Courtesy of Yamaha
Fresh from a two-week summer break, Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo head to Brno in the Czech Republic this weekend riding high at the top of the championship. Despite a disappointing last round in the UK the pair remains first and second in the standings with seven rounds remaining, setting up a thrilling final seven-race run to the end of the season.
Brno is a special track for Rossi as the Italian took the first of his 101 career victories there, in the 125cc class in 1996. Since then he has added a 250cc win and four MotoGP victories to his tally, including a commanding one last year on the way to his eighth World Championship title, and three second places. The 30-year-old slid out of the lead in Donington last time out but remounted to finish fifth, meaning he managed to extend his lead at the top of the championship to 25 points from his team-mate.
22-year-old Lorenzo also has an impressive record at Brno, having won there in 125cc and twice in 250cc, both times from pole position. He finished tenth at the Czech track last year, a creditable performance considering that he was nursing broken bones in his foot sustained at the previous round in America. This year he arrives more or less in full fitness, having had a chance to fully recover from another foot injury, lying second in the championship and determined to put in a good performance to try to close some of the 25-point deficit to Rossi.
This year marks the 40th time a Grand Prix has been held at Brno since the 14km road circuit was first used in 1965. Today the modern track retains much of the character of the original road circuit, with its winding chicanes and dramatic elevation changes. The well-balanced nature of the circuit makes it an ideal testing venue and the team will remain there after the race for a key mid-season test. Brno sees an important new rule come into existence, with all riders now restricted to just five engines for the final seven races of the season with a 10-point deduction for any rider who goes over his quota.
Valentino Rossi managed to extend his championship lead at Donington after Lorenzo took a spill and Stoner made a bet on wet weather tires that didn't pay off.
: “The summer ‘holiday’ wasn’t as long as usual but anyway I’ve had the chance to recharge the batteries in the break and I’m feeling rested and relaxed. Last time out wasn’t ideal but in the end it was a positive day for us and we now have a one-race buffer at the top of the championship. Despite this breathing space we can’t afford to relax for a minute because our rivals are very strong and I expect everyone to be at their best in Brno. It’s a great track for me and I took my first ever win there; I’m hoping for another good result this time.”
: "I’m really excited about this race after what feels like a long time without one. It was good to have a bit of a break and I used the time to work on my fitness and to completely recover from the injuries I had after Laguna, in the gym and with my physiotherapist. The result is that I feel much better than I did in Germany and England and I’m excited to be getting back on the bike. I like Brno and I have had good results in the past there, including three wins. This time my aim is to fight hard and get back on the podium.”
: "After a short break, Brno is the start of three close races before the real season finale of the remaining four events. Brno is a good circuit both for Valentino and for Yamaha in general and we have to take advantage of this to manage and hopefully extend the 25-point advantage we currently have in the championship. Valentino has always been at the top there and it’s a track that’s full of important memories for him and for us, including in 2008 when it marked the start of us ‘completing’ the job of recapturing the title. At the moment we’re working very well and we are looking forward to maintaining the same high standard as much as possible. The competition amongst the top riders is very exciting and we hope we can offer everyone another great show.”
: "A little break to recharge the batteries has been useful for us all before the last seven races. This has given Jorge the chance to improve his fitness after his Laguna Seca injuries and he will be in good shape for Brno. All the team and Jorge want to forget the ‘zero point’ of Donington and we have a great motivation to catch Valentino at the top of the championship! From this Grand Prix the new engine rule will be applied but Yamaha has worked hard on engine durability and maintaining performance so we’re confident that it won’t be an issue.”
Courtesy of Ducati
Casey Stoner will not take part in the next three Grands Prix, and will next return to action at the beginning of October for the Grand Prix of Portugal. The Australian has suffered physical problems since the Catalunya GP, which have caused him severe fatigue during the last five races. Stoner took this difficult decision after having consulted with sports doctors who have looked after him for many years back home in Australia. At this challenging time, he has the support of the team and the whole of Ducati who together with Stoner have enjoyed racing at the top of the sport for the last three seasons.
Mika Kallio will join Nicky Hayden in the Ducati Marlboro Team for the next three races, thanks to the great spirit of collaboration between Ducati and the satellite team owned by Paolo Campinoti. Kallio is in his debut season in MotoGP and has already proved to be very competitive on the GP9. For the Brno race, his place in the Pramac Team will be taken by Michel Fabrizio.
