The Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland was a memorable eighth round of 2021 MotoGP for KTM as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira finished runner-up for his third trophy in a row, teammate Brad Binder achieved his best result of the season so far and Red Bull KTM Ajo owned both Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes.
Temperatures remained near thirty degrees but the Sachsenring was not boiling in the same sunshine that had cooked Free Practice and Qualification in Saxony. The long, 30 lap race at one of the tightest, twisty and most technical circuits on the calendar got underway with both Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder making excellent jumps from the second and fourth rows. They slotted into the top seven, and a leading group all marking similar lap-times in the first phase of the Grand Prix showpiece.
With 20 laps to go, and the specter of rainfall looming, Oliveira cut through to 3rd and then to 2nd place and gave chase to serial Sachsenring winner Marc Marquez. The gap between the pair fluctuated over-and-under one second. The Portuguese was able to make gains but not arrive close enough to make a challenge for the lead. At the checkered flag Oliveira – who had set the fastest lap - was less than two seconds adrift of Marquez who registered his eleventh successive triumph at the venue. Oliveira was able to bank 20 world championship points for his fifth podium walk in his MotoGP career.
Just behind, Brad Binder was having a fantastic race on his maiden visit to the Sachsenring on the KTM RC16. The South African had a busy time dealing with fellow factory riders but made the break in the last three laps. He was unable to close up to the rear of Fabio Quartararo and the final rostrum slot but 4th position represented his third top-five classification of the season and pulls him up to 8th in the championship.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Iker Lecuona finished outside the points in 17th position but was struggling with a stomach problem. Teammate Danilo Petrucci was unlucky to have had contact with Alex Marquez and tumbled out through Turn 1 by the third lap.
The fourth Grand Prix from the last five weeks will bring MotoGP into the kinks and curves of the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands as 2021 reaches the halfway stage.
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a little bit cat-and-mouse today. Marc was faster in some sectors and I was faster in the last part of the track. Visually though. I felt like I was gaining nothing! It was an interesting race and we battled at a distance. I will take a second any day at the Sachsenring to him. I’m happy to continue this run of podiums. I hope we can carry on this way. Thanks to the team, and everyone at home for their support.”
Brad Binder: “I’m really happy with 4th in the end because we started the Grand Prix by being stone-last in FP1! I slowly worked my way forward through the weekend. It wasn’t easy for me to adapt to this place on the bigger bike. I gave it my absolute ‘all’ out there today. I tried as hard as I could. I wanted the podium - and I could see Fabio - but ran out of time to get close enough. In general, I’m happy with the job we did and the team worked fantastically because when I was struggling they continued to make the bike better and better and that brought my level up. We made a big step. Thanks guys, let’s see what we can do in Assen.”
Iker Lecuona: “I was inside the points scoring positions but in the middle of the race, I felt sick. I don’t know if I maybe ate something bad yesterday but I definitely had problems with my stomach. It was difficult to keep the pace and I didn’t have any power anymore. I was pushing a lot with the knees and elbows but I still tried to finish the race in a decent position. Honestly, it was very hard. I want to say sorry to my team because I know that we could have been fighting for the points. But we will come back stronger in Assen.”
Danilo Petrucci: “I’m really sorry because we were strong all the weekend. We made a good start and in this race it was all about managing the rear tyre. Unfortunately, Iker started to pass me and be very aggressive. He was braking very hard in one corner and Marquez followed his example and crashed and I crashed with Marquez. I have no words, we don’t have any points for the team. I’m very angry, but moreover very sorry.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “An incredible feeling to see some of the results today and it shows the potential of this project and the skill and hard work of everyone that has been working on it since 2015. It’s fantastic to get three podiums in a row and Miguel’s performance was amazing as well as Brad’s today, especially around a track that is so difficult for overtaking. Miguel’s race was conditioned a bit by that one lap where the rain showed up and he was stuck in some traffic. He was equal on lap-times to Marc. We are super-happy to be able to battle with someone like him here and with his special record at this circuit. I want to say a big thanks to the race team who have pushed and pushed since the start of the season. The group is very strong and to bring these two riders to this level has been a big and great effort.”
Results MotoGP Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland 2021
1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 41:07.243
2. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.610
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +6.772
4. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +7.922
5. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Ducati +8.591
17. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +23.946
DNF. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing