MotoGP Round 8 at the Sachsenring in Germany
By: Tom Halverson
Photo Credits: www.motogp.com
Coming into round 8, the 2013 MotoGP championship title fight had two clear protagonists; Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha’s reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo. Last time out, at Assen, Lorenzo did some serious championship damage limitation by electing to race despite breaking his collarbone and having it screwed and plated, earlier in the weekend. At Assen, Lorenzo soldiered on to a very respectable fifth place finish and kept himself within nine points of championship leader, Pedrosa. Roll on Germany!
At the Sachsenring, the drama from Assen didn’t miss a beat and picked up where it left off. During Friday’s second free practice session, Lorenzo was pushing hard, maybe a little too hard, and suffered a massive highside through the left-hander at the top of the hill. Lorenzo came down hard on the same shoulder he damaged at Assen, damaging the plate and screws from his previous crash, in the process. Lorenzo was flown back to Barcelona to have his shoulder hardware fixed, and was ruled out of the race at the Sachsenring. Fast forward to Saturday’s third free practice session; where Pedrosa suffered a freak highside while cruising, well off the pace, going in to turn 1. The onboard footage makes it look like Pedrosa was dropped out of a helicopter, and the impact fractured his collarbone. Off to the hospital he went for treatment and observation. Pedrosa’s ability to participate in Sunday’s race was to be determined by the track’s medical personnel. Other noticeable fallers were Andrea Dovizioso who sent his ‘lab-spec’ Ducati to the dumpster after just four laps of the first practice session, and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, who despite coming off at over 100mph, suffered only scrapes to his hands and right leg. Consider this a lesson learned, kids…always wear your protective gear.
With Pedrosa and Lorenzo not participating in qualifying, there were basically two spots at the front of the grid up for grabs. Repsol Honda’s wunderkind, Marc Marquez, took advantage of the situation and helped himself to pole position. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow delivered another excellent qualifying result in second position, and Valentino Rossi rounded out the front row in third…his first front row start since 2010. Stefan Bradl qualified in fourth for his home race. As for the Americans, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden settled for a decent sixth, and NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards started from twentieth.
Race day at the Sachsenring, and Dani Pedrosa has been ruled out of the race due to injuries from his crash in the third free practice session. The riders grid up, lights out, and away we go…Rossi gets the jump on the field and hits the front into the first turn followed by homeboy Bradl and CRT standout, Aleix Espargaro. Pole sitter Marquez dropped back to fourth, while Crutchlow continued his run of ‘great qualifying/bad starts’, and drifted back to sixth. A few corners later, Bradl moved past Rossi to take the lead. The German crowd goes ‘bananen’. While this was going on, Crutchlow slowly made his way up to fourth, just behind the leading group of Bradl, Rossi, and Marquez.
26 laps to go and Marquez takes Rossi for second and, a few corners later, Rossi for the lead. Rossi and a resurgent Crutchlow were now on Bradl’s case, and looking to dispatch the German rider. A few corners later, Rossi went past Bradl, followed by Crutchlow. With Bradl out of the way, the Yamaha riders looked to close down Marquez who was riding off into the sunset.
With riding on a different planet than the rest of the field, and Rossi and Crutchlow unable to make any sort of dent in his lead, it was these two who would duke it out for second. With fifteen laps to go, Crutchlow put a rather stout pass on Rossi at the bottom of the hill at turn 12. Rossi really had nothing to counter Crutchlow’s move, and had to settle for a safe third place finish…his third podium of the season.
With 14 laps to go, and Rossi out of the way, Crutchlow set his sights on Marquez who was about three seconds ahead of him. Crutchlow made steady progress forward, but then Marquez would respond and open the gap up to a steady two seconds. This seesaw action went on for the rest of the race with Crutchlow unable to make any real inroads on Marquez’ lead. Marquez went on to take his second victory of the season…not too shabby for a MotoGP rookie. Crutchlow brought it home in second, and bagged his fourth podium of the season. Dear Mr. Yamaha; Please get Cal on a factory bike. Rossi landed his fourth podium of season in third, but wasn’t too happy with this as he felt he could have challenged for the win.
Marquez’ win shot him to the top of the MotoGP championship points standings by a mere two points over Dani Pedrosa, and a further eleven points over Jorge Lorenzo. The MotoGP paddock reconvenes, this weekend, at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Due to injuries, Lorenzo and Pedrosa are still on the fence as whether or not they’ll race. Rossi loves the place and has won there, Marquez has never been there (other than on his Playstation), and Crutchlow is all action. Should be a good one!
8) Espargaro/Aspar CRT
2013 MotoGP championship points after round 8 at the Sachsenring;