Rider insight with Freddie Spencer: German Grand Prix


Freddie Spencer reports after the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring, where Marc Márquez denied Jonas Folger a home win to take the lead of the championship

Inspiring the next generation at the Festival of Speed

It has been another great weekend here at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This beautiful place brings back a lot of memories for a lot of people and I want to tell you a little bit why.

For one, it celebrates the many disciplines of motor sport. I’ve been coming here for almost 20 years now and the first time it was John Surtees who invited me when he was a couple of years into putting together the motorcycle portion of this Festival of Speed and it was such a great honour. It’s really grown since then in so many ways: the number of fans, amount of equipment, cars and motorcycles, the many ways that they’re displayed, but one thing that hasn’t changed about this great event is what it gives people.

Ultimately that’s what it’s all about. It’s what we share through motor sports, the passion and excitement and certainly the fact that it brings back a lot of memories for people from when they were younger, the things that inspired them to achieve whether it’s in motor sport or anything else they do.

One of the things that’s really exciting for me is to see the younger generation get inspired. All the little kids that came up to me this weekend and asked for my autograph, I enjoyed taking time with each and every one of them to make sure that they’re inspired, just like I was when I was a kid. I was inspired from that little kid in Louisiana to want to go on to achieve and to dream in life, to get a chance to race one day on a Honda like I rode when I was a little kid, to meet Mr Honda as I got the privilege of doing and to win the world championship. It all begins at events like these.

If you think about it, the different disciplines, the different things that inspire us, they’re like cultures in life – the key is not to dismiss anything. That’s what I love about this event. Everything is celebrated and all different people of all different races come together with one passion, to be inspired and to be able to enjoy this beautiful place.

Sachsenring: tight, technical and a Honda favourite

Now getting to the race. I had the chance to ride the Sachsenring circuit a couple of weeks ago on a 500 GP bike. I’d ridden there last year for the first time and it’s a very tight circuit. The corners are so close together and it’s hard in many ways to build momentum – you get into one corner, then you’re immediately into the next. So on a bike with 260 bhp like the modern GP bike, it’s really a challenge for the riders. They spend so much time on the edge of the tyre trying to carry momentum and getting from point A to point B. Patience is really required to ride around a tight circuit like Sachsenring, that’s one of the real keys.

Another thing that was really interesting was the struggles of the Yamahas. The Hondas seemed to be strong this weekend, whereas the Yamahas were stronger in the previous race when Valentino won. There’s been talk about the riders struggling with the tyres from week to week and how they’ve been able to adjust to that. They’re constantly talking about the feel changing from week to week, so that was always going to make this race very interesting.

Throw into that the uncertainty with the weather that we had this weekend in qualifying, there were a lot of interesting dynamics that fell into this. With the championship so close, all the riders were feeling a lot of pressure.

Márquez denies Folger a home win to take championship lead

Viñales had talked a lot about how he needed to get back onto the podium, so that was going to be one of the stories this weekend. The other was Marc: having won only one race so far this year, could he win a race there if he got the pole position? He did, and that’s eight years in a row across all the classes: Moto3, Moto2 and now MotoGP, so we knew he was going to be strong.  

The Tech 3 guys – it’s an interesting story. They’re on the 2016 Yamaha versus the factory guys on the 2017 bike with Viñales and Rossi. Who was going to come out on top in the race? So the race was certainly going to be interesting, especially if it was in mixed conditions, but it ended up being dry. The race kind of went along the lines of what I expected. I figured Marc would be very tough in the race as he was, Pedrosa had difficulties with the tyres but he was there and the surprise for me was Folger.

As the race went on, it was great to see him not getting too excited about the chance of winning his first MotoGP race. He really used his head and when Marc got a little bit of a gap with a few laps to go, he remained patient and got that great second place. All the interest is on his team-mate Johann Zarco at the moment, so it will be interesting to see if Folger can carry that momentum forward.

Then there was that great battle between Viñales and Rossi. Maverick kept his cool and got a very good fourth place, so he’s back in the championship. It’s certainly going to make things exciting this year; it’s going to be a great. One of the things I like to do is give insight into what the riders are thinking and how they deal with the pressure. We know Valentino has all of these years of experience, and he’s really using that to his advantage by just staying right there. Now he’s ten points behind Marc at this stage of the championship.

We still haven’t seen that great battle we’ve all been expecting between Viñales and Marc. We’ll just have to wait and see if that happens next time. I’m really looking forward to the next races, I hope you are too.

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