Preview German Grand Prix, Sachsenring, Germany

2012-07-03 17:57
Repsol Honda team-mates Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa head to the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring doubly motivated. Not only did Stoner and Pedrosa finish one-two in last week�s Dutch TT in Assen, but Pedrosa has won the last two MotoGP races at the track in the former East Germany, and three of the last five. And Stoner, whose Sachsenring record is also impressive, is now tied for the lead in the MotoGP World Championship.

Stoner arrives in Germany hoping not to suffer any lingering effects from the horrific practice crash in Assen. Stoner di not break any bones, but he took a sharp blow to the head as well as his chronically damaged left scaphoid, and his left arm and knee. None of those injuries prevented him from passing Pedrosa and then pulling away to win the Dutch TT.

The 3.671Km Sachsenring is one of the tighter tracks on the calendar, and biased toward the left; there are ten lefts and three rights. But it is the rights that start the lap, which may affect Stoner as he gets knee down. And it is the long right plunge down the turn 11 hill, which is the most breathtaking for riders.

The 2011 MotoGP World Champion has been on the Sachsenring podium three of the past four years, with his lone premier class victory coming in the wet 2008 race when Pedrosa faltered.

Stoner starts the eighth round of the MotoGP World Championship tied on points with Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).

Pedrosa sits third in the championship on the strength of a very consistent season. Other than a fourth place finish at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans, the Spaniard has been on the podium in every race, but he has yet to win. Given his recent success in Germany-he won in both 2010 and 2011-that could change this weekend. He was also leading the 2008 race by nearly eight seconds when he fell victim to the cascading rainfall.

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista had podium success in Germany in the 250cc class, and has improved his finishing position in each of his two previous MotoGP races at the Sachsenring. The Spaniard was looking to improve on his MotoGP career best fourth in Assen when he crashed in the first turn and slid into Lorenzo. Race Direction deemed Bautista to have ridden too aggressively and levied a penalty; Bautista will start the German Grand Prix from the back row, regardless of where he qualifies. That could work to his advantage. Rather than fitting soft tyres for a fast qualifying lap, Bautista and his team can concentrate on a race set-up in all practice and qualifying sessions.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) has been looking forward to his home race ever since it was announced he was joining the MotoGP class. The 2011 Moto2 World Champion is certain to boost the crowd, which traditionally is one of the largest of the year with crowds streaming in from the former East Bloc. Germans have traditionally been quite successful in the lower categories, but haven�t been consistently fast in the premier class. With Bradl�s continuing improvement, the home fans will have someone to root for.

Bradl is also looking forward to putting the Assen race behind him. The Dutch TT ended early for Bradl, who suffered his first MotoGP race crash. His record in Germany includes a second in last year�s Moto2 race.

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Michele Pirro finished a career best eighth in the Dutch TT aboard his Honda CBR1000RR-powered CRT machine. That and the growing wealth of data the team is accumulating have produced improved results. Other than a pair of non-finishes to start the season, the Italian MotoGP rookie has either held his spot or improved in each of the six races since that followed.

The Moto2 World Championship took a dramatic turn in Assen. Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol � Suter) won his third race of the season, while title rivals Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti - Kalex) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock � Kalex) both crashed. Marquez finished the day with a 23 point lead, now over Andrea Iannone (Speed Master � Speed Up), the Italian who led much of the Dutch TT before being slowed by a loss of rear tyre traction.

Marquez could easily build on that title lead in Germany. The young Spaniard won from the pole the last two years, on a Honda RS125 in 2010 and on the Honda-powered Suter in the Moto2 class last year.

Iannone is rounding into form after an up and down start to the season. The Italian has finished every Moto2 race, but not with the consistency needed of a championship contender. The past three races have been encouraging. He followed a fourth in Le Mans with a win in Catalunya, then another fourth in Silverstone before finishing second in the Netherlands.

Espargaro and Luthi are tied on points with 96, now 31 behind Marquez after seven of 17 races. Prior to his Assen spill, Luthi had finished every race this season, with four podiums, including a win in the wet race in France. Espargaro has been less consistent and more successful. The younger Espargaro brother won his home race in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, but crashed out of the Catalunya Grand Prix. He rebounded with a win in Silverstone, then fell out of the lead in Assen. If the pattern holds, he�ll win in Germany.

It would be hard to bet against Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia FTR-Honda) in the Moto3 race. The young Spaniard has won the past three races and four out of seven. And he finished third in last year�s 125cc race in Germany.

Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI � FTR Honda) won one of the races that Vinales did not, the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez. That was an impressive achievement-the margin of victory was 36s-but he was partly helped by having tested in Spain prior to the race. The Moto3 rookie is visiting most of the tracks for the first time, which means he has to both learn the track and set up his Team Italian FMI � FTR-Honda at the same time. Despite a few setbacks, Fenati sits fourth in the championship.

One spot behind him is Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany FTR-Honda) The Frenchman has recovered after starting the year slowly. The highlight of his season came with a 27s victory in his home grand prix in Le Mans. That turned his season around, though he needs to finish more consistently in the second half of the season. And he needs to prove he can win in the dry.

The German Grand Prix was held at the ultra-high speed Hockenheim circuit then the Nurburgring until it found a permanent home at the Sachsenring in the former East Germany starting in 1998. The track near Chemnitz will continue to host the race for through 2016 after principals recently renewed their deal with the series promoters.

The first Sachsenring winner was five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan, who had also won at the Nurburgring (1997) and Hockenheim (1992). Honda has been the dominant marque in the 15-year grand prix run of MotoGP at the Sachsenring. Pedrosa leads all Honda winners with three victories, 2007, �10 �11, all on the Repsol Honda RC212V. Other winners include Alex Barros (2000), Valentino Rossi (2002), Sete Gibernau (2003), and Max Biaggi (2004).

