Is there meant to be a summer break coming up? The conditions were horrible as the Moto3 riders lined up on the grid for the ninth round of the championship at the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachesnring in Germany.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) was on pole position after a fantastic performance so far this weekend and led into turn one as they teetered away from the start line in what was probably the slowest start to any Moto3 race we have ever witnessed.
First incident of the race
At Turn 2 several riders came together and ended up in the gravel. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was one of the riders who go caught out; he crashed out after the collision, ending his race after it had just got started.
Bastianini led across the line to end the first lap, the rain dividing the riders over confidence, but Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) overtook him going into turn one. How could they see anything with the amount of spray?
Pawi up to fifth after two laps
Bastianini made an attempt to overtake Bendsneyder at the start of lap three but he went wide into turn one and Bendsneyder regained his lead. Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) was now challenging as he overtook Bastianini; midway through lap three he took the lead. Soon John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) moved up to second position followed by Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia).
As they entered turn one for lap four McPhee took the lead. Typical that the Scottish lad would thrive in these conditions as Britain is used to the wettest summers. The new gearbox on his Peugeot (which falls under the Mahindra category) is definitely worth its weight in gold.
McPhee leads Pawi made his way up to second after overtaking Ono
Turn one of lap five and Pawi took the lead after winning the drag race down the start-finish straight. Ono took advantage of McPhee too leaving him in third. Pawi thrives in the wet as we witnessed at the Argentina GP; where he pulled away from the rest of the field to claim his first win.
Today looked to be a repeat of Argentina for Pawi as he pulled away, but then he had a moment accelerating too soon after the apex causing him to be lifted up out of his seat. This allowed Ono to keep in touch as he gained from the time lost by Pawi; behind McPhee, Locatelli was making his move on the Brit and he soon go past him.
Conditions remained harsh for the Moto3 riders
Visibility was not improving in any way as the front two pulled away from the pack slightly. The riders were struggling, Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) was seen trying to break the screen out of his bike to increase visibility.
Nineteen laps remained and Ono was the next to be caught out by accelerating too soon after the apex causing the back end to come round and almost send him over the handlebars. Luckily he was able to rescue it and ran into the gravel trap before returning to track in fifth place; in normal conditions he would have lost more than three places.
A few moments later Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate), crashed out of Turn 8 after he lost the back end and ended up in the gravel. He was able to walk away from the crash but could not re-join.
On the next lap Jorge Martin (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra Team) crashed out at the same corner after the back end came round on him when he braked on the entry to the corner. Further back down the field Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) completely missed the braking point on the way into turn seven behind them. His crash was much faster and he had no way of trying to remount to continue with the race.
Oh no… it was all over for Ono
Sixteen laps remained and Ono crashed out ending his race. He approached the corner too fast and was unable to reduce his speed in time, he was forced to use the run off area on but due to being unable to brake enough he hit the air fence. He was unable to recover the bike and so it was race over for the Malaysian.
Pawi now led ahead of Locatelli but McPhee was able to catch the Italian when he ran wide momentarily. Bastianini wanted his reward from earning pole position though and soon overtook McPhee; not that the Scott was going to settle for that. As riders got used to the conditions they began to push more; McPhee knew that if he did not get past Bastianini he was at risk of losing more places as they gained on him.
Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing) was the latest to get caught out at turn eight. He like the others missed the braking point and ran straight into the gravel trap ending his race; he was also unhurt.
Close call for Pawi
Pawi had already started his next lap and struggled to brake on the way into turn one meaning he had to run round the outside of the corner briefly entering the gravel trap; luckily he had gained such a lead that it was not in jeopardy and he returned to the race in first position.
Unfortunately for rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) with 13 laps remaining he crashed at turn 3 after the front end tucked in. It was not the first time he ended up in the gravel this weekend but despite his end result his efforts at a track that was new to him should be commended.
Navarro chasing the championship
At one point Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was applying the pressure to current championship leader Brad Binder as he chased him round the Sachsenring; the race was on between these too despite the conditions. Not only was the Spaniard chasing him on track, he is chasing Brad Binder in the championship. Navarro was hoping to reduce the 49 point lead that Binder had built up so far.
Eventually with seven laps remaining Navarro ended the battle and overtook Brad Binder. Navarro was a man on the move and he had Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) in his sights. He wanted the points and he caught the Italian in no time; he was definitely a man on the move.
Conditions not improving but the battle continued
Rain was continuing to fall and seemed to be part of the race for the remaining duration; there was no way of the track starting to dry out. Why were the riders still expected to race in conditions like this? Water wasing across the track as the riders were almost aquaplaning.
McPhee made his move on Bastianini before they crossed the line with seven laps to go; however Bastianini got back past him as they entered turn one. The pressure was still on for McPhee as then Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) became his problem as he overtook him on the next lap. McPhee now sat in fifth; much higher than he normally placed prior to the modifications made to all of the Mahindra riders’ gearboxes, but the podium he had his hopes on was looking less possible.
McPhee still the target as the battle continued for fifth
It was not long before Di Giannantonio caught McPhee as he tried to keep Navarro off his tail. He soon got past the Scot and McPhee now had to fend off Navarro who continued on his hunt for points.
As they approached turn one coming up to the penultimate lap it was three for the corner as McPhee, Di Giannantonio and Navarro challenged for fifth. Di Giannantonio retained fifth position put McPhee soon stole it in time for the start of the last lap.
Pawi wins at Sachsenring in the wet
Pawi started the last lap with almost a 13 second lead, Locatelli continued ahead of Bastianini and Kornfeil; the top four places were decided and the battle continued for fifth. Pawi was the top Honda and Locatelli was the highest placed KTM.
They each continued to overtake and attempted to defend their position but it was Di Giannantonio who just beat McPhee to the line after a late overtake on the penultimate corner; Navarro followed closely in seventh. McPhee was the highest placed Mahindra having claimed his best result of the season so far.
Brad Binder extends championship lead
Championship leader Brad Binder finished eighth ahead of Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold), Francesco Bagnaia (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra Team) who won the last wet round in Assen completed the top ten.
Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP-Unicorn Starker) claimed seventh ahead of Bendsneyder who slipped back to eleventh ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) in thirteenth. RW Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi claimed fourteenth and the last championship point was won by rookie Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who completed the top 15.
German wildcards Maximillan Kappler (KRM-RZT) and Tim Georgi (Freudenberg Racing Team) finished in nineteenth and twenty-first respectively. British rider Danny Webb (Platinum Bay Real Estate) who crashed during qualifying causing the session to be red-flagged as he was taken to the medical centre, raced today and finished twenty-second.
The only female in the pack Maria Herrera (MH6) did not race today following injuries sustained during qualifying where she high-sided and crashed into the gravel with the bike on top of her as she slid face down into the gravel; she was nursing her wrist when she made her way to the safety areas.
Binder remains championship leader
South African KTM rider Brad Binder remains the championship leader with 159 points. Navarro only closed the gap between him and Binder by one point and remains in second with 112 points. Fenati, despite only finishing eighteenth at Sachsenring remains in third with 93 points. Bagnaia (85) is fourth, Bulega (75) is the highest placed rookie in sixth ahead of pole position man Enea Bastianini (65) in seventh.
He is not just two points ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) who remains on 63 points after he was unable to compete in the race after breaking his collarbone after falling when he passed through the oil-spill from Webbs’ bike.
Di Giannantonio is joint eighth with Kornfeil as they are both on 58 points. Pawi’s win means he is now tenth in the championship with 54 points.