The Sachsenring likes to throw a spanner in the works and demand a show from its conqueror, this year in the shape of overnight rain, lower temperatures and impromptu tyre choices. But as always, the local monarch had his way and the biggest and only struggle Marc Marquez had on Sunday was in riding the 10-shaped balloon safety to pitlane. That particular mission was unsuccessful but the only one that really mattered was executed to perfection and Marquez took his tenth consecutive win at the Sachsenring. Maverick Vinales rode impeccably to second position but barely saw his compatriot ahead. Cal Crutchlow concocted a mix of bravery and luck that helped him wobble his way onto a long-awaited podium.
Fabio Quartararo was part of the cast early on, an enthusiastic start putting him ahead of the poleman off the line. It was helped by Marquez making more of a wheelie than a start but the world champion would not be denied into turn one and he retook the lead ahead of Vinales, while Quartararo got caught out and dropped to seventh position. The dream of victory shattered on lap two for the Frenchman, who slipped on the kerbs on cold rubber and became the first victim of the prolific turn three. If Marquez lost one rival, he still had two on his tail, Vinales glued to his back and Alex Rins taking his rightful place in the top three but getting harassed by Jack Miller and Crutchlow. After a literally painful weekend for Danilo Petrucci, he was out to make amends by promptly joining the top six and taking teammate Andrea Dovizioso with him.
Marquez was already showing hints at an escape on lap four so Rins was forced to attack Vinales climbing down the hill into turn 12 but the gap already ticked over the one second mark as the Honda leader was fastest on track. With Marquez on softer rear rubber than his two pursuers, Rins was already getting mapping suggestions to keep his medium front-hard rear tyres in decent shape for a final battle. The task was aided by Vinales giving him one second’s breathing space and fending off Crutchlow. Meanwhile, Dovizioso got past his still-loyal teammate and was chasing Miller for fifth position – the Italian’s best case scenario prior to the race becoming reality.
By lap ten, Marquez was meeting race pace predictions to the tenth of a second, helping himself to a two second gap on Rins, while Vinales was steadily getting faster but not fast enough to ring alarm bells for Suzuki. Crutchlow kept close but never saw the opportunity to attack and was under no pressure as he had a three seconds’ advantage to the Ducati trio led by Miller but with Petrucci the fastest of the lot. The Academy tag team of Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi were keen to join that battle in the next few laps but they were getting rookie headaches from Joan Mir.
An eternity ahead of that particular tussle, Marquez started the second half of the race with a three seconds lead, showing similar pace to Rins, Vinales and perhaps surprisingly Crutchlow. Petrucci overtook Miller to become prime contender in a seven-man battle for fifth but nearly six seconds behind the podium fight.
There was no storm, just calm for the next few laps, until Rins threw away a comfortable podium at the top of the hill with 12 laps to go. Vinales picked up the chase but was five seconds back on Marquez and Crutchlow inherited the final provisional podium spot. The Ducatis still came next but Mir was the man of the moment, having picked up Rossi, Morbidelli and Miller in reasonably quick succession. Dovizoso was the next victim with nine laps remaining but the Italian was a more difficult proposition and fought him straight back at turn one. Despite the youngster’s impressive adventures, his tyres were starting to fade so cameras returned to the battle for second, where Crutchlow was keeping a close eye on Vinales’ weaknesses but not yet showing intentions.
Marquez started the final five laps six seconds ahead, with Crutchlow still waiting to make the first attack on Vinales. The British rider never got to show a wheel to the Yamaha after a threatening wobble of his Honda that left him two seconds behind the Spaniard. Dovizioso meanwhile did not follow his example and got embroiled in an intra-team battle, going into turn one three-wide with Petrucci and Miller, Mir not too far behind. Petrucci crossed the line ahead of the red brigade, robbing Dovizioso of an extra couple of points and demoting Miller to sixth. Mir came home seventh to sweeten the blow for Suzuki, with Rossi, Morbidelli and Bradl completing the top ten.
Marquez lost a second or so with last lap celebrations but still had enough time to pop some champagne with his fanclub by the time rivals crossed the finish line and the world champion goes on holiday admiring his 58 points advantage on Dovizioso.
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||2 Laps|
|42||Alex RINS||Suzuki||12 Laps|
|5||Johann ZARCO||KTM||28 Laps|
|20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Yamaha||29 Laps|