Marc Marquez completed the first half of 2014 unbeaten with victory at the Sachsenring despite one of the most bizarre starts in Grand Prix history. The world champion was one of fourteen riders who started from the pitlane after changing bikes on the parade lap but rampaged through the field to lead a Repsol Honda 1-2.
The mayhem started with less than half an hour to go before the start as rain fell at the Sachsenring, presenting a horrible dilemma for the teams, particularly with the track only wet in the final sector of the lap. Stefan Bradl appeared to be the odd man out on the grid with his slick-shod LCR Honda surrounded by machines on wets but the home favourite’s eyes will have lit up at the sight of his rivals flooding into the pit lane instead of onto the pit straight. Scarcely able to believe his luck, Bradl took his place on the front row with Hiroshi Aoyama and Karel Abraham, who had qualified sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, the nearest riders to him on the grid.
Predictably, Bradl won the easiest first lap drag race in history to claim an early lead with Michael Laverty reaching the heady heights of second before being overtaken by Danilo Petrucci. Marquez had won the comical race out of the pitlane ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha but the erstwhile polesitter was now tenth, 7.7s off the lead.
As it turned out, Bradl’s gamble wasn’t as inspired as it first appeared having opted for slick tyres on a motorcycle still set up for wet conditions and as soon as the track dried, the German fell backwards. Even though he was busy overtaking PBMs, Avintias and production Hondas, Marquez was still lapping substantially quicker than the leader and within six laps, Stefan had been swallowed up.
Marquez breezed past into the lead at the final corner and within the space of a few corners, Pedrosa had pushed Bradl down to third, setting the scene for a battle between the Repsol Hondas as Stefan tumbled all the way out of the points. Dani momentarily threatened his teammate’s supremacy but in the closing stages, Marc eased away to win by 1.4s.
The all-Yamaha fight for third between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi was settled in favour of the Spaniard after a pass on lap nine with the pair riding lonely races thereafter. Andrea Iannone also enjoyed a quiet afternoon by his usual standards to finish a fine fifth with the Espargaro brothers line astern in sixth and seventh, Aleix beating Pol.
Alvaro Bautista snatched ninth from Cal Crutchlow on the last lap with the sensational Scott Redding working his way past the open riders who had started from the grid, taking eleventh in the end. The horrendous pattern of Bradley Smith’s weekend continued all the way to the last though with the Tech 3 rider crashing for the fifth time in three days, leaving him nineteenth across the finish line. After starting so brightly, Michael Laverty’s day also ended with a fall.