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team (3rd in the championship on 150 points)
“After five extremely difficult races due to my health, I returned to Australia to visit the sports doctors who have looked after me for many years. We have taken the difficult decision not to contest the next three rounds of the championship, to allow my body time to recover from the recent stress. The doctors believe that during the Barcelona race I was suffering from a virus, and, that I subsequently pushed my body too hard, leading to problems that have caused my fatigue since then. The doctors are continuing with many tests to try to understand these problems and make sure it does not happen again. I have spoken with Ducati and thank them for their understanding at this time. I feel very sorry for the factory, my team, my sponsors and the fans and I am also disappointed because the bike in the last races has been very competitive. I will be doing everything possible to come back at full strength for Portugal.
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team (13th in the championship on 47 points)
Nicky Hayden will be hoping for better luck at Brno than he got at the last round in the UK, when he was slowed by his tire choice.
“Last season I was unable to race at Brno because I was injured, but it’s a great track which was completely resurfaced last year so I expect it will be much better in terms of the lumps and bumps. At least this year I will find out, having spent the break at home in Kentucky preparing myself for the second half of the year, and not taking part in things like the “X Games”! I can’t wait to get back on track and score some results which will make my team happy. I hope Casey can get better over the next few weeks because we all know how quick he is when he is fit. In the meantime I need to try to make progress with the team and try to make sure that they don’t miss him too much.”
MIKA KALLIO, (15th in the championship on 34 points)
“When I took the call I could hardly believe it, but then I talked to my manager and I realized it was true. I am proud to be racing the next three events with the Ducati Marlboro Team. Obviously I’m not expecting to suddenly be a second quicker, because our bikes are very similar to the official machines, but I hope to be able to pick up some good results for the team. I would particularly like to thank Paolo Campanili, who has allowed me to enjoy this incredible opportunity. It will be a real honor for me. Nonetheless I would like to send my best wishes to Casey, and I hope to see him back out on track as soon as possible.”
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP Project Director
“It’s obviously difficult for us to contemplate the next three races without Casey, but it’s clear that the most important thing at this time is his health. Since his debut with us in Qatar in 2007, Casey has won 18 times as well as taking countless podium finishes, becoming one of the top riders in the World Championship in the process. We have already overcome tough times together, like when he had to undergo surgery on his scaphoid towards the end of last season. We are united whether in times of success or in times of difficulty. We are confident that the doctors will help solve the issues that have affected him since early June and that Casey will be able to take part in the last races of the year in peak fitness. Then we can prepare for 2010 in the best way possible. A big thank you to Paolo Campinoti who as always has proved to be a great supporter and an ideal partner for Ducati, allowing Mika to ride with the Ducati Marlboro Team for the next three races. Mika is having a really positive debut year in MotoGP and we are delighted that he will be alongside Nicky in the official works team. In his place at Brno in the Pramac Team will be Michel Fabrizio, who I am certain will know how to give the right kind of performance on one of his preferred tracks.”
Courtesy of Honda
Honda’s Grand Prix riders return to action this weekend following a brief midseason break, hoping to build on recent successes. Honda RC212V riders have won two of the last three MotoGP races and they dominated the recent British GP, taking three of the top four placings. Honda also leads the 250 World Championship after two wins from the last three races.
The shorter-than-usual summer break did at least allow Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) to focus on training and returning to full fitness. The determined Spaniard, who won July’s US GP and currently lies fourth overall, struggled with injuries during the first half of the season and believes that he has now put those problems behind him, so he can concentrate on riding, rather than dealing with the pain. Pedrosa is looking forward to riding fully fit and to riding at Brno where he has an excellent record, with a podium finish in MotoGP and victories in the 250 and 125 classes.
Dani Pedrosa is feeling more fit than at Donington Park when he fatigued in the later stages of the race.
At Donington Park three weeks ago Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) scored his maiden MotoGP victory, a success that was long overdue for the likeable Italian. Dovi showed his remarkable talent in treacherous conditions, taking the lead after Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) crashed just in front of him. History has shown that a rider’s first win in the premier-class is a landmark occasion – once you have won once you have no doubt you can win again – and Dovizioso will be aiming to back up his debut win with further successes in the near future.
Although Sunday’s race – the 11th of this year’s 17 MotoGP rounds – is important, the day after will also be crucial for Pedrosa, Dovizioso and their fellow RC212V riders. A full day’s testing is scheduled for Monday, the first MotoGP test since mid-June. Testing has been drastically reduced this year to cut costs, which makes each and every test even more important than in the past.
