They always used to say that a dirt-track background was the best grounding for Grand Prix racing.
That changed a bit at the Sachsenring.
The background that paid dividends was motocross. Thanks to the unprecedented and (for some) highly enjoyable mass pit-lane start.
The pit-lane exit at the pocket-handkerchief German circuit is narrow, and gets narrower still as it leads to the (rather narrow) first corner. All the same, the riders did their best to line up across it in a single rank, waiting for the green light. They managed five abreast.
Then came the off, as front-row qualifier Stefan Bradl and an octet of back-of-the-grid riders disappeared around the punishingly tight first corner.
It was all elbows. Knees too, and shoulders, and then the narrowest of escapes from a number of collisions as riders slammed on their carbon brakes for the corner, only to find they were too cool to work properly.
Great stuff. And no surprise that it was ex-motocrosser Marc Marquez who did it all the best, and later professed to have enjoyed it.
After the race, however, when the adrenalin had abated, the same rider led a chorus of agreement from his rivals. It was fun, but both unfair and rather… er, dangerous.
It came about when a quirk in the weather collided head-on with a paragraph in the ever-growing and ever-changing book of rules. It was in a section that has seen many changes over the last decade or more, trying to stop mid-race weather changes from messing with inflexible TV schedules – a problem ever since slick tires arrived in the mid-1970s. They are deadly in the wet.
To read more of In The Paddock in this week’s issue of Cycle News, click here