Following on from a sensational weather affected MotoGP last time out in Assen, the drama continued in today's eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland as the weather again played its part in round nine of the World Championship held at the Sachsenring.
Just like Assen, it turned out to be bitter sweet for the Cumbria based PBM MotoGP team as despite a promising start, it ended in disappointment for both Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes but not before Laverty had sensationally held second place in the opening stages of the race.
Free Practice had seen Ulsterman Laverty show good pace on the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed Aprilia ART-powered PBM, claiming 14th in the second session as he improved his feel with the bike. The former British Supersport champion continued the good form into qualifying to claim a row six start in 18th place.
For Australian team-mate Broc Parkes, he was hoping to replicate his career best 11th place finish at the previous round in Holland to add to the point he scored in Qatar. However, it proved a difficult weekend for the double World Supersport runner-up, compounded with a big crash on Saturday which wrecked his number one Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed PBM machine and left him down on row eight of the grid.
With the storm clouds gathering and rain starting to fall just before the start, with lessons learned from Assen, both PBM riders started on slicks as in unprecedented scenes, most of the field opted to change from their wet set-ups meaning a pit lane start for them all.
Although he had to start from the back of the grid, Laverty shadowed German Stefan Bradl for the opening laps, holding an amazing second place for the opening couple of laps before the field started swallowing him up. Parkes, meanwhile, also took his place on the grid and was inside the top ten for the opening laps also.
As the race progressed, Laverty battled hard in the lower echelons of the points until with 12 laps to go, he crashed out, amazingly given the conditions, the only non finisher in the race. Parkes, meanwhile, struggled against an electrical problem but gamely battled on and brought the bike home once again although down in 21st place.
Despite not adding to his score, Parkes maintains 20th overall in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship table, eighth in the Open class standings and third in Rookie of the Year. With his first DNF of the year, Laverty has yet to register on the scoreboard but importantly for the PBM team, they occupy fifth place in the manufacturer's table and 11th in the team's standings.
Michael Laverty: "We had such a strong weekend with a rather cruel ending. I unfortunately crashed out of the race whilst in the battle for points and running a strong pace which would have led to a 12th or 13th place finish. We made a smart call on the grid to switch to our dry bike sacrificing our 18th place grid spot, however this paid dividends as the majority of the field had to start from pit lane to change their bike. This allowed me to run as high as second in the opening laps. I ran a full dry set-up, including the hard front tyre which hindered me for quite a few laps as it was difficult to generate the required temperature due to the damp conditions. As the circuit dried I was getting stronger with every lap and set three personal best lap times prior to my crash. The crash was unexpected because I didn't do anything different on that lap to previous laps, but these things happen when you're pushing to the limit."
Broc Parkes: "It's been a hard weekend learning another difficult track and a big crash on Saturday whereby I lost my number one bike didn't help. The start of the race was a gamble but I chose slicks which was the best choice but in the race we had a problem with the transponder. It caused problems with the bike on the track so all the electronics were playing up and being very inconsistent meaning I had no flow. I knew there was something not right but continued to push to the end of the race to take more track knowledge for the future."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "Sachsenring has been a weekend of positives and negatives. The positives have included Michael's pace in both the practices and the race, showing our improved competitiveness. The negatives have been the crashes we have suffered and missing a good opportunity to score points. We now have to regroup and prepare for the second half of the season and keep pushing for better results."
Image courtesy of Gold & Goose