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO had he and his previous manager been able to let bygones be bygones. Another disappointment is Rins solo crash outs two rounds in a row. (Sigh)...this bike is so close!

And then there is the Red bike. Ducati needs a rear wheel blasting rider. A bold risk taker. Hard for me to watch them languish w a great bike. Not knocking their riders, I really like Dovi. More is on offer and I hope they find each other soon. Bagnaia is not adapting quickly. He looked at odds w the bike last weekend and should be getting on better by now. Matchmaking in MotoGP is tricky eh? Difficult for me to remain patient about a few things (Suzuki 2nd team, KTM progress, Ducati having a next level rider...).

Appreciating that the Yamaha is coming good. More is going to arrive too. Vinales is doing the business, and Quartararo on the slightly lower spec bike is brilliant. So much distance between EVERYONE and the back drop of Marquez at HRC. Tough to match! Rins over-riding into errors. Vinales visibly over-riding but hanging on despite several dramatic moments. Ducati not able to get there with their current stable of riders. The Espargaro brothers both deserve much praise. The KTM project is exceeding my expectations for 2019. But it is Yamaha that is on the pipe. Keep up the good work.

Total votes: 27

I'd think Jack would meet the standard of being a bold risk taker but we can see that if he gets a good start and pushes at the begining of a race he fades by 1/3 or 1/2 distance with tire issues.  Dovi does well when he can get to the front and slow the pace just enough so that no one can pass him and he can conserve the front tire, to me that indicates the Ducati's can't just whack the throttle open all the time and expect to be at the front at race end. 

As for Zarco I think it would be more akin to KTM wanting to move him out rather than it being his choice.  His retirement at Assen so early in the race with arm pump seems to have not set well with the team, they could move Olivera into his spot and Binder into Olivera's spot for a season ala Ducati and Petrux then decide on team riders for the 2021 silly season.

Total votes: 15

'The Honda needs to be turned with a lot of lean angle – generally a disadvantage, as that means the bike is spending a lot of time on the edge of the tire, and using it up at a rapid pace '

How times change! didn't seem that long ago that this is what killed the Yamaha!

Total votes: 25

Honda/Marquez have been watching Simon Crafar’s Moto Vudu tutorial: make the straights as long as possible and the corners as short as possible. “It’s not who gets on the gas first but who get’s to FULL gas first.”
Rather than sweep through the corner carrying a lot of corner speed and lean angle for a long time Marc smashes the bike to FULL lean and gets the turning done in as short a time as possible getting to FULL gas while the others are still delicately balancing lean vs throttle.
So tyre wear is not really an issue as it has been for Yamaha.

Total votes: 23

3 of the KTM riders get a mention in David's fine article but Zarco misses the cut, I eagerly await the paddock podcast "winners and losers" portion as I feel Zarco will make an appearance there.  I do hope Zarco can have a race that he gets some performance from his bike but it is painful sometimes to watch his attitude when off the bike.

A Lorenzo early retirement would set the cat amongst the pigeons.  Could some riders break current contracts for next season to get onboard the Honda?  If nothing else it will generate lots of chat over the next few months.

Total votes: 27

First time both bikes in the top 10 in 2019 also happens to be the first race Bradl is taking over for Lorenzo.

 

 

Ouch.

Total votes: 18

Whilst unlikely - Marc has a high risk riding style.  If he has an accident (and they do happen, even to those who aren't to blame for them) an injury for a couple of races (or some other DNF like a mechanical, etc.) is 50 points to lose.

 

It aint over yet by a long shot.

Total votes: 27

You're right Jethro but that’s just a luck thing - any of them could have that nasty crash. Otherwise he looks to have it in the bag, again. I wish I was a fan, it must be a great time for those who are. But they’re coming, they’re coming, give it another year or two....

Total votes: 17

I thought the MotoE race was great.  Bit of a shame that it was shortened due to the airbag deflation.  Not an uncommon occurrence for bikes to reach the fence on that corner, but obviously the 260kg played a part.  Let’s hope that 260kg doesn’t play a part in any rider injuries this year.  

As for the sound, I really liked the change up.  Clearly though, Dorna has to work a little bit harder in the broadcast headquarters to ensure the sound levels are sorted a little bit better.  I think they did a better job of that in the SuperPole (you got to hear the bikes better) but had the track mic’s a little too low for the race.  That and Matt Dunn being pretty excited calling his first race and shouting into the microphone. He generally doesn’t do too much of that during the free practices.  They might need to turn his gain down J There is definitely no chance of Neil’s sultry tones overcoming the high pitched scream of the MotoE bikes.

It wasn’t the smoothest running weekend for the first MotoE (2 riders stuffing their exit from pitlane in superpole, marshals being overly cautious and spraying with firefighting fluid even though there wasn’t a need… etc) but the on track action was great!  The Superpole was quite exciting and the race was hectic.  Looking forward to the remaining rounds.

 

Total votes: 24

The sound of the pack rushing by the camera at the bottom of the waterfall was incredible.

Total votes: 19