MotoGP Raceweek: Marquez continues incredible Sachsenring dominance
Having a favourite track is one thing, but the record of Marc Marquez at the Sachsenring is just ridiculous.
The Spaniard will start Sunday's German Grand Prix from pole position – the 10th straight year across all classes he has achieved that feat – as he looks to continue his supreme run at the circuit.
He came into the weekend with nine race victories on the bounce in Germany, six of those in MotoGP, and anyone seeking to stop the five-time world champion claiming a 10th consecutive triumph faces a formidable task.
Indeed, the last rider besides Marquez to record a MotoGP win at the Sachsenring, Dani Pedrosa in 2012, is now retired.
Another boost to 'King of the Ring' Marquez, who leads the riders' standings by an impressive 44 points, is that his two closest challengers in the championship endured a miserable qualifying session.
Ducati duo Danilo Petrucci – who was furious after claiming to be blocked by Joan Mir before crashing – and Andrea Dovizioso start 12th and 13th respectively, the latter failing to make it out of Q1.
The chief competition to Marquez will come from Yamaha, with Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales joining him on the front row, while Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins is fourth on the grid.
Quartararo is seeking a third podium spot in succession, while Vinales – on a high after his win at the Dutch TT – has been near the top of the timesheets throughout practice and qualifying.
Rins, one of the four riders to have won a race this year, is aiming to bounce back after crashing out from the lead in Assen last time out in a dent to his title hopes.
"I am riding very well and since FP1 I have felt good here," said Marquez. "Even in qualifying we were able to try some different things with the tyres and the bike to keep understanding more.
"We have everything in place for Sunday but the Yamaha riders, Vinales and Quartararo, are very fast so we will have to keep an eye on them.
"The pole was possible but we will have to see if the win is possible."
INJURIES ALL OVER THE GRID
There are injuries all over the grid ahead of what seems to be a much-needed mid-season break.
Quartararo, who is still recovering from arm pump surgery last month, suffered a partial dislocation of his shoulder in FP3, but battled on to impress in qualifying once again.
“Now I'm balanced, I have the left and right arm now!” - @FabioQ20— MotoGP (@MotoGP) July 6, 2019
Injured but managing the pain, Quartararo will be looking to capitalise on a slightly easier track for his injured arm #GermanGP pic.twitter.com/7xxlxeomjA
Both LCR Honda riders are struggling, Cal Crutchlow – who starts sixth – is riding with a torn ACL and fractured tibia, while Takaaki Nakagami sustained ankle ligament damage in Netherlands and needs crutches to move around the garage when he dismounts the bike.
Petrucci had to be checked over at the medical centre after a crash at turn nine at a circuit not well suited to Ducati machines.
"Unfortunately, I crashed in one of the fastest parts of the track," he said. "I lost the front as soon as I closed the throttle and in the crash I hurt both my left wrist and right hand.
"Luckily, I don't have any fractures but I have a big bruise and at the moment I feel quite a bit of pain, especially in the tendons of my right hand. I hope to feel better Sunday morning."
A back injury means Jorge Lorenzo is already missing the race, his two fractured vertebrae having also kept him out the race in Assen, with Stefan Bradl – who qualified 14th – stepping in to ride the second Repsol Honda this weekend.
VINALES OPTIMISTIC WITH TYRES KEY
"I'm really happy because we achieved the objective," said Vinales, whose factory Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi qualified 11th.
"It's true that we could have done better, but we are improving the bike quite a lot. I didn't expect to be that close in qualifying, because the gap was bigger in FP3.
"I feel great on the bike, especially my rhythm is good. We are going to try our best to go for the win. Managing tyre degradation will be crucial, so we're going to try to make that work for us. I don't know which tyre I will use yet, because the weather will be very different."
“FP4 was the most important for me. We worked a lot to improve my lap times, particularly sector two” - @mvkoficial12— MotoGP (@MotoGP) July 6, 2019
Viñales has worked hard on his race pace, he looks quietly confident ahead of tomorrow #GermanGP pic.twitter.com/ZgyXsRRtxL
Jack Miller, who qualified an impressive fifth as the fastest Ducati, also suggested the majority of riders were unsure what tyres to use.
The Australian said: "It is just trying to decide the tyre for the race is more about deciding which is going to last the longest, not the lap times, but which is going to be most consistent.
"I'm no closer to deciding my race tyre than I was on Thursday afternoon. We'll do the analysis and understand which one is going to work the best."
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
8. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
11. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Marc Marquez
2016: Marc Marquez
2015: Marc Marquez
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 160
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 116 (-44)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 108 (-52)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 101 (-59)
5. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) 72 (-88)
1. Ducati 224
2. Repsol Honda 179 (-45)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 137 (-87)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 131 (-93)
5. Petronas Yamaha 112 (-112)
Conditions should be cooler on Sunday than they were on Saturday, with some cloud cover and occasional winds, but rain is not expected to be a factor.