MotoGP: Sachsenring Preview
MotoGP: Sachsenring Preview

As we approach the halfway point of the season, and less than a week after the Dutch GP at the TT Circuit Assen, the MotoGP class are set to meet at Sachsenring for round number nine of the 2017 season, the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland.

Rossi returned to winning ways in Assen

Many people are still going to be buzzing about the fact that nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) broke a severe drought and returned to winning ways at the last round at the ‘Cathedral of Speed’. But there was no time to sit around celebrating as straight away the MotoGP paddock was packed up and moved to their next location not far down the road.

A huge 385 days after his last victory, by the skin of his tyres, Rossi won a race where rain threatened. After a wet Qualifying he started from fourth on the grid, and when he made his way to the front he was just about to get settled before a rain shower hit bringing Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) into the mix.

Petrucci second due to trouble with back-markers

Trouble with backmarkers for Petrucci saw him lose vital time that meant he crossed the line in second despite a final chase, just 0.063 seconds behind Rossi who collected his 115th GP win. Behind them a brilliant little battle for third took place between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) but it was the Spanish 2016 MotoGP champion, Marquez that emerged victorious and claimed the final podium spot.

Disaster for Zarco in Assen

Unfortunately for pole position man, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3), the rookie got a magnificent pole, led for almost half the race before everything started to go wrong. He ended up first losing positions when he tried to defend his lead, then when the rain started he opted to change his bike, and then received a ride-through penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane when he swapped bikes… somehow he still managed to finish In the points.

Closest finish in the Moto2 class

It wasn’t just the MotoGP class that were a close finish, just as close and just as dramatic was both the Moto2 and Moto3. Just after confirming he would be joining the MotoGP class next year with his team, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, Franco Morbidelli took his fifth victory of the season.

The first five riders crossed the line within less than a second after all of them had led at some point or another throughout the race. Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) was just 0.158 seconds off the win. But despite Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) crossing the line next, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was awarded the final podium position as Pasini ran wide, gained time and did not return what was gained. Pasini was awarded fourth and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) got another great result in fifth.

Bendsneyder crashed on the line

Unfortunately for local rider Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), he crashed as he crossed the finish line and because he was not in contact with his bike, he was given a DNF in Assen. He was at the back of a group of 10 that crossed the line within a second of each other (as Adam Norrodin (SIC 5 Racing Team) had fell off on the last group) and after coming together with another rider came off and slid across the tarmac behind his bike.

Canet victorious in Assen

Aron Canet, who has just had his contract extended with Estrella Galicia 0,0 for another year, crossed the line first winning in Assen. He had enough drive out of the final chicane to finish just ahead of Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) who started from 15th on the grid, and Scottish rider, John McPhee (British Talent Team) who claimed a magnificent third after starting from 19th on the grid.

MotoGP championship extremely close

The MotoGP championship is closer than ever as the top four are covered by a mere 11 points. Dovizioso’s consistency has paid off, and his fourth in Assen, where previous leader Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) crashed out, meant that the Italian leapfrogged the Spaniard to take over at the top of the table. Dovizioso is on 115 points, Vinales is four behind on 111 points, and his win in Assen left Rossi third with 108 points. Marquez is also in contention on 104 points in fourth.

There is no telling who is going to claim that title at this stage of the proceedings. We just know it is so close and as dramatic as ever. Rossi wants that 10th title, Marquez wants to defend his, Dovizioso wants his first and Ducati’s first in ages, and Vinales was determined to win the championship on his debut season.

Morbidelli remains on top in the Moto2 while Mir has a cushion

Morbidelli remains the championship leader in the Moto2 class on 148 points, 12 points ahead of Luthi. Another 13 points behind Luthi on 113 points is Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who has just has his contract extended by another year.

The Spaniard will be joined in the Moto2 team and class by current Moto3 championship leader, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) who has signed a three year deal with the team. Mir has the most comfortable margin out of the three championship series as he leads on 140 points, 30 ahead of Canet in second. Fenati is third, two points behind Canet on 108 points.

Grand Prix Commission results after Assen

After the Assen meeting there was a Grand Prix Commission meeting that took place with some of the changes being made effective immediately. Regarding Technical Regulations changes introduced now, with catch tanks, detailed changes concerning tank capacity, including tubing and non-return valves where approved. Also new regulations were approved concerning materials that may be used in the construction of Moto3 and Moto2 chassis; slight modifications regarding the material used for the swingarm and wheel spindles will have regulations to apply to chassis in all classes.

