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Jul 08, 2014 - 02:25 PM
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Preview German Grand Prix, Sachsenring
Posted by: newsla on Jul 08, 2014 - 02:24 PM
MotoGP
Preview German Grand Prix, Sachsenring


HONDA’S MARQUEZ STILL UNBEATEN AS SEASON REACHES HALF-DISTANCE

The 2014 MotoGP World Championship reaches its halfway point in Germany this weekend with team-mates Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) holding first and third places in the title chase.

 

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Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marquez will arrive at the Sachsenring with his remarkable unbeaten record still intact, following his eight victories at the first eight races of the year. This is an historic show of season-opening form that hasn’t been achieved since Giacomo Agostini ruled premier-class racing in the late 1960s, when his MV Agusta was the only fully competitive motorcycle on the grid.

MotoGP is very different now, with 12 factory machines of very similar performance at every race. And yet that hasn’t prevented Marquez from winning every round so far, including the most recent Dutch TT, a complex event run in changing weather conditions that required a mid-race change of machine to switch from rain tyres to slicks. That victory proved that Marquez doesn’t merely possess the sheer speed to win races, he also possesses a brilliant mind that allows him to make the right calls at the right time, with no assistance from his pit crew, because ‘ship-to-shore’ radios aren’t permitted in MotoGP.

Marquez’s Assen win was his 40th across all three classes and brings him within just a few victories of the sport’s all-time top-ten biggest winners. Not bad for a man who celebrated his 21st birthday in February.

Marquez is the kind of rider who never takes anything for granted, but the omens for this weekend’s Sachsenring race are good. He has won on his last four visits to the tight, challenging track: on a 125 in 2010, in Moto2 in 2011 and 2012 and on a MotoGP bike last year, when main rivals Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) were both sidelined through injury.

With Marquez unbeatable so far this year, Pedrosa holds a strong third place in the championship standings, with six podium finishes from the first eight races. Two weeks ago at Assen he fought hard for third place and two weeks before that at Catalunya he battled all the way with his team-mate, his challenge ending just three corners from the chequered flag when he tagged Marquez’s rear tyre and ran wide. Pedrosa had started that race from pole position – the first time Marquez had been beaten in qualifying this year – so he knows he has the outright pace to once again challenge for victory on Sunday.

Pedrosa has high hopes for this weekend because he also goes very well at the Sachsenring, his super-smooth riding technique having taken him to a total of six 250/MotoGP victories at the track, including a hat-trick of MotoGP wins in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Last year the former 125 and 250 World Champion missed the race after falling in practice and breaking a collarbone.

This is a big weekend for Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V), the lone German in the premier class. The former Moto2 World Champion is having an up-and-down third season in the category of kings; the highlight so far a great fourth place at the Grand Prix of the Americas, where he also qualified on the front row of the grid.

Bradl has twice celebrated a podium finish at his home race: when he was second in the 125 Grand Prix in 2008 and when he was second in the Moto2 race in 2011, the year he won the title. His last two visits to the Sachsenring suggest he might be in the running for a return to the podium on Sunday. During his 2012 rookie MotoGP season Bradl finished fifth and last year he finished fourth. Will he again go one better this time around?

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) had the toughest start to 2014, with three crashes from the first three races, but since then he has showed some great speed, especially at Le Mans, where he finished in third place, behind Marquez and seven-time MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi. Bautista has scored podiums previously at the Sachsenring, on a 125 in 2006, on a 250 in 2008. He is hoping to add a MotoGP podium to that list this weekend.

One place behind Bautista in the championship is Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R), riding one of Honda’s RCV1000R production racers, built by Honda to allow more teams to compete with more competitive machinery than was previously available. Redding, a former Moto2 race winner, is acquitting himself well in his rookie MotoGP season. Regularly the top RCV1000R finisher, his best result so far is seventh at the season-opening Qatar GP.

Former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) is having an altogether tougher year due to recurring problems with an old right wrist injury. The injury flared up at Jerez and Le Mans and forced him to miss the recent Italian GP while he awaited surgery. Since then the wrist has continued to cause him trouble.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) have both been recording some strong results on their RCV1000Rs, with Aoyama beating team-mate Hayden for tenth in Argentina and Abraham taking a best of 12th at Mugello.

Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) maintains his lead in the Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship despite a difficult, rain-hit Dutch TT where he finished eighth after crashing on the sighting lap. That result was only Rabat’s second non-podium finish of the year. So far this season he has won four races.

Rabat’s team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) finished a close third at Assen to reduce Rabat’s advantage to 26 points. Kallio has won two races this year – at Jerez and Le Mans – making it six wins out of eight for the Belgian-based Marc VDS outfit.

