It was a cold and miserable start to the weekend as the riders took to the track for Free Practice ahead of the ninth round of the MotoGP season at Sachsenring, Germany. Temperatures were low as dark clouds loomed over the circuit and riders were able to briefly visit the track before the rain hit causing them to retire to the pits reluctant to go out after a wet weekend last round at the Assen GP.
Turn eleven proving to be notorious for MotoGP riders
Turn eleven is an area of the Sachsenring circuit that riders struggle with. The track is dominated by left-handed corners and after a long chain of seven left turns comes turn 11, a long right-handed corner.
French manufacturers Michelin are the new tyre suppliers for the MotoGP class. To overcome the temperature difficulties caused by a lack of use on the right hand side of the tyre, Michelin have introduced an asymmetric tyre for the ninth round of the MotoGP season which is heavily loaded on the left hand side and is designed to keep as much heat as possible in it so when riders approach the right hand corners, they will be safe.
Several riders have already been caught out during Free Practice one; the first session of the weekend which allows riders to analyse previous bike settings. Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati rider Scott Redding was first to go down during the session after the front end tucked under him, and he was sent tumbling into the gravel trap. The Brit was able to walk away unhurt and was later seen laughing at the incident as he watched it on the monitor from the pits.
Lorenzo started his weekend with a crash
Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was the next victim of turn 11; he was closely followed by Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Stefan Bradl who will be racing at his home GP this weekend.
Sparks flew as Lorenzo’s M1 slid along the track and into the gravel as the Spaniard tumbled after it. He was seen nursing his left hand and shaking his head and later he visited the medical centre to have it checked over. It was later announced by Race Direction that he was later ‘cleared of a fracture after a medical check’.
Soon after Bradl’s crash the rain-flag was waved to indicate reduced adhesion. This caused many riders to retire to the pits until it eased. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was the first to brave the conditions as he took to the track first after the rain eased. He soon pitted briefly and his teammate Bradl ventured out. Soon they were joined by British riders Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) who also completed a brief visit on track before the session ended.
Iannone fastest after Free Practice 1
Andrea Iannone set the fastest time of 1:23.702 aboard his factory Ducati as the rain prevented everyone for making a challenge on his time. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) was almost half a second behind his time and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) was third fastest as the highest placed independent rider.
Petrucci proved his ability during the wet during the Assen GP and again during Free Practice, if the weather remains as bad as it did on day one he is surely within a chance of another podium at Saschenring.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was fourth fastest and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) claimed the last spot in the top five meaning the two Ducati riders, who have a lot of ground so far during the championship, have a chance of claiming some of it back.
Weather improved for Free Practice 2 allowing more riders to take to the track
By the time Free Practice 2 arrived the weather had improved however riders were reluctant to take to the track. British rider Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) risked it first followed by Rossi. It was not long before they were joined by the rest of the field.
Turn 11 claimed another victim as Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales crashed out at the start of the session. However he went on to later set the fastest time of the day. He legged it back to the pits to get his other bike as the marshals had to dig his out of the gravel trap and it had destroyed itself on the way in.
Vinales crashed again later on the session despite setting the pace for the day. Rookie Tito Rabat (Esterella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) again at turn 11 . Irishman Eugene Laverty now sponsored by Pull and Bear on the Aspar Ducati Team also crashed but his came at turn one . Luckily all of the riders who fell were unhurt.
Vinales the fastest at the end of day one
At the end of day one it was Vinales who was fastest on track as he lapped with a time of 1:22.161 improving Iannone’s time by almost 1.6 seconds and his own by over 2.5 seconds.
Iannone remained on the pace though finishing second fastest again ahead of Marquez. Crutchlow adapted to the conditions and managed to finish fourth fastest beating Dovizioso who again completed the top five.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finished sixth fastest ahead of the fastest independent rider Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) who stole the title from Petrucci who finished ninth ahead of his teammate Redding.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) was eleventh fastest ahead of his teammate Smith who finished in front of the Assen GP winner Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller. Rossi finished in fourteenth behind Miller. Spanish factory riders Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Lorenzo finished in fifteenth and sixteenth.
Aprilia Team Gresini teammates Bautista and Bradl finished in seventeenth and eighteenth ahead of rookie Rabat and Laverty who could not improve his time following his crash.
Baz returns to racing after injury from racing incident in Mugello
Returning to the MotoGP this year after suffering an injury in a previous round is Avintia Ducati rider Loris Baz. He was taken out by Bautista and ended up in the gravel trap alongside him and Miller at the start of the Gran Permio d’Italia TIM at Mugello, Italy.
After having to undergo several operations on his foot insert plates and pins, and have the pins removed, and after a lot of physiotherapy rehabilation he is making his return at Sachsenring.
Baz completed the field in twenty-first position after lapping almost three seconds off the pace. He had significantly improved his own personal time though as he learned to adapt to the bike still nursing the injury.