As part of the build-up to the Cardion AB Czech Republic Grand Prix a number of World Championship riders called into neighbouring Austria’s capital city of Vienna on Wednesday, for a special event organised by Austrian national broadcasters ATV.
An exciting gathering witnessed by thousands of local fans saw a demonstration ride through the heart of the city with Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha), Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro), James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Racing) all taking part.
Although MotoGP has visited Vienna before this was the first time in history that the riders were allowed to take their prototype machines along the famous Ringstreet, the main boulevard in the city.
Local government welcomingly treated the event like a state visit, with the Austrian police riding ahead of the World Championship stars on a 5.2km loop through the city centre. The route commenced at the Burgtheater on Josef-Meinrad-Place, along Ringstreet, past several important buildings such as the State Opera House, the most famous historical museums and the Austrian Parliament and eventually returning to the Burgtheater.
The riders stopped for several minutes at the Parliament building so that press photographers and fans could take photos of them at such an iconic venue.
Czech 250cc rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and three 125cc competitors – Spaniard Marc Marquez (Red Bull KTM), Austrian Michael Ranseder (CBC Corse) and Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher (Degraaf Grand Prix) – were also present at the event, which included interviews with ATV presenters. There were then further interviews with additional media and autograph sessions with the fans.
Ahead of the closest race to his home nation of Hungary, Talmacsi stated, “This kind of event is fantastic because you feel the support from the fans and there are a lot of Hungarians because it’s very close. We also did a big promotion in my country, on Monday, so I expect a lot of fans in Brno. I like the track so much, it is good for my riding style but in MotoGP this is my first time there. Of course I’ll try my best and now I have more feeling with the motorcycle and I feel stronger personally.”
Former World Champion Hayden, who is popular with the public wherever he goes, added, “It was a great opportunity for the fans to get close to the bikes and to the riders, and hopefully for us to show them a bit of our sport. Perhaps we can get a new audience that have not seen our bikes before and I think it’s a good build up for the weekend. Last year I missed the race but Brno is a great track, fast, flowing and a lot of long straight aways so I am looking forward to the weekend now.”
Meanwhile, giving his thoughts on the championship battle on the return to action, after the summer break, Lorenzo commented, “Dani (Pedrosa) is currently more than 70 points behind but you can not rule him out, because in this championship a thousand and one different things could happen. It looks like there are two riders with a real chance, especially Valentino (Rossi), but mathematically you can’t rule any of the top guys out.”
After the event the riders headed across the border to begin their final preparations for the first round since the short summer pause, with the action at the Cardion ab Grand Prix Ceske republiky in Brno set to begin on Friday afternoon.