What a weekend it turned out to be for MotoGP rookie, Jonas Folger as he finished second at his home round of the 2017 MotoGP season at the Sachsenring where they met for the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland.
Folger progressed up the timesheets
Starting off slower on day one but still getting a great result for a rookie independent team rider, he was first by the end of Free Practice 1, and improved to eighth on the timesheets by the end of the day.
His spectacular efforts during a wet Free Practice 3 saw him secure a top 10 finish lapping third quickest and automatically progressing to Qualifying 2. Then on the final practice session before Qualifying he was fourth.
He continued working incredibly hard and finished the short 5 minute Qualifying session as fifth quickest securing a second row start as the top Yamaha rider in the pack; in fact nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) was ninth, and his teammate, Maverick Vinales was in 11th.
Folger quickest during the warm-up
There was no stopping him as his form continued through to race-day. Greeted by damp conditions for the morning warm-up session, Folger topped the timesheets; he was clearly happy, settled, and determined to do well in front of his home fans.
Lining up on the grid he absorbed the atmosphere before settling down to begin the race. Riders were panicking tyre wise, as the weather changed and rain threatened once again. Folger got a fantastic start and immediately was in contention for a podium as he pushed at the front of the pack.
Folger takes the lead in Germany
Within five laps he was able to challenge Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who started in third on the grid, for second.
He continued pushing and soon enough had bypassed race leader, and pole position man, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) to take the lead on home turf; much to Marquez’s surprise who later admitted that he was expecting his teammate, Pedrosa.
The crowds roared as they witnessed one of their own leading the MotoGP, every time he passed they continued to cheer with excitement. However, on lap 11 Folger ran wide at turn one, and Marquez was able to slip back through.
Folger proved a great challenge for Marquez
It wasn’t for a lack of trying but Folger never made it back to the front of the pack, however he was well and truly able to stick with Marquez, applying pressure throughout the race and forcing Marquez to maintain a competitive pace.
On occasion, Folger again ran wide at the first turn of the circuit, and Marquez would open up a slight gap, but Folger would work hard to reduce it.
Folger continued to push for the lead waiting for an opportunity to reclaim the lead, but lack of grip forced him to finally retreat in the final laps. He made the mature and sensible decision to not risk and to instead settle for second in Sachsenring.
It was an amazing achievement for the young rookie who proved that his team Monster Yamaha Tech 3 made a great decision in believing in him and his teammate, Johann Zarco to take the reins after Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro moved to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
Folger moves up in the championship
Finishing second in Germany saw Folger collect 20 points for the championship. It allowed him to close the gap between him and his teammate, Zarco who is the top rookie and independent team rider.
Zarco is sixth with 84 points and Folger is seventh with 71 points; their achievements so far mean that all four Yamahas are within the top seven of the standings.
An astounded Folger didn’t know what to say after the race other than he was “so happy” and afterwards “still can’t quite believe what [they] achieved”. He explained how he “fought with Marc for the victory” and in doing so thought he “had a great performance” highlighting in particular that he can “get on the podium.”
Podium did the rookie the world of good
His podium he described was a “super feeling” and also a “big boost for [his] confidence”. He explained that “in the past Johann had a lot of good races” whereas he didn’t feel he did as he “made some small mistakes”. Instead, in Sachsenring he left feeling he showed his “potential”.
He knew that they “had to enjoy this moment” and planned to “take the positive points” that they made “to Brno and into the rest of the season”. He went on to thank his team for their work and admitted that he is “already looking forward to getting back on [his} Yamaha in the Czech Republic after the summer break”, when riders will participate in a test before the 10th round of the season at the Automotodrom Brno.