I have really gone and done it, haven’t I? Left it for the absolute last. There is nothing worse than writing a race review on the eve of the next race. But, after that mind-blowing Qualifying, I must do justice to the Sachsenring race. There were several incredible moments there, in-team breathless battles that threw out some startling results. The best way though would be to give you my top 5 Sachsenring moments. Just a quick rewind, perhaps, before the Great Battle at Mugello.
The quick-change Qualifying saw Dani Pedrosa at the top of the grid and he kept up the lead, holding out against a determined, dogged Casey Stoner. The teammates soon outpaced the rest of the pack, playing ‘tag the leader’, constantly outmaneuvering each other. They tested the limits, not just of their bikes and themselves, but each other. The podium beckoned and it was Pedrosa who answered its call. It was a well-fought 1st and Pedrosa’s first this season.
- A bad day on track, Casey? If there was ever a time I felt bad for Stoner, it was right there, at the last lap. There were just a few corners to go and Stoner was that close to a win. The two were neck to neck. I held my breath. This was a good battle. Then, suddenly, Stoner fell. That was it. He was out. This was definitely my oh-no moment of the race.
- Cal Crutchlow has been one of my favourites this season. He is the man to watch for, and he pretty much proved it during Qualifying. The race however, was a different story. The Crutchlow-Dovizioso face-offs have made great races this season. At Sachsenring too, the two fought, edge to edge. Then on lap 26, just when I thought Cal would make his move, he ran off track. Arrrrgghhhh, I screamed at the television. But Cal was in control. He rode through the gravel trap and rejoined the race at the 11th position. He worked his way up, gradually, and ended the race at the 8th position. He later said, “I was just waiting behind Andrea for the last five laps to size up an attack, but unfortunately, I ran off at the first corner. It was my mistake…I got the third fastest lap of the race too, so we definitely have the speed to battling in the top five at every race.” Dovizioso ended the race on the podium at the 3rd spot.
The Ducatis demonstrated, yet again that they lack the pace to make it to the podium. Often, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden’s frustration is almost palpable. Despite that Hayden made a strong beginning, riding like a man possessed. Soon, the teammates were in the thick of battle, fighting for place with Hector Barbera and Stefan Bradl. In the end, the four-way fight saw Rossi finish at the 6th spot; his best result in the dry this season. Hayden however ended the race at the 10th position. He later said, “…I think I was hurt by the combination of the tyre going off and me trying too hard at the end.”
- Ben Spies showed much promise at the start, but went wide early, giving Lorenzo a much-needed window. In the last laps, he played chase with Dovizioso and ended in the 4th position, 0.071 seconds behind the Italian. Stefan Bradl though, showed great form, racing in front of his home crowd. He finished a brilliant 5th after holding off Rossi, Hayden and Barbera.
Up next: Mugello. Rossi is the favourite here. Will the Ducati shine? Will Stoner try to make up for a missed podium? Or will Lorenzo, now in the lead with 160 points, continue to dominate the championship? Guess we don’t have to wait that long for our answers!
Images courtesy Migue Moreno