Ducati's Loris Baz will celebrate his return from injury at the 2016 MotoGP Grand Prix of Germany at the iconic Sachsenring.
The Frenchman confirmed the news via Twitter:
It will be the first race since the controversial Dutch Grand Prix on June 26, when standings leader Marc Marquez increased his lead over Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi after a multitude of crashes following a red flag.
Marquez has won the last three races at the Sachsenring and is once again the clear favourite for the title. Here's a look at the race schedule, which can be found in full on the event's official website:
|Germany GP Schedule|
|Saturday, July 16||9 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.||Free Practice 3|
|Saturday, July 16||12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.||Free Practice 4|
|Saturday, July 16||1:10 p.m. - 1:25 p.m.||Qualifying 1|
|Saturday, July 16||1:35 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.||Qualifying 2|
|Sunday, July 17||1 p.m.||Race|
The weather gods and MotoGP officials helped Marquez's world-title bid in Assen, the Netherlands, as heavy rains saw the race red-flagged right as he was losing ground on Rossi fast. At the time, there had been few crashes. But the race officials deemed the track unsafe and instructed the riders to move back to the pit lane.
Following the restart, more than a half-dozen riders crashed in the span of a few laps, including Rossi. The 23-year-old suddenly found himself in the lead and ended up finishing second behind Jack Miller.
It was yet another stroke of good fortune for Marquez and Honda, who shouldn't have any business challenging Yamaha for the title, per Autosport's Mitchell Adam:
But that's the way this year has bounced, and the notion of luck does little to detract from Marquez's performances. Imagine if the Honda was closer to the level of Yamaha's M1, or its acceleration deficit not as pronounced as it is?
Its current woes revolve around its engine and electronics. Even last year, Marquez was struggling with an aggressive engine, and Honda is understood to have overhauled its philosophy in 2016, following Yamaha and Ducati's lead with a counter-rotating crankshaft.
Marquez is one of MotoGP's top technicians, and the Sachsenring is almost tailor-made for the youngster. The Spaniard grew up a dirt-bike racer, and he's perfected his technique going into left-handers—of which the Sachsenring has 10—over the years.
Per the Repsol Honda Team (via MotoGP.com), Marquez feels at home on the track:
We’re going to the German GP aiming for a podium position and of course possibly to fight for the win. The Sachsenring is normally a very good track for me that I like very much, maybe because it has so many left-hand corners, a bit like a dirt track! On the other hand, it’s another one on the calendar where the weather has sometimes played a crucial role in the past, so we’ll see how it goes there.
Marquez is undefeated at the Sachsenring in MotoGP, and in all likelihood, that streak will continue.
Compatriot Lorenzo smartly kept out of the battle for the podium in the Netherlands, spending most of the race in a third group of riders and finishing in 10th place. He lost some ground on Marquez but opted not to take any risks with an eye on the second half of the season.
On paper, the defending world champion should be faster than Marquez, as his Yamaha puts out more power. But consistency has been an issue in 2016, and the Sachsenring is not a track that suits him—Lorenzo has never won in Germany.
Much has been made of Marquez's new conservative racing style and the fact he has finished every race in the points, but according to Adam's report, Lorenzo thinks luck has been a factor:
For example [at Assen on Saturday], he almost crashed in a big moment.
If he crashed this time, he could have injured himself very badly.
So you never know when you can crash, you never know this year, if you can injure yourself in a big moment or in a stupid moment.
So we cannot say that Marquez, now he cannot crash or cannot make mistakes
Yamaha have struggled for pace in the rain at times this season, so that will be something to keep an eye on. On dry tracks, most riders have found it hard to keep up with Lorenzo and his bike's straight-line speed, but the twisty nature of the Sachsenring should negate that advantage as well.