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Martin wins a classic as Ducati dominate in Germany

Monday, 19 June 2023

Spaniard Jorge Martin survives a final-lap assault from Pecco Bagnaia to take his second Grand Prix win, and do the double after securing victory in the Saturday sprint at the Sachsenring.

Jorge Martin announced himself as a genuine MotoGP™ world championship contender in Germany, the Spaniard winning a thrilling head-to-head battle with reigning world champion and fellow Ducati rider Pecco Bagnaia by 0.064 seconds after 30 laps at the Sachsenring on Sunday.

The Ducati duo were the class of the field all weekend; first and second with Martin in the ascendancy in Saturday's Sprint Race, a showdown for victory in the Grand Prix proper loomed after the pair cleared away after one-third of the race distance.


Martin led the way before Bagnaia pulled off a daring overtake at the downhill Turn 12 with 10 laps to go, but Martin repeated the pass at the same corner three laps later and held on for dear life, the pair making light contact as they pulled out of the final corner to begin the last lap.

Martin repelled a final push by Bagnaia as they hurtled towards the line, winning by the equivalent of a bike length for his second premier-class feature race success, the first coming in Austria in 2021.

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Now on of a run of six straight podiums with rostrum visits in both the Sprint and Feature races at the past three events, Martin moved to second in the standings, 16 points adrift of Bagnaia.

Martin's Pramac Ducati teammate Johann Zarco was a distant third, over seven seconds from the victory, while Mooney VR46 teammates Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini ensured Ducati locked out the first five places in the classification.

Aussie watch

In a race where Ducati flexed its considerable muscle – all eight of the Italian manufacturer's bikes finished inside the top 10 – Jack Miller was the best-placed rider from the rest of the field, the Aussie finishing sixth for KTM after taking a podium for third in the Sprint Race 24 hours earlier.

Miller's two races were carbon copies of one another; from third on the grid after a super-tight Saturday qualifying where the front row was covered by just 0.083secs, Miller used his trademark jack-rabbit reflexes and the KTM's penchant for lightning starts to lead into the first corner of both races before becoming a rolling road block for the hordes of Ducatis stalking him with superior pace.

The Australian found the spectacular downhill Turn 11 right-hander to be his biggest bugbear all weekend, the first right-hand corner on the track after seven straight left-handers, and a place where front-end crashes are common. Miller led Sunday's race on lap 1 until he got to Turn 11, where a sideways slide saw him lose momentum and get swamped by Martin, Bagnaia and Luca Marini to drop to fourth after the first tour.

After falling to seventh on lap 10, Miller's lap times stabilised and were a match for the riders up front in the final 10 laps, but the damage was done by then. He gained a place when teammate Brad Binder crashed out of third with 11 laps left, and just missed out on pipping Marini for fifth on the final lap, finishing 0.225secs adrift as he consolidated seventh in the riders' standings.

On Saturday, Miller kept Martin and Bagnaia within touching distance in the short-form 15-lap race, adding a third place to his podium from the Spanish Sprint back in round four.

In Moto3™, Miller's compatriot Joel Kelso endured a difficult home race for the German-based CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team; the 20-year-old qualified 19th and finished a lonely 22nd.

Surprise packet

It was an unpleasant surprise – and a chastening experience – for Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo at the Sachsenring, the 2021 world champion finishing just 13th and over 25 seconds from the win on a weekend that doubled as a dubious milestone for the Frenchman.

It was in Germany one a year ago when Quartararo's win – and a crash for Bagnaia – saw the Ducati man fall 91 points behind his Yamaha rival before Bagnaia's comeback to take the crown; Quartararo hasn't won a race since, while Ducati has been victorious in 13 Grands Prix in the past 12 months.

Quartararo's strategy on Sunday reeked of desperation; in the hottest conditions of the weekend, he elected to race with the soft rear tyre, which offered early performance with the trade-off of wearing faster over the 30-lap distance. From 12th on the grid, Quartararo finished with just three world championship points for his weekend, which came after he finished a pointless 13th in the Saturday Sprint.

Number to know

2009: Remarkably, that year was the last time Marc Marquez left Germany without a win before Sunday, after the eight-time world champion having his 11-race streak at the Sachsenring snapped after pulling out of the Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old had a brutal Saturday, crashing three times in 20 minutes in qualifying and ending up in seventh on the grid, fading to 11th place in the Sprint after admitting "the balance was not enough" to justify the risks he was taking for the results his recalcitrant Honda could achieve.

Another high-speed spill at Turn 7 in Sunday morning warm-up left him with a fractured left index finger, and he withdrew an hour before the race.

German Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

1. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 40mins 52.449secs
2. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.064secs
3. Johann Zarco (Ducati) +7.013secs
4. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) +8.430secs
5. Luca Marini (Ducati) +11.679secs
6. Jack Miller (KTM) +11.904secs
7. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +14.040secs
8. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) +14.859secs
9. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +17.061secs
10. Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) +19.648secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 160 points
2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 144 points
3. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 126 points
4. Johann Zarco (Ducati) 109 points
5. Brad Binder (KTM) 96 points

What's next?

Round 8: Assen (Netherlands), June 25