Chemnitz, Eastern Germany – South Africa’s Brad Binder took his maiden Moto2 victory at the tight and twisty Sachsenring in a dramatic race that saw the podium three covered by less than a second.
It was the first intermediate class Grand Prix win by a South African since Jon Ekerold’s at Monza aboard a Yamaha-engined Bimota in 1981.
Marc Marquez continued his dominance of the shortest circuit on the calendar with his ninth consecutive pole position and ninth consecutive win across all classes, with Valentino Rossi and his Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales completing the MotoGP podium.
Steven Odendaal continued his steady progress on the new NTS, finishing 18th in the Moto2 race, but Binder’s younger brother Darryn was ruled out of the Moto3 event by a collarbone so badly broken in a midweek supermoto training crash that it took a titanium plate and six screws to cobble it back together again.
At lights out it was Ducati Team leader Jorge Lorenzo who got the hole shot, moving from third into the lead as Ducati privateer Danilo Petrucci slotted into second, pushing Marquez back to third. Rossi made a good start from sixth to move into fourth ahead of team-mate Viñales, with Andrea Dovizioso on the second Ducati Team machine the key man to lose out from fifth.
Once at the front, Lorenzo put the hammer down, making it the sixth consecutive race in succession he’d led. But it didn’t take too long for Marquez to make his way through to second, and a game of cat and mouse began at the front as Marquez reeled him in.
Meanwhile Rossi attacked Petrucci for third and moved through; Lorenzo was holding firm at the front but Marquez then chose his moment and struck - taking over in the lead and leaving Lorenzo to be reeled in by Rossi. Then ‘The Doctor’ really got the hammer down, trying to claw back some time to Marquez, but it wasn’t to be.
The world champion pulled the pin with perfect timing, with enough grip left to see him make a gap and keep it until crossing the line for stunning ninth win in a row at the Sachsenring – and all from pole.
Rossi was then safe in second for another podium finish, but team-mate Viñales left it late to complete the rostrum. First Petrucci was the man pushing to pass a Lorenzo, who was struggling with grip after his early fireworks. The Viñales arrived on the scene and passed first Lorenzo and then Perucci to take third and a second consecutive podium.
Petrucci was still the top privateer, however, in a hard-fought fourth, just ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) who put in a stunning ride to fifth. Bautista was the fastest man on track for a good number of laps and kept that incredible form to the end, the final man able to muscle past Lorenzo by the flag.
Lorenzo took sixth, ahead of Ducati Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, with Dani Pedrosa on the second factory Honda putting in a solid ride to eighth, Johann Zarco (Yamaha Tech 3) improved from his worst qualifying of the season so far to take ninth despite a difficult weekend while an incredible ride from Bradley Smith gave KTM their first top 10 of the season.
Brad Binder claimed the first South African intermediate class win since 1981 after a sublime ride, while Joan Mir posted his best Moto2 result yet in second and Luca Marini claimed his first Grand Prix podium in third.
The opening stages of the Moto2 race where chaotic. First, KTM team leader Miguel Oliveria had a moment on the last corner of the opening lap, luckily staying on after getting out of shape and making contact with the helpless Xavi Vierge. Then a lap later, Mattia Pasini crashed out of second at the same corner, with championship leader Francesco Bagnaia having to take avoiding action, running into the gravel and dropping down to 26th. And even then the drama wasn’t over, with Lorenzo Baldassarri highsiding out of contention at Turn 2 on lap three, leaving Marini, Mir and Binder at the front.
Marini held station at the front, before Mir went up the inside at Turn 1 to take the lead. Five laps later, Binder made his move, first getting past Marini at Turn 1 before slicing his way through on race leader Mir at the bottom of the Ralf Waldmann corner. He wasn’t able to create a gap, but his lap 10 move proved to be the race winning overtake, with Binder looking like he was on rails around the Sachsenring as he eventually claimed victory by 0.779s, with 0.154s splitting Mir and Marini in second and third.
Further back, Oliveira had re-grouped and got himself up to fourth after passing KTM privateer Sam Lowes and local hero Marcel Schroetter. But Oliviera couldn’t bridge the gap to the front three and settled for fourth, with Lowes getting the better of Schroetter on the last lap to claim his best result of the season in fifth.
After his tangle with Oliveira, Vierge came home seventh, with Simone Corsi, Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up) and Jorge Navarro rounding out the top 10.
Jorge Martin (Honda) took a perfectly-timed win, fighting at the front throughout before pulling the pin to perfection in the latter stages to escape the chasing pack. Championship rival Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) finished second to stay close in the standings, with John McPhee (KTM) putting some recent disappointments to bed as he got back on the podium with an impressive third.
Martin took the holeshot from pole, getting a perfect start as Marcos Ramirez (KTM) moved up into second and Enea Bastianini (Honda) fell back, with Ramirez’ team-mate Jaume Masia outdragging Bastianini to slot in to third. From seventh on the grid Bezzecchi was soon on the tail of Martin, who was unable to pull away in the early stages, from a huge train of more than a dozen riders fighting it out at the front.
On lap 12 Martin’s first little lightning bolt of drama hit as he ran wide into Turn 1 and dropped back to fourth - but a few laps later there was more drama in the same place as team-mate Fabio DiGiannantonio crashed and came desperately close to skittling Martin.
With seven laps to go Martin made a break for it, pulling the pin and timing it to perfection as Bezzecchi struggled to hold on. The gap kept growing as McPhee hunted down Bezzecchi, losing out in the drag to the line by just half a tenth.
Marcos Ramirez beat Aron Canet (Honda) for fourth by less than a tenth, with Masia completing his impressive weekend - despite a huge highside on Saturday - to complete the top six. Jakub Kornfeil (KTM) took seventh ahead of an improved weekend for Philipp Oettl (KTM), with Raul Fernandez (KTM) and Ayumu Sasaki (Honda) completing the top 10.