When the Moto3 class woke up on race-day in Sachsenring where they met for the ninth round of the Moto3 season, at the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, they were greeted with a damp track and overcast conditions once again.
Damp warm-up before the Moto3 race
They had to endure those conditions for 20 minutes as they were first to take to the track that day for the warm-up. There was no spray, but a full wet set-up was needed to endure the damp patches as a dry line was forming, but had not yet.
Initially some riders did not go out, but of the 16 that did, it was wildcard rider Raul Fernandez was the one to top the timesheets early on in the session. He was challenged by Bo Bendsneyder, (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team). Manuel Pagliani (CIP) also came close to challenging but traffic ahead of him spoiled that.
Wildcard, Fernandez celebrates being quickest during warm-up
They continued on without incident, and after a pit stop, Fernandez returned to a busier track to complete more laps and settled straight into his previous rhythm. He topped the timesheets at the end of the session with a lap time of 1:34.409 and then proceeded to celebrate like he had won pole or the race.
Martin out so Canet on pole; riders penalised
The weather had brightened up in time for the 27 lap race. With Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) out with a fractured ankle after his huge highside earlier on in the meeting, it was Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who stepped up to the challenge and secured pole ahead of the race in Sachsenring. He was joined on the front row by championship leader, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46).
Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who is stepping in for injured Niccolo Antonelli, and Maria Herrera (AGR Team) were both handed 12 place grid penalties ahead of the race for “irresponsible riding” during the Free Practice session. It meant that Kent would start from 28th and Herrera from last on the grid in 31st.
Jump star for Pulkkinen
When the lights went out it was not a clean start for all of the pack as Patrik Pulkkinen (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) who qualified 28th, was penalised for a jump start and he later had to complete a ride-through penalty that saw him remain near the back of the pack. It was Mir who led into the first turn of the race and it looked like he was about to break away.
Mir takes the lead
Behind Mir, Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) and Tony Arbolino (SIC58 Squadra Corse) tucked in behind the Spaniard, pole man Canet was fourth and Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) and Bulega followed on behind. Canet began to lose places and dropped back down to the second group that formed behind the lead group of five who were to engage in battle for the remainder of the race.
Ramirez caught Mir by the end of the lap and overtook to take the lead, meanwhile behind Fenati overtook Arbolino to take third. When they began the second lap, Mir was back to the front at turn one, a move he used many a time to gain the advantage on the brakes. Behind him Fenati used an outside line round the initial corners of the lap to take second. Continuing to force his way through, the Italian took the lead from Mir but the Spaniard returned to the front at turn 12 of the track.
Drag race along the start-finish straight
It was a drag race down the start-finish straight as Mir and Fenati almost touched. Fenati won, took the lead into turn one and appeared to break away slightly whilst behind him, Ramirez stayed incredibly close to the rear of Mir in second.
Behind the lead group of five, Canet continued to lead a massive group of approximately 18 riders that were battling for the remainder of the point scoring positions. They constantly switched and changed as they did what they can to prevent falling further back down into the angry mob.
Ramirez makes his move
Before heading down the start-finish straight of the end of lap four, Ramirez went up the inside of Mir and Fenati to take the lead, but then crossing the line, Mir was back in front. Bulega overtook Arbolino to take fourth at the same time.
Ramirez liked the taste of being in the lead and again led after first plucking Fenati off on the following lap. Unfortunately for Herrera, her weekend went from bad to worse as she crashed at turn one of the fifth lap. She managed to re-join and continue on with the race but she lost a lot of time at the back.
The front three appeared to pull away from Bulega and Arbolino who were fighting for fourth; Bulega may have been holding up the fellow Italian. Fenati moved back up to second passed Ramirez as Mir continued to lead.
Naughty Binder has his foot out
Behind them the competition was heating up. Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) was seen holding his boot out heading into turn one as a way of preventing anyone from passing him; a move he could be penalised for. Philipp Oettl (Sudmetall Schedl GP Racing) was his victim, and seen on the local rider was able to pass Binder and pull away from the group in pursuit of the leaders.
Three-a-breast in the fight for the lead
It was three abreast heading into the turns at the front as the leaders did not want to be at the back; instead they would have preferred to be in front controlling the pace. Fenati again ran right around the outside to re-claim the lead.
McPhee crashes out at Sachsenring
Unfortunately for John McPhee (British Talent Team), who was way down the pack, he crashed out at turn 13 on lap seven of the race. He lost the front end on the brakes and ended up sliding into the gravel with the bikes. With a suspected broken finger, he was unable to re-join because of the damage done to his Honda.
