Misfortune having found Movistar Yamaha icons Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo last time out in Assen, Repsol Honda #1 Marc Marquez looks to be getting away with the 2016 MotoGP championship. For the riders currently trailing Marquez, i.e., everyone, the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland couldn’t come at a worse time.

The German Grand Prix arrives in the midst of a two-races-in-68-days drought; there are simply no opportunities to play catch-up until mid-August. Then, beginning with the newfangled Austrian Grand Prix, the grid confronts an eight- races-in-77-days stretch, culminating at Sepang at the end of October. Marquez has fared well during the orderly every-other-week schedule that opened the season. Once The Red Bull Ring arrives, teams will have few opportunities to make adjustments, with the frantic Pacific swing looming in the fall.

How did you spend your summer vacation? Valentino Rossi spent part of his working with young riders at his VR46 Riding Academy.

How did you spend your summer vacation? Valentino Rossi spent part of his working with young riders at his VR46 Riding Academy.

Scheduling issues aside, the Alien contingent faces major challenges cutting into Marquez’ lead in Germany, where he is undefeated since 2009. He has won every MotoGP race he has started here, from pole each time. (If you wish to take issue with the fact that he’s hung onto his 2014 chassis, feel free.) Meanwhile, Rossi hasn’t won here since 2009, with but two podia to show for his efforts since then. Lorenzo has never won here in the premier class, his high water mark having been four consecutive second place results between 2009 and 2012. And Dani Pedrosa, suffering out loud with the Marquez specs built into his 2016 RC213V, owned the joint until 2013. Although he’s finished second here the last two seasons, his fortunes have taken a downturn this year. One doubts he will see the podium this weekend.

Andrea Dovizioso also went flat track racing, winning the star-studded Scrambler Flat Track race at World Ducati Week.

Andrea Dovizioso also went flat track racing, winning the star-studded Scrambler Flat Track race at World Ducati Week.

Anyone thinking, “Well, what about Jack Miller?” at this juncture needs to make a New Year’s resolution to quit sniffing glue in 2017.

Recent History in Dresden

2013 looked like it would be Dani Pedrosa’s year. He had avoided injury early in the season, and led the championship heading into Round 8 in Germany. Lorenzo was wounded in Assen, Rossi was still getting re-acquainted with the Yamaha after two years at Ducati, and rookie Marquez was, well, a rookie. Instead, Pedrosa went flying over the handlebars in FP3 on Saturday morning, returning to Spain for yet another surgery on his re-pulverized collarbone. Lorenzo, pressing, crashed yet again on Friday, re-injuring the collarbone he broke at Assen; with two Aliens missing, the other riders all jumped up two spots. Marquez won that day, seizing the championship lead he would not relinquish until 2015. Cal Crutchlow, who had qualified well in the middle of the front row on the Tech 3 Yamaha, finished second for his best premier class result ever, eight seconds ahead of Rossi.

We like to rag on Cal Crutchlow in this space, but we’ll give credit where credit’s due, as he earned his career-best MotoGP finish at Sachsenrig in 2013.

The 2014 fiasco started memorably with nine bikes on the grid and 14 in pit lane, the result of a rapidly drying track at the start. Homeboy Stefan Bradl might have won the race that day, lining up on the grid with slicks and enjoying a 12 second advantage over the Alien contingent on the first lap. Alas, though his crew had thoughtfully mounted slicks on his LCR Honda, they had neglected to change the setting from wet to dry, causing him to lose two seconds per lap to the big dogs and leading, ultimately, to a demoralizing 16th place finish, seemingly running in molasses. Predictably, the race was won by Marquez, followed closely by Pedrosa, with Lorenzo, Rossi and Andrea Iannone spread out over the next half mile.

2015: The Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were so fast last year they appeared to have snuck their MotoGP machines into a World Superbike race. Marquez, back on the 2014 chassis he hauled out after Barcelona, led every practice session. As in 2014, he and Pedrosa qualified 1-2 and finished 1-2, relegating the factory Yamaha team of Rossi and 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.

He has earned a few podiums but Sachsenring remains one of the rare GP circuits where Jorge Lorenzo has yet to win – in any class.

Marquez owns pretty much every record worth owning at The Sachsenring. Six consecutive wins, six consecutive poles. Fastest lap ever. Sure, teammate Pedrosa owns the most career wins here, but the most recent, coming in 2012, is receding into memory. It would surprise no one if Marquez ties that one this year and pummels it into submission in 2017.

2017 Rider Lineup

Unconfirmed riders in italics:

Repsol Honda
Marc Marquez
Dani Pedrosa
Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi
Maverick Vinales
Ducati Factory
Jorge Lorenzo
Andrea Dovizioso
Suzuki Ecstar
Andrea Iannone
Alex Rins
KTM Factory
Bradley Smith
Pol Espargaro
Aprilia Gresini
Sam Lowes
Aleix Espargaro
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow
Marc VDS Honda
Jack Miller
Tito Rabat
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Jonas Folger
Johann Zarco
Pramac Ducati
Scott Redding
Danilo Petrucci
Aspar Ducati (Suzuki?)
Yonny Hernandez
Alvaro Bautista
Avintia Ducati
Hector Barbera
Loris Baz
Stefan Bradl has slid himself off of his spot with the Aprilia Gresini. A good result at his home track this weekend would go well towards landing a contract somewhere for next season.

It would not surprise me if the Avintia team were to jettison hard-luck Loris Baz in favor of noted underachiever Stefan Bradl, the highest profile rider not to have a seat lined up for next year. Bradl, not known for his ability to develop a bike, needs no such skills in order to pedal a two-year-old Ducati.

Quick Hitters

Aleix Espargaro abandoned all hope for eventual Alien status by accepting the second seat on the factory Aprilia Gresini team for the next two years. Factory money should soothe some of the pain.