Also effective immediately, wildcard riders will be included in the accidental injury insurance provided by IRTA and will no longer need to obtain insurance from their National Federation for that event thus giving them the same level over as the permanently contracted riders. It will also no longer be permitted for a rider to compete in more than one Championship during the same event.

Future changes to be made amongst the classes…

Machines in the Moto3 and MotoGP class must have the dashboard facility to display text message, which should be linked to the current warning lights with effect from 2018, and the Moto2 class from 2019. A precise list of messages that will be sent with the lights by Race Direction has been confirmed. Those who already have the facility may use it as a virtual pit board” and does not require amendments.

It was confirmed that Triumph will become suppliers for the Moto2 class from 2019 and Dell’Orto will be supplier of the ECU for the Moto2 class between 2018 and 2020. Also effective from 2019, detailed specifications for Mtoo2 electronics and ancillaries were confirmed.

It was also requested by HRC that with safety in mind, the inlet valves could be replaced on several Moto3 engines due to a manufacturing floor that has led them to crash. The changes are permitted under the supervision of Technical Direction staff and the engines worked on will be limited to a total usage of 2,200km.

Baldassarri and Antonelli out of action in Germany

Back to the German GP where some riders will unfortunately be missing from proceedings. After his horrific crash Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) during Qualifying in Assen, where he was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured ankle, the Italian has been ruled out. He will be replaced by Federico Fuligni while he undergoes ankle surgery.

Also, Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will be missing from the German Moto3 race as he suffered a back injury during Free Practice in the wet. He will be replaced by British rider Danny Kent who did a wildcard appearance several rounds ago with the team after he parted ways with Moto2 team, Kiefer Racing.

About the Sachsenring

Based in Chemnitz, Germany, Sachsenring was built and 1996 and has hosted the MotoGP since 1998; it was updated in 2001. Known as one of the slower tracks on the calendar, the 3.78 km (2.28 miles) track is ridden anti-clockwise making it predominantly left handed with 10 left hand turns and three left. Measuring 12 metres wide (39.37 ft) the longest straight at the track is the start-finish straight that measures 700metres (2296.59ft).

The MotoGP class will complete 30 laps of the track (20 laps being two thirds race distance), the Moto2 class will complete 29 laps and the Moto3 class will complete 27 laps with race distance being called once they have completed 19 or 18 laps respectively, in what will be the 79th German Grand Prix.

Known overtaking spots in Germany

There are five known overtaking opportunities with the initial one being like at most tracks coming at the end of the long straight and heading into turn one. Turn three, the hairpin known as Omega, will likely see plenty of action especially towards the exit, the quick left turn, eight leaves an inside line that a rider can use to their advantage should they get the right drive. Being brave on the breaks at turn 12 would be daring but can make a move possible before the final corner, turn 13 that will prove crucial as an overtaking hotspot especially on the last lap.

Marquez dominates at the Sachsenring

Marquez dominates the German track. Not only has he collected seven wins, after winning from pole each time, four of them being in the MotoGP class since he joined, he holds both of the lap records. In 2015 he set the Fastest Ever Lap record with his pole position time of 1:20.336. He also holds the Circuit Record Lap from that race with a time of 1:21.530.

Honda perform well in the elite class at Sachsenring as Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) has also won at the German six times. Both Marquez and Pedrosa are equal on German GP wins and Rossi lags behind by one having won three times. Marquez also matched and has the potential to beat Casey Stoner’s record of four poles in Sachsenring.

Last year Marquez was joined on the podium by Crutchlow and Dovizioso after a wet race. But who knows, we might see a sixth different winner as Rossi made it five so far this year when he won in Assen.

Rookies hoping to do well this time round

Both the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rookies are looking to do well for different reasons. Last year, Sachsenring was where Zarco won as he collected points towards his double championship winning title. He will be looking to make up for a tough round in Assen, and maybe to reap the success at a track that he knows he does well at. His teammate, Jonas Folger, is German born and wanting to do well on home turf.