The reunification of Germany was followed shortly by the building of the Sachsenring, a purpose-built racetrack that replaced the public roads races that had run in Saxony since the 1920s was built as a purpose-built track in the years after the former West and East Germanys reunified. The original track was altered three times early in the new millennium extending its length from 2.9Km to 3.671Km, while also increasing the average speed. The German Grand Prix has for several years preceded the U.S.GP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a track of similar dimensions and lack of straightaways, but this year it�s been plugged in between two of the faster tracks, Assen and Mugello.

The anti-clockwise track begins with the right-handers, were riders are cautious in the early laps to get enough heat into the right side of their asymmetric rear tyres. Then follows a series of increasingly faster lefts heading to another right, the aforementioned turn 11, a blind, off-camber kink that sends riders descending precipitously to the last two lefts, where races are often decided and passes frequently made. The penultimate Turn 12 left sends riders back uphill to turn 13, a 60 degree left-hander that feeds onto the 700m straightaway.

HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES

Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says:
�I hope we can go to Sachsenring and get another good result, especially after our tough but rewarding weekend in Assen. We were quite competitive there last year, but in the long corners we are struggling a little more with our bike at the moment, so we're going to need to work hard on Friday and Saturday, try to find more grip from the edge of the tyre and also see if we can reduce the front chatter. It's a very interesting track; maybe not one of the greatest on the circuit, but it has one of the best corners coming down the hill which is a little scary with spending so much time on the left before switching to the right side of the tyre. It's a good atmosphere there, though. With all the spectators so close to the track it feels like the Coliseum. There's always an interesting race there, as we saw last year, so we'll see what this weekend has in store.�

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:
�Sachsenring has been a successful track for us in the past, we've got some very good results there and it's a circuit where I always enjoy racing. Every race counts and we have to keep working hard and our time will come. We had a very good weekend in Assen and we have to repeat it in Germany; hopefully with the first win of 2012 that we are chasing so much. Sachsenring is a short track where the performance of the tyres will again play a big part, because you are leaning on the left a long time and the fastest corner is to the right. We need to set up the bike the best we can and give our best on Sunday.�

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista says:
�I was really unhappy with the crash in the first turn at Assen, because we had done a great job in practice and I think we had the setting to have a great race. I made a mistake in calculating my braking marker and I braked so hard trying not to hit anybody that I lost the front and ended up taking another rider with me anyway. It is the first time this has happened to me and I was sorry that another rider was also involved and unable to finish the race, losing important championship points. Luckily there were no serious consequences in terms of injuries and I am certain of one thing: it won't happen again. I am sorry for the team, who always give 100% and more and they deserved better, but unfortunately this is all part of life. At Sachsenring we'll be starting from the back of the grid and as I have already said I think it is an excessive penalty for a racing incident and whilst I accept it I do so reluctantly. Our objective has to be to continue working in the same way as up to now and try to pick up as many points as we can in the race. Sachsenring is a short and difficult circuit with no major straights. There are a lot of left-handers and that gets demanding over race distance. The atmosphere is fantastic because it is like a motorcycling festival with so many fans packing the grandstands.�

LCR Honda MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl says:
�Doubtless this weekend will be very special for me. My family, my friends and my fans will be there to support me and this makes me more motivated ahead the race. I am looking forward to this weekend because the crowd will be unbelievable. The track is a bit too small for a MotoGP bike, but there are some good parts especially the last one. After the last race in Assen we know we are capable to find with the second group and this remains our target for the next races including Sachsenring.�

San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda rider Michele Pirro says:
�Overall I am very satisfied with how things are going for us. We took another step forward in the race at Assen even though I was a little disappointed because at one stage I really thought I had a chance of finishing as the top CRT. It's a shame, but I am sure it is only a matter of time. As usual the guys are working really hard and we are making progress from race to race. We'll see how our bike works at Sachsenring, which is a unique circuit, and if we can continue with our recent improvements. I like the track and qualified fourth there last year in Moto2. It's not an easy track and you don't get a moment's rest because it is so short, but we'll try and get around it as best we can and get a good result going to Mugello.�


HONDA MOTO2 RIDER QUOTES

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol � Suter rider Marc Marquez says:
�Sachsenring is a bit of a different track, especially the first section, but I have fond memories of it from last season. We go there after a victory and that is always positive, but we have to keep calm and try to carry on working like before. The first part of the circuit is very slow and you need to find a setting for that, without slowing yourself down in the fast section, which also has some heavy braking points where the really fast times are found.�


HONDA MOTO 3 RIDER QUOTES

Avintia Racing Moto3 � FTR Honda rider Maverick Vinales says:
�It�s a track that I really like, much more so than the past few circuits on the calendar. I took my third pole of the season there last year and I am happy to be back riding at Sachsenring. The layout suits my style and I am sure that we will go very well. A lot of technique is needed and you have to set up the chassis for the slow sections, whilst on the fast corners you have to close your eyes and get on the throttle. That is exactly what we will do.�

Team FMI Italia FTR Honda rider Romano Fenati says:
�We go to Germany in the fourth position in the championship. I hurt my back while fighting with (Jakub) Kornfeil, which didn't help my chances. We can do better next week-end in Sachsenring.�

Racing Team Germany FTR Honda rider Louis Rossi says:
�This is a very important race not only for me, but for my team which is based in Germany. We had a good race in Assen and we were fighting for the win, but we can do better. We won our first race in Le Mans where it was raining quite hard. Now I want to win my first race in the dry.�

Source: Honda Pro Image

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