Sachsenring Sunday MotoGP Subscriber Notes: In The Court Of The SachsenKing

It is easy to make predictions. It is much harder to make predictions which will actually turn out to accurately forecast what will happen in the future. Which is why most of the many industries which make their living from what might broadly be labeled "predictions" – futurologists, financial analysts, political and sporting pundits – consist mainly of drawing a line through what happened in the past and extrapolating it on into the future.

Of course, the future doesn't work that way. The world is a far more complex and nuanced place, with a thousand minor details conspiring to change the course of history in unheard of ways. Which is why the only people who make really money off of predictions are those making the odds, such as the bookmakers, or playing with other people's money, such as merchant bankers and investment advisors.

My own role here is as a MotoGP pundit, and in that capacity, I too made my own prediction: that Marc Márquez would make it 11 victories in a row at the Sachsenring this Sunday. That prediction was based on two things: extrapolating the last 10 races in which Marc Márquez had competed into 2021; and Márquez' actions at the Barcelona tests, where he racked up more laps than any other rider.

Doubt creeps in

But as the weekend went on, I started to doubt my pompously overconfident predictions of a Márquez victory at the Sachsenring. On Friday, Márquez didn't chase a fast lap in FP2, saying he lacked "the energy" to do so. He had expected to race without any limitations, but that had proved to be overly optimistic. "Honestly speaking I expected even less, I expected to have zero problems," the Repsol Honda rider told us. "Even like this I am not riding very well. I think you can see in the video my right elbow is very high all the time. I can’t ride like I want."

On Saturday, Márquez missed out on pole position for the first time in 11 years, his pole streak ending at 10 in a row. "The streak of poles has finished, and tomorrow the streak of victories will as well," he told Spanish media. He was aiming for the top five, he said. Given that Márquez had spent a lot of time in FP4 sitting in the pits, perhaps his right arm and shoulder was too much of a limitation to give him a chance for victory, with Miguel Oliveira, Fabio Quartararo, and Jack Miller setting such a searing pace. A podium was definitely still a realistic goal, but as the Repsol Honda rider said himself, his winning streak looked like coming to an end.

The race played out a little differently. Of course it did: all of the unexpected and unaccounted for details meant the race offered opportunities for some, and took them away from others. A brief rain shower gave Marc Márquez his chance to bolt, and the Repsol Honda rider seized it with both hands. After 581 days, Márquez returned to the top step of the podium, taking his 57th MotoGP victory, and moving past Mick Doohan into third place in the all-time podium list, having stood on on the box a total 96 times to Doohan's 95, making him Honda's most successful premier class rider.

Long and winding road

It has been quite a journey. Of disaster, hope, despair; a failed comeback, a broken bone that would not heal, a year of the endless drudgery of physiotherapy, training, and rehabilitation of the body which was betraying him. In the end, the hard work and determination paid off.

Trailing in Márquez' wake is a grand web of stories, of successes and failures, of contrasting fortunes on identical equipment, shattered dreams, comebacks and shortcomings. We will touch on a few of these in these subscriber notes:

  • What makes this a typical Márquez victory
  • The two phone calls that changed the course of the race for Márquez
  • Why this is is good news for HRC staff in the short term, bad news for Honda in the long term
  • Fabio Quartararo extends his championship lead
  • Is Yamaha in the same boat as Honda?
  • The KTM comeback, and Brad Binder's rapid learning curve
  • Miguel Oliveira, rising superstar
  • How the championship momentum has changed.

The question mark hanging over Marc Márquez in the 336 days since he broke his right humerus at Jerez was whether he would ever return to his former level. Early optimism when he returned a week after breaking his arm dissipated when he was forced to pull out ahead of qualifying. The outlook grew bleaker and bleaker, as he suffered one setback after another: the plate breaking again, weakened by the exertion of riding that second time at Jerez; the lack of progress as an infection prevented the bone from healing; the long, slow recovery from the third surgery to fix his arm. Many, many months passed without riding a motorcycle, or even a bicycle.

Will he, won't he?

There were flashes of the former Márquez after he returned at Portimão, and in the races which followed. He was unafraid to push, but unlike before his injury, his ability to save himself when he peered just a little too far over the limit appeared to be gone. In the five races prior to the Sachsenring, he had already crashed 7 times, putting him in joint fourth in the crash league tables.

