Czech GP, Brno: Raceday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo emerged victorious from the ‘Battle of Brno’ after an imperious ride at the bwin Grand Prix České republiky. The Spaniard was untouchable during the race as he went on to take the win by 4.462s from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, with his teammate Valentino Rossi in third. Lorenzo now sits on top of the MotoGP™ World Championship standings, level on points with Rossi, after taking his 5th win of the season.
Conditions were almost perfect for the MotoGP™ race at the 5.2km Automotodrom Brno, with the sun shining and track temperatures approaching 42˚C. Over 138,000 fans had packed into the grandstands at the iconic track to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first GP at Brno, and the scene was set perfectly for a showdown between the top three riders in the championship standings. Adding to the intrigue was the fact that all three riders had gone for different tyre choices. Lorenzo on a medium front and rear, Rossi on a hard front and rear, and Marquez with a medium front and hard rear.
Any hopes of a dramatic three-way battle between Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi were dashed almost immediately, as Rossi got bogged down at the start. The Italian had worked hard during practice and qualifying to ensure that he didn’t let Marquez and Lorenzo disappear at the start of the race as in Indianapolis. It was all to be for nothing though, as he found himself down in fifth at the first corner.
Lorenzo and Marquez immediately opened a gap at the front, which had increased to 1.5 seconds at the end of the first lap. Rossi found himself held up behind Andrea Dovizioso, and by the time he got past on the second lap, the gap to his rivals was already over two seconds.
Marquez was matching the pace of Lorenzo and they were both lapping almost 0.5s a lap quicker than Rossi and after six laps the gap was up to 4 seconds. Lorenzo even started to pull away from Marquez, opening up a half of a second gap over his compatriot by lap 9. This had increased to two seconds by lap 12, with Lorenzo once again managing the gap perfectly as no one had an answer to his electric pace. The two-time MotoGP™ World Champion went on to take his 38th MotoGP™ victory by the comfortable margin of 4 .4 seconds from Marquez. Rossi eventually crossed the line 10.397s behind Lorenzo to finish third, and continuing his run of having finished on the podium at every race this season.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+13.071s) finished in fourth as he was involved in an excellent battle towards the end of the race with his teammate Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda). Pedrosa, who was nursing a bruised left foot after his highside in FP2, gritted his teeth to work his way up through the field from 9th on the grid. With 6 laps remaining, he caught Iannone and Dovizioso who were involved in a fight of their own and were 4th and 5th respectively at the time.
After Iannone and Dovizioso almost touched, Iannone made a slight break to take fourth, and left his teammate to deal with Pedrosa. Cue an awesome scrap over the last few laps as each rider overtook each other a number of times. Pedrosa (+0.15.650s) made a move up the inside of turn 11 on the final lap and held on to cross the line in fifth ahead of Dovizioso (+15.725s).
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith once again enjoyed a great start to find himself up into third at the very first corner. Smith could not quite match the pace of the leaders though, and found himself falling back, eventually crossing the line as the leading Satellite rider in 7th. His teammate Pol Espargaro was in eighth, ahead of his brother Aleix on the Team Suzuki Ecstar in ninth, with Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completing the top ten.
Petrucci’s teammate Yonny Hernandez followed him across the line in 11th, ahead of Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Racing) and the two Factory Aprilia’s of Stefan Bradl (13th) and Alvaro Bautista (14th)
Forward Racing’s Loris Baz pulled off the perfect result for his team on their return after being forced to miss the Indianapolis GP due to financial issues. The Frenchman crossed the line in 15th to take the Open class victory by less than a second from Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera in 16th. Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) was next across the line in 17th as the leading Open class Honda.
There were crashes for Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team), Cal Crutchlow (CWM LR Honda) and Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) while Alex De Angelis (E-Motion IodaRacing Team) was forced to retire.
Lorenzo’s win sees him replace his teammate Rossi at the top of the MotoGP™ World championship standings. Although both are on 211 points, Lorenzo has the advantage as he has won five races compared to Rossi’s three. Marc Marquez (159pts) remains in third, 52 points behind the two Movistar Yamaha teammates.
Ajo Motorsports Johann Zarco extended his lead in the Moto2™ World Championship standings after taking his fourth victory of the season at the bwin Grand Prix České republiky. Zarco eventually crossed the line 1.421s ahead of Tito Rabat on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex, with Paginas Amarillas HP40’s rookie Alex Rins (+1.785s) completing the podium.
