One of the closest ever German GP finishes sees the number 89 take his first GP win since 2021, with Pecco just inches behind and Zarco completing the podium as Binder crashes out
What do you get when you add the two riders at the top of the standings to a record crowd at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland? One hell of a show! In one of the closest ever finishes at the Sachsenring, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) came out on top against reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in a duel that went right to the wire, ultimately decided by just 0.064 seconds as the two crossed the line almost in tandem. It’s Martin’s first win since Styria 2021 and consolidates his second place in the standings, now just 16 behind Bagnaia, and it’s the first time the number 89 has done the double – Tissot Sprint and GP win – and taken three GP podiums in a row.
Taking three Grand Prix rostrums in a row for the first time is now also true for Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) as the Frenchman completed the podium following a crash for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), and that shuffles the standings yet further. So where do we start…
The first place to start is Warm Up, as eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) suffered another big crash and, although declared fit, decided to sit out the Grand Prix race after a difficult weekend. That left Bagnaia heading a grid that didn’t contain the 11-time winner… but there was one thing, at least, that remained increasingly predictable: Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took the holeshot.
Behind the Australian, Bagnaia and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) slotted into P2 and P3, at least until Turn 11 the Australian had a huge moment on the rear as they flicked it onto the cold side of the tyre. That allowed Bagnaia, Martin AND Marini to carve past.
Lap 3, Turn 12 – a change of the lead. Martin pounced on Pecco and with it, the Sprint victor set the fastest lap of the race. Just behind, Miller was holding teammate Binder at bay, with the latter enjoying a mini battle with the fast-starting, soft rear tyre-running Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). But Binder grabbed P4 off Miller at the end of Lap 4 and set his sights on the top three, with Martin quickly building a 0.7s lead at the front.
Zarco was soon past Miller too – the same place he dispatched Binder at in the Sprint, Turn 11, this time with a little more space – and on Lap 7 the Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race too. Soon, Martin’s gap was down to 0.5s with the top five just two seconds apart. Lap 10 saw Binder pounce past Marini for P3 too, and soon Zarco was also past the Italian. By then, the gap between Binder and Bagnaia was up to 1.7s as the top five began to spread out.. and the top two to get closer together.
Martin and Bagnaia looked like they were out of reach for the chasing pack. Binder was 2.9s adrift with 17 laps to go, and Bagnaia starting to put pressure on the shoulders of Martin. With 12 to go, it looked like Martin was starting to respond though. Bagnaia had been right on Martin’s coattails but the gap edged back to half a second.
In the podium battle, drama then unfolded. Binder lost the rear heading into Turn 8 and that forced him to run wide and into the gravel, and the South African crashed out of third. That promoted Zarco to P3, and the Frenchman had some breathing space as Marini had teammate Marco Bezzecchi to contend with in a VR46-friendly fire duel.
Did the decisive moment of the Grand Prix come with 10 laps to go? Bagnaia decided it was time to take the lead at Turn 12, and did so, but how would Martin respond? If Bagnaia had been planning to put the hammer down and thought he could escape, after two laps that plan was gone as the #1 couldn’t shake off the #89. Then, at the same corner with six to go, Martin returned the favour. The top two in the title chase were embroiled in a fascinating fight in the Ring, now it was Bagnaia’s turn to show what punches he had left.
Two more tense laps later and it remained as you were, but close as ever with Martin leading Bagnaia by 0.2s. On Lap 27 of 30, it literally couldn’t get any closer between the pair at points on the track. Martin defended well down the hill to not allow Bagnaia through into Turn 12, and as they entered Lap 28 they were absolutely locked together.
Penultimate lap time. Martin vs Bagnaia. A King of the Ring crown up for grabs. Martin went defensive into Turn 1 as Bagnaia nearly ran into the back of Martin at Turn 3, with millimetres in it. And round the final corner for the penultimate time, those millimetres evaporated. Contact! Bagnaia tagged the back of the Pramac ahead, with no harm done but some metres lost for the reigning Champion. The race was really, really on now.
By halfway around the lap, the impossible looked plausible once more as Bagnaia got within 0.3. The climb up the hill was crucial but the #1 wasn’t close enough into Turn 12. And so, just 80 seconds after the contact last time around, it was down to Turn 13. Martin went defensive. Bagnaia opted for a wider, sweeping line up the hill. For the final time, it was Martin vs Bagnaia on the run to the line.
Martin edged it by a slender 0.064s as a wonderful battle lit up the Sachsenring, with the Spaniard cutting Bagnaia’s title advantage to 16 points. It’s the closest finish at the track since the 0.060 margin in 2003.
6.9s away from the victory scrap, Zarco claimed P3 for the third race in succession, and the #5 nearly crashed at Turn 1 on the final lap, too, pushing for his best run of rostrums.
The battles through the pack
Bezzecchi picked his way through the pack to a solid P4 after a tricky weekend, the Italian finishing 3.4s ahead of teammate Marini after the two went head-to-head earlier in the race. Miller was 0.2s him to finish P6, as Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) rounded out the top 10, the ortuguese
P11 went the way of Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) who finished ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ duo Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo, all three of whom remain the only three riders to score in every GP race so far this season. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) picked up the final points in P14 and P15.
Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) was forced to retire after his RS-GP encountered an issue in the early stages of the Grand Prix, and teammate Aleix Espargaro faded to 17 after struggling for grip late on.
So that’s that. An instant classic and a maximum of 37 points means it’s a perfect weekend for Martin in Germany, and it also means the title picture changes ahead of a trip to The Cathedral of Speed: Assen. 16 points split leader Pecco to Martin as we head to the always-fantastic Dutch TT. Buckle up!
MotoGP Top 4 – Main Race Result – German GP
1. Jorge MARTIN – SPA – Prima Pramac Racing – 40:52.449
2. Francesco BAGNAIA – ITA – Ducati Lenovo – +0.064
3. Johann ZARCO – FRA – Prima Pramac Racing – +7.013
4. Marco BEZZECCHI – ITA – Mooney VR46 Team – +8.430
MotoGP Top 4 Championship Points after Main Race – German GP
1. Francesco BAGNAIA – ITA – Ducati Lenovo Team – 160pts
2. Jorge MARTIN – SPA – Prima Pramac Racing – 144pts
3. Marco BEZZECCHI – ITA – Mooney VR46 Team – 126pts
4. Johann ZARCO – FRA – Prima Pramac Racing – 109pts
JORGE MARTIN: “I’m so emotional at the moment. After almost two years fighting for it, finally it came. It was a tough race. Pecco was pushing so hard. I had some issues in the middle of the race with the rear tyre, so I just tried to manage it. To be in front was my target. Even when he passed me, I tried to stay in front. In the last two laps, I was just trying to push to the maximum. I thought Pecco had something else but maybe I saved the tyre a little bit more at the beginning of the race. I’m super happy. I’m focused on the next one, this is hopefully the first step. We are getting closer and this is the main thing. Thank you to my people and family who supported me last season. We are ready for everything.”
PECCO BAGNAIA: “Jorge was really strong today. I tried. We improved compared to yesterday, we were competitive in the last laps. I was gaining and gaining but it wasn’t enough to be in front. I tried on the second last lap to go but I touched him. It was a bit on the limit to recover and he was too far away. I’m happy with second position. I gave my maximum. Let’s move on to Assen.”
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