The real problem, however, was that he had crashed out of three consecutive races, a feat he had never equaled before. He had learned in 2015 the hard lesson of crashing out of races too often, missing out on the title in large part because he pushed too hard trying to compensate for an unwilling bike. Since then, he had learned to crash during practice and find where the limit was, so he would not crash during races. That was proving impossible in 2021.

The problem, he explained, was his right shoulder, still carrying the lingering after effects of shoulder surgery in the winter of 2019-2020, and exacerbated by his crash in Jerez. He could not get his position on the bike right in right-hand corners, which meant he couldn't recover from errors as quickly and easily as he did in the past.

But there were also signs he was preparing for the Sachsenring, a track where he had won ten races in a row already, from 125s to Moto2 to MotoGP. At Barcelona, he was riding more freely than ever, despite crashing out in the early laps. (Or perhaps he crashed out in the early laps precisely because he was riding so freely.) At the test the day after he racked up a total of 87 laps, finally free to work on his riding without the pressure of a race weekend, and without the public scrutiny that televised practice brings.

"Another thing that was very important for me was Monday test in Montmelo," Márquez said. "It was the first time that I was able to ride like I want. Was no pressure, just was like my preseason test so it was only one day but I did many laps and this was very helpful to understand the way to ride."

All that led to Sunday. In the race, everything came together for Marc Márquez. And Marc Márquez was ready for the race. There were a couple of moments which stand out, the Spaniard showing his determination from the start, despite missing out on pole for the first time in 11 years.

First, the start and the first few corners. Márquez held onto the middle of track as the bikes raced down to the first corner, lining up just outside the rear wheel of Fabio Quartararo, taking advantage of Johann Zarco's mediocre start. He turned in a fraction early, which positioned him perfectly to stuff his Honda RC213V inside Quartararo's Yamaha, giving the Frenchman the merest nudge as the rounded Turn 1.

The inside line through Turn 1 then left him perfectly positioned for Turn 2, and to cut across the nose of Johann Zarco, who had taken the long way around the first corner, but had the inside for Turn 2. But that meant the Pramac Ducati rider was slow on the entry to the first left hand corner, allowing Márquez to carry speed into Turn 2, and latch onto the back of Aleix Espargaro, who had grabbed the lead in the first corner.

Márquez chased the Aprilia round the tight, twisting track, but found himself a little too far back to attack into Turn 12, the prime overtaking spot at the bottom of the hill. No matter: knowing the Sachsenring like the back of his hand, he switched to plan B, carrying exit speed out of Turn 12 and then braking later than Aleix Espargaro dared into the final corner, diving up the inside of the Aprilia RS-GP and grabbing the lead. Espargaro found a Honda RC213V in front of him, and couldn't get the drive to counter Márquez' pass.

That first lap was a display of the Marc Márquez of old, but once past Espargaro, he could not easily escape. Lap after lap, Espargaro remained stuck on Márquez' tail, the gap never more than a few tenths.

Then, the second flash of the real Marc Márquez came. The summer air had been heavy with moisture, and on lap 8, it started to rain. Light spots, not enough to dampen the track, but enough to rob the surface of grip and dramatically raise the risk of pushing. Just the conditions where Marc Márquez comes into his own, and can be so much faster than everyone else. "I did the perfect first lap and then when I saw some drops I said, okay, it’s my day," Márquez said after the race. "I continued. I pushed and I was riding same as before when it was completely dry without any drops."

The difference with his rivals was stark. "I have huge respect to Marc obviously, but sincerely today I didn’t expect him to win," Aleix Espargaro said after the race. "He’s been brave in the moment of the race when the rain arrived, because actually we were talking this after the race with Marc and Fabio. It was not just a couple of drops on the screens. It was slippery. I almost crashed in Turn 8, and the track was slippery for four or five laps. So, he was brave enough to make the difference there, and then to maintain for the win."

On lap 9, Márquez pulled out a second from Aleix Espargaro, extending his lead from 0.260 to 1.260. A lap later, after Jack Miller had got past Espargaro, Márquez had gained another half a second over second place, the Australian now holding that position. He has broken the pursuit, and had the race right where he wanted it.

Coming through

Márquez didn't have it all his own way, however. A barnstorming Miguel Oliveira was on a charge, and once he got past Miller, he kept Márquez honest. The two men pushed each other to the limit at a distance, the gap yoyoing as they traded fast laps. Oliveira closed the gap in the final third of the race, but though he got to within a second of Márquez, he eventually had to let the Repsol Honda go. Second was sufficient for the Red Bull KTM rider, better than risking it all on a day where he stood to make gains in the championship.

