It started in the 125 World Championship, it continued in Moto2™ and now it’s seven times in a row in MotoGP™: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) continued his stunning form to make it ten successive Sachsenring pole positions in the HJC Helmets Grand Prix Motorrad Deutschland, escaping the clutches of rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by two tenths and on course to challenge for a tenth win in a row at the track on Sunday. Quartararo was once again a key challenger despite a big wobble in FP3 that partially dislocated the Frechman’s shoulder – on top of his ongoing recovery from arm pump surgery, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completing the front row and missing out on second by just 0.006.
The drama started early as Q1 saw Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lead Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) into Q2 to fight for the top 12, and that had some serious consequences for Championship challenger Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) as he was knocked out by just a few thousandths. He’ll face a fight back on Sunday from P13.
Meanwhile, at the front, Marquez was the first man to set a benchmark time in Q2, the number 93 slamming in a 1:20.575. But there was more to come, with an advantage of two tenths then becoming half a second as the Repsol Honda rider set a new all-time lap record. A 1:20.215 moved the goalposts 0.553 clear of his nearest challengers as the undisputed King of the Ring laid down the gauntlet for the riders to try and match. And slowly but surely, that half a second gap started to shrink, down to 0.185 as both Quartararo and Marquez headed onto their final flying laps – the 20-year-old just behind Marquez on circuit.
Both riders set a red first sector, Marquez was superior in the second, Quartararo then went through his favoured third split in the red…but so did Marquez. It all came down to the final sector of the session – would Marquez hold on for a tenth straight pole or would Quartararo steal it from the seven-time Champion’s grasp? Marquez did set a slightly faster lap and a couple of seconds later, Quartararo crossed the line but it wasn’t to be. But two tenths off Marquez in Q2 at the Sachsenring whilst not exactly fighting fit is a warning shot regardless.
Viñales finished just 0.006 off Quartararo to lineup in P3, his fourth front row start of the season, as Rins spearheads the second row of the grid in P4. By far the leading Ducati rider in qualifying, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) had a great session to launch from P5, he’ll sit next to the brave Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) – the Briton qualifies sixth for the German GP despite suffering a torn ACL and a small fracture to the top of his tibia ahead of this weekend.
Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli leads Row 3 ahead of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and the duo will line up with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) alongside them. The Spaniard was involved in an incident with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) after it appeared the Suzuki rider held up the Italian on the entrance to ‘The Waterfall’ and on the exit of Turn 12…
Just behind that drama, Takaaki Nakagami qualifies P10, with the Japanese rider beating fellow Q1 graduate Valentino Rossi by 0.033 to turn the tables on ‘The Doctor’ in Q2. To continue a more turbulent session for Petrucci, not long after his words with Mir the Italian then suffered a huge crash at Turn 9 as the front washed away. He headed to the medical centre for a checkup, and will race from P12…just ahead of teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) was 14th as he replaces the injured Jorge Lorenzo, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) close behind in P15.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is on pole position for the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, coming through Q1 and setting a 1:23.585 to beat fellow Q1-protagonist Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) to the top by just 0.079. Home hero Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes a front row at the Sachsenring covered by 0.082, setting us up for another Sunday to remember in the intermediate class.
Marquez and Marini moved through Q1 along with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up), who set a new all-time Sachsenring lap record in the session. He came out to set the early pace in Q2, a 1:23.944 the provisional benchmark, but the Spaniard later crashed at Turn 13, the same place he did in FP3 – rider ok. His session was over and while over a tenth under in the first sector, Free Practice pacesetter Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) also crashed out of contention at Turn 3 while sitting P13.
Marquez then went to the top of the times ahead of rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up), with Schrötter taking P2 and Marini then taking second with 30 seconds to go. Ultimately,nNo one could topple Championship contender Marquez, who takes his first pole position since Malaysia 2018.
Di Giannantonio held onto P4 to get his best qualifying in the intermediate class, with the Italian spearheading the second row of the grid ahead of Assen winner Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and the leading KTM of Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM). 0.283 covers the top two rows. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had a good session to finish seventh, the reigning Moto3™ World Champion enjoying his best Saturday afternoon Moto2™ result, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) completing the top ten.
Championship leader Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), meanwhile, had a disappointing session and the Swiss rider has work to do from P12 as main rival Marquez launches from pole. Navarro is the man just ahead of him in P11, with Lowes just behind him. And Binder? His crash sees Friday’s fastest facing a fight back from P17.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will start from a maiden pole position in the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, taking the honour from compatriot Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) by just 0.057 at the Sachsenring. It’s 18 years since the last time there was a Japanese 1-2 in the lightweight class, with Youichi Ui and Nobby Ueda heading the field in the the 2001 South African GP. Sasaki will also be the first Japanese rider to start from pole position in the lightweight class since Youichi Ui in 2003, with compatriot Hiroki Ono taking the honour in his home Grand Prix in 2016 but later receiving a grid penalty. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completes the front row.
Another key headline sees Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) start from P22, his worst qualifying in over two years, after exiting pitlane for his second and final time attack too late, missing the chance at another flying lap. He’ll start from the eighth row and faces a fight back on Sunday if he’s to keep the points lead.
But before all that, a sunny Sachsenring greeted the grid once again on Saturday, and in Q1 it was rooke Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) who topped the session to moved through, joined by Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Assen podium finisher Jakub Kornfeil (Redox Prüstel GP) and Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). By that stage Canet was already out, as was fellow Championship challenger Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), giving Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) the opportunity to capitalise.
Dalla Porta did, and behind Sasaki, Toba and Ramirez, the Italian starts fourth and heads up Row 2. He’s joined by Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers Team) just 0.032 in arrears, and although the veteran had a laptime cancelled, it remains his best qualifying performance since his return to the class. Jakub Kornfeil, from Q1, completes the second row.
Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took P7 and has Dennis Foggia for close company, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) locking out the third row. McPhee took P10 from Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) by an infinitesimal 0.001, with rookie Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) pushed down to 12th by just 0.006 after a solid weekend so far for the Turk.
Filip Salač (Redox Prüstel GP) continued his roll of improved pace into qualifying and starts P13, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), who was one of the fastest on Friday. Ogura is next up, ahead of Antonelli, who looks to make some serious moves forward on Sunday to take some solid points and at least gain on Canet in the standings despite missing out on the chance to make the most of it.
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- On your marks! Round 2 of the 2019 Global Series is here!
- Changes to Moto2™ and Moto3™ regulations announced
- Johann Zarco replaced by Mika Kallio for rest of 2019 season