On-and-off rain was the prediction as the riders lined up the grid but the drizzle stopped as the race got underway. The drying track posed a dilemma, the teams and the riders looking for the perfect timing to swap bikes.
The inch-perfect decision was taken by Repsol Honda, the risk of putting Marc Marquez on slick tyres early gaining them a seventh straight victory at the Sachsenring, with almost ten seconds in hand over Cal Crutchlow. The LCR rider broke the heart of fellow Brit Scott Redding by overtaking him on the last lap, with Andrea Dovizioso’s last gasp attack bumping the Pramac rider off the podium.
When Marquez led off the line then got overtaken by Rossi into turn three and started slipping back, it looked like a matter of salvaging points for the world championship leader. But after the heavy fall of the morning and the wrong choice of wet tyre, the Spaniard had to take it easy against the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.
Dovizioso made the move on Rossi three laps after the start, the Yamaha rider overtaken by Petrucci three corners later. Pramac’s Italian didn’t sit around and overtook Dovizioso one lap later.
Jack Miller stormed into sixth once the lights went off, taking Hector Barbera then Marquez for fourth but struggling to close down the two-second gap to the three men at the top. Lower down, Dani Pedrosa was slow to make up places at the start but slowly recovered the second separating him from the lead group as he found some heat to feed his tyres. Iannone was his first victim, his Honda teammate two seconds up the road, Marquez losing ground to Barbera meanwhile.
Twenty laps to go, leader Petrucci hit the gravel handing the lead to Dovizioso. Soon after, Marquez followed his example but his touch for miraculous saves kept him upright and the Repsol rider rejoined ninth, behind Iannone.
Seventeen laps to go, the mechanics started to get some action in the pits, Iannone switching to intermediate tyres, hoping to make the most of the dry line appearing. Meanwhile, Barbera dared a move on Rossi and pulled it off into turn one, setting up an unlikely battle for second place. Behind them, Cal Crutchlow was a man on a mission, the first to drop into the 1’34s and doing so consistently.
Thirteen laps to go, Marquez pitted to swap bikes, risking a slick tyre combination that saw him post a string of fastest laps. The activity in the pits was getting frantic but the top five – comprised of Dovizioso, Rossi, Crutchlow, Barbera and Miller - were still out, only blinking with seven laps to go. That late decision proved fatal to Rossi's podium hopes. Miller took a brave decision to stay out even longer but still didn’t escape Marquez’s charge, the Spaniard overtaking him a lap later.
Redding, who also stopped early on, was twenty seconds down on Marquez and fighting off Cal Cruthlow. It proved an unsuccessful mission as both him and Dovizioso went past on the last lap. The Brit finished fourth, ahead of a lonely ride from Iannone, as Pedrosa and Miller overtook a disconsolate Rossi for sixth and seventh.
The only thing that might console him slightly will be seeing his teammate down in fifteenth, Jorge Lorenzo yoyo-ing outside of the top 10 and grabbing the last point on offer, in another weekend to forget for the reigning world champion.
Finally, the sun definitely came out on Honda’s first half of the season, with Marquez extending his winning streak at the Sachsenring, as well as his lead over Lorenzo to 48 points, Rossi a further 11 down. Honda also finds itself 33 points ahead in the teams’ ranking and only 1 point down on Yamaha in the constructors’ championship. After the dizzying events of Sachsenring, many will be welcoming the summer break. Fans apart.
|16||53||Tito RABAT||Honda||1 Lap|
|17||76||Loris BAZ||Ducati||2 Laps|
|18||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Ducati||3 Laps|
|44||Pol ESPARGARO||Yamaha||13 Laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||18 Laps|