Jorge Martin extends his championship lead into the summer break with another pole position.
Martin collected yet another first place trophy and extended his lead in the championship by 13 points with a fantastic victory at the Sachsenring but it wasn’t all plain sailing this weekend for anyone, let alone the young Spaniard.
Post-qualifying penalties were handed out early in the morning causing a slight grid reshuffle towards the back of the pack. Niccolò Antonelli, Nakarin Atiratphuvapat, Nicolo Bulega, German wildcard Luca Grüenwald, Stefano Nepa, Vicente Perez and Darryn Binder’s stand-in Raul Fernandez all received a 3-place grid penalty for riding slowly in the first timing section. Dennis Foggia was handed a harsher penalty after he was found to be riding slowly in three or more sections, dropping him to the very back.
The race started exactly how it meant to go on as Enea Bastianini was unable to retain his third place qualifying position for longer than a couple of metres and quickly dropped back to sixth as rookie Jaume Masia stormed through into third. Aron Canet was also victim to poor starts, losing three positions and dropping into eighth. Championship rival Marco Bezzecchi made excellent progress as he made up five places to slip into second and show everyone exactly why he is a firm contender for the title.
Le Mans winner Albert Arenas took a slight detour onto the grass early in the session but was able to rejoin in a disappointing 15th place, giving himself a lot of work to do during the remainder of the race. Fabio DiGiannantonio’s weekend seemed to be full of spills rather than thrills as the Italian rider ran wide at turn one, leaving the door wide open for Canet to come through for sixth position. However, it wasn’t long before Di Giannantonio found his fighting spirit and clawed his way up to fifth, ahead of Canet and second place qualifier Ramirez.
Tatsuki Suzuki was the first victim of the 3.7km track with a crash at turn 13. Thankfully, he was able to walk away unaided. With 18 laps remaining, Fernandez was lucky to not join the list of crashes after an incident with Leopard Racing’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta caused him to run wide and drop back from the top 10 group to below the 20s. After investigations, Dalla Porta was handed a three-place drop for irresponsible riding which, with 14 laps remaining, dropped him from 14th to 17th.
As we approached the halfway mark, Martin made a rare mistake as he ran wide, allowing Bezzecchi and John McPhee through. However, his woes didn’t stop there as his Del Conca Gresini teammate Di Giannantonio tagged the rear wheel of the championship leader. Di Giannantonio’s race, unfortunately, ended there as the Italian took a tumble into the gravel but Martin was able to continue, dropping back to fourth from the lead.
In true Moto3 style, once one of two goes, the floodgates open. Atiratpuvapat was the next crasher with 11 laps left but, thankfully, the Thai rider was fine. Arenas was unable to save his bike this time as he ran wide and lost it whilst fighting hard against countryman Philipp Oettl. Bastianini collected Alonso Lopez as collateral damage during a late crash where the Italian lost the rear of his Honda machine. Bastianini was shown crouched against the aero wall, looking pained but no report of any injuries has been released. The final crash of the session came with only three laps remaining after Gabriel Rodrigo ran wide and clattered into an unlucky Ai Ogura. The pair had been running within the top 10 so the crash will feel especially hard for them.
An obviously jubilant Martin took the chequered flag with a gap of 2.515 seconds between himself and his rival Bezzecchi in second. McPhee received a late birthday present as the Scot took the final step on the podium.
When interviewed in Parc Ferme, all three riders looked pleased with their efforts. A beaming McPhee stated how he was ‘a bit nervous (and) unsure if the tyres would last the entire race distance (but) it felt good the entire race‘. The third-place finish is McPhee’s first in over a year so the Scotsman was naturally very pleased to be back up there. Second-place man Bezzecchi stated how it’s ‘important points after the Assen crash (but it was) difficult to keep in touch with Jorge during the race‘. Martin looked slightly subdued in his post-race interview, saying it was a ‘good race‘ and he ‘tried to save his tyres’ but, when asked about the incident with teammate Di Giannantonio, the Spaniard said he was ‘expecting to crash, oh another 0‘. The last comment showing how exhausted Martin now is with his misfortunes.
There were some blinding and some horrendous performances from the rest as well this weekend. A disappointed Ramirez finished in fourth after briefly leading the race. Canet brought his Estrella Galicia machine back in fifth and Masia managed a superb sixth.
Jakub Kornfeil’s strong performance carried on as the Czech rider secured seventh ahead of Oettl in eighth. Fernandez made sure he was on everyone’s radars for a Moto3 ride next year by clambering back up the order after his incident with Dalla Porta to claim ninth.
Petronas Sprinta Racing’s post-Assen sit down with their riders has obviously done wonders for the pair as Ayumu Sasaki and Adam Norrodin took 10th and 11th respectively. Andrea Migno will be very disappointed with his performance this weekend as he only managed 12th, a bizarrely low placing for the Le Mans podium finisher. Dalla Porta ended his scrappy race in 12th alongside Bulega in 14th.
Kazuki Masaki finished in 15th whilst Antonelli took 16th. A highly disappointed Tony Arbolino only managed 17th after a blistering start to the race which saw him battling for the lead. Unfortunately for the 17-year-old Italian, the tyres were unable to withstand the constant battles. Kaito Toba ended the morning in 18th, Foggia in 19th and Grünwald in 20th. Nepa rounds out the race finishers in 21st. Unfortunately, Perez was unable to finish the race and retired with nine laps remaining.
Full results here.
As the bikes go under their covers, the summer break begins. Three weeks of rest, relaxation and, for some, regrouping before the second half of the season kicks off in Brno.
Can Martin keep Bezzecchi at bay or can Canet make a late charge for the title?
Let the countdown begin.