Motogp war

Clos­est ti­tle fight ever reaches half­way mark

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MOTOGP RE­PORTER

‘It was a great sur­prise when it was Fol­ger there’ MARC MAR­QUEZ

Marc Mar­quez sits on top of the world in the clos­est GP ti­tle race in the se­ries’ 68-year-his­tory af­ter a stun­ning vic­tory in the ninth round of the cham­pi­onship at the Sach­sen­ring on Sun­day.

The Spa­niard’s con­trol­ling win at the Ger­man GP saw the reign­ing cham­pion take the lead for the first time in 2017 as the se­ries heads into its month-long sum­mer break, but it’s a slen­der lead, with only 10 points sep­a­rat­ing the top four – in other words the ti­tle could be any­one’s and Valentino Rossi is still in with a very real shout of that elu­sive tenth world crown.

Mar­quez holds just a five-point gap to Yamaha’s Mav­er­ick Viñales, with Du­cati’s An­drea Dovizioso, the man who went into the week­end lead­ing the cham­pi­onship fight, in third only one point back on Viñales. Nine-time world cham­pion Rossi is just four points fur­ther back af­ter fin­ish­ing fifth in Ger­many (see page 75).

And the cham­pi­onship race could be set to heat up even more in the com­ing weeks, with Mar­quez telling MCN af­ter the race that while he al­ways knew that he could take the vic­tory at Sach­sen­ring, the next few rounds may well be a case of dam­age lim­i­ta­tion.

“In Assen and in Sach­sen­ring, the tar­get was to try and fight for the podium. In Assen, it was too much of a risk to fight for the win, but in Sach­sen­ring it was al­ways pos­si­ble to win. In Brno, we have a test be­fore the race so maybe there we can try to be on the podium there. But in Aus­tria, we’ll strug­gle more again,” he said.

“The cham­pi­onship is very long, it can rain and con­di­tions can change – al­though we’re very fast and feel­ing very good in those con­di­tions as well this year. But the most im­por­tant thing for me is that we’re there in all con­di­tions, that the level never drops. But it’s nice to go into the break lead­ing the cham­pi­onship, even if it only is five points – be­cause it’s bet­ter to be five points ahead than five points be­hind!”

How­ever, Mar­quez also took an­other im­pres­sive record from his race at the Sach­sen­ring, by ex­tend­ing an un­beaten record that stretches back to 2010 to an in­cred­i­ble eight con­sec­u­tive wins. What he didn’t ac­count for was the un­re­lent­ing pres­sure he was put un­der by Yamaha rookie Jonas Fol­ger.

“Be­fore the race, I ex­pected I would need to con­trol Dani, be­cause he had re­ally good pace. But then in the be­gin­ning it was a great sur­prise when it was Fol­ger there, be­cause I thought he looked fast, and maybe he could fin­ish be­tween me and an­other rider, which would be good for the cham­pi­onship.

“Then he came at me more and, never dropped his pace, and re­ally started to push me! He rode an in­cred­i­ble race and kept the pres­sure on me, but in the last five laps I re­ally pushed. I gave it ev­ery­thing, be­cause I knew I didn’t want to ride at a Ger­man cir­cuit with a Ger­man rider who’s try­ing for his first vic­tory!”

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