A drying Sachsenring throws up drama aplenty in qualifying with the top 3 split by 0.083s
Crashes, pitlane sprints and serious skills were on show as MotoGP™ qualifying at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland threw up drama aplenty. It will be Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) starting from pole position as the Italian’s 1:21.409 saw him beat Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) by 0.078s, with Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing a front row split by just 0.083s. Elsewhere, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) claimed a third row start despite three crashes across Q1 and Q2.
Slick tyre gambles pay off
After an eventful Friday King of the Ring Marc Marquez found himself in Q1 – and after morning rainfall, conditions were damp but drying quickly at the Sachsenring. After one flying lap, the #93 led Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) by 0.9s before pulling into pitlane. There was a very noticeable dry line but Marquez ventured back out on Michelin’s rain tyres, as did Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), but Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) opted for a pair of slicks.
Then, 0.3s under his fastest lap, it was unlucky Turn 13 as Marquez tucked the front. The Spaniard had barely come to a halt before he was up and legging it back to pitlane to hop on his second RC213V – on slick tyres. Meanwhile, on rain tyres still, Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) went P2 before Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) was then fastest. He too was on rain tyres but Binder moved the goalposts on his slick tyres – the South African 0.4s quicker than Viñales, with Marquez P3 heading onto his final lap.
Binder improved again on his next lap, his advantage up to nearly two seconds, as Marquez engaged attack mode. A moment out the final corner cost the HRC star time, but not enough to stop him from snatching P2 from Viñales. Binder and Marc Marquez sailed into Q2 as the slick tyre gamble paid off.
All or nothing! M. Marquez wastes no time after Q1 crash
Drama, drama and a bit more drama
A few more minutes of Sachsenring sun, coupled with Binder and Marc Marquez’s Q1 exploits, saw the Q2 field head straight out on slick tyres. Bagnaia set the initial benchmark but his 1:24.285 wasn’t going to stay as the time to beat for long. Then, Turn 13 bit Marc Marquez hard – again. A highside saw the Repsol Honda rider unable to rejoin but after a few minutes, Marquez was back in pitlane. On the next lap, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) also highsided and became the second rider in qualifying to sprint up pitlane. Relentless drama.
WATCH: M. Marquez crashes twice in epic Q2 session
On track, Bagnaia was leading the way from Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Marini, with KTM double act Miller and Binder in P4 and P5. With five minutes to go, Pecco hammered home his advantage – the gap to Martin was now 0.5s and the time to beat was 1:22.028.
But a lot can happen in five minutes. Especially when Marc Marquez is rumbling out of pitlane. The clock ticked down to three minutes remaining and now we had all 12 riders on track – it was time to throw caution to the wind. Miller pounced to P2 with Binder going P3 and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was up P4 before Zarco climbed to the summit.
This was going to change constantly. Miller was P1 before Marini bettered the Aussie, as Zarco crashed and for a third time, so did Marquez. This time it was Turn 1 that saw Marquez slide into the gravel and those yellow flags, coupled with the Zarco crash, meant plenty of laps were cancelled in the final minute.
Emerging from the drama, Pecco claimed pole from VR46 Academy stablemate Marini and former Ducati teammate Miller. Despite a late tumble, Zarco launches from P4 ahead of Bezzecchi and Martin, with Marc Marquez P7 after three qualifying crashes. The eight-time World Champion is joined on Row 3 by Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Binder, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Quartararo completing the Q2 order.
Coming up: the Tissot Sprint
If Friday and Saturday morning are anything to go by, the always phenomenal Tissot Sprint is going to be an absolute barnstormer. Be ready for a stunner at 15:00 local time (GMT+2)!
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:21.409
2. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.078
3. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.083
4. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.356
5. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.527
6. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.586
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.604
8. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.635
9. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.638
10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.813
Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland: MotoGP™ Q1
Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland: MotoGP™ Q2