Monday, July 13

REPSOL HONDAS WIN, BUT ROSSI EXTENDS HIS LEAD



Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a one-two at the Sachsenring in Germany on Sunday but by finishing third, Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi extended his championship lead over team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to 13 points.

For Rossi, this was an excellent result.  Just two races earlier, Lorenzo had closed the gap to just one point after four wins in succession.

But Rossi won at Assen (see earlier story here) and with Lorenzo finishing third, Rossi’s lead increased to 10 points.

In Germany yesterday Rossi added three more points to his title lead over Lorenzo, who finished fourth so now has a tally of 179 points to Lorenzo’s 166 after nine races.

The first half of the season has seen the two Yamaha riders win seven times with Marquez winning the second round, the Red Bull GP of the Americas at Austin, Texas in April, then crash out of the Argentina, Mugello (Italy) and Catalunya races.

Consequently the defending champion is in fourth place in this year’s series with just 114 points.

Honda’s problems were compounded by the absence of Dani Pedrosa for three races while he had an operation to relieve the ‘arm pump’ issue that had been dogging him.

With Honda languishing in this year’s championship, overseas motorcycle media elaborated at some lengths that the RC2113V is flawed, with some suggesting its power delivery was too abrupt.

However, even the most inexperienced observers could see that the problem lay in the chassis of this year’s Honda.  When Marquez attempted to brake late and deep into corners – a trade mark of his riding style – the 2015 Honda bounced up and down at the front and when Marquez kept pushing, he lost front tyre traction and crashed.  Had he settled for points rather than going hard out, his championship position would have been quite different.

But at Assen, Honda reverted to its winning 2014 chassis, but with the 2015 swing-arm and engine, and right away Marquez and a returned Pedrosa were on the pace.

They reinforced that in the most emphatic way at the Sachsenring, where they were both consistently fast right through practice and qualifying.  Indeed, Marquez was fastest in every session so he started from pole position and went on to win the race.

However, Lorenzo made things exciting by blasting away from third on the grid and railing right around the outside of both the Repsol Hondas in the first corner.

Jorge Lorenzo started brilliantly but later was unable to match the pace of his team-mate, or the Repsol Hondas.

He kept his Yamaha out front while Rossi moved swiftly from sixth on the grid to fourth.  Lorenzo stayed in the lead until Marquez, confident the hard front tyre he had opted to run was up to temperature, made his move.  Once in front, Marquez stretched away from the chasing Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi.

Unable to match Marquez pace, Lorenzo struggled and on the eighth lap was passed by Rossi, who had out-braked Pedrosa two laps earlier.

Pedrosa was playing himself into the race a little more conservatively than his team-mate, and after another nine laps, got past Rossi and tried to break away.  But Rossi shadowed his every move, leaving Lorenzo languishing in fourth.

However, four laps from the end, Pedrosa upped the pace.  Rossi initially matched it, but then found he was pushing the limit trying to stay with the Honda, so happily settled for fourth.  Later he said that at the end, “Dani had a little more in his pocket and I did not want to risk it trying to match him.”

That was a wise course of action, and if Marquez had done that earlier in the season, he would not be in the position he currently finds himself in: 65 points off the championship lead.

However, now he has a chassis that works, it is a sure bet he will win quite a few of the remaining nine races.  However, with the form of Lorenzo and Rossi, it will be an uphill battle for him to bridge that gap.  Still, it means we will be in for an absorbing second half of the season:  Rossi and Lorenzo fighting for the championship while Marquez goes all-out to win. 

For full Sachsenring results, click here

And for the current championship positions, click here