Sachsenring: Every race is a highlights reel.
Time for summer break with the fight closer than ever – and another rookie showing their hand.
Marquez and Pedrosa had great weekends in Germany, with both showing great pace and taking front row starts to the podium. Marquez took his eighth win in a row at the track – a run that started in the 125 World Championship – and did it from pole once again. But with Sachsenring, that’s what you’d expect. What you wouldn’t expect is the home rookie on an independent team Yamaha pushing the man who has made the track his own – so don’t worry, we’ve not lost that spark.
Jonas Folger was a bit of a question mark when he was signed to Tech 3. Whereas the feeling on Zarco seemed to be ‘wait and see’ and that his two titles in Moto2 were now essentially null and void in terms of expectations, Folger was a simple ‘that guy?’ question, given his past record.
- MotoGP - Sachsenring 2017 -
Inconsistency is something that has plagued the German since he appeared on the world stage. Moving up from the lightweight class to Moto2 essentially because of his size – he’s tall – there were then flashes of incredible brilliance and some weekends of complete pedestrianism. The brilliance, though, was very real. Showing form in the wet – like his final Moto2 win in Brno when he was five seconds clear – was another good indication. Folger was quality, but the right stage and circumstances never quite appeared. Faith in that quality, however, led him to Tech 3. And the man known for his at times frustrating inconsistency opened his MotoGP account with a reputation for the opposite: until Assen, he was the only rider to score points in every race.
Rookies are bound to make mistakes, and this rookie certainly bounced back from the Dutch GP. Folger was given simple advice on the grid in Germany: believe in yourself. He managed to do that in style, keeping calm to push the undisputed king of the Sachsenring to his limits and take his first podium. So if he was in need of a little self-belief before, things may now get interesting.
Something else interesting is that – once again – a Tech 3 Yamaha beat a factory Yamaha. Viñales is now not allowed to talk about whether the new chassis they’re using is a step back, which would suggest in itself that it is. Put bluntly, what they had before – now raced by Tech 3 - is beating what they have now at Movistar Yamaha. So it’s a good shout. The argument between each side of the garage – Viñales saying it was tyres causing him issues, Rossi saying it was the bike – seems to be settling itself in favour of, as you’d expect, the man who has been at Yamaha more than ten seasons, and has nine world titles.
- Andrea Iannone #29 Suzuki Ecstar - Jack Miller #43 E.G 0,0 MarcVDS - MotoGP - Sachsenring 2017 -
Speaking of titles, the German GP was another weekend that reset the standings in the best way. The season started with the nine different winners of 2016 seeming like it was a one off and not to be repeated, but 2017 is showing us that this is how it is now. Consistently inconsistent, but not unfairly. Consistently a fight for supremacy of man and machine – and setup and tyres – from FP1 to the end of the race. It can be a rollercoaster for fans of one rider or manufacturer, and it keeps us guessing. But it’s also – truly – one of the greatest eras in the history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing.
It’s easy to look back at Senna-Prost and Rossi-Biaggi with rose tinted glasses. This season, and the last, will need no rose tinted glasses. MotoGP is now so consistently incredible that most races appear to be a highlights reel.
When it starts up again at Brno after the summer break, there will be five title contenders lining up to go racing. Now it’s Marquez on top, but we’re heading for good Ducati venues first off. And it could rain. It could be 35 degrees. It could be cold. It could, quite possibly, be five title contenders arriving in Valencia for the season finale.
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