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2016 Sachsenring MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Asymmetric Tires, Terrifying Turn 11, and Aprilia Upgrades

There are good times to talk to MotoGP riders and there are bad times. Among the bad times are when sessions of other classes are on, or when other major sporting events intervene. Valentino Rossi's press debrief on Saturday afternoon is one example. When it clashes with the start of the Red Bull Rookies Cup race, Rossi can be distracted as he watches the opening laps on TV screens in the Yamaha hospitality. Though Rossi is the consummate professional, always giving relevant answers to the questions we put to him, sometimes we have to wait, as fourteen Red Bull Rookies all try to fit into a corner where only three will go.

On Thursday, the press debriefs of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders were up against the last twenty minutes of the Tour de France stage which finished near the top of the Mont Ventoux. (Not actually at the summit: strong winds meant the finish was moved 6km from the top.) Cycling is something which MotoGP riders tend to become passionate about, as they do it so much to maintain fitness. And the finish to this particular stage became so intense that both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro remained glued to the screen, as did most of the journos who had come to talk to them, including myself. We talked a lot with the Tech 3 boys, but none of it was about MotoGP.

Well, not quite none. As I prepared to rush from Tech 3's hospitality through the tunnel under the track to a press conference I was already late for, I quickly asked about the asymmetric front tires Michelin have brought to the Sachsenring. "We'll see tomorrow," was Bradley Smith's answer, followed by a comment that he was more happy that the French tire manufacturer has brought the extra soft front rain tire, as the soft had still proved too hard at Assen.

2016 Sachsenring MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix:


Repsol Honda Team look forward to season’s halfway mark at Sachsenring

The ninth round of the MotoGP World Championship, scheduled for this weekend at the Sachsenring circuit, marks the midway point in the 2016 season, with Marc Marquez leading the Championship classification and teammate Dani Pedrosa lying in fourth place.

Johann Zarco Joins Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP Team For 2017

The long-awaited news of Johann Zarco's MotoGP contract has been announced. The Frenchman is to join Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2017. Zarco's contract is for one year, with the team holding an option on the Frenchman for a second year. 

2016 Sachsenring MotoGP Preview - Can the Hondas Make it 7 Years in a Row?

If there is such a thing as a Honda track, then the Sachsenring is surely it. Of the nineteen premier class races held at the tight, tortuous circuit, Honda have won twelve. That includes the last six races in a row: From 2010 through 2012, nobody could touch Dani Pedrosa around the circuit. From 2013 onwards, Marc Márquez has been unbeatable at the track.

What makes the Sachsenring such a Honda track? Maybe it's the two key braking points at the circuit, going into Turn 1, and at the bottom of the hill for Turn 12. Maybe it's the ability to use the Honda horsepower going up the hill out of the final corner, across the line and into Turn 1. Or maybe it's the tight corners, the Honda always a strong bike in turning.

The Sachsenring circuit is invariably described in disparaging terms – "Mickey Mouse", "a go-kart track" – but that does not do the track justice. It may not challenge the bikes in terms of horsepower, but it demands an awful lot of the riders. From the moment they arrive at the end of the short, uphill front straight, brake hard for the sharp right-hander of Turn 1, and pitch it into the corner, the bike barely leaves the edge of the tire until the plunge down the Waterfall after Turn 11. There is a brief moment of respite between Turns 7 and 8, before heeling the bike over again for another series of lefts going up the hill to the circuit's crowning glory.

2016 Laguna Seca WorldSBK Review: Looking Back at Laguna, Forward to 2017

The WorldSBK season goes on its annual summer break with the championship suddenly poised on a much finer edge than was imaginable just a week ago.

Jonathan Rea's dominance of the current campaign has been almost unparalleled. However, his run of 17 consecutive podium finishes to open the season is now over and suddenly he faces a threat from within for his title defense.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marquez’s greatest escape

Marc Marquez’s Houdini-like escape during Assen practice was one of the greatest saves in MotoGP history

Over the past three decades I’ve seen many amazing riders do many amazing things. All kinds of moments jump out, from before Kevin Schwantz to after Casey Stoner – way too many to go into now, but here are three.

It’s September 1985, the season-ending San Marino GP at Misano, way before anyone had even dreamed of traction control. Randy Mamola is chasing Ron Haslam during practice, both of them aboard Honda’s superbly rider-friendly NS500 triple. The American is accelerating out of a left-hander when his rear tyre smears sideways and then grips. Suddenly the bike isn’t so rider-friendly and flicks him skywards like an ejector seat. When Mamola re-enters orbit his head just about thumps the front mudguard and both his legs land to the right of the bike as he runs off the track. He is now skating through the grass with both feet, his hands hanging onto the handlebars for dear life, while he waits for the bike to slow, because he knows he will crash if he tries to use the front brake.

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 32 - Dutch Madness At Assen, Moto2, Moto3 & More

Later than hoped for, but here at last. Recorded after the MotoGP race at Assen, the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is finally online. 

In it, Tony Goldsmith and Neil Morrison discuss the events of a wild and weird weekend in The Netherlands, and the surprise winner the Dutch TT produced. Tony and Neil go over the race and the weather, and the difficulties of a red-flagged race.

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