The ninth round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place in Germany at the Sachsenring, where Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took his tenth consecutive win at the German track.
Marquez made a relatively bad start from his tenth-straight Sachsenring pole and was out-dragged towards turn one by fellow front-row starters Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), but the #93 out-brakes the Yamaha riders around the outside on the entry to the first turn.
Vinales, in turn, forced out Quartararo in turn one, as Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) took third. Before the end of the first lap, though, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took third away from Miller, although the Ducati rider came back in turn one.
A crash for Quartararo broke the pack up on lap two. The Frenchman was unhurt but it allowed a gap to appear between Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) in fifth and Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) in sixth.
On lap three, Marquez started to move the pace on, and Mille started to struggle. Rins had already passed him back for third, and before the end of the lap Crutchlow was through for fourth. Miller’s lack of pace had brought Danilo Petrucci back towards him and Crutchlow, and the second Mission Winnow Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso was there, too, as well as Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in tenth.
At turn twelve on lap four, Alex Rins got past Maverick Vinales for second place as Marquez’s advantage grew to six tenths. Marquez’ strategy was to use the first two laps to warm his front tyre, and then push to open a gap. It was a strategy which worked – Rins was able to go faster than Vinales, but not fast enough to close Marquez.
With twenty-four laps to go, Marquez’ advantage was over one second, and with twenty-two to go it was approaching 1.5 seconds over Rins, who in turn had over one second back to Vinales, whilst Crutchlow was pressuring the #12.
When Marquez’ gap reached three seconds, he backed the pace off to conserve the tyre which had been a concern over the weekend for the whole field, such were the temperatures and the particular demands of the especially anti-clockwise Sachsenring.
Marquez’ lead was extended further on lap twelve when Alex Rins crashed at turn eleven out of second place. If his win wasn’t assured already, it was now. Marquez continued out front for eleven relatively comfortable laps, and took his tenth-straight Sachsenring win. Additionally, it was his fifth win of the season, and his championship advantage opened up to fifty-eight points ahead of the summer break – a healthy margin with ten races to go and a useful buffer with strong tracks for Ducati coming up on the calendar.
Maverick Vinales spent most of the race with Cal Crutchlow no more than two tenths behind him. Originally, this was for third place but Rins’ crash made that into the second-place battle. Towards the end, the gap between the Spaniard and the Briton increased and Vinales took second place 4.587 seconds behind Marquez, and over three seconds clear of Crutchlow as he took his third podium of the season a week on from his dominant win in Assen.
Crutchlow was unsure whether he would be able to race on Sunday such was the pain he was in after his bicycle accident between Assen and Sachsenring in which he broke the top of his tibia. To turn from that on Sunday to a third place and his second podium of the season in Sachsenring is impressive from the Briton who has struggled for front feeling with the 2019 Honda. Finishing the first half of the season the way he started it is a good way to go into the summer break for the #35.
Fourth place went to Danilo Petrucci who came out on top in a big battle between himself, Dovizioso, Miller and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Petrucci knew that Sachsenring was not a favourable track for Ducati, but he enjoyed the track himself – with a new Ducati contract for 2020 under his belt he had no problems taking points away from Dovizioso who he now trails by only six points in the championship.
Dovizioso himself was able to turn a difficult weekend and a thirteenth-place grid slot into a fifth place, although this was not enough to lift his mood as he saw the 2019 world title slip even further away.
Jack Miller took sixth place. To be fighting with the factory GP19s is all Miller could have hoped for in Sachsenring, and he had them both well in sight at the flag. Joan Mir was seventh after a strong ride in which he almost certainly learned a great deal about how to fight in a MotoGP race and how to conserve a tyre.
Valentino Rossi was in the fight with Mir and the GP19s until the closing stages of the race, when his medium rear tyre – which most riders commented was harder than the hard compound – started to give up. The summer break has come at the right time for Rossi, who needs to reset for the second half of the season having missed the podium since Texas and not been in the top five since Le Mans.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) suffered similar late-race pace to Rossi and finished ninth. Perhaps it is useful to consider in this moment that Morbidelli has been open about modelling his own riding style on Rossi’s. Considering the comparable results of the two in recent races, perhaps it can be judged that – at least for this year’s edition of the YZR-M1 – this decision by Morbidelli has not been the best one.
Stefan Bradl, in place of Jorge Lorenzo at the Repsol Honda Team, was able to finish tenth, giving the factory Honda team their first double-top ten since Malaysia 2018 when Marquez won and Dani Pedrosa was fifth.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) finished eleventh, ahead of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), the heavily and increasingly injured Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) and Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) who completed the points.
Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was sixteenth, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) whose clearance to race was a questionable one after being admitted to hospital and admitting himself to headaches after a practice crash on Friday. The Italian had a big run-on in turn one early in the race, which compromised his result. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed early on, and was the final classified rider in seventeenth.
After Fabio Quartararo crashed out on lap two, Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also crashed out a lap later. There was not another retirement until Rins dropped out on lap nineteen. After Rins fell, only Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) dropped out, as he crashed with two laps to go after a strong ride in which he was fighting for the top ten.
Featured Image courtesy of Box Repsol