The Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were so fast this weekend they seemed to exit the space-time continuum, re-entering in 2014 amidst a rewind of last year’s German Grand Prix. Marquez, loving himself the 2014 chassis he hauled out after Barcelona, comfortably led every practice session. As in 2014, he and Pedrosa qualified 1-2 and finished 1-2, relegating the factory Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to also-ran status. Rossi, however, extended his championship lead over Lorenzo to 13 points, and left for summer vacation in a fist-pumping celebration of a near-perfect first half season.

A return to Sachsenring (and the 2014 RC213V chassis) may be just what Marc Marquez needed going into the summer break.

Marquez now owns pretty much every record worth owning at The Sachsenring. Six consecutive wins from pole. Fastest lap ever. Sure, teammate Pedrosa owns the most career wins here, but the most recent, coming in 2012, is fading into memory. It would surprise no one if Marquez ties that one next year and pummels it into submission in 2017. And while Karel Abraham’s dad owns the Brno circuit, Marquez can now claim to own The Sachsenring, lock, stock and podium.

Today’s race was contested only until Lap 5. Lorenzo got off to a slingshot start from the three hole and held the early lead; my notes on Lap 3 read “JL won’t hold up.” Marquez went through Lorenzo easily two laps later and disappeared into 2014, leaving Lorenzo, Rossi and Pedrosa in his contrail. The three remaining Aliens hopscotched positions from there. Rossi went through for good on Lorenzo on Lap 9. Pedrosa repeated the Mallorcan assault on Lap 11. Pedrosa, then, looking like a 2010 version of himself, went through on Rossi on Lap 17, delivering the final top four standings. Rossi would get close to Pedrosa several times before submitting around Lap 27 determined, above all, to extend his 2015 lead on Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi had to settle for third place behind Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez but more importantly, he finished ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, increasing his championship lead to 13 points.

Marquez, celebrating his first win since Austin in April, would probably concede that today’s triumph falls under the heading of a Pyrrhic victory, coming after so much devastation as to mean relatively little. There are no bad wins, but, trailing series leader Rossi by 65 points, there aren’t very many good ones, either. Meanwhile, the resurrected Rossi now has 13 successive podia under his belt; the expression “regular as a piston” comes to mind. Even if Marquez returns to the form he showed us over the previous year and a half, there do not appear to be two other riders capable of consistently keeping The Doctor off the podium. Rossi is living proof of a lesson Marquez is learning only this year – you don’t need to win every round to take the title. Being consistently competitive will overcome occasional flashes of brilliance. Consistently.

Elsewhere on the Grid

If anyone told you Andrea Iannone would be ahead of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa at the halfway point of the season, you’d think they were crazy. Maybe that’s why they call him “Maniac Joe”.

Coming into Saxony, the Ducati contingent was surprisingly candid about their chances this weekend, conceding that the layout was not favorable to their bike’s strengths. Then, Andrea Iannone on the factory team and Yonny Hernandez on the Pramac team, neither of whom received the memo, went out and qualified 4th and 5th respectively. Iannone would finish 5th today which, as teammate Andrea Dovizioso crashed out for the third time in the last four rounds, elevated him beyond question into the #1 seat on the factory team, sitting an astonishing 3rd for the year. (I recall writing about Dovizioso only a month ago that “the guy never crashes.” Since then, he has determinedly made a liar out of me.) Hernandez slipped to 12th at the finish after battling for eighth place most of the day, while teammate Danilo Petrucci, in the midst of a highly gratifying season, came home in 9th, the #2 Ducati on the grid. Maverick Vinales, on the Suzuki Ecstar, set an all-time record today by becoming the first rookie ever to score points in his first nine races.

Bradley Smith continues to impress, now sitting tied with Andrea Dovizioso with 87 points.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith, he of the rapidly vanishing hairline, described by Nick Harris as “the best starter on the grid,” again finished a respectable 6th after qualifying 9th, putting just a little more distance between himself and Cal Crutchlow. Prior to the start of the season, Crutchlow gave the clear impression he and his factory-spec Honda would be the top Brit on the grid, but such has not been the case. With Dovizioso’s fortunes sinking below the horizon, Smith has now pulled into a tie with the Italian in 5th place for the year. All Smith needs to do in the next couple of years to become a credible candidate to succeed Rossi on the factory Yamaha is secure dual British/Spanish citizenship and some high quality hair implants.

