Just like the previous round at Assen, the weather played a big part in proceedings at the Sachsenring for the GoPro Motorrad German MotoGP.
The heavens opened on race day and the 30 lap flag to flag MotoGP race saw tyre choice critical. Everyone started on wets but the question was how long they would last as the track began drying as the race progressed.
Local rider Eugene Laverty on The Pull& Bear Aspar Ducati claimed five points from a crazy race, thanks to an eleventh place finish. The Ulster man is, along with Marc Márquez, one of only two riders to have scored points at every race so far this season, and remains tenth in the overall standings.
He came back from starting on the sixth row of the grid, and battled against the hindrances of several incidents ahead of him and a traction control issue. A change of bike resolved the problem, and Laverty was able to steadily lower his lap times to finish the German GP strongly.
Eugene said: “Scott Redding was in front of me at the start and he spun up the rear tyre, so I had to close the gas completely. That left me quite far back on the first corner. It was certainly dramatic. Also, when Yonny (his team-mate) crashed he nearly took me down with him, and I closed the gas again and lost some more positions. It was crazy out there.
“I was optimistic after this morning, but something really strange happened with the traction control setting in the wet and it meant that the bike just wouldn’t go; it was so strong that it felt as if I had half the power. That’s racing though. We made a stop and then we did a good job on the intermediate tyre, so all in all it wasn’t a bad race.
“I could have come in a few laps earlier, but I was looking at the sky and thinking that it was going to rain again, as it had been all day. It’s a bit of a gamble and it can either pay off or not.”
Valentino Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha led for the first two laps before Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci took their turn at the front. Petrucci’s time at the head of the field ended on lap 11 when he crashed out unhurt.
Pole setter Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda was simply unable to match the pace of the leading riders as the race began, battling with Hector Barbera for fifth. He was clearly struggling but on lap 17 he entered the pits for slicks. It proved a masterstroke as his lap times were immediately four seconds faster than those on wets leading the race, his pace only getting faster.
With six laps to go he took the lead and never looked back, going on to take a seventh straight victory at the Sachsenring.
The delighted race winner explained: “This was the first flag-to-flag race in these conditions, where we started in the wet and it dries. I was a little bit scared when I changed the bike, because to be on the slicks on the wet parts is really dangerous. It was an option to use intermediates, but for me it is better to go directly to a slick and I chose the best strategy.
“During all weekend I have felt good and it was great to finish with 25-points.”
On a drying track, British star Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda got faster and faster.
The Brit found himself in fourth on lap19 but he needed to pit for tyres. Having opted for slicks it wasn’t long before Crutchlow found himself right behind fellow Brit Scott Redding in the hunt for second place. By the flag Crutchlow had secured second and returned to the podium for the first time since Argentina in 2015. Redding, on intermediate tyres also lost out to Dovizioso for the final podium place on the run to the line. Early race leader Rossi eventually finished eighth behind Andrea Iannone, Dani Pedroas and Jack Miller.