In the absence of the injured Stefan Bradl, home supporters at this weekend’s German Grand Prix will have to look to Moto2 for their best hopes of success. The last rider to taste home success at the Sachsenring was Sandro Cortese and the 2012 Moto3 champion has told The Checkered Flag of his motivation heading into this weekend.
Cortese is no stranger to the pressures that come with competing on home soil with a German team having done so four years ago but 2011 was a very different time for Sandro who was fighting to establish himself in the 125cc class, and in danger of being lost in the shuffle. He left the Sachsenring on the back of a disappointing eighth place but his next outing proved a turning point in his young career.
The Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno saw a head-to-head between Cortese and Johann Zarco, who himself was yet to win a race, but Sandro held his nerve to take victory at the 110th time of asking, a result that proved the catalyst for future success. Reputations can be made or broken very quickly in the Grand Prix paddock, and after a century of races without the breakthrough win, Sandro admitted he was at a crucial stage in his career.
“Yeah of course the pressure was there because I had never won a Grand Prix before despite many podiums before Brno 2011”, he admitted to TCF. “For me, it was a big change after this, winning another race and the championship the year after. My whole career changed.”
The final 125cc ended with further glory in Australia but the first Moto3 championship was were Cortese really upped his game, taking five wins and a further ten podiums to wrap up his first world crown with two races to spare. Sandro credits his consistency for carrying him to the title but also the man who has mentored many a youngster to superstardom. In Aki Ajo, Cortese feels he had the perfect tutor.
“I rode for him for three years and I knew him before so I knew how he worked. For me, it helped a lot because he is a really hard teacher but always tried to put me on the correct street. In the end, I was really thankful to have him on my side.”
Moving to Moto2 brings its own pressures with many riders struggling to make the adjustment to 600cc machinery (just ask Nicolas Terol) but Cortese did so with the added burden of racing for a German team built totally around him but the Ochsenhausen rider saw the introduction of Dynavolt Intact GP as a blessing, and believes he couldn’t be better placed for the challenge.
“I think it’s a dream for every rider. Of course it’s also a lot of pressure because everybody expects a lot from you but at the end of the day, it’s a dream come true to be with this team. It’s really difficult (moving up to Moto2). For some riders, they get there faster but for me it took a while”
As he accepts, Cortese didn’t set the intermediate class alight in his debut season, breaking into the top ten just once, but 2014 saw him boost that to seven occasions, including a maiden Moto2 podium at Brno. The consistency he prides himself on his deserted him at times during this campaign but Sandro is staying calm and still feels he can challenge the best on his day.
“I think we made many good steps up until the first podium. Of course we were happy but this season has been a little up and down and we have been a little bit unlucky but I believe we are still really strong. It just takes a little bit of time. I think I’m now ready to fight with the front guys and I think everything’s ok at the moment.”
If there was ever a time for his luck to turn, this weekend would be it. “It’s always something special to ride in front of the German crowd”, he admits, although he is remaining realistic with his expectations.
“Everyone always asks how I’ll do but I just want to make a good race and finish in the top ten” was his assessment, and after back-to-back non-scores, such a result would be just what the doctor ordered to get his season back on track.