Nicky Hayden continues to perform respectably during his rookie season in World Superbikes with Honda, securing a podium and a fifth place finish at Laguna Seca over the weekend. He currently stands sixth for the season, a mere 13 points out of fourth, but a country mile from third. There are Aliens in WSB, too.

Loris Baz returns to action this weekend for the first time since suffering multiple fractures in his right foot at Mugello.

Loris Baz returns from injury this week, having missed the last two rounds with around a dozen titanium screws in his foot. No FMLA for this guy, as his seat with Avintia for next season would appear to be in jeopardy, in part due to his recent extended absence.

The elusive Circuit of Wales has applied for a new funding “scheme,” the same week it was revealed that one of its executives had $42,000 worth of landscaping performed at his home and billed to the track. In the UK, they don’t call these things schemes for nothing.

Your Weekend Forecast

At this writing, Weather.com tells us to expect wet conditions for much of the weekend, with temps rising from Friday to Sunday. If such turns out to be the case, it will bode well for the Ducati contingent, neutral for Marquez and Rossi, and negative for Lorenzo, who may show up with a note from his mom excusing him from any wet sessions. If, as is generally the case, Weather.com has it completely wrong, look for sunny skies on race day with temps around 80° F.

Speaking of completely wrong, the layout and expected weather conditions would seem to favor the Hondas and Suzukis; the Ducatis will rarely get out of fifth gear. I can visualize Marquez, Rossi and Maverick Vinales on the podium, with Jorge Lorenzo nowhere in sight. The tradition of leaving on holiday during the heat of the summer commences on Sunday evening, erasing all interest in MotoGP across the globe until mid-August. As usual, the race goes off early in the morning on Sunday in the states, and we will have results and analysis here later that day.

Keep savoring the moment, Jack. Thanks to the schedule, Miller can legitimately claim to be unbeaten in nearly three weeks.
  • Keith Lamb

    I’m sorry but that’s way beyond the weird line.

  • harleyowner

    I would probably buy one when the price goes down to $5,000 not at $31,000 or more if I had $31,000 I would buy a small house or a garage for my vintage Corvette first.

  • Starmag

    MM wins going away unless Rossi grabs his brake lever again (Ha! just for you JB). Ianone T-bones Pedrobot for variety, claiming he slipped on a trail of tears from the emotionally overcome Jackass from a previous lap from the backmarker. Mr. Smooth-Except-In-The-Rain slots in 3rd unless Dorna breaks out the cloud seeding plane again, in which case he “even thinks of stopping” but soldiers on for 1 point.

  • spiff

    Does anyone think Lorenzo is nervous. Ducati put a lot of stock in the winglets, and they are gone before he arrives. Will he be on a wheelie machine next year?

    • spiff

      Oh, Go Rossi!!!

    • Old MOron

      Good question. Lorenzo is known to be very smooth. I wonder if his smooth throttle application can help to mitigate wheelies.

    • Bruce Allen

      I think Jorge has a chance to compete for the title next year, as long as Honda stays committed to 2014 technology. The Ducs seem to handle very well in the wet, which is where his big problem is. Level playing field as regards the wings.

      • spiff

        How much is the Ducati relying on the wings right now? I think they will need to do a lot of R&D between now and next season. Of course there are geeks in everyone’s camp crunching #s with the new ecu.

      • spiff

        Your right about Honda. If they figure out a chassis that Marquez likes everyone else is screwed. Including Pedrobot.

  • JMDonald

    May the best rider win. Dresden Schmesden. Who doesn’t like MotoGP?

  • Old MOron

    Lots of perspective here, Brucey. Really good. I’d forgotten about poor Bradl’s misfortune in 2014. He should’ve won that race. He might be the italicized rider in Aspar’s squad instead of BoyBand Bautista.

    is there rain in the forecast, really? Or are you just building me up to let me down? I think you’re podium contingencies are highly likely, though I hope Vale will finish ahead of Marquez.

  • Old MOron

    Thanks for the info regarding the scandal around Circuit of Wales. I’ve googled it up and done a little reading. It is both interesting and sad.

  • Born to Ride

    I want to do flat track racing on a scrambler now…

  • Bruce Allen

    So, none of y’all are sniffing glue? I find that surprising, almost amazing.

    • Starmag

      Even a morning Testor’s Plastic Cement buzz, ( smells like victory over Revell ), wouldn’t have me picking Miller if that’s what you mean. Although it is likely to rain and a $10k bet on him for the win in the last race would have payed out $7.5 million.

      • spiff

        Your saying I would have won $750. I would have been happy with that.

    • Old MOron

      I’ve been thinking about JackAss, him and Khairul Idham Pawi.
      Back in Argentina, Pawi ran away from everyone in the rain.
      It was like he was on a dry track while everyone else was in the wet.
      Everyone “expected that dickhead to crash in the next two minutes” but he won.
      I wonder if both can pull another win in the rain this weekend. That would be fantastic!

      • Bruce Allen

        Of course that’s a crazy idea, unless you want to put $100 on a Pawi/Miller parley. One trillion dollars could be yours.

  • Bruce Allen

    So, Dorna throws sand into the Indonesian National Gearbox by refusing to certify their track as being Ezpeleta-worthy; someone there will be taking a warm financial bath. And the track in Wales suffers another setback, with the latest funding scheme rejected by the national government in post-Brexit angst. Here’s my question: Will there be a MotoGP race held in Wales before the five year agreement with Dorna expires? Or will it become perhaps the biggest boondoggle in Welsh history?

  • Old MOron

    Wow, Jorge is imploding. Especially because it’s Deutschland, schadenfreude seems appropriate. If it rains tomorrow, he might be better off staying in the pits.