Márquez had used a mental trick to withstand the pressure of having Oliveira on his tail. At one point, he felt he was tensing up, not riding loose and relaxed the way that he can. So he reached back into his memory banks to recapture the feeling of riding at the track when he won. And when he saw Oliveira's name on the pit board, with a +1 next to it, he swapped the Portuguese rider's name for his brother Alex', recreating their regular training exercises.

"In some part of the race I was just riding too stiff because I was like, I don't want to crash and I don't want to make any mistakes," Márquez told us. "But then I said, okay, forget about all these things. Just I try to come back to the old memories in this racetrack, when I was riding in a good way. I changed the name Oliveira to my brother’s name to when we are training at home. Normally we train in that mode. The fastest guy goes behind, the slower rider in front, and sometimes he’s faster than me in some situations. So, I just changed his name on my mind to my brother. I said, okay, if he catches me, it’s not a problem. But of course, I was pushing and I never give up."

Despite the intense physicality of motorcycle racing, of pushing a 300 horsepower bike weighing 170kg plus with a full tank of fuel, so much of the sport takes place in the mind of the rider, in what is sometimes called the most important 6 inches in racing, the gray matter between the ears. (Ironic, then, that people talk of riders having 'balls', when what they actually have is a finely-tuned prefrontal cortex.) Márquez knew he had to calm himself, release the stress, and find his Sachsenring zone again. Using visualization and memory, he tricked his body into being in a better, faster place. It was enough to carry him to a win which he really needed.

The release of emotion by Marc Márquez showed just how much this win meant, to him and to Honda. Márquez is normally a man who has his feelings under control, beyond the normal brief expressions of joy when he wins. But he struggled speaking to Simon Crafar in the parc ferme interview, and he was still struggling when he did the TV interviews shortly afterward.

It wasn't just Márquez who found it hard to control his emotions. HRC's MotoGP Technical Manager Takeo Yokoyama couldn't hold back the tears as Márquez crossed the line. While Márquez had to face the pressure of trying to understand whether he would be able to race again, Yokoyama had had the pressure of a year of Honda failures on his shoulders. But more of that later.

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Source: 
year: 
2021
round_number: 
8

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Comments

Great writing and for fans of MotoGP that was flat out amazing what Marc achieved.

Any chance of the lottery numbers for this week. Just for the subscribers.

I wouldn't bet against Marc being properly back after the summer break either.  It will be an exciting second half with so many riders going well.

Sir, your forecast had the benefit of a decent factual basis, some keen observation, and a good deal of intuition. Most of your subscribers are eating a double serve of humble pie. As for Marc - well opinions differ I know, but he really is piling on the respect points.

As for Maverick - as long as he looks anywhere but into himself this misery is going to continue. The quoted comment from the conference is that: 'Nobody answered to me...'. Well I am not sure what he is hoping for - a knowledgeable pillion perhaps. He needs a mentor he can trust who is willing to tell him the hard stuff. He has so much talent but he has lost his connection to it.

Where is Cal Crutchlow in all of this ? Is he not testing new parts for Yamaha or waiting for a call to get his leathers on ? Wasnt that long ago that Mav was praising Cal and saying that the sun shone out of his a..... Now we are back to the Mav of old and even with a new Crew Chief he's in a very dark place. How long will the Yamaha factory team (not to mention Petronas whose problems are worse) put up with this ?

When you're right you're right!

Lot of intrigue and subtext from this race. So interesting to see the changed complexion of the championship after Marc's temporary exit and return. I feel like riders (and factories) feared him before, but now they don't.

I feel like Miguel can carve out a championship.... IIRC the Yamahas tend to fall apart in the 2nd half of the season. But I will wait for Krop's prediction before handing my deed to my bookie!!!

Bradl tested and raced the bike all last year. No wins
Alex is well into his 2nd year. No wins.
Nakagami has a few years on it. No wins.
Cal managed 3 wins in 6 years.
George couldn't ride it.
Dani was always the runner up and 2nd best.
Yesterday, Alex and Taka were still nowhere.
Pol was nowhere. Same story since Qatar...forever actually.
No small wonder they signed Marc to 4 years with a kings ransom as a salary...and why the desperation to have him back in good health.
Has anything changed for Honda?

