Just when it appeared Jorge Lorenzo was going to run away with the 2012 world championship, sport's tendency of producing the unexpected stopped him in his tracks. The Yamaha rider had earlier seen Casey Stoner beat him, and the odds, to claim pole position but he was still favoured to reach the chequered flag first.
As it turned out, he didn't even reach the second corner after an out of control Alvaro Bautista skittled him out at the start. The Gresini rider was subsequently penalised and will start Sunday's race from the rear of the grid but Lorenzo's loss was more severe, as Stoner took 25 points off him. With more than a third of the season gone, the two protagonists are dead level at the top of the standings.
Dani Pedrosa has been this year's Mr Consistency with six podium finishes out of seven (his only blip was fourth at Le Mans) and the quiet Spaniard is just 19 points off the lead. Despite being comprehensively beaten by his teammate on Saturday, Pedrosa will surely head to the Sachsenring with confidence after his victory last year, a race which saw him defeat Stoner and Lorenzo in a straight fight.
The 3.671km Sachsenring is second only to Laguna Seca in terms of the shortest tracks on the calendar with the first half of the lap seeing a run of seven left-hand turns in a row but the right-hander that breaks the sequence gives the riders one of the ultimate thrills of the season. Nicknamed 'the waterfall', the 130mph plunges downhill, something that caught out four different riders in the opening practice session last year, Casey Stoner among them.
“It’s a very interesting track, maybe not one of the greatest on the circuit but has one of the best corners coming down the hill which is a little scary with spending so much time on the left before switching to the right side of the tyre”, commented the world champion. “It’s a good atmosphere there though with all the spectators so close to the track, it feels like a Coliseum!”
Like Stoner, Ducati's Nicky Hayden has experience of getting the corner wrong but when the bike is working, feels it is one of the most enjoying circuits to race on.
“You hardly ever use sixth gear, but it might have the best corner in MotoGP: the fast, blind, downhill Waterfall corner. When you're bike's working, it's a lot of fun, although I've come off there, which definitely wasn't fun!”
The first descent from the waterfall is sure to be a memorable experience for Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl who becomes the first German since 2007 to race at home in the premier class. The LCR Honda rider will be dreaming of a podium, something his father Helmut achieved twice in the old 250cc class, including a win at Hockenheim in 1991.
“Doubtless this weekend will be very special for me”, said the home favourite. “My family, my friends and my fans will be there to support me and this makes me more motivated ahead the race. I am looking forward to this weekend because the crowd will be unbelievable.”
Ducati's home race follows in a week's time but neither Valentino Rossi nor Nicky Hayden will be relishing the prospect of heading to Mugello in their current form. The best GP12 Desmosedici finished half a minute back at Assen and surely only the weather gods can put them in the fight for victory here. They'll be joined on the grid by test rider Franco Battaini who's standing in for the injured Karel Abraham at Cardion AB Motoracing.
Given the shortness of the circuit, the grid should be closer than normal which may present an opportunity for the Tech 3 Yamahas who've been snapping at the heels of their factory rivals. Andrea Dovizioso arrives on the back of a second podium this season but the first remains elusive for Cal Crutchlow. Is this his weekend?
A first Moto2 victory is getting closer and closer for Scott Redding who has stood on the rostrum at each of the last two events. Championship leader Marc Marquez looks to be the biggest obstacle for Scott although Pol Espargaro and Thomas Luthi will both be highly motivated after crashes at Assen gave their title hopes a knock. That enabled Andrea Iannone to move into second overall and the Italian is another rider to keep an eye on.
In Moto3, the crowd will be roaring on Sandro Cortese on the no.11 Red Bull KTM. The German is in the middle of a thrilling title battle with Maverick Vinales but another opponent emerged at Assen as teammate Danny Kent put him under all sorts of pressure. The two even made contact as they fought for victory and the team bosses have warned them to avoid a repeat. All motorsport fans would love a repeat of last year's 125cc race, when Hector Faubel and Johann Zarco fought out the first ever Grand Prix dead heat.
A bumper weekend of motorsport lies ahead and The Checkered Flag will have full coverage from the Sachsenring throughout the weekend.
Sachsenring Former Winners
|2011||Dani Pedrosa||Marc Marquez||Hector Faubel|
|2010||Dani Pedrosa||Toni Elias||Marc Marquez|
|2009||Valentino Rossi||Marco Simoncelli||Julian Simon|
|2008||Casey Stoner||Marco Simoncelli||Mike Di Meglio|
|2007||Dani Pedrosa||Hiroshi Aoyama||Gabor Talmacsi|
|2006||Valentino Rossi||Yuki Takahashi||Mattia Pasini|
|2005||Valentino Rossi||Dani Pedrosa||Mika Kallio|
|2004||Max Biaggi||Dani Pedrosa||Roberto Locatelli|
|2003||Sete Gibernau||Roberto Rolfo||Stefano Perugini|
|2002||Valentino Rossi||Marco Melandri||Arnaud Vincent|
|*No Moto3 races have been held at the Sachsenring|