Closest title fight ever reaches halfway mark
‘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!”