The 3.7km, largely left-hander Sachsenring has fast become a signature venue for reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), with the Spaniard having taken an impressive run of seven victories in a row at the track, from 125cc to MotoGP™. Is the lucky number seven? Marquez will be hoping not; looking to make it eight.
Anti-clockwise and with ten left-handers to only three right, the venue is unique on the calendar. This year it has also been resurfaced, with the grid therefore given more time to get to grips with the track. Due to limited availability of the circuit, it wasn’t possible to test beforehand – meaning an extra 10 minutes have been added on to FP1 and FP2. Both sessions will start five minutes earlier and end five minutes later, with the lower classes unaffected by the timetable change. In case of rain on Friday, a new schedule will be issued for Saturday – but FP1 and FP2 will remain extended in any eventuality.
Back on track, Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa could be a key challenger despite a difficult Dutch GP. The ‘Baby Samurai’ has four wins at the track in the premier class – and two more from his title winning seasons in the 250 World Championship. Traditionally a track that suits the Honda, that could also bring into play last year’s podium finisher Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who was also a key challenger for the podium at Assen this season.
The winner at Assen is a man with a track record, too. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has three wins at the Sachsenring in the premier class and will be rolling into Saxony on a high – with weather a threat, too, it could all play the perfect hand for the ‘Doctor’ once again.
As well as a Rossi win and an incredible show at the ‘Cathedral’ last time out, there were other headlines made – chiefly in the Championship standings. The man now ahead for the first time in his career is Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), after a solid fifth place finish avoiding risks and taking a big reward. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the crasher who caused the shuffle by failing to score – so now both have an interesting question: push for the reward, take the risk? Or play the long game…
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) will want to bounce back, Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) wants to stay on a roll and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will be pushing to get back at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is another to consider, looking for another solid points finish. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have their eye on the prize of points, too, after Pol Espargaro took their best finish last time out in P11. Three ‘Bulls’ will be charging in Germany, with test rider Mika Kallio joining Espargaro and Bradley Smith for the Austrian factory as a wildcard.
The rider with the weight of the home hopes on his shoulders is Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). After blistering pace in Barcelona and having proven the only rider to score points in every race so far until a more difficult Dutch GP DNF, Folger has good form this year – and will be even more motivated to bounce back. The German MotoGP™ rookie is a podium finisher at the track in Moto2™, and has some serious prowess in the rain – always a positive as the weather can threaten in Saxony.
The final frontier ahead of the summer break is thirty laps of a track that lies in a region of real racing history. The finale to the first half of the season will certainly be a showstopper and with the Championship so close at the top, it could take a lead role in the story of 2017.
It’s back to regular programming for the German GP on race day, with the race set for 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
MotoGP World Championship Classification
1 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA – Ducati) 115 points
2 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) 111 points
3 – Valentino Rossi (ITA – Yamaha) 108 points
4 – Marc Márquez (SPA – Honda) 104 points
5 – Dani Pedrosa (SPA – Honda) 87 points