June 2017

2017 Sachsenring MotoGP Friday Round Up: More Grip, Treacherous Turn 11, And Not Being Just A Honda Track Any Longer

Well, we knew the weather was going to be a factor at the Sachsenring, and we weren't disappointed. (Or perhaps we were, depending on your point of view.) The MotoGP riders started off on a bone dry track in the morning, spent an extended 55 minutes on slick tires, then suffered through a couple of full on rain showers in the afternoon. They had time on a dry track, and time on a wet track, and time on a track with a dry line forming. It was the perfect preparation for what promises to be a weekend of mixed weather. The chances of making it all the way to the race on Sunday without another wet session are very small. But they are also not zero.

Riding in both weather conditions gave the riders a chance to assess the grip of the new surface. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Aleix Espargaro summed up the general impressions, and entirely in character, he also summed it up with the most enthusiasm. "It's unbelievable," the Aprilia rider said. "They did a super job, a fantastic job. The tarmac has zero bumps, nowhere. The grip is super high. Actually, I think we finished five seconds from the dry times, which is very very very fast. So, German style, they did a great job!"

The grip was generally judged to be good in the dry, but absolutely phenomenal in the wet. "Honestly, in the wet you can’t believe it," Cal Crutchlow told us. "I left the pit lane. I was late because we were messing around in the garage. Marc had done three laps. I saw the blue flags, sit up and I looked down and Marc’s got his elbow on the floor! When I see someone’s got their elbow on the floor it means you’ve got to push."

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2017 Sachsenring Moto2 FP2 Result: Luthi Fends Off Schrotter

Following the rain dance of MotoGP, the intermediate class was left with a drying line on a damp track. After a few exploratory laps on wet tyres, most riders chose to sit it out until the sunshine did its job in preparing the track for a proper race run.

The only real action started in the final twenty minutes, Tom Luthi one of the first riders to lead on slick tires. Pecco Bagnaia followed his lead (quite literally, chasing the Swiss rider on track), the two exchanging top position several times as riders were pouring out of the pits to make the most of a rapidly improving track.

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2017 Sachsenring MotoGP FP2 Result: Barbera Dethrones Marquez

A quick downpour after the end of the Moto3 session soaked the track and promised to cause trouble for the MotoGP class. With sunshine already breaking through the clouds by the time the first riders joined the track, it was a matter of how quick the new surface would dry.

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2017 Sachsenring Moto3 FP2 Result: Mir Dominates As Martin Picks Up An Injury

You could almost describe the afternoon practice session for the lightweight class as sunny, if you were not afraid to jinx it. The temperature was definitely more welcoming and with the new track surface seeing some more running, the grip seemed a little better but still less than ideal and quite hungry for tyres. Many riders went out on used FP1 tyres before switching to new fast shoes in the final ten minutes of the session, a few final laps stopped by some late spits of rain.

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2017 Sachsenring Moto2 FP1 Result: Oliveira Found His Mojo

A few drops of rain scared us in the beginning of the session but nowhere near enough to leave an impression on the track, a bit of sun almost showing up soon after. Unimpressed by the conditions, Miguel Oliveira would have missed some proper time in the limelight lately, the Portuguese rider making up for that by leading the field throughout the session.

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2017 Sachsenring MotoGP FP1 Result: Dovizioso Steals Viñales’ Thunder. Again.

A cloudy breezy 16 degrees didn’t exactly invite to some tyre testing on the resurfaced German track, so most riders played it safe with a softer tyre combination in the chilly morning, although a few brave souls decided to get the compulsory laps on the harder rear tyre out of the way early on. With ten extra minutes added to the session to see how Michelin gets along with the surface, the riders could sneak in an extra run to make sure any future rain won’t mess up their Q2 chances.

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2017 Sachsenring Moto3 FP1 Result: Another Headline About Martin

With a new asphalt to test, all eyes were to the sky as the lightweight class opened proceedings in Germany. The rain avoided them for the entire length of the session, although the improved surface didn’t really see them set rocket pace from the off, the track waiting for some rubber to build up.

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2017 Sachsenring MotoGP Thursday Round Up: On Freak Weather, Massive Tire Testing, and Honda's Dominance

From Assen to Sachsenring, 700 kilometers in 7 days. One of the shorter hauls between back-to-back races, but a tight schedule nonetheless. Sachsenring's weird split paddock was full of tired looking faces on Thursday, as truck drivers and hospitality staff rushed to tear the entire paddock down in Drenthe, then build it all up again in Saxony.

It is hard to think of a greater contrast in circuits, too. Assen is flat, fast, and sweeping, the Sachsenring tight, slow, and with massive changes in elevation. There are similarities too: the bikes spend a lot of time on the edge of the tire at both tracks. At Assen, it's especially the right side of the tire, as riders sweep through the succession of right handers from Mandeveen all the way to the Ramshoek. At the Sachsenring, it's all left-hand side of the tire which takes the punishment, as the bikes come out of the Omegakurve, pitch into Turn 4, then hustle their way all the way down and then up and over the hill before Turn 11.

Turn 11 is a vicious beast, laying in wait for the unwary, its voracious gravel trap waiting to claim anyone who flicks the bike just a little too enthusiastically right after spending so much time on the left-hand side of the tire. The opposite right-hand side has had 40 seconds to cool off, while the right-hand side of the tire takes all the punishment. The transition from left to right, from scorching hot to cool rubber, from one of the hardest tire compounds of the year to one of the softest, is tricky. Switching between two very different feeling rubbers catches plenty of riders out, in both MotoGP and Moto2.

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