Give Pol his due, he's brutally honest about it, knows what he must do even if not how to and he's pushing, bouncing, getting back up and pushing...bouncing. It would be nice to see him get something for his efforts.

I think Pol's due is what we're seeing right now...this is a good as it gets. He'll be lucky if he ever wins his first MGP race...especially on the Honda. He might see the podium a time or two but I think Honda made a mistake hiring him. Neither he or his brother will ever be world champion...they just don't have what it takes. If it came across that I was selling Dani short that was not my intention, but let's face it, he had moments of extraordinary brilliance followed by nothing for the next 10 races...just like Cal. He has done amazing work with KTM though...good on him!

I'd say you're also selling Dani a bit short. For sure he was ever the bridesmaid but, in my view anyway, that was mostly because you only had to look at him for his collarbone to snap. But he was certainly able to win on the bike, did so many a time.

Dani won 9 times while Marc was in the team. I'm usually of the belief that the Honda must have the potential in it to win otherwise it wouldn't be winning. Marcs win on Sunday really does show his worth. It shows the other Honda riders where they are and in that comparison also shows the rest of the grid where Marc is. To me it's actually reassuring. I've been wondering if MotoGP is getting too easy. I know that sounds a bit mad but when you see this number of rookies coming in and running at the front it makes me wonder. When i say easy i mean how difficult it is to extract that last few %. You've all heard riders in the past say that the first 98% or whatever number is easy...it's the last 2% that's difficult. I've been wondering if it's now the last 0.2% that's so difficult. That's not the case though, when you have a special rider, which Marc is without doubt, they seem to show it's the last 10% that's most difficult. Whether it's Doohan, Rossi or Marquez they stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

But 31 wins in MotoGP overall and well over 100 podiums, all on a Honda. Not that I was ever a particular fan, just think he was one of the unluckiest, physically fragile riders I've ever seen, one of those riders who really should have had two or three titles to his name. Plus he was a class act.

I doubt MotoGP is getting easier. In mountaineering we used to say, "you climb on your grandfathers shoulders", meaning you are always benefitting from your predecessors experience, trials and tribulations. I imagine it's the same in MotoGP. The young guns are catching up. For sure they still have their work cut out to consistently best Marquez, but if he sticks around long enough they will, sooner or later. None of which detracts that he is the stand-out talent of his era and one of the greats.

Pedrosa had twice as many wins per season before becoming Marquez' teammate. And Pedrosa had zero wins and podiums in 2018 his final season. His overall results in Motogp may indicate that he was struggling with the development path HRC had taken with the Honda. Maybe if HRC had paid more attention to this, they would not be in their current situation. Plus they let the guy move over to KTM and help develop a Motogp machine into a winning formula that more than one rider can be competitive on. Good job Pedrosa! And all the KTM folks. Oliveira and Binder looked really strong last weekend. It's going to be interesting to see how well the orange bikes do at Assen this Sunday.

Mountaineering could be quite a good example for what i meant. How high can you go on a mountain ? The summit. There's much more to it than that i know. There's different routes to the summit, different techniques a myriad of different ways to make the task more challenging increasing the level of achievement. Still, they can only go so high, there's a physical limit reached.

How quickly you can get up to the summit in a race with other mountaineers is different. We cannot say what the limit is but because of the different techniques and routes, one being proven to be quicker than another, the limiting factor is human performance and we all know th....somebody comes along and redefines what was thought possible. New techniques, new route, new training, new record....we know less than we thought we knew. They win the mountain race every year for the next 4 years.

Then we write rules forcing people to use only one route and it's the most commonly used route. Still a challenge to be fastest but almost everybody can climb that route. The number of people within that fastest bracket explodes. It's closer competition, we get to see climbers fighting each other for the handholds.

It pretends to be mountaineering but actually it has become a boxing match on the side of a mountain.

A very fanciful and insane analogy but sort of along the lines of my concern. Take Moto3, i love small bikes and racing with lots of slipstreaming but I'll admit that sometimes (getting to be more often) it's a boxing match with bikes as the back drop. Sure it's exciting and unpredictable but it's changed the visage of what racing is. You take bikes with identical performance, bikes with which all the riders can get very near to the limit of what is possible and this is what you get. If the limits are easily attained, well signposted and predictable...well then anybody can do it. That's Moto3 ?

