Photography by Gold & Goose
Marc Marquez continued his amazing run through the 2014 MotoGP season. On Sunday at the Sachsenring in Germany, Marquez started from the pit lane on a drying track, sliced his way through the field and broke to the front five laps in and pulled away to another convincing victory, 1.466 seconds ahead of his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Marquez has now made it to the halfway mark undefeated and a perfect season looks more and more like a real possibility. Marquez becomes the youngest rider to win nine consecutive races, beating record set by Mike Hailwood in 1964.
Jorge Lorenzo quietly rode to third, to earn just his third podium of the season. It was factory Hondas one and two, factory Yamahas three and four, as Valentino Rossi scored fourth. Andrea Iannone scored his best finish of the season in fifth on the Pramac Ducati.
With a wet to drying Sachsenring, most of the teams chose to start the race on wets, but Bradl decided to start on slicks counting on the track to continue to dry. The move by Bradl proved brilliant as after the warm-up lap nearly all of the race contenders pulled into change to bikes with slicks. That left a thin starting grid with Bradl all alone up front and a handful of about eight riders farther back on the grid who decided to start the race on wets. As for Marquez and the rest of the major contenders (14 in all) started from a chaotic scrum from pit lane.
Once the race was underway Bradl sprinted away to a big lead, although he couldn’t open up as much of an advantage as he would have liked since the lower elevations of the tack were still partly wet.
It looked like a charge of scooters from a Rome traffic light from the pit lane and it was Marquez emerging as the leader of the pit starters. Lorenzo cut hard to the inside, crossing a zone separating the pit exit from the track. He immediately threw up his hand and gave back a few positions after cutting the track.
Marquez and Pedrosa were amazingly quickly up and slicing through the riders who started the race from the proper grid. It took just four laps before Marquez broke through traffic and was just two seconds back and closing fast on the leader. On lap six Marquez caught and moved past Bradl to take the over the lead. It was another remarkable display of riding by the defending champ.
It took Pedrosa a little longer to get past Bradl and that allowed breathing room for Marquez.
Bradley Smith’s miserable weekend continued as he crashed for the fifth time on the weekend. Michael Laverty, who ran second in the early going, also crashed out later in the race.
In the second half of the race it was Marquez pulling away from his Repsol Honda teammate by tenths per lap. Once Jorge Lorenzo cleared traffic to third he was eight seconds back at mid-race and continuing to lose ground to the leaders. Valentino Rossi ran a lonely fifth.
Poor Bradl, while running on slicks, was running settings for wetter conditions and dropped like a rock through the standings as the race wore on. He ultimately finished 16th.
A good battle was being waged between the factory Ducati teammates of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. It was a huge moment for Crutchlow, who hadn’t beaten his teammate all year. They were joined by Pol Espargaro in the final laps.
With four laps to go Pedrosa, who was pushing hard to catch Marquez, made an error and ran wide in turn one and dropped back to 1.5 seconds from the lead. That was effectively the race. Marquez crossed the finish line 1.466 seconds ahead of his teammate. Lorenzo came home third 10.317 second behind the winner. Nine more seconds back came Rossi and then another four seconds to Iannone.
Aleix Espargaro was a lonely sixth, while his brother Pol moved past the factory Ducatis late to take seventh. Dovizioso finished eighth, followed by Alvaro Bautista who took ninth, having passed tenth-place Crutchlow on the final lap.
For the Americans it was an off day. Hayden, who qualified 12th, raced to 14th. Colin Edwards finished 20th.
Marquez, with a perfect 225 points, now enjoys a 77 point lead over Pedrosa. Rossi is third, seven points behind Pedrosa.
Marquez admitted his strategy was very conservative, to simply follow what his main competitors were doing.
“Everybody start from the pits because we saw that it was completely dry,” Marquez said. “On the grid I saw that the main straight was dry, but I was worried about the back (sections of the track) because there it was completely wet when I go out. And in the end my strategy was just copy Dani and Valentino, that are the main opponent for the championship. I saw that them going into the box and I follow them. The race was nice in the beginning because you start to overtake riders and then in the second half of the race we have a great battle with Dani. It was always 0.5, 0.6 second between us. I’m really happy for this victory and now it is time to relax the body and also relax the mentality on the holiday time.”
Pedrosa seemed to be able to pace Marquez much of the race, but in the end it was errors that cost him any chance of stopping his teammate’s streak.
“It was a very tough race for everyone at the beginning,” Pedrosa said. “I think it was really tough in that corner with slicks, but finally all the moves were good and we did a good job in the pits also. So in the race I was just overtaking riders until I end up with Marc in the lead. He had that gap – 0.5, 0.6 – so it was very difficult to catch him. At the same time I was trying not to lose. The rhythm was very similar. There was not really points where I was losing a lot or recovering a lot. Pretty much the gap remained the same all the time until I made a couple of mistakes, but I’m happy with the performance anyway.”
Lorenzo explained what happened with him raising his hand after cutting the track at the start.
“The last races I’ve been riding quite well and the bike was improving little by little,” Lorenzo said. “It was a pity for the second part of the race that I couldn’t fight for a victory. Here I needed just one or two tenths to fight with Marc in dry conditions, but finally in the last moments it start to rain. It has been a dramatic race. In the first corner when I wanted to touch the brake there was no brake with the carbon disc too cold. So I needed to enter the track. So finally I have to let the other riders pass. It was difficult to overtake them and get confidence on the track. It was dry, but in the corner before the last one I have some doubts. The rest of the track I think I keep more or less the same pace as the other riders. I’m very satisfied for this because this track is not one of the best for me.”
Now nearly a month-long break before the series kicks off the second half of the season on August 10 in Indianapolis.
MotoGP results from the Sachsenring in Germany – July 13, 2014
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 41m 47.664s
2. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 41m 49.130s
3. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 41m 57.981s
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 42m 6.858s
5. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 42m 11.173s
6. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 42m 15.473s
7. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m 20.917s
8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 42m 21.532s
9. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 42m 21.895s
10. Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 42m 22.340s
11. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 42m 25.408s
12. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 42m 32.682s
13. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 42m 32.841s
14. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 42m 34.340s
15. Danilo Petrucci ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 42m 40.433s
16. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 42m 41.553s
17. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 42m 42.140s
18. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) 42m 43.879s
19. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m 43.957s
20. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 42m 51.747s
21. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 42m 58.592s
22. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 43m 7.639s
23. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) DNF