Reigning Moto3 World Champion Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40, Kalex) is enjoying a superb rookie Moto2 campaign. Currently third overall, the Spaniard was second to winner Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team, Speed Up) at Assen and won his first Moto2 victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas in April.

Swiss pair Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert, Suter) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter) hold forth and six places in the championship, with Italian Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing, Forward Kalex) between them in fifth place.

Marquez’s younger brother Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) comes to Germany aiming for a hat-trick of wins after storming victories at Catalunya and Assen which have ignited his challenge for the Moto3 World Championship. Those two results also made Grand Prix racing history, marking the first time that two brothers have each won a GP on the same day.

The 18-year-old’s first two victories of the year have put him equal on points with Romano Fenati (KTM) and just seven points behind championship leader Jack Miller (KTM). Marquez’s team-mate Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) is also in the title hunt, just three points down on Marquez and Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) is only another five points behind.

Frenchman Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) took fourth place at Assen, his best result of the year, to make it four Honda riders in the top seven.

The Sachsenring is MotoGP’s shortest racetrack with a lap length of just 3.67km/2.28 miles and features its most twisting layout, with the longest straight measuring just 0.70km/0.43 miles. Cornering performance is thus everything, with most of the corners turning left. Indeed the Sachsenring also features MotoGP’s longest one-way cornering sequence with seven consecutive left-handers making up the middle section of the lap. Turn 11 is the track’s most famous corner, a daunting high-speed blind right-hander that is crucial for any rider aiming to set up an overtaking move into the final two corners. This year several riders will test a re-profiled Turn 11 on Thursday and, if successful, the changes will be adopted for 2015. Turn 11 has been the scene of a number of accidents, many of them caused by the right side of the tyres cooling too much during the preceding sequence of left-handers.

Honda has a long and illustrious history of success at the Sachsenring, winning its first success on the original street circuit in July 1961, when Mike Hailwood won the 250 GP on his way to winning that year’s 250 world title, Honda’s first World Championship crown. That event was the first GP to be held behind the Iron Curtain; GP events continued at the Sachsenring under Communism until 1972. The Sachsenring returned to the World Championship calendar in 1998, when Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda) won the 500 race on his NSR500 two-stroke on the newly built short circuit. Since then Alex Barros, Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Max Biaggi, Pedrosa and Marquez have all won MotoGP races at the track aboard Honda machines.

MotoGP enjoys a brief summer hiatus after the German Grand Prix, with three weekends off before the Indianapolis Grand Prix on August 10.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, says
“It was a tough and complicated weekend in Assen, but I was really happy to win a race under such tricky conditions. Now we have Sachsenring which is a nice circuit, but quite special as it’s so small! Last year I had a good race but we must remember that neither Dani or Jorge were able to race so this year I look forward to racing them, especially as Dani is so strong at this track! It seems the Honda is well suited to this circuit so we will look to make the most of this advantage.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, says
“It was a tricky weekend in Assen and in those kinds of races, it’s easy to lose many points in the Championship, so I’m pleased with our podium finish. Now we’re heading to Germany where I had a disappointing weekend last year after being declared unfit to race due to my crash on Saturday. I always enjoy racing at Sachsenring and finding the right set up is critical - especially as you spend a lot of time on the left, but the fastest corner is to the right, so tyre performance will be key. I’m looking forward to getting there to make up for missing last year!”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, says:
“The Sachsenring is a slow track with some very twisty parts: given that recently we have been struggling to find a good compromise to be strong on the fast corners, we are confident that we can achieve a good feeling with the bike on this kind of track. We’re coming from the Assen flag-to-flag race, where it was very easy to make mistakes, but nevertheless we managed to collect a good result. In addition, last year in Germany we had a really good race, therefore we look forward to this Grand Prix with a great motivation. The Thursday before the race weekend some riders will test some changes to Turn 11 in order to increase the safety; it will be interesting to see if these changes will actually be adopted for the future, although this year we will run with the same layout as last year.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP, says:
“It was a tough weekend in Assen and I was expecting a better result. The last few races have been pretty complicated for me, but I am looking forward to this weekend. Sachsenring is a short and difficult circuit with no major straight and lots of left-hand corners. Honestly, it’s not one of my favourite racetracks, but my family, friends and fans will be there to support me. On Thursday I will be on track already for an inspection of Turn 11, the Waterfall. It’s important for me to finish this ninth round of the championship with a productive result.”

