MotoGP ventured from the rapid kinks-and-curves of Assen to the winding and neverending corners of Sachsenring in Germany in the space of seven days and put on another show of slightly edgy and unpredictable entertainment as the 2017 term reached the halfway point in Saxony. Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Jonas Folger ecstatically emerged second on the podium behind World Champion Marc Marquez after three days of changeable weather that thankfully settled to provide a dry race on Sunday.
Folger was consistently pacey around his home circuit for what was the rookie’s first attempt at the Sachsenring layout with Yamaha MotoGP M1 power. The 23 year old surprised Marquez by pushing through to lead the field by lap six and drew the 77,000 (largely partisan) attendance to their feet. Marquez resumed control but by his own admission had to “push, push and push” and keep his lap-times in a limit-testing 1mins 21 barrier to stay in front of the black and green ‘94’. Folger only just ran out of usable grip in the last two circulations and this prevented a final attack on the back of the Honda but his runner-up ranking was still a memorable first rostrum ‘walk’ in what has been a solid initial year in MotoGP. It was also the first time the German flag was hoisted above the winners’ circle for nearly half a decade.
“People were telling me you can go on the podium today…but I was not sure,” Jonas said. “I didn’t expect anything. I just wanted to do my best. It was like in Barcelona: I was fastest in warm-up and it gave me a lot of confidence. I was doing good lap times. For me it’s really important to have that confidence and to know that we have the speed and we have the right position to start on the grid. Every time we do this we do a great job. It was a great experience.”
Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales seared his way from a first lap berth of tenth to pass teammate Valentino Rossi in the gravity grave of Turn11 and was satisfied with fourth on the day; a rank that keeps the Spaniard close to countryman Marquez in the standings to the tune of only 5 points. Rossi, winner of the last round in Holland, was also smiles in fifth.
“Being realistic, today the best we could have done was P3, Jonas was also very strong,” ‘MV’ said. “If I had started in front I don't know whether I would have risked so much to be with Jonas and Marc. For me the maximum was P3 and I was happy I could recover a lot of positions.”
On his thrilling pass on #46 Viñales said:
“The move was really close but there were only six laps to go and I needed to pull away because Vale is so strong at the end of the race and at that moment I was stronger than the riders that were in front. I just wanted to bring the momentum and pull away.”
In Moto2 E.G. 0,0 Marc VDS’ Franco Morbidelli slid his way to Pole Position and the charismatic Italian fronted the pack for most of the distance, even after hearing teammate Alex Marquez clatter and scrape the ground at Turn 2 in the formative stages. ‘Morbido’ had to survive a potent assault from Miguel Oliveira and defeated the Portuguese by half a bike length for his fifth win of 2017, boosting a 37 point lead over Thomas Luthi who was another Moto2 faller and was ahead of VR46 Academy-mate Pecco Bagnaia. The Sky Racing Team VR46 rookie flipped the cork for the third time in his maiden year in Moto2.
“If Miguel would have passed me straight away I would have packed-up because I was struggling a lot…but he didn’t and I thought ‘he’s just waiting’,” Franco said. “So I said ‘OK, let’s try something to win’ and had a great last lap. It is a great feeling.”
“I think some rest is good for everybody,” he added. “Take a breath, take a break from racing and the stress. We’ll then go to the next half of the calendar well prepared and ready.”
“I was excited when I saw we were catching the leaders and in the last two laps I pushed my hardest,” Bagnaia said. “It was difficult and I don't like this track too much but to take third was great and I go into the break with a smile on my face.”
Estrella Galicia Honda’s Aron Canet had the best view of the German asphalt from Pole Position on the Moto3 grid but the Spaniard was frustrated to slide out while heading the second group during the 27 lap sprint. Joan Mir triumphed for the fourth time this season to extend his championship lead over Romano Fenati. Sky Racing Team VR46’s Nicolo Bulega was fourth after the dash to the finish line for the young Italian’s best classification of the year so far.
There were comments of ‘beach’, ‘sun’, ‘holidays’ and ‘breaks’ in the MotoGP paddock with Sachsenring heralding a hiatus of five weeks. The Monster Energy Grand Prix of Czech Republic at Brno will bring the whole circus to life again on August 5-6.