Rich Men, Poor Men

Most of you are probably too young to grock the 1980’s TV miniseries reference. But since the ouster of Gresini Aprilia #2 Marco Melandri this past week, the grid is now graced with two sets of brothers. First and foremost are the Espargaro brothers Aleix and Pol, riding a factory Suzuki and satellite Yamaha respectively, with little brother Pol sitting in 9th place for the year while Aleix, the victim of some bad luck and poor decision-making, resides in 12th. Aleix’s streak of front row starts ended today at two, the Suzuki somewhat surprisingly struggling at a track seemingly well-suited to it.

Michael Laverty finished 17th at Sachsenring. He didn’t score any championship points but he still finished higher than his predecessor Marco Melandri did in any of the first eight rounds.

At the other end of the food chain are the Laverty brothers, Ulstermen Eugene and now Michael, toiling on an Aspar customer Honda and the #2 Gresini Aprilia, respectively. Collectively, for the season, the Spaniards lead the Irish 108 to 7, this comparison only slightly skewed by the fact that Michael completed his first MotoGP race since last year today in 20th place.

Junior Class Headlines

Danny Kent tightened his stranglehold on the Moto3 title with another convincing win today, which is not news. The fact that riders three through nine – seven riders! – were separated by .64 seconds IS news, something that could only happen in Moto3 and maybe the Rookie’s Cup. Imagine losing out on nine championship points by 6/10ths of a second.

Xavier Simeon (center) won but Johann Zarco (left) continues to hold a commanding lead in the Moto2 Championship. Alex Rins (right) completed the podium.

Belgian Xavier Simeon won the Moto2 tilt today, holding off season leader Johann Zarco over the last three laps for his first career win. Never having heard the Belgian national anthem during a podium celebration, I was not surprised that Simeon got choked up, as it sounds like a cross between Richard Strauss, Josef Hayden, Todd Rundgren and ELO. Personally, I too would hate to have that mess as my national anthem, preferring “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, for example.

First Semester Exams, Then Vacation

The 2015 MotoGP season returns from summer holiday on Aug. 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A number of teams are going off for some private testing this week, then it’s off to summer vacation for a few weeks of Early Silly Season before returning for Round 10 in Indianapolis. Today’s podium occupants must feel pretty good heading out of town for holiday, Jorge Lorenzo somewhat less so. Despite the fact that we have now returned to an Alien class comprised of the Usual Suspects, things at the top of the food chain are sufficiently unsettled to promise an interesting second half. One would have to be completely jaded to complain about the prospect of watching Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa in their current forms slugging it out for the rest of the year.

2015 MotoGP Sachsenring Top 10 Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +2.226
3 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha +5.608
4 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha +9.928
5 Andrea Iannone Ducati Corse +20.785
6 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +23.212
7 Cal Crutchlow CWM LCR Honda +29.881
8 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +34.953
9 Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Ducati +35.875
10 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ECSTAR +37.253
2015 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 9 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 179
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 166
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati 118
4 Marc Marquez Honda 114
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 87
6 Bradley Smith Yamaha 87
7 Dani Pedrosa Honda 67
8 Cal Crutchlow Honda 66
9 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 64
10 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 57
  • William Marvin Parker

    “Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were so fast this weekend they seemed to exit the space-time continuum.” The Gubmint has a high tech machine that does that too…

    • Will

      Appreciated the Cream reference. One of the greatest riffs in rock history from the definitive power trio (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker). It’s like having three aliens – in this case musical virtuosos – all on the same team.

  • gjw1992

    They’ve finally fixed the Hondas?!?

    • Bruce Allen

      Probably not. But The Sachsenring is the most Honda-friendly track on the calendar. Let’s see what happens at Brno.