Another cost-reducing measure comes into effect at Brno, with MotoGP teams restricted to the number of engines they can use for the first time in the sport’s six decade history. Each rider must use no more than five engines during the final seven races of the year. Next year the restrictions are even tighter, with riders allowed six engines for the entire 18-race series. The rules should allow substantial cost savings for the teams and the factories. Engines will be sealed by the MotoGP technical director, so they cannot be rebuilt, modified or used for testing or on the dynamometer within the specified time frame.
Honda’s best-placed satellite RC212V rider Randy de Puniet faces a tough weekend at Brno, after fracturing a bone in his left ankle during training. The Frenchman fell while riding motocross with his trainer Yves Demaria and underwent surgery to have the damaged bone fixed. The injury is a real blow for de Puniet who has been on tremendous form in recent weeks; at Donington he scored his first MotoGP podium with Honda.
Team-mates Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) go into the Czech GP full of optimism after they both showed impressive speed at Donington. De Angelis equalled his best-ever MotoGP result by finishing fourth, while Elias led the race and was running with the leading pack when he slid off. Both men are big fans of the majestic Brno circuit. Last year Elias finished second at Brno and he’ll be aiming for the podium once again this Sunday.
This will be a big weekend for Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), the former 125 World Champion who graduated to MotoGP just two months ago. The Hungarian’s fans gather every year in their thousands at Brno to cheer on their hero, who will be aiming to score MotoGP points for the third consecutive race. Talmacsi finished 12th in the damp British GP.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
(Repsol Honda) says: “It was a short summer break, but it was long enough for me to get back into training properly and build my fitness to close to 100 per cent. So I’m feeling ready for the second half of the season and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and fighting at the front again. It’s going be very important that I can now concentrate totally on riding the bike without any pain, and these last two weekends off have helped me in that sense. Brno is a circuit that I like very much: it’s technical and demanding. Plus the weather is usually good which would make a nice change. We have the final day’s testing for the season on Monday and it’ll be important for us to do some more evaluation work on the new engine and modified chassis which we’ve been running at the last few races. I’m feeling fit and ready for this race and me and the team are ready to get out there and put in a good result.”
Andrea Dovizioso took a surprise win at Donington Park and will look for a repeat in the Czech Republic.
(Repsol Honda) says: “I’m sure that me and the team arrive in Brno in a very positive mood thanks to the victory in the last race at Donington Park. I’m very motivated and I’m really looking forward to the race, and also to the test session on Monday because that should be valuable for us. I spent the two weeks of the summer break at the seaside not far from where I live and I had the possibility to relax, spend some time with my friends and also do some training ready for this weekend because Brno is a difficult and physical track. It’s a very fast circuit and I’m confident that our package can work well – in particular that we can make good use of the power of our engine. There are also many long turns that are quite demanding and you definitely need to quickly adjust your riding style to the characteristics of the track. I like the nature of this circuit, and the atmosphere created by the crowds of spectators on the hillsides is very special.”
Randy de Puniet
(LCR Honda) says: “Immediately after the surgery I was discouraged and thought I wouldn’t be able to race in Brno. But thanks to the rehabilitation programme my ankle is improving day by day. I can easily move it and I will be fit for the race. Brno is one of my favourite tracks and the good results we gained in the first part of the season give us the confidence and the incentive to keep running at the front.”
Alex De Angelis
(San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: “After my fourth place at Donington it was wonderful to go home and celebrate with my family and friends. Then I drove a Renault Clio S 1600 as the pace car in the San Marino Rose’n Bowl Rally, which was fantastic – rallying is my big passion. That was my only time off during the break – I have spent the rest of the time in training for Brno. I really like the circuit and in terms of its technical characteristics it is very similar to Sachsenring, with a nice flow to it but with some hard braking and acceleration zones. It may be impossible to repeat my result from Donington but in any case I’ll try my best to bring home another good result that keeps the season moving in a positive direction.”
(San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: “I love the Brno circuit because of the way it flows and the elevation changes. The other thing l like about it is the three or four braking zones at the end of long straights, where you have to brake really hard because the corners are quite tight. Obviously I have great memories of Brno from last year, when I finished on the podium after a truly disastrous start to the season, so I have high hopes for this weekend. The crash at Donington was disappointing but I have been trying to look back on the positive side of the weekend in England, which is that I was fast and strong and on the pace with the lead guys, and there’s no reason to think I can’t repeat that level of performance at Brno. A repeat of last year’s podium would be difficult but I firmly believe the whole team is working well and anything is possible. During the two-week break I’ve been training in my gym at home and running a lot – the area where I live is ideal for it. I’ll take a beach holiday on an island somewhere in September."