Scott Redding, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, says:
“Assen was my first wet race in MotoGP and we got a good result, thanks to which we arrive at the Sachsenring one point ahead of the next Open class Honda rider, and we want to try to maintain this lead. Racing at the Sachsenring will certainly be interesting, because the circuit is really small, and MotoGP bikes are so fast! I like the track, it has some ups and downs and lots of corners, with few straights. On paper, it should suit our bike. I’ve always preferred right-hand corners and on this track they are almost all lefts. In any case, it should be a lot of fun to ride a MotoGP bike there and we have to wait to see how the weekend goes.”

Nicky Hayden, Drive 7 Aspar Honda, says:
“Germany is a very tight, twisty track with almost all the corners connected so there’s no time to breathe and you must stay so focused for the whole lap. With no more Laguna I think it must be the shortest lap time of any track we go to, so every tenth of a second is precious and you have to really claw for every tenth. At the same time it also has some very fast corners that I like and normally I enjoy this track. The race here is always very long with a lot of time spent on the left tyre edge, so it’s important to find a setting to find good edge grip and make the tyre last on the left. On the other hand if the conditions are cool it’s very important to get heat and keep heat on the right side, particularly with the front tyre with there being only three right-hand corners. I know it’s not exactly my best moment right now but me and the team have to stay strong and keep pushing!”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive 7 Aspar Honda, says:
“Sachsenring is a different circuit, peculiar and special. You won’t find anything like it anywhere in the world. It is small but at the same time technical. The most positive thing for us is that with it being so small you don’t need so much power and that evens things up a little in MotoGP. I am sure we can be competitive there after doing a good job last time out in Holland, where we had a strong first half of the race. Unfortunately the second half of the race wasn’t so good but we will be working to follow up on the positives from Assen to try and be more competitive this weekend and more consistent over full race distance. I like the track and it should suit our bike well so I am sure we can have a good result this weekend.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing, says:
“We hope to have a full weekend of good weather here, as mixed conditions like we had at Assen always makes everything so complicated. I’m looking forward to this weekend because I thing we can have a good time in Germany. The Sachsenring is all about corners, so the horsepower we lack against the factory bikes should not be so much in evidence. The Honda chassis works really well, so I think we can be even more competitive than usual at this race.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Tito Rabat, Marc VDS Racing Team, says:
“The race this weekend at the Sachsenring is the last before the summer break and I want a good result so that I can go into the holidays in a positive frame of mind. The weather looks to be unpredictable this weekend and, while I’d obviously prefer it to remain dry for all three days, I had a good feeling with bike in the fully wet conditions at Assen so, if it’s wet then we can manage it. At Assen I was angry because other riders passed me in the race. I didn’t like that one bit, so there will be no repeat this weekend in Germany.”

Mika Kallio, Marc VDS Racing Team, says:
“I like the Sachsenring circuit and I’ve enjoyed some success there in the past, but Dunlop’s decision to go with the hard and hard-plus rear tyres for this weekend is a concern for me. The combination of my riding style and the set-up we have on the bike means we end up having little rear grip and a tyre that looks like new after 20 laps, or rear grip for five or six laps and then a steep drop off in performance. We can’t seem to find a good compromise between the two. It’s definitely something we need to work on and, for me, maybe be a little bit more reactive with changes to the bike if we do have an issue. At Mugello and Catalunya we were probably a bit too hesitant in this area. If it rains, which is a distinct possibility according to the weather forecast, then we know we can use the settings from last year, which worked well in the wet.”

Maverick Vinales, Pons HP 40, says:
“I like the Sachsenring. I was on pole for my first race there in 2011 and finished third that year and again last year. That was in 125 and Moto3, and the finishes were very close, fighting to the last corner. I expect something similar in Moto2. I am enjoying my first Moto2 season a lot so far, and I hope to continue the same way.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0, says:
“The circuit in Germany is unusual, because it is the shortest in the championship and also very twisty. I believe everything will be very tight with our rivals this weekend, because it’s more difficult to make a difference at very short circuits. Last season we had some problems at the Sachsenring, but finally we managed to finish fifth. I do like the layout, so I’ll be working to enjoy myself and make the most of every practice session.”

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0, says:
“Over the last week I’ve had to work hard to get the maximum recovery from my ankle injury because I really like the Sachsenring and am determined to do well again this year after winning the race last year. Now that I’m just a few points behind the championship leaders we have to try to not make any mistakes.”

Efren Vazquez, SaxoPrint-RTG, says:
“We want to continue to concentrate at Sachsenring, to fight close to the top, and maybe get a podium. I like the track, but a lot depends on the setting of the bike. When I am riding alone the bike goes well, but when I need to fight with the other guys – to close the line faster, or brake later – sometimes I am a little bit on the limit. We need to find a solution for that. The bike is quite long for me.”

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