Anyone to take over the podium in the Moto2

With them out of the way in the MotoGP class, and Julian Simon not competing in the series any more, the podium is open to anyone. Zarco won, Folger was second and Simon third and so anyone can take over the crown. Morbidelli crashed last year in the wet, as did Luthi, and so it is fourth in 2016 Pasini who is favourite to win. Luthi will be looking for that home win however, as will the likes of Dynavolt Intact GP teammates, Marcel Schrotter and Sandro Cortese. Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) has also won in Germany in this class.

Zarco has the Fastest Ever Lap record set in 2015 with a time of 1:24.044 when he secured pole position. However Morbidelli holds the Circuit Record Lap from the same year with a time of 1:24.538.

Pawi won in the wet in 2016

Rain for the Moto3 class last year in Sachsenring completely mixed up the results and allowed Khairul Idham Pawi to thrive; a race that helped to win him promotion up to the Moto2 class. He was joined on the podium by Andrea Locatelli who has also been promoted to the Moto2 class. Enea Bastianini (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3) was third and becomes default favourite as he started from pole last year, however he does appear to be struggling this season.

The Moto3 has been won by Honda riders for two years. No-one currently competing in the class has won at this track as Danny Kent and Jack Miller were the previous winners; who knows... Kent might just pull it off.

The Fastest Ever Lap completed in the Moto3 class was again in 2015 by Kent with a time of 1:26.174; this was not the Best Pole Lap however which was set by him but was slower at 1:26.420. The Circuit Lap Record was set the previous year however by 2016 Moto3 champion, Brad Binder, now in the Moto2 class with a time of 1:26.877.

Back to the track…

It is a small circuit with tight corners with hard braking zones both uphill and downhill. A bike that turns and copes well under pressure at the front is needed at the German circuit. The set-up of the machinery will be completely different compared to the tracks they have visited previously.

The attention always comes down to tyres in the MotoGP class. With the front have to go through so much on what is a demanding track despite it being short and narrow, a special tyre will be provided by French tyre supplier, Michelin. To make things extra difficult, it has been resurfaced earlier on in the year so for many they may feel like they are back to square one as they have not been able to complete a test prior to the race because of noise restrictions.

Both the front and rear will be an asymmetric design for Sachsenring, and will be built up more on the left hand side to compensate for the many more left hand turns. The front Michelin Power Slick will be available in soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band) as will the rear.

The weather forecast in Germany

Should it rain again, as it did last year before it dried out midway through, Michelin Power Rain tyres will be available in both soft and medium compounds. Showers are expected on the first two days of the meeting with temperatures expected to reach 20 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday; Saturday will be more overcast than sunny. On race day however, the rain should hopefully have subsided but clouds will remain meaning the temperature may be cooler at approximately 17 degrees Celsius. Weather is unpredictable, and can change at any time so the opportunity of wet and dry track time prior to the race should be seized just in case.

The schedule for the ninth round of the season

Friday 30th June (GMT)

Class Session Time
Moto3 Free Practice 1 08:00 - 08:40
MotoGP Free Practice 1 08:50 - 09:45
Moto2 Free Practice 1 09:55 - 10:40
Rookies Cup Free Practice 1 10:55 - 11:25
Moto3 Free Practice 2 12:10 - 12:50
MotoGP Free Practice 2 13:00 - 13:55
Moto2 Free Practice 2 14:05 - 14:50
Rookies Cup Free Practice 2 15:05 - 15:35
Rookies Cup Qualifying 16:25 - 16:50

Saturday 1st July (GMT)

Class Session Time
Moto3 Free Practice 3 08:00 - 08:40
MotoGP Free Practice 3 08:55 - 09:40
Moto2 Free Practice 3 09:55 - 10:40
Moto3 Qualifying 11:35 - 12:15
MotoGP Free Practice 4 12:30 - 13:00
MotoGP Qualifying 1 13:10 - 13:25
MotoGP Qualifying 2 13:35 - 13:50
Moto2 Qualifying 14:05 - 14:50
Rookies Cup Race 15:30

Sunday 2nd July

Class Session Time
Moto3 Warm -Up Practice 07:40 - 08:00
Moto2 Warm-Up Practice 08:10 - 08:30
MotoGP Warm-Up Practice 08:40 - 09:00
Moto3 Race 10:00
Moto2 Race 11:20
MotoGP Race 13:00