With two quite fantastic opening acts, the premier class had to live up not only to the smaller classes but to their own recital last time out. Perhaps an overtake count was not quite required this time around but Marc Marquez would have not minded one bit after completing his 99th MotoGP race in top position and successfully defending his territory. The world champion added win number nine to pole number nine at his beloved Sachsenring ahead of his main title contenders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales bringing a double podium for Yamaha.
The tale looked different at the start of the race, when Jorge Lorenzo saw an opportunity to get past the poleman after his standard lightning launch off the line, Danilo Petrucci taking advantage of that as well. Marquez tagged to the back of the Ducatis as Rossi took charge amongst the second row contenders. Viñales followed his teammate while Andrea Dovizioso dropped another position to Cal Crutchlow, with Dani Pedrosa up to eighth. Andrea Iannone got pushed wide at turn three by Pol Espargaro and lost a lot of ground to the leaders, while Suzuki’s day got worse as the KTM also took Alex Rins down with him.
By lap three, Lorenzo attempted a typical escape on the soft front tyre but he was not shaking off Petrucci on the medium and Marquez on the hard. The world champion pounced on Petrucci into turn one at the start of lap five and attempted to bring down the six-tenth gap to Lorenzo, leaving Petrucci into the claws of Rossi, who had just a few tenths on Crutchlow behind him. Dovizioso had made it past Viñales but his progress stopped there. By lap eight, Bautista was the fastest man on track in his attempt to chase down Viñales and stay in the lead group, with Pedrosa losing a second on the top eight men.
Rossi made a move on Petrucci in the first corner at the start of lap nine, seeing the Spanish duo up front stretching an eight tenths gap on them. While Marquez started to harass his compatriot, the Yamaha veteran was slow to bring down that gap. The first victim amongst the pursuers was Crutchlow, the British rider’s mistake on lap ten seeing him crash out of fifth position. That left Petrucci, Dovizioso and Bautista to chase down the leaders, with Viñales losing touch by a second at this point.
Marquez was yet to make an attack by lap 13 but Rossi had finally arrived in the victory battle so the Spaniard had to make a move happen into the final turn of that same lap. The Repsol Honda man could not quite check out yet but the main men were only just starting to show the 1:21 pace they proved capable of in practice.
At the halfway point of the race, Marquez had half a second in hand ahead of Lorenzo, who soon became easy prey to Rossi as the Spaniard made a mistake in turn 10 and the former teammates allowed Marquez a full second by the end of that lap. Rossi’s medium front looked better than Lorenzo’s soft and the Italian tasked himself with the mission of reeling in his arch enemy, but the man formerly holding that title could not resist another go or two at the Italian veteran. Meanwhile, Petrucci struggled to keep up with the leaders and was 1.5 seconds back in fourth, with Dovizioso, Bautista and Viñales holding station behind him.
With 12 laps to go, Rossi had started making serious inroads into the Honda’s advantage by posting the fastest lap of the race while also attempting to block the Spaniard behind him. If there were any question marks over Marquez’s soft rear tyre choice as compared to his rivals’ medium, the world champion answered them on the very next lap as he went on to post the fastest lap and extend his gap once again to over a second.
With nine laps left, Lorenzo finally had to let Rossi go and attempt to manage the one second gap to Petrucci. The Pramac Ducati had the same gap ahead of Bautista, who had made it past Dovizioso and left the Italian to fend off Viñales. The Yamaha youngster finally got into his groove towards the middle of the race, as usual, and made it past Dovizioso for sixth with seven laps to go. The only positive news for the Italian was that Zarco was six seconds behind him at this point and under attack from Pedrosa, the Spaniard making it past the Frenchman soon after.
With six laps left, Marquez ensured a two second gap to Rossi but Petrucci was back into podium contention as Lorenzo looked like he was skating more than riding. The Italian made it past the factory Ducati man only one lap later and Viñales, who had just made it past Bautista, fancied a go at the podium himself. The Yamaha man got past Lorenzo with ease and set off for Petrucci but his teammate was already out of reach. Lorenzo’s day went from bad to worse as Bautista got past with three laps to go, relegating him to sixth.
If he hadn’t slowed down for celebrations on the last lap, Marquez would have crossed the line three seconds ahead of Rossi, which were only two in the end. Following his qualifying heartache, Petrucci had to surrender the final podium position to Viñales on the penultimate lap – an unavoidable result as the Spaniard was the fastest man on track at that point. Petrucci was desperate to hold on but he came up short by six tenths of a second and had to settle for fourth. Bautista scored a fantastic fifth place, his best result in a year, followed by Lorenzo in sixth and teammate Dovizioso in a quite anonymous seventh after showing much better pace in practice. Pedrosa was best of the rest in eighth position, with Zarco and Bradley Smith completing the top ten.
Marquez’s excellent strategy sees him leave for the somewhat brief summer holidays with 46 points advantage over Rossi and 56 points to Viñales.
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||21 Laps|
|30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||Honda||26 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|42||Alex RINS||Suzuki||0 Lap|
|44||Pol ESPARGARO||KTM||0 Lap|