Honda riders have dominated the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring for more than a decade, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC212V and RC213V) winning every race, from 2010 to 2021.
However, today didn’t go to plan. Rider injuries, a crash and a minor technical issue prevented Honda’s riders from scoring any points at Sachsenring, so now they head to Assen for next weekend’s Dutch MotoGP round, where they are determined to make amends.
Central Europe is currently experiencing a heatwave, so weather conditions today were extreme, with ambient temperatures reaching 35 degrees and the track at 51 degrees, making the race feel more like the Suzuka 8 Hours than a European Grand Prix.
The weekend started with struggles for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V). Nakagami was still recovering from a crash during the previous Catalan GP and although he passed the medical to ride here he rode in some pain. Meanwhile Espargaro took a heavy fall during Friday practice, which left him in severe pain, ultimately causing his withdrawal from today’s race at this immensely physical circuit.
Nakagami was the first of Honda’s four MotoGP riders to exit today’s race. The 30-year-old from Chiba had been riding hard all weekend, despite the pain, and was once again pushing hard this afternoon when he slid out of tenth place on lap seven of 30.
Brave Espargaro did everything he could to make it to the end of the race but the pain from his injured ribs was just too much, so he finally cried enough, after two-thirds distance, and pulled into his garage.
The 31-year-old Spaniard will now focus on recovering from his injuries as best he can for Assen, even though practice gets underway just five days away.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) withdrew from the race at the end of lap seven. The 26-year-old Spaniard had worked hard with his crew all weekend, preparing for what was always going to be a hard race. This morning he ran a used rear tyre to get some idea of what tyre wear might be in the burning-hot conditions. But it was all for nothing. From the early laps he had a technical issue and although he tried to continue he finally had to pull into the pits.
Honda’s MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), deputising for Honda’s six-times MotoGP king Marc Marquez, took the chequered flag in 16th place, one place outside the World Championship points.
The 32-year-old German qualified 18th quickest yesterday but isn’t fully in the racing groove, unlike his full-time MotoGP rivals, so he knew he would have to fight extra hard and have a little luck to make it into the points. Like others he struggled in the extreme heat, his motorcycle becoming so hot that it was tricky to control. However, he gathered lots of data and information, which will help Honda improve the latest RC213V.
Next Sunday’s Dutch MotoGP race is followed by five weeks off, which will allow riders and teams to take some much-needed holiday. However, hard work will continue at Honda and HRC, as engineers try to improve the performance of the 2022 RC213V in preparation for the last nine races of the year, starting with the British GP at Silverstone on August 7.