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Great In The Sach - MotoGP Round 9 Preview

Saxony, Germany is the setting for the latest round of the 2015 championship, with a change in personnel part of the major news.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

It's one of the lovely quirks about MotoGP. While F1 gets the safe, sensible tracks like Melbourne, Shanghai, Suzuka, Bahrain and (previously) the neutered version of the Nurburgring, MotoGP goes to the ground less trodden. See Phillip Island, Motegi, Assen and this weekend's venue, the Sachsenring.

It's not the quickest, and you won't see much of the engine being fully opened, but it's twisty with plenty of passing opportunities.

That hill, though.

The on-board doesn't do it justice. Just wait for lap one of the Moto3 race, when there'll be six or seven abreast, going over the lip of the hill. Oh man, it's stuff like that which made me fall in love with bike racing.

Look at it. Just look at it. It's a beauty of a sequence, and some of the most dramatic racing you'll see this year.

In The News

  • Marco Melandri has left Aprilia by mutual consent. He has been replaced by British Superbike rider Michael Laverty (brother of Eugene), initially until the end of the season. It wasn't working out for Melandri this year, often being outperformed by team mate Alvaro Bautista, who seemed to be getting more out of the bike. A former partner of Valentino Rossi, I'm sure Marco will find his feet again soon enough.
  • Brno is on! The funding for the race was found somewhere, after a lot of negotiation, and there will be a race there this year.
  • Snuck out during qualifying at Assen was the new regulations for MotoGP regarding teams. KTM will join the party, but from 2016 there will be a limit in the amount of riders allowed, and how many satellite and customer teams will be allowed.
  • I'll be doing in-depth focuses on both Brno and the new regulations during the upcoming break.
  • Valentino, meanwhile, is wary of a bitter Marc Marquez hunting for revenge after being a naughty boy at Assen. Vale speaks here, while Marquez will be hoping not to get in a sword fight with the master of the GP era again, after coming out on the losing end of the battle last time.
  • Stefan Bradl fractured his right scaphoid (points to the first who googles it) at Assen, so will sit out his home grand prix, replaced by Claudio Corti. Karel Abraham will also be absent, still recovering from his injury in Barcelona. He will be replaced by Hiro Aoyama, the HRC test driver who sat in for Dani Pedrosa at the start of the year.
  • As for riders who will be there, look out for Loris Baz. A few strong points scoring finishes in a row has seen him rise to second in the open class standings, and he fancies his chances of taking the trophy at the end of the year.
  • The Sachsenring has held a GP since 1998, having previously held the East German GP in the 1960s. Marquez has won here for the past two years, each time from pole, but in reality he's not going to have it that easy this weekend. More MotoGP facts can be found here.
  • Tito Rabat will be racing this weekend despite having broken his collarbone while training last Saturday. You know, as bike riders do. Madness. Interestingly, Johann Zarco's highest finish here was second in the 2011 125cc race - last year, his bike caught fire after a big crash. Dominique Aegerter won that race, with Sam Lowes only coming 20th. More Moto2 facts here.
  • There's an even more interesting quirk in the Moto3 class. None of the current field have won a GP at the Sachsenring - MotoGP rider Jack Miller won last year - and KTM have won the last three years' races. A Honda hasn't won in the lightweight class since 1999, when Marco Melandri of all people won in the 125s. Are we set up for another great showing from Miguel Oliveira? More Moto3 facts here.

Last Time Out

All three races were pretty damn dramatic in Assen, for one reason or another. Have a read of my recap from round 8 by clicking here.

Predictions

A new thing I'm trying out. I always try to pick a winner before the race myself, so I thought I'd make it public.

In Moto3, Miguel Oliveira looks a man possessed, and the only rider seemingly capable of bringing a challenge to Danny Kent. With the KTMs winning the last three lightweight races in Germany, I fancy the Portuguese to pick up his third win of the year.

In Moto2, while it's always hard to discount Johann Zarco, I think he won't have it easy. I'm predicting a top two finish for Sam Lowes, as he looks to make himself relevant, completely defying Moto2 logic of the Speed Up chassis not working for him.

In MotoGP, I'm going to make a bold prediction. All-out pace isn't that important in the Sachsenring, meaning the fastest bike might not necessarily win. Now, which bikes have good corner pace but lose a tenth or two in the straights? I'm picking Aleix Espargaro, on his Ecstar Suzuki, to take the win.

Race Times

We're back to your regular race weekend, with qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.

NB: Times given as BST. So for EST -5 hours, CET +1 and so on.

Saturday Qualifying Sunday Race
MotoGP Q1 - 13:10-13:25 Q2 - 13:35-13:50 13:00
Moto2 14:05-14:50 11:20
Moto3 11:35-12:15 10:00