Keith Huewen: ‘Sachsenring was probably Quartararo’s best ride’

Fabio Quartararo ‘best’ victory, another Francesco Bagnaia fall, Johann Zarco top Ducati, a bittersweet race for Aprilia and Honda’s Sachsenring woes all feature on this week’s MotoGP podcast featuring Keith Huewen.
Fabio Quartararo, German MotoGP race, 19 June
Fabio Quartararo, German MotoGP race, 19 June

After a tribute to Steve Harris of Harris Performance, former grand prix rider and British champion Huewen turns his attention to Sunday’s German round, which saw Fabio Quartararo break 34 points clear at the top of the MotoGP points table with a third win of the year.

“I think you've summed it up there; working wonders,” said former grand prix rider and British champion Huewen, in reply to podcast host Harry Benjamin’s assessment of the Frenchman’s performance.

“Quartararo, who was on the medium rear tyre, would have been planning to make a break, so Bagnaia’s job was to try and thwart that in the first few corners. And you would have expected the Ducati to have out-dragged Quartararo into turn one. But he didn’t. Quartararo got underneath Bagnaia and that was it.”

But much worse was to follow when Bagnaia crashed out of second place, on lap 4.

“A strange fall for Bagnaia, really strange,” said Huewen. “Track temperature was 52 degrees. It often gets a bit oily north of 50 degrees, when everything that's in the tarmac seems to float to the surface and you just get a really weird feeling about it.

“And with that track, you spend 30 seconds on the left-hand side of the tyre. That might not sound like a lot, but it really is torturous. It's amazing what the tyre goes through, but it wasn’t even that section that tripped Bagnaia up. It was turn 1.

“It just looked like the rear-end slithered out as soon as he tapped the throttle, around it came and there was nothing he could do about it. Very frustrating for him and surely that's it in terms of the title.

Francesco Bagnaia crash, German MotoGP race, 19 June
Francesco Bagnaia crash, German MotoGP race, 19 June

“We’ve done ten grands prix, ten more to go and he’s 91 points behind. A huge amount. He's just got to keep banging the wins in and hoping that Quartararo doesn't finish, something that doesn’t look likely.

“Quartararo’s momentum at the moment is everything. He just gets every single point there is available to him and he makes the best of it. I have to say, I think Sachsenring was probably the best ride that Quartararo has ever had.

“A really difficult track. Not the easiest build up to the race, and he looked just imperious all the way through, brilliant.”

A bad day for both Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini means it is Pramac’s Johann Zarco who now heads the Ducati challenge with third in the standings, albeit 61 points from Quartararo, while Jack Miller overcame a long lap penalty to complete the podium.

“A great ride for Jack,” said Huewen. “He had the long lap penalty because unfortunately fell under a yellow flag. That's a real no-no in our game. When you've got Marshalls exposed on the track, you just don't go fast enough to fall off, otherwise you deserve a penalty.

“Even Jack’s personality couldn't get away with that! But he’s back on top form as we go to Assen, where he has great memories from his first win in the wet.” MotoGP podcast with Keith Huewen MotoGP podcast with Keith Huewen

Miller’s podium came at the expense of Aleix Espargaro, who was struggling with a front tyre vibration on his way to fourth, while team-mate Maverick Vinales was denied his best ever Aprilia result when his ride-height device became jammed down.

“It was definitely Vinales’ best race for Aprilia up to that point,” said MotoGP editor Pete McLaren. “He had podium pace and looked like he was sizing Aleix up for a pass, and then it all went wrong with the ride-height device.

“He tried jamming the brakes on, which is the way that it should disengage. I think he even tried pressing the lever again and it just went down even further, so he had no choice but to stop.

“Vinales wasn’t the only one, Alex Marquez also retired with a broken ride-height device. Were the scorching temperatures cooking the hydraulics? Who knows, but it was certainly very unusual to have two ride-height  failures in one race.”

Huewen added: “Maverick’s mechanics were obviously really upset, but he was just so happy to have been competitive and from his comments after the race you’d never have guessed he retired!”

Finally, all three make their predictions for this weekend’s Dutch TT at Assen, the final race before the summer break.

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