The sun had come out for the Moto2™ race with track temperatures reaching 38˚C at the iconic Automotodrom Brno but it was Zarco who would shine in front of the passionate Czech fans. The Frenchman took the lead on just the second lap and after Rabat had a huge moment at turn 9, he went onto open up a 1-second lead at the front. Zarco managed this gap perfectly to take the race win and extend his lead in the Moto2™ standings to 79 points.
Rabat crossed the line in second, after a great start that saw him lead into the first corner. The Spaniard then lost at least three-tenths of a second after his near highside at turn 9 and try as he might, he simply could not make any meaningful dent into Zarco’s lead. Rabat looked comfortable through the race, but found himself coming under the attention of Rins on the final lap. Rins had chosen the harder rear tyre, and appeared to have better grip as the riders worked their way through the final few corners. It looked like he was lining up a move into the final chicane, but Rabat managed to hold him off to cross the line 0.364s ahead of his compatriot. This meant that Rabat moves up to second in the championship standings at the expense of Rins.
Rabat’s teammate Alex Marquez (+2.608s) completed his best result of the season in fourth. The reigning Moto3™ World Champion beating his previous best placed finishes of 8th at Jerez and Assen after an excellent battle early on with his old Moto3™ rival Rins.
Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes (+7.844s) recovered from having to start in 13th to finish in 5th. The British rider experienced technical issues in Qualifying and was forced to fight his way through the pack during the race in a case of damage limitation to secure 11 championship points.
AGR Team’s Jonas Folger (8.056s) finished in sixth, ahead of the Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex of Thomas Luthi in seventh. Luthi had actually led the race on the first lap, but found himself dropping back through the field as the race progressed.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP40), and Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing team) completed the top ten. Robin Mulhauser, Lorenzo Baldassari, Florian Alt, Louis Rossi and Xavi Vierge all recorded DNF’s.
Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli claimed his maiden Moto3™ victory in a exhilarating 12–lap race after the original was red flagged. The Italian took the race win by just 0.152s from Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini, with Brad Binder completing the podium on the Red Bull KTM Ajo.
There were dramatic scenes at the legendary Automotodrom Brno as the original race saw two four-rider crashes, with the second resulting in the red flag being shown. The first incident occurred at turn 1 and involved Tatsuki Suzuki, Niklas Ajo, Phillip Oettl and Jules Danilo. The second was a turn 3 and saw Andrea Locatelli, Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Gabriel Rodrigo and Hiroki Ono crash. Rodrigo and Ono were taken to the Medical Centre for checks on their left leg and right foot respectively, with Rodrigo being taken to Brno Hospital for further checks and both riders missing the restart. Ajo and Locatelli also failed to re-take their starting spots on the grid.
The re-started race saw a number of riders switch to the soft tyre option due to the reduced length. The race itself was a frantic sprint which saw 11 riders break away at the front and open up a 2 second gap after the first 7 laps. There were incredibly dramatic scenes as at times riders were eight abreast entering into corners, and the lead swapped hands multiple times between Antonelli, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Danny Kent and Efren Vazquez.
Antonelli took the lead with 2 laps remaining and didn’t look back, going on to claim his first GP victory, and his first podium finish on his 62nd attempt. His compatriot Bastianini fought his way back from 15th on the grid to claim second. South African Brad Binder had been dicing for the lead the entire race, but had to settle for third, 0.376s behind the winner.
Leopard Racing’s Efren Vazquez (+0.540s) crossed the line in fourth, ahead of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda of Jorge Navarro (+0.560s). Romano Fenati (+0.821s) on the SKY Racing Team VR46 KTM had a brilliant race to finish in sixth. The Italian had to claw his way through the field after starting from 22nd due to receiving a 3-place penalty from Race Direction for riding slowly on the racing line during Qualifying. On lap 6 he was up to eighth, and was in second on the final lap before dropping back to sixth in the last few corners.
Championship leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) looked like he was managing the race superbly from the middle of the leading group. Unfortunately contact with Navarro on the penultimate lap knocked the British rider out of his rhythm and he could only manage to finish in seventh.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), local hero Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC), and Scottish rider John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) completed the top ten.
Fabio Quartararo, Isaac Viñales, Karel Hanika and Jules Danilo crashed out on just the second lap, with the latter two managing to re-join to finish 26th and 27th respectively. Alexis Masbou and Kevin Hanus also recorded DNF’s.
Kent (199pts) still tops the Moto3™ standings but his lead over Bastianini (154pts) has been reduced to 41 points with 7 races remaining. Fenati remains in third with 122 points.