Well… what a weekend at the Sachsenring that was! Drama dripped from the very off as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) sought to once again reign at the ring, and it continued to the chequered flag and after as a new king was crowned! The Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland will live long in the memory, and here are some of the biggest Talking Points from the weekend gone!
"I thought he was super close, so for sure something happened"
It was edge-of-the-seat stuff in the victory fight, where Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) gave an exhibition in last lap battles as they literally went wheel-to-wheel. In the end, the Spaniard sneaked the win by a nose, but only after the two had made contact during the contest, and both riders reacted to the dramatic incident.
Martin: "I felt some movement, but I was feeling the movement almost every lap, so I didn’t realise. When it was the last lap and I saw this two-tenths gap, I said it’s strange because I thought he was super close, so for sure something happened. Then I saw afterwards in the television."
Bagnaia: "It was very difficult to have an overtake at Turn 1 because exiting from the last corner, we did all the race in 21 so the rear tire was almost destroyed. I was just trying to start the manoeuvre before the exit, with the corner speed at the last corner to be closer and then try to overtake in the braking. But I was maybe too close and then I touched. I tried a different strategy and it didn’t go well, but it’s okay."
"I don’t feel ready to race"
For Marc Marquez, it turned out to be a massively disappointing weekend as he chased a 12th win in 12 visits to the Sachsenring. The eight-time World Champion rode his heart out and pushed his RC213V to the absolute limit across the weekend, resulting in a couple of big scares during Practice, before eventually going down and hitting into Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) in a major collision on Friday afternoon. There was plenty of fallout from that incident, while the crashes continued through qualifying before a fifth fall of the weekend during Sunday’s Warm Up proved the last straw, and he withdrew from the German GP after suffering a fracture to his left thumb.
Explaining his reasoning, Marquez stated: "After four or five crashes, above all the one this morning (Sunday), I don’t feel ready to race, so I’ve decided not to push because in the Netherlands there is more to come"
You can catch a recap of the HRC star’s tumultuous weekend HERE!
"Marc did nothing wrong"
Takaaki Nakagami was Honda’s sole representative in Sunday’s German GP race, and the LCR Honda rider had a front row view of the crash which ruled Marquez out of contention. The Japanese rider offered up his perspective after the race, and was at a loss to explain what went wrong in the incident.
"I was behind him and his speed was good, he did nothing wrong. He lost the rear, the bike didn’t stop the spin and I saw he had a massive highside. I was scared because we use the same bike and I had the same feeling, that corner was really tricky, because we were going downhill and I also lost it a couple of times in that session and even in the race I had the same feeling. So yeah it was really difficult to manage because the bike is always moving, less grip, and we have to find a solution to have a safer bike."
"Good news, or bad news, I don't know."
Nakagami, whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign, also revealed that discussions about his future with Honda have taken place, and more are due soon, though he couldn’t quite give an indication on where he will ride in 2024.
"We had a small meeting this weekend, and I will have another meeting in Assen. So, I think that I can get some news. Good news, or bad news, I don't know. But just I'm focused on my job. Of course, it's a difficult moment, but I'm not going to give up. Of course, the result is not... we cannot expect higher, but at least try to be, to stay on the bike and to finish the race, and then let's see. Because I gave my best and let's see the contract for the next year. I don't know. I don't know myself, and I don't know for HRC."
"I hope I don’t get any more warnings"
Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) came home fourth in Sunday’s race, but by all accounts, he had a relatively quiet weekend when compared to the lofty standards he has set himself in 2023. He was also involved in a flashpoint with Marquez, and was handed a conduct warning during Free Practice, something which the Italian didn’t entirely agree with.
"I lifted my hand and when I turned around, he hit my back. I understand. But I also don’t because in the end I didn’t have a lot of space to go. I was already there. He was like this to me. It was not only my fault. I was in front, but he was in the back, he can see, but I cannot see behind me. But I don’t care.
And when asked about receiving the warning, he responded: "I don’t know. I have no idea. I think maybe the next time you make a mistake you get a long lap or drop position. I don’t know. I hope I don’t get any more warnings. But maybe with Marquez."
"I had a meeting with the Yamaha president"
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) revealed he held discussions with Yamaha's top boss in order to aid the development of the YZR-M1 as the 2021 World Champion continues to encounter difficulties.
"Hopefully it's going to accelerate the process a little bit and [he] sees that we are really far from the top brands. So of course, I already had a meeting with the president.
"It was not planned. I asked because I think that, my mentality, I'm a fighter, I want to win, I don't want to be in this position because I think no one in the team is enjoying to be fighting for that. So, I want to motivate everyone, try to bring this bad energy, to bring it to the good one and make a step, especially a technical step."
"My left foot slipped off the footpeg"
It’s been a superb year to date for KTM, as they have picked four Sprint podiums, including a win plus two Grand Prix podiums. It looked like they were on for another at the German GP too, only for disaster to strike Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). The South African was sitting pretty in third on Sunday, but a crucial mistake saw him take a trip through the gravel trap and dash hopes of a top three finish.
"My guys did a great job with the bike and I felt amazing. I was riding very clean and saving my tire. I could not run the pace of the first two guys but I was set in 3rd. Unfortunately, when I grabbed the front brake at the bottom of the hill, I locked the front wheel a little bit and my left foot slipped off the footpeg. I was then going wide and off the track. I kept the lean angle but when I came to pick it up, the rear let go on me and I ended up crashing. Disappointing because I know I could have at least fought for a podium and the team deserved it."
"There is no bad luck in seven races"
Many had tipped to once again challenge for honours in 2023, but since Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) picked up an opening weekend podium, the Noale factory have been plagued with issues. Asked whether it was a question of bad luck, factory rider Aleix Espargaro had an emphatic response.
"There is no bad luck in seven races. We don't have the level. That’s it. Ducati are on another planet.
"I said from the precision that I like my bike. But the bike is 3/ 4% different than the ‘22 spec from Miguel [Oliveira] and you see the RNF results, the factory results are not good. This is why we didn't improve enough, the level is too much.
"If you see in today’s classification, I think it was eight Ducatis in the top nine. So I think today I could finish, I don't like easy, but I could finish in P9 quite OK. But I'm aiming for more, so this is why we try a gamble with the soft tyre. But it didn’t pay off.
It’s a sentiment that was echoed by RNF rider Miguel Oliveira, though the Portuguese ace lavished praise on the job Espargaro is doing.
"Today’s result shows us clearly where we can improve the bike. For the moment, we’re not competitive enough. Aleix is doing an incredible job. He is pushing the bike to the limit every time. Today he wasn’t lucky with the choice of the rear tyre”