      • Ozzy Mick

        Marquez has switched to the 2014 chassis, which seems to have helped him improve his riding (or confidence). I wonder what might have been in 2012 if Stoner had done the same and switched to the 2011 championship winning set up?

        • Bruce Allen

          Another good question. Marquez and company deserve credit for, if nothing else, thinking outside the box.

  • Ozzy Mick

    Interesting to see that the Brits, in all classes, are either dominating or on the improve. I guess that’s because they have the opportunity to compete in highly competitive racing in Britain, Spain and other European countries close to home. What’s your take on the dirth (dearth) of American and Australian riders at the top level? Why is this so? OK, there’s Hayden and Miller but one’s due for retirement, and the other has a steep learning curve. If you were my dad and I want to be a champ rider at the highest level, what would daddy’s advice be?

    • Bruce Allen

      Choose a career path in which you’re not as likely to end up in a wheelchair–computer engineering, French chef, etc. Ride all the dirt bikes you want. Seriously, MotoAmerica wants to fill the role you describe in the US; not sure what’s up in Australia. The simple fact (?) is that countries like Spain and Italy, scooters and bikes are a primary form of transportation. Here in the US and, I suspect, in Australia, we’re much more car-centric. Where does a Casey Stoner come from? Beats me. The US develops plenty of AMA riders, so it’s also affected by the “Harleys vs. Imports” mentality of American riders.

      Some of the other MO editors may want to weigh in on this. Good question.

      • Old MOron

        I was reading on another website that the best riders in the US are drawn to moto-x rather than road racing. That seems accurate to me.

        • Bruce Allen

          Me too. Rollerblading, snowboarding, etc., seem to have a lot of appeal for Amurikans.

          • TroySiahaan

            There are plenty of talented American road racers, but the infrastructure here to find them at the club level and bring them up through the ranks has taken a dive. It wasn’t that long ago that the AMA used to be the top domestic series, remember? The economics of racing have changed, too. So, many factors, but hopefully Rainey and MotoAmerica can come through on its mission to get more ‘muricans over to Europe.

  • Old MOron

    You were right about Dovi. He never used to crash. I wonder if he’s over riding the bike because of pressure he feels from the Maniac Joe.

    When Pedrobot got past Rossi, I figured the Doctor would go for a safe run to stay ahead of Lorenzo. But Vale had at least two huge moments while chasing Dani. Vale did eventually back off a bit and collect his three points, but I was impressed with how hard he pushed even after nearly crashing.

    • Bruce Allen

      Vale and Lorenzo seem to know exactly where the limits of adhesion reside.

  • Old MOron

    August 9th? The next race isn’t until August 9th?! Good lord, what will I do with myself until then?

    • Bruce Allen

      Watch golf.

      • Old MOron

        What about silly-season silliness? It seems that many or most of the satellite riders have contracts that need to be renewed. Cal Crutchlow is one of them. He is interesting because he has experience with three bikes, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda. But he may have burned his bridges with the first two, so I think he’ll stay at Honda or perhaps take a chance with the new Aprilia. David Emmett reports that seat pays $4 million.

        I’d like to see Zarco move up to Moto GP, but I’m not sure where he would land. Riding for Herve’s French team makes perfect sense to me.

  • JMDonald

    This has been a very interesting season IMHO. The write ups have been especially good. The first race back will tell us a lot I bet.

    • Bruce Allen

      Thank you. Kudos to MO for not cutting my work to pieces in the editing room. You may be right about Indianapolis, in that it is a bad track for everyone. And that’s coming from someone who lives here.

      • TroySiahaan

        Your writeups are great, Bruce. About Indy: having ridden the track, I can see why it’s a bad track for everyone. There’s no flow, no rhythm. Unlike virtually all the other tracks on the calendar. It’s a point-and-shoot track, which should favor the Hondas, and if MM93 has found something with his hybrid 14/15 bike, the rest are in trouble.

        • Bruce Allen

          I read somewhere yesterday that things are lining up for MM to make one of the great comebacks in racing history this season. If it started in Germany, it will have to continue here in Indy. Thanks for the kind words, too.

