Refreshed and ready to take on the second half of the 2010 season the MotoGP riders and teams are back in action this weekend at Brno for the Cardion ab Czech Republic Grand Prix.
Refreshed and ready to take on the second half of the 2010 season the MotoGP riders and teams are back in action this weekend at Brno for the Cardion ab Czech Republic Grand Prix, where the chase to catch championship leader Jorge Lorenzo recommences.
After nine of the 18 rounds of the season the Fiat Yamaha rider is 72 points clear at the top of the standings, thanks to his superb form of having taken six wins and three second places so far.
Another top-two finish would make Lorenzo only the third rider in GP racing’s 62-year history to place either first or second in the opening ten races of a season, the others being Giacomo Agostini and Mick Doohan.
To maintain his fantastic form Lorenzo will need to win at a circuit he has not yet triumphed at in the premier class, after crashing last year when battling team-mate Valentino Rossi for the race lead. He does have a fine record in the smaller classes there however.
“The holidays were perfect – 10 days in the Caribbean for rest and fun, charging the batteries for the second half of the season,” Lorenzo said. “I needed it because the calendar has been busy in the last month and now I can focus on the rest of the season.
“We are going to Brno, a track I like and where I’ve won three times, but never in MotoGP. I haven’t even got a podium here and this is my challenge, my first podium in the second part of the season and in Brno. After the race I will stay in Brno to try something new on the bike, something to improve our bike until the end of championship. Good place to restart!”
Dani Pedrosa is the closest to Lorenzo in the standings at present and the Repsol Honda rider has a point to prove following his crash at Laguna Seca in the previous round. The Spaniard enjoyed a consistent run leading up to the summer interval and was leading the race in the U.S. when he fell, and has twice finished on the podium at Brno including second place last year – his best premier class Brno result.
“This has definitely been one of my best summer breaks of the last few years,” Pedrosa said. “I did nothing special, but I had a great time with my friends, enjoyed a lot surfing on the beach and was able to think only about having fun and relaxing, rather than working to recover from an injury, as has been the case in the last few years.
“It makes a big difference in order to recharge the batteries and go into the second part of the season with even more energy. Now I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike at Brno. It’s one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar; physically it’s very demanding, but it’s also very enjoyable to ride on a MotoGP bike.”
In third place at 23 points off his teammate is Andrea Dovizioso, who is eager to rediscover his early-season podium form, whilst the resurgent Casey Stoner (Ducati Team) is hot on the Italian’s tail.
Stoner did not race at Brno last season but has tasted victory there (in 2007), something he is still yet to do in 2010 but a result that appears to be moving ever closer after four successive podium finishes in the last four rounds.
Brno has been a very fruitful hunting ground for Valentino Rossi who has five premier class wins there (it was also the site of his first 125cc win), and the Italian has been victorious at the Czech track for the last two years.
A podium last time out at Laguna in only his second race back from injury moved him back up to fifth, where he sits a single point ahead of Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team). Another American rider, Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is also closing in on the top five and Brno offers a familiar circuit for the rookie, who has previously ridden there in WSBK.
Set to make an extremely speedy and very welcome return to action from his broken leg is Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda). Pending medical clearance the Frenchman intends to ride again just four weeks after his crash at Sachsenring – last year he rode to tenth place at Brno having broken his ankle just three weeks before the race.
San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli are closely matched in ninth and tenth in the standings, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will follow up his best result of 2010 so far with an attempt to place higher than seventh.
Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), Rizla Suzuki pair Loris Capirossi and Álvaro Bautista, and Pramac racing duo Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargaró will all aim for improvements, and Alex de Angelis (Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team) is set to continue in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama.
The Moto2 class returns to the fore after four weeks off, with Championship leader Toni Elías ready to defend his 42-point lead at the top of the standings. The Gresini Racing rider has strong form at the Czech circuit where he has won once (in the 125cc class) and been on the podium twice in the former 250cc class.
Elías also placed on the podium in his last two seasons in the premier class in 2008 and 2009, and will be a strong favourite to secure a fourth win of the 2010 campaign having signed off for the mid-season break with victory last time out in Germany.
One of the main rivals to Elías’ attempts to further stretch his lead will be Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2), who currently sits second behind Elías in the standings. Four weeks off will have allowed the Swiss rider ample time to continue recovering from his collarbone injury, and he will be going for what seems an imminent first win of the campaign having been on the podium four times already.
Italian Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) is just four points behind Lüthi and with two wins this season and second place in the last round at Sachsenring under his belt will be a main challenger in Brno.
Only a single point separates Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP) in fourth and fifth, whilst Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) and Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) will also have their sights set on podium finishes as they target solid results and advancements in the standings.
A strong home result will be the aim for Karel Abraham (Cardio ab Racing) who has impressed in the two previous rounds with top-five finishes, whilst Xavier Simeon (Holiday Gym Racing) will be the sole Moto2 wildcard entry for this round.
The dominant Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) will go for a phenomenal sixth straight win in the 125cc class.
The 17 year-old Spaniard has not been off the top step of the podium since he secured his first World Championship win at Mugello at the start of June, and he holds a 26-point lead at the top of the standings going into the Cardion ab Grand Prix Czech Republic.
His closest rival at the moment is Pol Espargaró, and the Tuenti Racing rider will be desperate to bounce back from the crash at Sachsenring which ended his battle for the race victory with Márquez. Espargaró’s best previous finish at Brno is the fifth place he took last year, but only victory will satisfy his desire to close the gap on his rival.
Making his return to action after sitting out Germany due to the injuries sustained in a fall at Catalunya is Nico Terol, and the Bancaja Aspar rider is still third in the Championship. Presently 39 points off Márquez with 118, Terol will discover his true level of fitness and have one eye on the eight rounds that remain after Brno as he sets about recovering points. He won at the track last season.
His team-mate Bradley Smith, on 105 points, is still in search of his first win of 2010. Further back and separated by a single point are the two remaining podium finishers in Germany, Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany) and Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), and both will fancy their chances of follow-up top-three results in Brno.
Joining the permanent 125cc entry list from this round is Josep Rodrigues who replaces Michael van der Mark on the Lambretta Reparto Corse team. Wildcard riders in round nine will be Ladislav Chmelik (Moto FGR), Andrea Touskova (Moto 82), Luigi Morciano and Alessandro Tonucci (both Junior GP Racing FMI).
The first practice session of the Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky is the 125cc class, which starts at 12:40pm local time on Friday.