Wildcard appearances in Sachsenring, some as replacements
The 600cc class, who are welcoming wildcards Hector Garzo (Tech 32 Racing) in place of injured Xavi Vierge. Federico Fuligni is also stepping in for Lorenzo Baldassarri for the Forward Racing Team.
Battle commences at the top of the timesheets
The opening Free Practice session saw five riders progress up to the top spot. Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) got things underway lapping at 1:28.540, but then claiming the top spot and breaking through the 1:28 minute barrier, local rider Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) lapped at 1:27.754. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) improved by over 0,6 seconds when he went top, but Schrotter broke through the 1:27 minute barrier when he next reclaimed first with a time of 1:26.913.
Marquez crashed out at start of session
To make things difficult for him and his team, Marquez unfortunately crashed out at turn two of the track. The rear went from under him and always threw him over; both he and the bike ended up in the inflatable tyre wall. They struggled to recover his bike and eventually he ran back to the pits; fortunately this meant he was uninjured.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was next to take over at the top, but Pasini reclaimed the preliminary position with a low 1:26 minute lap. Next, Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) brought himself into the mix lapping just a little bit quicker than Oliveira; still it was enough.
Massive highside for Pasini
Soon after, Pasini has an extraordinary highside at turn 12 that jeopardised everything for the Italian. When overtaking rookie, Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) the rear came round and the front tried to grip which in turn caused the highside and flicked the Italian up and over, He bounced twice before landing, and was clearly in pain when he came to a halt; the bike was destroyed.
Fortunately the Italian was able to get back up to his feet, he was incredibly cautious of his right arm; he sustained an old motorcross injury in this arm that means he has to ride with a modified bike (front brake on left handlebar) anyway.
Oliveira strong throughout the session
The session continued, and Oliveira was able to find his rhythm and continue with a strong performance throughout the remainder of the session. When the Portuguese rider went top, he also lapped under 1:26 minutes and continue to improve on his own time without anyone else being able to interfere.
Luthi appeared to have a problem with the rear of his bike after he was spotted looking over the left before retreating to the pits. Championship leader, Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) also had a close call with the gravel.
Isaac Vinales (Be-A-VIP SAG Team) and Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru SAG Team) were less fortunate than the Italian however. Vinales came off at turn eight of the track, running fast into the gravel but managing to recover. Nagashima came off at turn one and dropped his bike in the deep gravel track; both were unhurt.
Oliveira quickest in Sachsenring
Oliveira continued improving at the top, the cool and collected KTM rider ended up out on his own at the front by the end of the session as the only rider to lap under 1:25 minutes. His time of 1:24.976 was over two tenths of a second faster than anyone else in the class. Morbidelli finished the session as second quickest ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) who was third after FP1.
Pasini fit to continue after earlier crash
Somehow Pasini turned out to be OK after his crash and was one of the first riders out on track when the second Free Practice 2 got underway. The track was still damp as a heavy rain shower had hit during the Moto2 session that ran previously, and also there was a drying line forming on the track, many were reluctant to go out; slick tyres would have been suitable for some parts, but wet tyres would have been needed in others.
Past winner Simeon leads the way
It was Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who was leading initially; his time of 1:41.047 meant he remained quickest for a good chunk of the session as many preferred to wait for track conditions to improve. It was a good indication that the track was almost ready when he improved on his own time, lapping at 1:38.82; this began a steady roll of improvements from various riders.
Former MotoGP rider, Yonny Hernandez was strong, improving next on Simeon’s time before Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) shaved almost four seconds off with 30 minutes to go with a time of 1:34.885. He, Luthi and rookie, Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP40) then took turns in occupying the top spot.
Luthi and Bagnaia battle for top spot
Luthi was being followed on track by rookie, Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46). The two diced for the quickest time, and on track, which in turn pushed the other one on to do better. Morbidelli was also trying to push, however he found himself almost coming together with Iker Lecuona (Garage Plus Interwetten).
Morbidelli experiencing difficulties
Morbidelli did at one point occupy the top spot, by the second session ended up with Luthi on top with the quickest time of 1:24.848. German rider, Schrotter, also at his home track, was second quickest and Morbidelli ended up third ahead of rookie, Bagnaia in fourth. Nakagami was fifth ahead of German rider Cortese, Oliveira, Marquez, Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) who completed the top 10.
Luthi quickest at the end of day one
Combining the times from the end of the opening day however, Luthi did remain quickest with his time from FP2. Schrotter remained second, but Oliveira’s FP time left him third ahead of Morbidelli and Bagnaia. Nakagami’s FP1 time left him sixth, ahead of Cortese who was seventh because of FP2. Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Aegerter and Marquez completed the top 10 with their FP1 times.
Close start on the second day in Sachsenring
Competition was strong immediately as the riders settled into their pace on a dry track at the start of Free Practice 3, with Morbidelli obtaining the top spot. Just 10 minutes into the session only he and four other riders had lapped under 1:25 minutes. Morbidelli was challenged for the top spot by Schrotter but soon enough he retaliated.
Mackenzie crashes out
As gradually more and more riders broke through the time barrier, for some, they started to experience some mishaps. British rider Tarran Mackenzie (who stepped in to replace Danny Kent at Kiefer Racing), came off at turn 2 of the track. He appeared stunned as he stayed on his knees in the gravel, but was soon back up to his feet. His bike on the other hand tumbled and a lot of damage created.