          • Old MOron

            Hey Brucey, I don’t have a wordpress account, so I’m bugging you here. Any comment on your tranches predictions from last year?

            https://motogpindy.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/motogp-projected-2015-final-standings/

            C’mon mate, you’re not going to be silent for the whole break, are you?

          • Bruce Allen

            I’m not quite tracking. Are you interested in my pre-2014 predictions vs how 2014 turned out? I’d be happy to look and see how I did. As for this year, I seem to have overestimated the prowess of Scott Redding terribly and Jack Miller somewhat less. Lemme know, and I’ll go back to the 2014 stuff and let you know. It’s probably out there on my blog somewhere, but I can look at the original Word docs easier.

          • Old MOron

            Huh? That article specifically says, “MotoGP Projected 2015 Final Standings”. I was wondering if you could be bothered to revisit your predictions half way through 2015.

          • Bruce Allen

            Here’s what I had heading into Round 1:

            Marquez

            Lorenzo/Rossi

            Dovizioso/Pedrosa/Iannone

            Pol Espargaro

            Bradl/Smith/Crutchlow/Aleix Espargaro/Vinales/Scott Redding/Petrucci/Hernandez

            Hayden/Barbera/Abraham/Miller

            Bautista/Baz/di Meglia/E Laverty/Melandri/de Angelis.

            HERE IS ACTUAL, GROUPINGS MINE

            ROSSI/LORENZO

            IANNONE/MARQUEZ

            DOVIZIOSO/SMITH/PEDROSA/CRUTCHLOW/POL ESPARGARO/VIÑALES

            PETRUCCI/A ESPARGARO/HERNANDEZ

            REDDING/BARBERA/BAZ/BAUTISTA

            MILLER/BRADL/HAYDEN/LAVERTY/DI MEGLIO/DE ANGELIS

            What we didn’t know prior to Losail:
            Marquez human
            Ducatis fast again; Iannone topping Dovi
            Bradl done
            Redding underachieving

            Otherwise, not bad. Your thoughts?

          • Old MOron

            Aye, not bad. I’m glad to see Smith doing better than expected, and I’m glad to see Herve’s faith repaid. I don’t mind seeing Barbera at the top of the open class. I’m not crazy about him, but I like that he doesn’t mind ruffling feathers. Oh, and I’m really glad to see the Maniac Joe at the top of the Ducati list. I like maniacal riding.

          • Bruce Allen

            I’m pleasantly surprised that Smith is the top Brit, as CC has always given me a pain in my side, and I feel Redding still has some dues to pay. Never thought much of Barbera’s racing IQ. What I’m waiting on now is some silliness. Where is Zarco going to end up? Anyone going to take an early chance on Alex Rins? Is Rabat really going to spend his whole career in Moto2? You tell me.

          • Old MOron

            Honda already have Redding and Miller. Seems to me that Yamaha should grab Zarco. He’d be a natural fit at Tech3. Don’t know what to do with Pol, though.

            Rabat is supposed to be buddy-buddy with Marquez. Maybe he’ll wait until Pedrobot hangs his leathers up, then slot into the Repsol squad. He’d better not let anyone else duff him up in Moto 2, though.

            That brings me to Alex Rins. He’s just the guy to duff up Rabat next year. Don’t think he’ll go to Moto GP yet. He probably figures on winning Moto 2 next year.

            Actually, next year is not a good year to be a rookie in Moto GP. The tires will be new, and the software will be new. All the teams will be trying to figure things out. When you’re a rookie, you want someone who can guide you, not someone who is equally lost as you are.

          • Bruce Allen

            All good points. I may steal your view on being a rookie next year–wish I’d thought of that. “A loyal reader suggests…”

          • Old MOron

            LOL, be my guest.

          • Old MOron

            Hey, I just read that Tiger Toni will ride Karel Abraham’s open-class Honda at Indy. If only AB Racing could get their hands on Pedrobot’s 2006 Michelins again!

  • Ozzy Mick

    Hey Bruce, sorry mate, I’m a little late with this post but can we look forward to your usual unique, entertaining and insightful reporting from…Suzuka? Go Stoner!