However ! The good news is. As things are, even if everybody can do it, not everybody can be Pedro Acosta and not everybody can be Marc Marquez. Masia / Acosta...Honda riders / Marc.

It's impossible to know what's going on inside any team but you can see the effects. Oliveira/Binder, currently there is a difference in the results. Oliveira is getting more out of that package across the weekend but we can also see Binder in the races has it, it's just not all fitting together yet. Fabio seems long way ahead but it's a very strange situation, we all know Maverick has the speed but it's like inverted Binder*10 at the moment. The Ducati boys, all + and -'s, all producing at various points. There's not a huge difference in what they are all capable of doing within their teams on their bikes. Some are, some aren't but we know they can do it. Honda...the bike IS difficult and where you find difficult you can see the difference.

There's still the question though...is Acosta a stand out rider or is he simply an extremely good rider who also enjoys boxing ?

I'll save this for the bottom. When i say easy...i don't mean in absolute terms. I mean easy for a very talented bunch of riders.

I think Pol has to do exactly what he said; copy Marc's settings and lines in an attempt to close the gap. Mav should do the same with Fabio and see where he stands. I am surprised Marc is so pessimistic in public about his immediate prospects. Pretty revealling. I don't see how that little short phone call from Puig contributed anything. Marc rode that race on his own and took advantage of the opportunities that favored him. Certainly that fantastic first lap was all Marc, as was his pressing through the rain to build that winning gap. Anyway, thanks for the great article!

I really think he is doing the opposite Larry. Shooting dead straight. His war chest was entirely placed closer to Self since getting back on a bike. He reads like an open book! Economized to heart and determination. He will return to his normal strategic warfare when he has some bandwidth for it and more traction. Alien fell to Earth, whizzing by the Astronauts. Put on a human flight suit. Pressurized a solo capsule and is approaching the International Space Station. Radioing it just like it is. For now.

I think Oliveira may be the guy thinking that way more at present. He is razor sharp. And using it, sparingly with a smile. 

I hear you though Larry, Marc has done so much of it that now the wolf is crying boy. I respect it. Anyhoo, enjoy Assen. 

Still chewing on crow. It's edible. Marc has showed SO much heart! And grit. I would bet against him again last Thursday, those were the cards on the table from my hand. Makes me appreciate him more. Great article David.

Bigger picture thoughts are here. Some big changes. KTM should be feared. Their two riders look great, and the crop of Orange Alien babies waiting is as big and impressive as any ever. Oliveira just showed something more and is not done. Moreso, the KTM bike didn't work w the Michelins starting the year. So they made a new chassis to do so, and it did. Fast good decision. Work in house. Bike and program integrated neatly. Contrast several other manufacturers. KTM is the new Honda. Oliveira is our new professor, both on track and off. 

Honda is the new Ducati. Like pre Gigi Red, one rider makes it work and then it is seen as a place to end your career. Then, that one is lost and so is the Manu, who dodges responsibility. For way too long.

Aprilia is the new Suzuki, doing much with little. Lots of potential. Leaving you needing patience. A rider occasionally taking the bike amongst the big guys. Belief suspended. Good God they need to sign an Astronaut adolescent that turns out to break orbit on the big bikes. 

Somehow, Yamaha aren't currently looking like the most rideable bike on the grid. Rather than Vinales and Morbidelli joining FabulousQ at the front, they have joined Valentino at the back. This is temporary, but not fitting with the narrative that the bike is out of the development gutter of 2 plus years. These tires have handed them a DNA congruent boost too! Regarding rider lineup dealings, we have Quartararo as a Marc, only rider making it work. And the rest like Ducati riders of previous years, pushed to perform or under appreciated/supported. 

Ducati may be seen as having arrived past a threshold. Customers are lining up for their year old bikes. Satellite squad is well established. Solid squad of riders on the bikes, high on the Championship points table. Harmony in the garages. Rather Yamaha like? The bike has succeeded in resolving an Achilles heel. It is a complete package, no longer lost at bogey tracks. It turns. The whole program is in stride.

Suzuki is about to return to form at the next Round. Here comes Mir. He isn't so far back in points. But a few other riders look really strong this year, a bigger challenge than 2020. (Great Championship outlook eh? A handful could). Suzuki is still just good old Suzuki.

