When the MotoGP field lined up for the start of the 2014 German Grand Prix, only nine bikes actually took to the grid, with several empty rows behind Stefan Bradl, who essentially inherited pole position. Another 14 sat at the start of the pit lane, ready to go. If you had just happened to turn on the television to watch this race, you might be wondering what the hell was going on. Let’s relive one of the weirdest MotoGP starts of all time.
It was a classic case of temperamental German weather at the Sachsenring. As the Moto2 podium wrapped up on July 13, 2014, a light rain began to fall on the MotoGP riders lining up for the feature race. Several riders swapped to rain tires for the warm-up lap. Bradl, the third-place starter, was one of the few riders that chose to start on slicks, which proved to be the right choice as the rain abated.
But that meant the 14 riders who had swapped to rain tires needed to pit just before the start to swap back to slicks, which included icons of the sport such as Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. And that meant those riders would have to start the race from pit lane. It also meant those riders would be jostling for the best starting position, resembling a herd of cattle more than a series of sophisticated athletes.
Bradl, a German native, would have been a popular win at the Sachsenring — but there was a problem. He started on dry tires, but the rest of his setup was designed for wet weather. He had softer suspension and steel brakes that required him to brake earlier than he would have on the dry-weather carbon brakes. So, even though he had a 10 second advantage over the riders that had started from the pit lane, Marquez passed Bradl on lap six.
You can watch the start below:
Is this the strangest start to a Grand Prix ever? ????— MotoGP™???? (@MotoGP) June 15, 2021
Mixed conditions prior to the start in 2014 saw @stefanbradl all on his own, and a very busy pit-lane! ????#GermanGP ???????? pic.twitter.com/wqFkQBtOgs
As it turned out, the finishing order was about as normal as it could get despite the chaotic start. Márquez won, making it his ninth straight that season. Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo rounded out the podium. Bradl ultimately finished a measly 16th.