The German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring came down to the wire as MotoGP points leader Valentino Rossi barely staved off his teammate Jorge Lorenzo by less than a tenth of a second to take his fourth race win of the 2009 MotoGP Championship.
Rossi took his fourth win of the 2009 MotoGP season at the Sachsenring in eastern Germany.
The action started before the race officially kicked-off when third-placed Ducati Factory rider Casey Stoner took a spill during the warm-up lap. Luckily the Australian was unharmed and started the race without noticeable impact.
Once started LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet quickly crashed out of the race as the Frenchman came through the initial volley of right-hand turns on a cold tire during the opening lap.
By the end of Lap 1 Rossi was in the lead followed by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa's teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
Dovizioso clocked the fastest time around on Lap 2 and slipped past Lorenzo on Lap 3, but lost the position back a few turns later. After setting a new record time on Lap 4, Stoner was able to dive-bomb past Pedrosa to take second. By lap 7 the Australian had reeled in Rossi and made a tight pass on the inside of the penultimate Turn 13 to take the lead. A lap later Lorenzo took the inside of Pedrosa on the final turn to make the front a familiar battle between the top three riders in the championship.
Stoner backed off a bit after he started to lose the front end.
Stoner did everything he could to control the front for the next nine laps of the race as the two Fiat Yamaha riders jockeyed for position behind him. Respol Honda’s Pedrosa initially dropped a second off the leading three's time, but was able make up the disadvantage as Stoner began losing traction on his rear tire and slowed the pace in front. Rossi and Lorenzo attacked the Struggling Ducati rider on Lap 16, with the Italian retaking the lead in Turn 13 and the Spaniard dispatching the Stoner two turns later.
Stoner set a new lap record of 1’22.72 with 8 laps to go, but it was immediately offset the next lap as he lost half a second when his rear tire slipped slightly. Meanwhile, Lorenzo and Rossi were playing a spectacular game of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, with the Spaniard finally edging out his teammate on Turn 1 with 5 laps to go. Pedrosa also immediately overtook Stoner for third-place on the same turn.
For three laps Lorenzo showed the world that he was the top gun on the Yamaha Factory team. However, in a showdown akin to the Catalunya round earlier this season, Rossi would draw on his extra eight years of experience to lay down a slightly better line and pass the 22-year-old on the same Turn 1 with two laps to go. It was Lorenzo’s move. As the duo rode rear-tire to front-tire the Spaniard’s determination pushed him to clock his best lap of the race on the final lap, making feasible attempts to pass Rossi on Turn 1 and Turn 13. Alas, Rossi showed he could do it better as he also set his fastest lap of the race to finish a tenth of a second ahead of his teammate.
Pedrosa crossed the finish-line just under three second later followed by a fading Stoner. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis rode a lonely fifth throughout the race.
Andrea Dovizioso dropped out of the race after eating through the traction on the left-side of his tires.
With 13 laps to go the left side of Andrea Dovizioso’s rear-tire was showing considerable wear, which slowed the Italian and allowed Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing), Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) to pass in the subsequent laps. Dovizioso would eventually drop out with insufficent traction to finish the last five laps of the race.
Elias made some progress in protecting his future at Gresini Honda by overtaking potential replacement Melandri for sixth. Hayden followed in eighth on the other Factory Ducati. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Colin Edwards and James Toseland rounded out the top-ten. Both riders from the Rizla Suzuki and Pramac Racing squads would finish almost a minute behind the race winner. Suzuki's Capirossi took a gamble with the harder Bridgestone tire which did not pay off, whereas Vermeulen was riding in huge amount of pain from the hip and shoulder injuries he sustained on Friday.
MotoGP Sachsenring Results
Some last minute pre-race arrangements.
1. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) - 41'21.769
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) +0.099
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) +2.899
4. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) +10.226
5. Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) +21.522
6. Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) +30.852
7. Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing) +31.301
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) +31.726
9. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +32.865
10. James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +43.926
11. Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) +57.375
12. Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Racing) +1'00.539
13. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) +1'03.645
14. Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) +1'04.155
15. Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Racing Honda) +1 Lap
DNF. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda)
DNF. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda)
MotoGP Sachsenring Post-Race Rider Quotes
Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha - 1st
“I think this was a great race for everyone because there were all four leading riders of the championship, fighting very closely and all in strong form. We knew that they would all be tough to beat today so I am very pleased about this win, I rode very well and my team worked brilliantly all weekend to find the right setting. I had a very good start today, a great battle with Stoner early on and then after half race distance I was a little faster and really able to push at the maximum, which was great fun. At the end it came down to another incredible battle with Lorenzo and I really had to be on top form, especially because he passed me when I wasn’t expecting it. Luckily I was able to take him back and then I rode a perfect final lap with no mistakes. Everything worked well today, my M1 and my Bridgestone tires, so thanks and well done to everyone. This is my fourth win of the year and I really think that our Yamaha is a fantastic bike this season. I think races like this are great for the sport. Now we have a small advantage in the championship and we’re going straight to Donington, one of my favorite tracks where I really hope I can win after a few bad years without a victory!”
Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha - 2nd
Today was a very hard race because this track is slow and twisty and you have to use all the strength in your body to ride at the maximum. Keeping pace with Valentino today was a big challenge for me, especially since I’m not at full fitness after Laguna, so I am happy that I was able to push him until the end. Passing him was very difficult because he braked hard and late every time, and in fact I made a bit of a mistake because I thought there were a few more laps left when I passed him! I hoped to overtake him and then try to pull away but it didn’t work out today. Of course I’m disappointed to lose another very close race, it is always sad but I know that we are capable of fighting with him and considering his experience this is something I must be proud of. Second is important today and we still have a long way to go in this championship.”
Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda – 3rd
“I’m pleased to be on the podium, and finishing this close to the leaders proves that our win at the last race wasn’t by chance. I made a very good start and in the first few laps I was comfortable behind Valentino. On about lap six or seven though I had a big moment in the last corner and almost crashed, so after that I slowed down a little and dropped back to fourth. With a slightly slower pace I felt the feedback coming back and towards the end of the race I was able to push hard again. I got past Casey and tried to catch the leaders but by this time I was a bit too far behind. Third place is a good result, but we were ready to fight for the win at this circuit so it looks like we still have a little bit of work to do. The team is in good shape though and we’re making progress all the time, so I’m confident we can continue to challenge for better results and preferably for wins. Donington is next and I’m looking forward to it. Let’s hope we can have an even better race there.”
Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro - 4th
"I wasn’t too confident at the start of the race because we were losing ground and my feeling with the bike wasn’t great but it quickly improved so we decided to hit the front as soon as possible – if nothing else just to hold everybody up and stay in there with a shout. I started to lose the front end a few times so I decided to back off a bit. That allowed Valentino and Jorge to come past but then, as the fuel load lightened, the front fell more secure and I was able to pick up the pace again. Dani came up with an unbelievable lap that was about half a second quicker than any of his others. After he passed me I tried to push and stay with him but I actually lost the rear at the bottom of the hill and had to let off the brakes, which almost forced me to run into the gravel. All in all with the way things have been going lately I’m happy with today’s race because it’s the first time in a while I feel I’ve been really involved and I think if it wasn’t for that problem with the rear I may have been able to dig deep and given Valentino and Jorge something to think about at the end. I’m excited about going to Donington now and I want to thank the team for sticking by me over the last few weeks because it hasn’t been fun for any of them."
Alex De Angelis - San Carlo Honda Gresini – 5th
“After showing my pace in the wet during qualifying yesterday I knew I could go fast in the dry as well and that proved to be the case. Obviously this is a circuit I like a lot but I was also fast in practice at Laguna Seca – unfortunately we had a technical problem there and I wasn’t able to back it up with a good result. This time it was nice to carry my form through to Sunday and to stay close to the guys at the front for the first time this season. I really enjoyed attacking and passing (Andrea) Dovizioso, it was a great feeling. This is the result we have been looking for – we have made some important technical progress and I think that at Donington, a circuit I like with its fast corners, I can produce a similar result.”
Toni Elias - San Carlo Honda Gresini – 6th
“To be honest I was expecting a battle just to finish in the top ten today but it ended up being much better than I could have imagined! It was a tough race and physically I still wasn’t feeling very strong but I managed to get into my rhythm and start passing riders. Once I caught up with Marco I found it difficult to get past him and my stomach pains started. I thought, ‘please no, not now!’ I fought through the pain and over the last few laps we had a great battle, which I was able to win. I want to thank the team because they’ve been doing a great job and we are starting to see the fruit of our hard work. If we hadn’t started from the back of the grid the result today could have been much better so that is something for us to think about for Donington, where we can go in high spirits.”