Small delay in progress on track
Dark clouds loomed over the German track and the cooler conditions meant it was harder for the 600cc class to make further improvements as they may have struggled to retain heat in the Dunlop tyres. The clouds shifted however without rain falling and riders were able to adjust settings and improve further. No-one was able to challenge Morbidelli however for the top spot as he improved on his own time making it harder to achieve.
Further developments were made throughout the timesheets, but no-one still could come into contention with that of Morbidelli. Schrotter, on home turf managed to finish the session in second but his time was still 0.402 seconds of that of the Italian. Nakagami was third heading into Qualifying.
Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) was the top Speed Up ahead of Oliveira on the KTM. Luthi was sixth ahead of Marquez, rookie, Bagnaia, Pasini and Aegerter who completed the top 10.
Tricky conditions left track damp in parts for Qualifying
By the time the riders made their way back out on track for Qualifying, it had rained heavily at the German circuit and had begun to dry out and so made things much trickier for the Moto2 class when they took to the track to complete Qualifying ahead of the ninth round of the season. It was patchy, so those who would have headed out on slick tyres may have struggled.
The wind was up and the clouds looked darker and heavier than ever so everyone was out on track despite the conditions as should the heavens open; the best lap times would probably be done at the start even if the dry line was incredibly narrow in parts.
Former Sachsenring winner Simeon led the way
Former race winner Simeon was provisionally on pole before Oliveira managed to improve on the Belgium riders’ time. Less than 10 minutes into the session the rain started to fall. Marquez just squeezed in a fast lap before-hand that may well have worked right into his hands should the heavens open; others where following in his tyre tracks however and were displaying several red sectors.
Corsi lapped quicker, then Pasini took over at the top momentarily before a great lap from Oliveira, which left him as the only rider to lap under 1:35 minutes so far allowed him to lap over a second quicker.
Heavy rain fell at Sachsenring
The rain fell however, heavy and quickly many rode for shelter as no improvements were certainly going to be made in those conditions; some did stay out as they must have had a full wet set-up in place still. Oliveira may have earned his first pole, and would potentially have been joined by Marquez and Pasini.
Simeon and Syahrin stayed out on the wet track; even a moment that almost seen him highside didn’t stop Syahrin ‘the fish’ from continuing on. The data and experience collected may have proved vital however rain was not forecast for race-day; that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t going to happen either.
Rookies collect vital wet track experience
Minutes after the heavy rainfall, the skies began to clear once again which would mean that the newly laid track would more than likely begin drying soon enough. Rookies Bagnaia and Quartararo decided to venture out to complete track time on a Moto2 bike in the wet. Then in the following few minutes, more and more riders made their way out; some still chose to remain.
In the last quarter of the session, riders started to make improvements on their earlier times despite the fact the track had not necessarily dried any more. Luthi was first to make a significant jump, up to second and less than 0,7 behind Oliveira who had a bigger cushion prior to that. Then Morbidelli hopped above Luthi closing the gap down to just over 0.4 seconds.
Conditions began to allow for improvements
The time on track for Bagnaia definitely helped, especially with confidence. He went from riding round with his foot down to placing fourth for a moment, before Simeon knocked him down to fifth with just over 10 minutes to go.
Completing a personal best, Luthi again improved on lap time but not position, as did Morbidelli however Simeon progressed up to third. The wildcard rider, Garzo made a significant improvement and potentially placed fifth on the grid.
Luthi takes over at the top
Approaching the end of the session with eight minutes to go, Luthi spoiled Oliveira’s idea of pole when he eventually lapped quicker and knocked the Portuguese rider off the top spot. Others began to make progress as well, including Cortese and Morbidelli as Luthi improved on his own time. Garzo jumped up to second behind Morbidelli who took the top spot with just over six minutes remaining; the Spaniard was learning a two from the championship leader out on track.
Red indicators displayed on the timing sheet
Red Indicators were still cropping up in the final minutes of the wet Qualifying session. Displaying three red sectors, something went wrong for Bagnaia in the final sector that caused him to only complete a personal best time but he potentially held third,. Cortese jumped to the top when he broke through the 1:33 minute barrier. The battle was well and truly on.
There were many challengers for pole. Cortese lost his lead to Oliveira momentarily but then regained it on his next lap despite a weaker final sector.
Navarro crashes out ending session early
Unfortunately for rookie, Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) he crashed out at turn three of the track ended his session and day early. He had worked his way up to 13th however he was forced to sit and watch and hope that he could remain with a fifth row start.
Garzo learning from the championship leader
Garzo continued to follow Morbidelli, and in the final few minutes managed to place second behind Cortese. Luthi placed fifth but crossed the line in time to start one more lap before the flag. Marquez was flying, but ahead of him his teammate had taken pole and began another lap. Marquez was top, but had to painstakingly wait to see if he could retain it as those ahead of him were able to complete another lap.
Pasini improved, Luthi never, but Morbidelli and Garzo were yet to cross the line. Displaying yellow sectors in the first three sections, the Italian found something in the final sector of the lap and nicked pole position from his teammate, Marquez.
Morbidelli on pole in Germany
Morbidelli will start the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland on pole in the hope of recovering some of his championship lead. He will be joined on the front row by his teammate, Marquez and local rider Cortese in third.
Pasini will start the race from fourth, at the head of the second row behind Morbidelli on the grid, Wildcard and replacement rider, Garzo collected an extraordinary fifth and Oliveira completes row two in sixth. Luthi will start from seventh ahead of Corsi and the highest placed rookie, Quartararo. Bagnaia heads row four in 10th ahead of Syahrin and Axel Pons in 12th.