P.S. we have a new Moto3 Marc in Acosta. It has been a while. Has there been a young rider sticking THAT far out since MM93? Is Yamaha wishing they had a Moto2 Team ally to sign him to with the MotoGP option inked? Was that supposed to be VR46? Has Orange caught everyone with their pants down? It has to get personal. It can't just be a money stack smelling of Marlboro. The kid has to see themself in your leathers on a signed poster. Merge with and set fire to their desire. KTM is making loyal young riders. Again, the new Honda. But Acosta can be snagged right now by Yamaha. Not Honda. Changed time.

Breaking story: I heard Bagnaia and Vinales have but one set of magic underwear they have been forced to share. One is going to have to take it and keep it on. Who will grab it from the laundry, ass in at Assen? Maverick and pressure just got unders in a knot, his junk is yo-yo ing. Bagnaia has momentum. 

Marc's next Round will say quite a bit. First after Summer break? May say a volume. Bet his eye is on carrying speed into 2022 rather than spinning it up. Steady rise for 2nd half the season. One of the favorites for next year. Right now we have a Blue vs a couple Reds (could THREE push to the end?). Orange in chase. A Light Blue slotting in (yes, believe!). Popcorn out, might be upgrading to nachos. Plenty of cheese obviously.

;)

... I for one didn't expect Marc to achieve a win last weekend - however, if he was going to pull it off, I didn't anticipate it to play out this way. It was a classic, full-throated Marquez win: Dodgy conditions, Marc reacts to the changing weather instantly, instead of pondering it like most of the field, builds a gap and rides that crucial advantage to the checkered flag. Olivera was likely the winner here in full-dry conditions - full credit to Marc for reminding us who he is and what he's capable of. Welcome back King.

I thought was interesting, particularly during potsticker but then confirmed on the race. Those that wait for a tow, that complain, gesticulate rant, blame were nowhere to be seen. Up front, finishing the race in the top ten or so places were all guys who get on with their job, who don't complain or go mad if another rider tags along over a lap or few, who ride on their own often and generally seem to get along well with their crew. AM, MV, VR, IL made up the tail end along with the rookies. Notable exception was JM.who scored high and sometimes complains. To me that sort of proofed that those who focus on their own riding, what is in their control, succeed. Those that look outside, either at the bike, the factory, their fellow riders are only making up numbers right now. I am looking forward to see Remy Gardiner and a few other moto2 riders make the grade. It might be more of a gamble but at least there is the possibility to succeed. That's more than can be said about the whiners. 

Welcome back Marc great win! Taken in the first turn, bravely pushing through to second, as David wrote. Marc Marquez was himself, his new self. Bulletproof no more! But experienced in going very fast. Every racer knows it is easier to pass at the start & in the first corner(s). Have a look at the replays of turn1 lap one. MM93 comes into the turn 3rd or 4th. when he opens the throttle he is 2nd. How does he do it! More corner speed and determination.

Congrats Miguel Oliveira! Miguel has got "the right stuff". MO88, can I say Modus operandi, his MO & mojo was on display. Early on in the race 88 & Brad Binder where close together 6th & 7th. Shortly after that Miguel passes Fab Q, Brad doesn't. About 10 laps in Miguel is up to second. Oliveira followed Aleix for a while until 88 found a way past. At half race distance Brad was still 7th. In the second half of the race BB33 made much better progress. Assuming his tires were better than those ahead of him.

I find it very interesting that Miguel was able to make passes early on when Brad wasn't. Both of them finding the Aprilia a challenge to pass. By the time Brad got past Zarco; Aleix had a good gap. KTM show me the data! please.

If Binder is "outstanding" as one commentator called him. Surely Miguel is better, may feature in the championship race.

Pecco a bit similar, 10th with 10 laps to go, still behind Aleix with 3 laps to go. Bagnaia finished fifth.

Don't forget Brad is a rookie here Ape, right? More to come. Miguel though, he is REALLY looking a bit trans Astronaut about now. And the Orange bike, look out!

HUG

Any idea what on earth was going on with Pecco Bagnaia. He was 20th at one point if I am not mistaken and came back to finish 4th. That was a hell of ride, but he is not doing his championship hunt any favours.

Fantastic article on a great moment in motogp history. I don't know how you crank this stuff out, but keep doing it. I've been reading your work for 10 (!) eff'n years now and it's just better and better all the time.