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Marlboro - 8th
“I knew I needed to get a good start if I was going to do anything special today but I got into turn one hot and everybody came underneath me. To be honest after my crash in warm-up I started the race a little uptight because I didn’t want to wreck another bike or throw away everything we have gained and learned this weekend. It wasn’t the race we were looking for so I’m sorry to the team because the bike was capable of more here, I’ve just made a couple of mistakes this weekend. I don’t want to apologize for trying too hard though because I knew I could do good here. It is hard to be patient when you have a sniff of the front and instead of taking things step by step like we have up to now I pushed my luck and we’ve paid the price. So I’m disappointed with the race but not with the weekend on the whole because we’re up and running now and moving forward.”
Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki - 11th
" We had a couple of issues during the warm-up today and when we saw that the weather was likely to be a bit better this afternoon we decided to use a harder compound tire. Unfortunately we never had a chance to test this tire during the practice and it was difficult to get the rubber up to temperature. This was one of the reasons that I struggled during the race, but there was also something else that wasn't quite right and we need to understand why we did so badly here. This weekend has now finished and we could do with doing some work on this track to see where we are going wrong, but that is not possible. This is not good enough for us and we don't want to be performing like this and we need as much help as we can get to improve things. The whole crew did a great job last night to rebuild the bike after I destroyed it yesterday, and my condition from that crash is not great but the biggest problem I had today was lack of feeling. I wasn't able to turn as well as I wanted and this is a problem for me. I really hope that we can find some solutions and analyse the data from today and try and do our best at Donington next week."
Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki - 13th
"It has been a difficult weekend, especially after I didn't get off to the best of starts by crashing in the first practice session. I gave my body a really hard time this weekend and because of the crash - and my condition - we lost some track-time and important set-up time. The team did give me a decent bike today, even with the lack of information that we had. I got a good start to the race and I had reasonable speed in the first couple of laps, but I struggled for braking performance and a lot of guys went past me. Then I ran off after I made a mistake and went wide in turn one and that cost me a lot of time. After that is was a pretty boring race and I was just trying to catch Canepa in front of me, but I just didn't quite have the speed to do that. I did get Kallio on the last lap though and managed to get some points from not a good weekend. Hopefully I can get fitter over the next few days and push hard at Donington."
Gabor Talmacsi - Scot Honda 15th
“I got my first point in MotoGP today and I’m happy about that. It is something that will stay in my record. Nevertheless, we want to progress more. Maybe I overrode today because I had some problems with the front tire and from a certain moment on I could not keep in contact with my group. So I tried to find a good rhythm and go as fast as I could. But I’m confident: we all have the same target: to fight for good positions. We have simply to work hard.”
Andrea Dovizioso - Repsol Honda – DNF
“We needed a strong result here and at the start of the race I was able to ride at a really good pace. I made a quick start from the fourth row and got past six riders on the first lap – then I was able to get past Lorenzo for fourth on the third lap. On that lap I did a 1m 22.7s but then, during the fourth lap, the front folded at turn eight and I ran wide. Within a few laps after this the performance from the front had dropped dramatically. It meant I couldn’t lean the bike or brake as normal so it was very difficult to control the bike. From then on my target was to finish the race but with five laps to go I had an electrical issue with the machine and I had to pull in. Obviously I’m really disappointed with the result because I was feeling fast here and I had a very good feeling from the bike. We really had the potential for a good result, which is what we need at this moment. Still, now we’ll go to Donington next weekend and aim for the level of result we’re capable of.”
Randy de Puniet - LCR Honda – DNF
“I am very disappointed because I took a good start and was in third position behind Pedrosa. After that I made a mistake in the fast right corner because I opened the throttle too early and suffered a big highside. Anyway, I feel lucky as I escaped injury from the crash but a DNF is bad for me and the team, especially for the championship. Today we could have finished in the top five because we had the speed to make an amazing race. However, I am still tenth overall and we will start again from zero at Donington on Friday.”