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Cal Crutchlow at the 2018 GP of Germany
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The Coil: how Sachsenring drives MotoGP riders dizzy

Jul 152018

There are fewer circuits on the 2018 MotoGP calendar that ooze history like the Sachsenring. Originally a street layout in the early decades of the last century the venue weathered war, politics and constant revisions to arrive at a state and status (90 years in fact in 2017) that means it is one of the most unusual Grand Prix challenges.

Aside from the healthy attendances (near capacity in fact) that is symbolic of the passion for motorcycle racing that has glued the world championship scene and countless events to this area of Saxony for so many years, Sachsenring is also a test like no other.

Why? The short trajectory involves very little in the way of a straight (the main start straightaway is just 700m long and an uphill incline that barely allows a full run through the gearbox). The thirteen corners involve a staggering ten that curve to the left requiring not only hefty time off the bike but also some careful strategy by the riders to nurse this side of the race tyres.

“You left arm gets tired here; you get like a dead arm because you are [hunched] all the time around 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,” explained LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. “7 is the worst because you are there for five-six seconds in the same position.”

 

The Brit says that Sachsenring is not particularly draining but the sweeps and elevation changes give it a technical edge. Some riders feel the pull of the G forces and the physicality of the occasion flicks.

 

“It's very hard here because you are always very low down on the bike and for your upper body, it's quite demanding,” says Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo. “Especially for the left side of the body, the leg, the shoulder, the back. In the middle of the race, you start to feel a little bit sore in that area, and it's demanding, because it's not compensated, it's not symmetric.”

“Last year with the triceps and all my arm on the left side it was really difficult and I was always tired,” admits Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco. “This year I haven’t felt anything and this means the bike is better than the year before.”

 

The standout corner is perhaps Turn 11; the Ralf Waldmann turn. The right-handed steep drop is the fastest of the loop, and one of the most iconic in MotoGP. A scary place to crash. It is a respite for the fire-breathing bikes that are begging to be throttled hard by that point of the lap.

According to Brembo – the Italian company that provide the braking technology for the entire grid – Sachsenring is the second lowest demanding circuit of the summer in MotoGP. Riders are braking less than two seconds for half of the seven ‘stopping’ points on the track. Just nineteen seconds of the lap is spent with a lever squeezed or a peg depressed.

 

Combined with plunges like Turn 11 and the snaking descent through Turns 2-3 and into the Omega the visit to Germany (which, drastically, might be the last for MotoGP if a fresh agreement is not reached between the co-owners, sponsors and series promoters Dorna) is one that is anticipated by the stars of the sport.

 

“I used to always look forward to coming to this race and this track,” Crutchlow asserts. “It is one of those places where if you get it right then it’s superb, really nice. It is difficult with all the changes of direction and fighting with the bike to try and get sat in the centre. If you do manage it then it’s for half a second and that's it.”

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