Is Alex Marquez the answer to Marc Marquez’s domination in MotoGP? How soon before the two brothers go head-to-head in the premier class of two-wheeler racing?
Alex Marquez now leads Moto2
Marc Marquez admitted that he was thinking about his brother (Alex) during the last few laps of the MotoGP – and understandably so. It was a field day for the Marquez brothers as they both won in their respective classes. In Moto2, Alex started on pole and despite falling back initially, managed to seal a victory. This allowed him to regain his lead in the overall championship standings, holding an eight-point advantage over Tom Luthi.
Alex’s victory brings up an interesting eventuality for the paddock – how soon before both brothers compete in the same class? While the openings in the 2020 grid are unlikely, it won’t be long before the 23-year-old rider breaks through. As he shared recently, “I am a realist. It is my dream to compete in MotoGP next year, but I realise there are not many openings left…However, riding in MotoGP is one thing, battling against Marc is another. There is a big difference between the two.”
Crucially, this weekend also marked the first-ever MotoE race. Niki Tuuli of Ajo won the race which was red flagged after five laps due to an on-track crash. It will be interesting to track MotoE and see how the series evolves.
— Marc Márquez (@marcmarquez93) July 7, 2019
Marc Marquez has consistently dazzled at the German MotoGP at Sachsenring, and this year was no different. In a show of unparalleled dominance, Marquez led the race from start to finish. Astoundingly, this victory means that he has won every MotoGP at the venue since 2013 with a total of seven consecutive wins. Maverick Vinales took second place for Yamaha, while Cal Crutchlow took third for LCR Honda. Shared an elated Marquez after the race, “The race went to plan, I was riding out in front and enjoying myself. I am very happy with this victory and very happy to have the summer break in these conditions.”
As expected, Marquez’s unmatched excellence at Sachsenring was for all to see as he took his seventh consecutive pole at this circuit while also setting a new lap record. This puts him just one pole position away from the world record of Mick Doohan of 58 MotoGP pole positions. Rookie rider Fabio Quartararo of SRT Yamaha took P2, showing once again why he is the qualifying star of this season. Vinales was just 0.006 seconds behind Quartararo to compete for the front row.
It was a dismal Saturday for the two Ducati factory riders – Andrea Dovizioso could only manage P13, while teammate Danilo Petrucci (P12) had a high-speed crash at 200kph during Q2, which led to pain and a feared reinjury on his hand and wrist.
Marc Marquez masterclass
The one question that MotoGP riders will ask is – what will it take to beat Marquez? Despite this being a season where several manufacturers have shown themselves capable races, Marquez continues to dominate effortlessly. At the end of the first half of the season, Marquez holds a staggering 58-point lead in the championship. This momentum will carry him forward in the second half as his challengers scramble to keep up.
The German MotoGP also brought good news for Vinales, who had won a week ago at Assen. His second-place finish allows him to consolidate on that win, and show the paddock that he is capable of consistently outperforming his veteran teammate Valentino Rossi – whom he now leads in the championship.
2019 has been a trying season for Crutchlow – he managed to grab a podium at the season opener in Qatar, but ever since, things seemed to go astray. Hence, this third place at Sachsenring is great news for him. Even more admirably, he got this result despite picking up a torn ACL and fractured tibia in the run-up to the weekend. Said Crutchlow, “Taking nothing away from Maverick, I felt I had better pace – But I didn’t need to pass since I was already in third, a podium position… At one point we had nine seconds to the guys behind, which is a really strange race around here.”
— Jorge Lorenzo (@lorenzo99) July 6, 2019
An interesting battle to follow through the race was for P4 – valiantly fought between the three Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller – with Petrucci eventually taking the place despite having only started in P12. Dovizioso, who posed a strong challenge to Marquez in the initial races of the season, seems to have simply faded away. He will need to dig deep and start delivering if he wants to secure his second place in the standings given that teammate Petrucci is just six points adrift.
Rins and Quartararo crash out
The biggest loser of the race was perhaps Suzuki’s Alex Rins, who was running in a comfortable second place when he crashed out on Lap 19. “It was a pity because I had a good feeling, but the bike didn’t warn me at all. I entered [the corner] three or four km/h faster than on the previous lap, and with that, I fell into that corner, which is very critical. If you make a small mistake you can’t save it,” he explained. This is Rins’ second DNF in a row, which he called a “shame.” Rins declared that he is focused on fighting for second place in the overall championship, especially since the second half of the season brings tracks which he personally enjoys.
The other rider who faded away during the race was Quartararo, who jumped Marquez into the lead at the start but was quickly outdone. He crashed on Lap 2 while trying to pass Petrucci – which he called “unlucky.” Of course, this DNF does not take away from the astounding first half of the season that the young Frenchman has had – and will only galvanise to come back stronger in the second half.
Popular favourite Rossi managed to climb his way up from P11 but had to settle for only P8 – a slightly disappointing outcome given the form that his teammate is in off-late. He said after the race that it was “difficult to understand why he continued to suffer” – a situation he will be looking to correct at the earliest. However, the silver lining for Rossi is that these points finish comes on the back of three consecutive DNFs – an unfortunate streak he will be glad to end.
As the first half of the season comes to a close, it is easy to see that Marquez is the man to beat – he has won four out of the nine races this season. However, there have been several other riders who had their moments of glory but seemed to lack Marquez’s consistency. Rins, Petrucci, Vinales and Dovizioso have all won a race apiece – which of them will be Marquez’s challenger through the rest of the season? A mention also for Marquez’s beleaguered and injured teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Even as the paddock chatter suggests that Lorenzo is considering a departure from MotoGP, it is hard to imagine that a true-blooded racer like him will leave while his chips are down. At the very least, he will be eager to record some strong performances, before making any career announcement.
The first half of the MotoGP season has packed in adrenalin, unpredictability, rivalries and drama in generous quantities – and as the spotlight shifts to the second half of the season, we will expect all this and more.
This post was first published on Firstpost