#GermanGP Sachsenring, Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
What do you get when you add the two riders at the top of the standings to a record crowd at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland? One hell of a show! In one of the closest ever finishes at the Sachsenring, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) came out on top against reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in a duel that went right to the wire, ultimately decided by just 0.064 seconds as the two crossed the line almost in tandem. It’s Martin’s first win since Styria 2021 and consolidates his second place in the standings, now just 16 behind Bagnaia, and it’s the first time the number 89 has done the double – Tissot Sprint and GP win – and taken three GP podiums in a row.
Taking three Grand Prix rostrums in a row for the first time is now also true for Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) as the Frenchman completed the podium following a crash for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), and that shuffles the standings yet further. So where do we start…
The first place to start is Warm Up, as eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) suffered another big crash and, although declared fit, decided to sit out the Grand Prix race after a difficult weekend. That left Bagnaia heading a grid that didn’t contain the 11-time winner… but there was one thing, at least, that remained increasingly predictable: Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took the holeshot.
Behind the Australian, Bagnaia and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) slotted into P2 and P3, at least until Turn 11 the Australian had a huge moment on the rear as they flicked it onto the cold side of the tyre. That allowed Bagnaia, Martin AND Marini to carve past.
Lap 3, Turn 12 – a change of the lead. Martin pounced on Pecco and with it, the Sprint victor set the fastest lap of the race. Just behind, Miller was holding teammate Binder at bay, with the latter enjoying a mini battle with the fast-starting, soft rear tyre-running Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). But Binder grabbed P4 off Miller at the end of Lap 4 and set his sights on the top three, with Martin quickly building a 0.7s lead at the front.
Zarco was soon past Miller too – the same place he dispatched Binder at in the Sprint, Turn 11, this time with a little more space – and on Lap 7 the Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race too. Soon, Martin’s gap was down to 0.5s with the top five just two seconds apart. Lap 10 saw Binder pounce past Marini for P3 too, and soon Zarco was also past the Italian. By then, the gap between Binder and Bagnaia was up to 1.7s as the top five began to spread out.. and the top two to get closer together.
Martin and Bagnaia looked like they were out of reach for the chasing pack. Binder was 2.9s adrift with 17 laps to go, and Bagnaia starting to put pressure on the shoulders of Martin. With 12 to go, it looked like Martin was starting to respond though. Bagnaia had been right on Martin’s coattails but the gap edged back to half a second.
In the podium battle, drama then unfolded. Binder lost the rear heading into Turn 8 and that forced him to run wide and into the gravel, and the South African crashed out of third. That promoted Zarco to P3, and the Frenchman had some breathing space as Marini had teammate Marco Bezzecchi to contend with in a VR46-friendly fire duel.
Did the decisive moment of the Grand Prix come with 10 laps to go? Bagnaia decided it was time to take the lead at Turn 12, and did so, but how would Martin respond? If Bagnaia had been planning to put the hammer down and thought he could escape, after two laps that plan was gone as the #1 couldn’t shake off the #89. Then, at the same corner with six to go, Martin returned the favour. The top two in the title chase were embroiled in a fascinating fight in the Ring, now it was Bagnaia’s turn to show what punches he had left.
Two more tense laps later and it remained as you were, but close as ever with Martin leading Bagnaia by 0.2s. On Lap 27 of 30, it literally couldn’t get any closer between the pair at points on the track. Martin defended well down the hill to not allow Bagnaia through into Turn 12, and as they entered Lap 28 they were absolutely locked together.
Penultimate lap time. Martin vs Bagnaia. A King of the Ring crown up for grabs. Martin went defensive into Turn 1 as Bagnaia nearly ran into the back of Martin at Turn 3, with millimetres in it. And round the final corner for the penultimate time, those millimetres evaporated. Contact! Bagnaia tagged the back of the Pramac ahead, with no harm done but some metres lost for the reigning Champion. The race was really, really on now.
By halfway around the lap, the impossible looked plausible once more as Bagnaia got within 0.3. The climb up the hill was crucial but the #1 wasn’t close enough into Turn 12. And so, just 80 seconds after the contact last time around, it was down to Turn 13. Martin went defensive. Bagnaia opted for a wider, sweeping line up the hill. For the final time, it was Martin vs Bagnaia on the run to the line.
Martin edged it by a slender 0.064s as a wonderful battle lit up the Sachsenring, with the Spaniard cutting Bagnaia’s title advantage to 16 points. It’s the closest finish at the track since the 0.060 margin in 2003.
6.9s away from the victory scrap, Zarco claimed P3 for the third race in succession, and the #5 nearly crashed at Turn 1 on the final lap, too, pushing for his best run of rostrums.
Bezzecchi picked his way through the pack to a solid P4 after a tricky weekend, the Italian finishing 3.4s ahead of teammate Marini after the two went head-to-head earlier in the race. Miller was 0.2s him to finish P6, as Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) rounded out the top 10, the ortuguese
P11 went the way of Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) who finished ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ duo Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo, all three of whom remain the only three riders to score in every GP race so far this season. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) picked up the final points in P14 and P15.
Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) was forced to retire after his RS-GP encountered an issue in the early stages of the Grand Prix, and teammate Aleix Espargaro faded to 17 after struggling for grip late on.
So that’s that. An instant classic and a maximum of 37 points means it’s a perfect weekend for Martin in Germany, and it also means the title picture changes ahead of a trip to The Cathedral of Speed: Assen. 16 points split leader Pecco to Martin as we head to the always-fantastic Dutch TT.
Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claimed a stunning victory at the Sachsenring to close the gap in the Championship standings at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland. Key rival and World Championship leader Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was forced to settle for second but the Italian limited the damage by fending off Jake Dixon (Polarcube GASGAS Aspar Team) as the Brit hunted down Arbolino in the second half of the 25-lap encounter.
Arbolino got the holeshot at the start but his lead did not last long as Acosta responded on the opening lap at Turn 12. The pair then immediately broke away from the chasing pack but were rarely separated by more than a few tenths in the first three laps. However, a series of fastest laps by Acosta, in the 1:23s, allowed him to pull out a half-a-second gap over his title rival by the end of Lap 4. By Lap 6, the gap between Acosta and Arbolino was over a second for the first time and the Spaniard’s pace showed no signs of letting up.
While Acosta checked out at the front with a 2.6s gap at the halfway stage, Arbolino had to start looking over his shoulder as Dixon charged towards him. The Brit reduced the gap to under a second on Lap 14 as he set his sights on second place after having to battle back from fifth after losing out in the early stages.
Having started from third, Dixon found himself behind Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) and Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors SpeedUp) on Lap 2. He re-passed Lopez for fourth on Lap 3 before being promoted back to the podium places on Lap 6 when Canet crashed at Turn 13, rider ok.
Dixon was able to catch the World Championship leader but Arbolino started to extend the gap over the Brit during the final five laps. Dixon responded on Lap 22, however, and it was back down to just a few tenths. The battle raged on during the final lap but Arbolino was able to hold on over the line, taking second and those 20 points by only 0.095. Dixon narrowly missed out on second but still claimed another podium in Germany as he hunts a better finish than P3.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) claimed a somewhat lonely fourth place for his best result of the season. The Thai rider was six seconds away from the podium, but he was also three seconds clear of the group behind him. That group was led by Lopez who finished fifth as he pulled out a gap of over a second on Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 MasterCamp) in sixth. Gonzalez started from 12th but repeated his strong showing from Friday to secure a top-six finish.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was part of the battle for fifth place but he had to settle for seventh, ahead of Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors SpeedUp) in eighth. Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took ninth and Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) rounded out the top ten, but it could have been different after the trio had a fierce fight in the closing stages.
Aldeguer moved into eighth when he went up the inside of Arenas at Turn 1 on Lap 19, before Vietti followed him through in the first sector to demote Arenas to tenth. However, Arenas and Vietti switched positions again to give the Spaniard ninth.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is now a Grand Prix winner! The Turk has been close before but the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland finally saw him take to the top step and in some style after a last lap, last corner dive up the inside on race-long leader Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP). Sasaki was forced to settle for second but put in another stellar podium for another podium, with a duel also deciding third as Dani Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) held off Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team).
Sasaki didn’t get the best launch as rookie teammate Collin Veijer shot off the line, but the number 71 was soon through into the lead despite the best efforts of an aggressive Öncü. As the first few laps ticked down, the Japanese rider, who was more than a second clear in qualifying, started to make a gap at the front too, leaving Öncü vs Holgado vs Ortola as the fight for the rest of the podium places.
Lap by lap, however, Öncü was able to pull away from the fight and start to home in on Sasaki. And so it became a duel, and a chess match to the finish. Massaging his cramping leg as Öncü tucked in behind the Husqvarna and then closing back in for the last lap, everyone – including Sasaki – knew it was coming. But when? It went right down to the final corner as the Turkish rider dived up the inside and somehow got it stopped, able to pin it to the line and take his first Grand Prix win after getting so, so close on a good few occasions.
Sasaki was forced to settle for second after a race-long stint at the front, with the duel for third also going to the wire. In the end, Holgado had just enough to hold off Ortola, the Championship leader increasing that lead once again after nearly the whole race spent looking in his metaphorical mirrors.
Behind the fight right at the front, it was a group battle to the line and rookie David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) came out on top. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) took sixth ahead of Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), Ryusei Yamanaka (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team), with Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) taking his first top ten in P10. Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) is classified P11 after a one-position penalty for exceeding track limits on the last lap.
David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) sliced up to P12 despite his back of the grid and Long Lap penalty, finishing a little distance ahead of a group comprising Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Andrea Migno (CIP Green Power) as they completed the points.
There was early heartbreak for Veijer he crashed out early on despite that great start, and Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) also crashed out of top ten contention in the latter stages.