This article originally appeared on Late-Braking MotoGP.
Here we go again. Up by 44 heading to The Sachsenring, a Marquez clambake in the works. Aliens celebrate winning a race while holding #93 to 20 points, suggesting 2019 has already been conceded.
Worse yet, Marc Marquez can afford to play things a little safe, which he thankfully won’t. This situation will require a joust, in which a rider, say Alex Rins, decides to go one-on-one with Marquez in the early corners, looking for trouble, likely to find it. Maverick Viñales escaped with his life at Assen, despite his best performance in ages. For this to be a season, it will require more. It will require a duel. As my old boss used to say, right now would be fine.
Let us light a candle in gratitude for Marquez having put it on the floor while easily leading at COTA, another personal sandbox. Track conditions contributed to that fall, and he is unlikely to make that mistake again soon; once he takes the lead he often gets away. Had he gone on to win in Texas, he would now have 185 points. To Andrea Dovizioso’s 114. When Dovi takes him on for the win, late in races, he’s gone four for five. It can be done. It just needs to be done early in the race, with the same level of aggression Marquez shows the other riders. There needs to be some contact. Moto3 stuff. Catalunya stuff, with Marquez caught up in it. Something.
The “young lion” image has found its way into the comments on these articles. On Sunday, one of the young guns – Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins, Viñales, Joan Mir – needs to announce his intention to become the new alpha male, at some point, early in the next decade most likely, just sayin’. Right now would be good. Although ten straight wins in Germany would be something to see.
Business as usual will find young Marquez, world by the balls, leaving for summer vacation leading the series by at least 49 points. Racing fans will start going for long, solitary rides instead of watching more of The Marquez Show. Fortunately for me, keeping readers engaged in this “analysis” does not require the championship be at all competitive. The wonderful handful of folks who actively track MotoGP at Motorcycle.com demand so little…
2016 in Saxony was a straightforward flag-to-flag affair, going from wet to dry. Riders began pitting around Lap 7, exchanging their rain tires for Michelin’s intermediate tire, The Taint, for those less civilized amongst you. Except for our boy Marquez, who pitted on time but came out on slicks, upon which he strafed the entire field in a great example of teamwork between rider and crew. In a race like this, the rider doesn’t know how his #2 bike will be fitted when he enters pit lane; that call is up to the crew chief. Credit Santi Hernández for having believed Marquez when he said, earlier in the week, “For us, the intermediate tire does not exist.”
Two years ago, The Sachsenring had been Marquez’ personal playground for the past seven seasons; he was due for a fall. Instead, the young Catalan survived some early muggings from pole, dropped back in traffic, methodically worked his way through to the front, went through on Tech 3 Yamaha homeboy Jonas Folger midway through the race and won going away. In doing so, he seized the lead in the championship for the first time in 2017. With the standings tighter than a nun’s knees, MotoGP left for its seemingly endless summer vacation on a high note. Real competition in the premier class.
Sadly, the 2018 Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland lived up to its advance billing. Marquez, starting from pole for the ninth consecutive year, got a little swamped by a couple of Ducatis at the start. By Lap 5 he had moved past Danilo Petrucci into second place. On Lap 13 he went through on Jorge Lorenzo into the lead. Same as the previous year. With factory Yamaha pilots Valentino Rossi and Viñales playing catch-up over the second half, it was a routine ninth win in a row for Marquez in Germany as MotoGP made the turn heading for the back, um, 10, which would start at Brno in August. And we all know how that turned out.
Most of the noise I’ve been hearing this week concerns Jorge Lorenzo’s future in racing. Going all Black Knight in an effort to unseat Marquez at the top of the Honda heap? WSBK? No. Decide it’s not worth his future mobility to try to be the best again. Understand that if he were to leave Honda his only possible destination would be with, like, Avintia. There will be no satellite Suzuki team in 2020. Maybe Johann Zarco bails at KTM – would The Spartan wish to go from the Japanese frying pan to the Austrian fire?
MotoGP.com is jocking the general competitiveness of the 2019 season – five riders on four different bikes – both factory Ducatis – gracefully sidestepping the fact that Marquez leads by 44. I find it almost physically painful to read the articles on the MotoGP site. They reflect a top-down assignment of “interest” articles – ‘gimme 200 words on how competitive the season is, blah blah blah’ – without nuance or wit. Some poor Spanish bastard is working in a second language trying to make it sound right. Which is to say, sound British. Which should be funny but isn’t.
They could hire me to turn the English translation into a stand-up routine. I’ve almost always been very complimentary of Sr. Ezpeleta.
Over at Moto2 and Moto3
Assen was eventful in both classes. Tony Arbolino seized a razor’s edge win from Lorenzo Dalla Porta, allowing Aron Canet to maintain his narrow lead in the 2019 chase. It wouldn’t surprise me if anyone from the current top ten won the title this year. People who turn their noses up at the lightweight classes miss those ground level camera shots that show the Moto3 bikes flying past, Doppler effect in full force, literally a blur.
In Moto2, our old buddy Tom Luthi took back the lead in the series as prior leader Alex Marquez was knocked out of the race by BadAss Lorenzo Baldassarri, with things getting a little physical in the gravel trap. There are perhaps five or six riders capable of winning in 2019. Apparently, Marc Marquez is lobbying hard for brother Alex to receive a seat on the 2021 Pramac team. I failed to write it down, but one of the Japanese riders made a comically-ridiculous save after getting tagged, nothing connecting him to his bike but his hands.
Your Weekend Forecast
The long-range forecast for the greater Hohenstein-Ernstthal metro is for clear and cool conditions over the weekend. 70°. The great equalizer. There was a day in MotoGP when riders would routinely exit the pits on a cool morning and crash before ever getting their tires warmed up. You don’t see nearly enough of that stuff these days. The cool weather will, to some extent, help the Yamahas and take away an advantage for the Hondas. It pains me to say it, but on Sunday’s podium with Marquez I’m seeing Viñales and Rins. None of the war horses, the grizzled veterans, the legends in their own minds.
The MotoGP world is being re-shaped before our eyes. Quartararo, Mir and Takaa Nakagami and Francesco Bagnaia are standing in the wings. Now, if someone could just do something about that pesky Marquez guy, we could have a helluva series. We’ll be back on Sunday morning with results, analysis and purloined photos.