Fenati remains in front
On lap eight, Ramirez looked to overtake on the inside of Fenati but Fenati remained in front. Later on, Ramirez was able to achieve this however and as the two had delayed each other with the passing, a group of five had formed at the front as Bulega and Arbolino had caught up.
The following lap, Mir once again regained the lead at turn one of the track ahead of Ramirez, Fenati, and Arbolino who had passed Bulega to re-take fourth. There was now a four second gap between them and the second group led by Oettl who was breaking away. Further down the field though, it was Kent who was lapping quickest however he would have to pull off big things to make full use of his pace.
Over the next few laps, Mir continued to lead but Ramirez lost second to Fenati. Ramirez then lost third briefly to Bulega in fourth but he regained it and then continued make attempts on the leaders, defending his position and running up the inside to pass but Fenati was able to keep second because of a move on turn 13.
Arbolino dropping off the lead group
Arbolino was struggling, it appeared, to maintain the pace of the leaders ahead of him and looked like he was beginning to drop off. He worked to overcome this and was soon back in fourth. Bulega was at one point up to third but Ramirez retaliated.
Eventful lap 16 for many reasons
Lap 16 was eventful. Remaining in touch with Mir, Fenati made another attempt for the lead on lap 16 of the race as again Bulega went to third past Ramirez again. At the same time, Kent crashed at turn three of his race and pole position man, Canet came off at turn 12 when the front went. For Canet it was the third time he had secured pole but then failed to collect any points. Both riders were unhurt but it was race over.
With Fenati’s first attempt failing, Fenati tried again towards the end of the lap and managed to pass Mir. Mir retaliated on the next lap again, but then again at the start Fenati again found himself in front. Recovering fourth once again, Arbolino was quickest on track as he passed Bulega. Mir and Fenati continued to dice for the lead with Mir again claiming it at turn one of lap 20.
Big crash for Arbolino
Disaster then struck for Arbolino as sadly he crashed out of the race on the same lap. The rear went as he passed through turn 2, and it didn’t quite high-side him, but threw him up and he landed on his buttocks in a seated position before sliding with the bike over the bumps and back onto the track. Fortunately he was missed by other riders but he required attention for Marshalls. It was a sad and disappointing end to a positive weekend otherwise.
Everyone behind Arbolino, including Bulega, gained a position because of the result. The front group leading turned to four, but Bulega started to back off. Oettl was also riding around on his own. Fenati led for a couple of laps but again Mir was back in front at turn one again of lap 22.
What were the tactics or strategies for the end of the race?
It made you wonder, was Mir watching to see Fenati’s strengths and weaknesses? Was Fenati doing the same when he followed Mir? Fenati appeared stronger at the end of the lap, but Mir recovered his lead most times at that initial turn. Should it come down to the last lap, Mir’s turn one moves were going to be of no use.
Ramirez made another attack and again took the lead on lap 24. He remained there for almost two until Mir overtook him at turn 12 of lap 25. Fenati and Ramirez stormed down the start-finish straight battling for second as Mir looked to pull away slightly and create a gap between him and the other two.
Within no time however, the gap was gone and on lap 12 of the penultimate lap, Fenati made his move on Mir to take the lead again, but was this a lap too soon?
It all came down to the final laps
As they began the final lap of the race, Fenati led the race and even developed a slight rack. Out on his own at the front however, he was creating a gap in the air behind him and Mir was able to catching running down the waterfall into turn 12. As they passed through the long left hander, Mir got back in front, and Fenati tried to catch him as they approached the finish line.
Mir wins the Sachsenring Moto3 race
Despite every effort, there was nothing that Fenati could do. Mir crossed the line first, winning the ninth round of the season, the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland Moto3 race, by just a 0.121 second gap. Fenati finished the race in second, and collecting his first ever podium, Ramirez crossed the line in third, just 0.218 seconds slower race winner and championship leader, Mir.
Bulega was fourth in Germany, five seconds off the pace on his own on track. Oettl was fifth, he was caught by Bastianini in sixth who was less than half a second off him on track in the end. Loi was seventh ahead of Bendsneyder, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Binder who completed the top 10. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team), Norrodin, Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) and Marco Bezzecchi (CIP) collected the last points available in 15th at the Sachsenring.
Mir extends championship lead now over Fenati
Mir’s win in Germany means that he has now extended his championship lead to 37 points, as he is on 165 points whereas Fenati’s second means he jumps up second with 128 points. Collecting a DNF in Germany, Canet remains on 110 points in third. Martin, who will use the break to heal and return more motivated than ever is fourth with 89 points.
Di Giannantonio is fifth ahead of McPhee who also collected a DNF. Ramirez is now seventh after his podium leaves him seventh with 79 points. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), Bastianini and Guevara complete the top 10.