German GP, Sachsenring: Friday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
It was another slow start to practice at the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland for the MotoGP™ World Championship as Free Practice 2 began. Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the first rider out on track, followed five minutes later by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). The two started the trend and the rest of the field soon joined in.
Friday was an important day for the premier class, riders and teams attempting to understand how the new electronics and tyres change the behaviour of their bikes around the 3.7km Sachsenring. Times continued to edge closer and closer to the records of 2015, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) recovering from a brutal fall at Turn 11 to lead the day with a 1’22.161. Since finishing on the podium in France the Spaniard has struggled to challenge for the top three, but that could all change in Germany.
Having topped FP1, Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) kept his pace high to end as the only rider within half a second of Viñales. The Italian was able to cut over 1.3 seconds off his time from the first session, weather playing less of a role in the second session of the day. Ducati enter the weekend looking for their 100th premier class podium and a second victory at the German circuit.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is going to have to work hard to keep his King of Sachsenring title, the Spaniard’s 1’22.775 0.614s off Viñales’ time. His time also made it three different manufacturers in the top three, suggesting that Honda’s grip on the German circuit beginning to loosen. In 2016 Marquez is looking for his seventh straight win at the Sachsenring. As in Assen, Marquez may not be breaking records but his pace is significantly better than that of his title rivals.
Fourth was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), fresh off a private test in Sepang. He’s had an up and down season, but there’s no denying the Brit still has his speed from previous years. 0.113s back from Crutchlow was his twice-former teammate Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), 0.679s off the overall leader. Ducati were again the only team to have both of their bikes in the top five.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) and Yonny Hernandez (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team) completed the top ten.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the leading Yamaha rider in 11th, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in 14th with Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) a disastrous 16th place. There’s a significant amount of work to do for all the M1 riders, they’ll need to make the most of any dry track time on Saturday to avoid an unwanted trip to Q1.
Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) was 21st on his return from injury.
Turn 11 continued to claim victims in Free Practice 2, Maverick Viñales sliding off at the fast right hand corner. Crashes are almost identical at the corner, the front folding away from the rider. Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) followed his fellow Spaniard into the gravel during the session, again losing the front at Turn 11.
Eugene Laverty (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team) broke the crash-trend when he fell at Turn 1. Like Rabat and Viñales, he was unharmed.
Clouds were darker than ever as Moto2™ FP2 got underway, the field racing out of pit lane in an attempt to beat the weather. But this didn’t last long, no one completing a full lap before it began to rain once more. The rain wasn’t heavy enough for wets but meant the track was still too damp for slicks, riders electing to stay in the pits as almost nothing could be learned in the conditions.
Eventually the circuit did improve enough for a handful of riders to head out on slicks, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) setting the first recorded time of the second session. Eventually the entire field was out on track and slowly improving their times, red sectors coming right till the end of the session. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was again the fastest man of the session, setting a 1’25.244 to improve on his FP1 time.
Chasing the first time winner was Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who also set his best time of the day in the second session. The Italian had been on course for a podium at the Sachsenring in 2015 until he crashed into Tito Rabat, the man who he would replace in the Marc VDS team. It’s clear he has the speed, but will he be able to keep it upright in 2016?
Fastest of the home riders and third fastest overall, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) could be Germany’s best chance of a home podium in 2016. A 1’25.539 saw him end 0.295s back on Nakagami as he looks to return to the top six for the first time since round four in Jerez.
With 17 laps under his belt, Zarco completed the most laps of any rider in FP2 and ends Friday as the fourth fastest overall. He was chased by Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), the Brit 0.003s back on his title rival. All of the top five were within half a second of each other on combined times, all times coming from Free Practice 2.
Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) were all inside the top ten. Expect big improvements from riders further down the order if conditions improve on Saturday.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was the only Moto2™ crash of the day, coming off at Turn 11. He went to the medical centre for checks but was cleared of any injury.
After a weather interrupted FP1, the lightweight class were slightly worried as heavy clouds gathered above the circuit. Fortunately for the Moto3™ World Championship, track conditions were slightly improved with a ground temperature of 20°C. They had little to worry about, spits of rain only coming in the final seconds of the session.
By cutting over a second off his time, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) was able to go from third in Free Practice 1 to the top of Free Practice 2 and conclude the day as the fastest rider in the lightweight class. His time of 1’27.496 was 0.093s faster than second but over four tenths quicker than the rest of the field. Many had expected him to challenge for the title this year, but a broken wrist before Le Mans put a serious dent into that ambition. Now fully healed, the Italian could take race wins away from the main championship contenders.
Fastest in FP1, Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) was quick straight away and led until the final few minutes. His session was brought to a premature end when he came into contact with Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team). Neither was hurt but Fenati was only able to finish the session, and the day, in second. Fenati walked away from the incident unharmed and will be back to fight for pole in Qualifying on Saturday.
Rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) continued to be a quick study, ending the first day of practice as the third fastest rider. Having only raced in the Spanish and Italian championships, he has never had any experience around the German track and was off the pace during the morning session. Bulega has proven he can fight with the front group, could he be back on the podium this weekend?
Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) again showed well after his breakthrough ride at the Catalan GP, ending Friday in fourth overall. Behind him and 0.754s slower than Bastianini was championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). It’s been a quiet start to the weekend for the South African and there is some work to be done overnight.
Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team), Francesco Bagnaia (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra Team) and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) completed the top ten.
Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was back on track, the German GP his first race after breaking his left leg before Assen. The left hand nature of the circuit proved tough on his injury, ending the day in 12th.
Niccolo Antonelli crashed at Turn 7, losing the front as he ran down hill. Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) also suffered a fall, coming off his Mahindra at T11. The South African went to the medical centre for checks and will be reviewed further tomorrow. His teammate Danny Webb (Platinum Bay Real Estate) also had a crash, coming off at Turn 4.
Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Team) tipped off as he entered Turn 7, ending his session five minutes early and in the gravel.