(Scot Honda) says: “Every year, my fans gather in the C sector of the Brno track, so I can look for them easily, even during the race! It is fabulous seeing our national flag and the banners flying in the air. This is always a special weekend for me – special pressure, but also special joy. The Brno layout suits my riding style: I love this wide track where you can choose between several different lines. It is flowing, and not stop-and-go. I love it, in spite of the fact that it has never been too good to me in the last laps. More than once I lost a great result just in the final kilometres. This year, on a MotoGP bike, a totally different approach will be needed. I would love to finish inside the top ten. This would mean seven rivals behind me, which would be great.”
Courtesy of Suzuki
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP returns from a short mid-season break to get back to business at the Czech Republic Grand Prix to be held at the Brno Automotodrom this Sunday.
Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen had an entertaining battle against each other at last year's Czech GP, with Capirossi finally coming out on top and going on to take his first podium in Rizla Suzuki colours. Both riders are hoping that the Suzuki GSV-R can perform just as well at the 5,403m Brno circuit this year and - with the support of the whole team - will be looking to put recent tough races firmly behind them.
The Brno race will also signal an alteration to the MotoGP regulations, as a major rule change will come into operation. For the remainder of the season Capirossi and Vermeulen - like every other rider on the MotoGP grid - will be restricted to a maximum of just five engines for the last seven races of the year, a rule that will cost the rider a 10-point penalty if he uses above his quota.
Loris Capirossi is still looking for the right venue and setup to prove the performance of the Rizla Suzuki.
"I just can't wait to get back on the bike again; we have a lot of unfinished business and need to show that the results we've been getting are not a true reflection on how hard the team has been working recently. I got a third at Brno last year which was the last time I was on the podium and that is just too long, so I need to do something about it. We really want consistently good weather all weekend so we can get the set-up right for the GSV-R and if that happens I think we have a chance of a really good result."
"We've had a bit of time for some rest and relaxation since the last race and that has given all my injuries a chance to heal and I'll be 100% fit when we get to the Czech Republic. The break has given us an opportunity to look at the data from the last couple of events and see where we can make some changes for Brno. I have been speaking with Tom about the bike and we have a few ideas and we are both quite positive we can improve it straight away - which will be good. I've done pretty well at Brno in the past couple of years and I'm sure that this is a track where we can make the best of the GSV-R."
Courtesy of Pramac Racing
Summer break brings an important news for the Pramac Racing Team, in fact in Brno there will be a new rider on the Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Sat: Michel Fabrizio will take Mika Kallio's position as the Finnish rider will move for the next three races to the Ducati Marlboro Team in substitution of Casey Stoner. For the Italian rider the Czech Republic circuit is one of his favorites and he will try to achieve a good result. Michel will therefore be with the other Pramac Racing Italian rider Niccolò Canepa that will try to confirm the good results achieved in the last race ridden in England on the Donington Park circuit. The Brno Circuit is 5403 meters long and present 8 right turns and 6 left turns with the longest straight of 636 meters.
Paolo Campinoti - Pramac Racing Team Principal
"As soon as we found out that Casey wouldn't ride for the next three races in Brno, Indianapolis and Misano, together with Ducati Corse managerial staff we decided that our rider Mika Kallio would have ridden with the Ducati official Team after the good results achieved with us. As consequence we were looking for a valid substitute of the Finnish rider and Ducati proposal to take Michel Fabrizio was the optimal choice. The roman rider, even if still young, has a great experience and we believe he can conquer good results."
Niccolò Canepa - Pramac Racing Rider
Michel Fabrizio joins the MotoGP paddock from World Superbike, taking the place of Pramac's Mika Kallio.
"Summer break was really useful to reenergize and forget all the small physical problem I had. I am back in full shape and motivated to continue my learning procedure to be able to obtain some more good results like it happened in Donington when I finished in eight position. With the bike the feeling is improving race after race and I believe in Brno I can do well. It is a track where I have already ridden in the past in various occasion and I like it a lot."
Michel Fabrizio - Pramac Racing Rider
"I want to thank Ducati and Pramac for this gift! Brno is my favorite track and therefore the right place to come back riding a MotoGP 800 after the last time at Sachsenring 2007. I know that I can't expect a lot because the GP9 is much different compare to my 1198 F09. The priority is to have some fun and enjoy a different weekend for me! All the best to Casey wishing him to be back in top form as soon as possible!"