He was there all weekend… nothing less than third appeared good enough for Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez all weekend at the ninth round of the MotoGP season at the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland. The Spanish, former MotoGP champion won today after the ‘ideal’ strategy from his and his team; it may not necessarily have been ideal, but it worked!
Marquez on form all weekend
Second in FP1, third in FP2, first in FP3, second in FP4, pole after qualifying… he only finished eighteenth fastest in the morning warm up due to a crash, but would you risk it in those conditions? (Everyone was off the pace!)
Everyone feared rain on race day at the Sachsenring and that is what they got. It lashed it down, all morning and there was still showers come the beginning of the MotoGP race. All of the riders took to the track on full wet Michelins of different compounds, but then the weather eased, the clouds lifted, the temperature increased and a dry line appeared.
Marquez led briefly from pole position but soon lost the lead to Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) soon got past him and he continued to travel backwards. (Well, forwards… but backwards…. you know what I mean? Anyway...)
The Spaniard actually struggled at the start of the race, even his little follower Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati), who stalked him qualifying in a strategy that gained him second on the grid, gave up on the Spaniard and overtook him to take fifth.
Could you believe it, he crashed but still won the race? Like many riders did before him that morning, Marquez missed the braking point and ran on into the gravel quickly at Turn 8. Luckily he was able to remain ‘in control’ and managed to avoid hitting the tyre walls like others had previously. He made his way through the gravel and re-joined the race.
With thirteen laps remaining Marquez made the important and extremely significant decision to pit and swap bikes. He returned to the track on full slicks. It was this decision that won him the race; quite a risky one, but one that worked.
Is Marquez going to be penalised?
Now prior to the race at the Sachsenring this weekend, race officials announced that when riders enter the pits to change bikes, the mechanic or crew member is not permitted to hold the clutch in for the rider to save them time when they make the change when putting it in to gear.
This is because if it were to go wrong, and the person holding the clutch in lost grip, then the bike will fly forward. Enough drive from the engine will keep it going should it release steady enough and it may result in a loose bike smashing its way through the paddock.
Anyway, it was highlighted that when Marquez did enter the pits to did his ‘cat on a hot tin roof’ like jump from one bike to the other, his mechanic was seen holding the clutch in, so will there be a consequence?
Back to the race...
Back to the race and Marquez left the pits and more than enough time to put heat in the tyres as only he and Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) had decided to do this so early. He could take his time getting them up to temperature, he had taken the risk and if it had paid off he would definitely save time in the long run. It’s a shame Pol Espargaro was not as cautious, within two corners he crashed and was out of the race.
How was his decision to switch so early?
Things worked out for the best for Marquez, the rain had backed off and looked like it was staying off, the clouds lifted and the temperature increased. The dry line became more obvious and wider and whilst it chewed up all of the riders’ tyres (who decided to remain on wets) it got the slicks up to optimum performance.
Eventually the majority of the leaders pitted, but five laps remaining was too far too late as far as Marquez was concerned. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) stayed out, but on wets, and Redding had previously pitted but he returned on intermediates. It was not long before Marquez got to the front where he stayed and extended his lead to almost ten seconds.
Their strategy paid off, he won the ninth round of the MotoGP season, claimed the full 25 points and extended his lead on the championship to 48 points. Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo would have to win two races and hope Marquez collected two DNFs to be in with a chance, but we are only halfway through the season.
Marquez extra happy about his result compared to rivals
Speaking about his incident at Turn 8 Marquez said, “At a certain point today I thought my run at this circuit was going to come to an end.” But luckily for the Spaniard he said, “In the end we succeeded and earned a very good result”. His championship is clearly always on his mind as he said, “Especially considering how Valentino and Jorge finished the race.” Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) finished eighth and his teammate finished fifteenth; both claiming less points than they desperately needed.
Marquez praised his team saying, “I’m very happy with how we worked with the team today,” saying they “did a great job preparing my bike after my crash in the warm-up” and then continued with the praise saying, “and then in the race our strategy proved to be perfect!”
Difficult race for the Spaniard despite winning
Despite have the ‘perfect’ strategy Marquez said it was a “very difficult race” due to the fact it was “flag-to-flag” and also because the track conditions were “so delicate”. He admitted, “In the first part of the race, in the wet, I found things a little difficult.”
Marquez puts his difficulties down to the fact he, “picked the wrong front tyre” for his riding style but then “was able to switch to slicks”. He said he was “very careful in the opening laps after changing bikes because the dry line was very narrow and there was still a lot of water on the surface”. The Spaniard said, “It’s always very difficult to decide when to change bikes and perhaps we made our switch very early.” Sticking by his choice he said, “I decided to take a chance and it went well.”
Nine rounds in and it is now time for the ‘Summer Break’, we just need to find some sun as it wasn’t at Assen or in Germany. Thinking about the championship Marquez said, ”We end the first half of the season with our homework done and off the back of a good race, but we must not forget to prepare well for the second half of the year.”