HJC Helmets Grand Prix of the Czech Republic – Nick Harris Preview & TV Times
Fresh from their historic Austrian one-two the Italian Ducati factory Team arrive at Brno for the HJC Helmets Grand Prix of the Czech Republic on a high. Both Austrian MotoGP™ race winner Andrea Iannone and second placed Andrea Dovizioso feel the power of the GP16 Ducati will suit the fast undulations of the magnificent 3.357 miles Brno circuit as they chase the Italian factory’s second win in the space of seven days.
They are also aware it will not be as easy as it was at the Red Bull Ring with the Movistar Yamaha of World Champion Jorge Lorenzo looking for a repeat of last year’s win following his third place in Austria. He trails championship leader Marc Marquez by 43 points after the Repsol Honda rider bravely fought off the challenge of Maverick Vinales to finish fifth just a day after dislocating his left shoulder in a crash in practice. The Spaniard should certainly be fitter before practice gets underway on Friday for the 22 lap race. Valentino Rossi retained third place in the championship after finishing fourth from a front row start in Austria. The 37 year old Italian secured his first ever grand prix win at Brno in the 1996 125 cc race and has a good record in the premier-class. He’s won five times but that last win came back in 2009.
Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa has a couple of MotoGP wins at Brno but despite his fourth place in the Championship must improve his qualifying to run with the leaders at the start if he has any chance of closing the 19 point gap on Rossi. Another rider hoping to improve his fitness is Aleix Espargaro who was forced to retire in Austria in considerable pain from a fractured finger after a crash from the Ecstar Suzuki on Saturday. His team-mate Vinales maintained fifth place after finishing sixth in Austria while Iannone moved up to sixth after his maiden MotoGP win.
Assen winner Australian Jack Miller missed the Austrian race after damaging his back and wrist in a warm-up crash – he hopes to be back on Sunday.
French World Champion Johann Zarco is running away with the Moto2™ World Championship before he joins MotoGP next year. The Ajo Kalex rider has finished on the podium at the last five races including four wins to build up a 34 point lead in the Championship as he chases his second successive Brno victory. Alex Rins held onto second place after finishing third in Austria while Sam Lowes, despite two crashes, remains in third place.
South African Brad Binder is in a similar position in the Moto3™ Championship after finishing second in Austria behind Spanish teenager Joan Mir who won his first grand prix. Binder leads Jorge Navarro by a massive 67 points after the Spanish Honda rider crashed in Austria. The disgraced Romano Fenati remains in third despite being suspended by the Sky Italia VR46 team before the Austrian race.
DID YOU KNOW
• This year’s Czech Grand Prix will be the 47th to be held at Brno
• The only venue that has hosted more grand prix events than Brno is Assen in The Netherlands, which has hosted the Dutch TT in each of the 68 years of the motorcycling world championship.
• The first Czechoslovakian Grand Prix was held at Brno in 1965. The 500cc race held over thirteen laps of the original 13.94 km long road circuit was won by Mike Hailwood (MV Agusta) in a time of 1hr 11 min 23.2 sec.
• The circuit was shortened to 10.92 km in 1975 in an effort to improve safety.
• The last premier-class race held on the road circuit at Brno was in 1977 and was won by Johnny Cecotto riding a Yamaha. The circuit was subsequently considered too dangerous for the large capacity machines.
• The smaller capacity machines continued to compete in grand prix races on the Brno road circuit until 1982 before it was removed from the grand prix calendar for safety reasons.
• The current circuit was first used for grand prix racing in 1987 and hosted the Czechoslovakian GP through until 1991. Brno did not appear on the calendar for 1992, but the event was revived in 1993 as the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic and has taken place every year since.
• This will be the 29th time that the current circuit has hosted a grand prix event, during which time the circuit has remained virtually unchanged; minor modifications were made to the circuit in 1996 which extended the length from 5.394 km to the current 5.403 km.
• Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP class in 2002, both Honda and Yamaha have had six victories at Brno, and Ducati two.
• Jorge Lorenzo’s win last year at Brno was the first win at the circuit for Yamaha since Lorenzo’s victory there in 2010.
• The two riders with most grand prix wins at the current Brno circuit, each with seven wins, are Max Biaggi (4 x 250cc, 2 x 500cc, 1 x MotoGP) and Valentino Rossi (1x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 4 x MotoGP).
• The Czech Grand Prix last year was the only GP event in 2015 where all three riders starting from pole position went on to win the race.
Friday August 19 BT Sport 2 8.00 – 15.00, Practice.
Saturday August 20 BT Sport 2 8.00 – 15.15, Practice and qualifying
Sunday August 21 BT Sport 2 7. 30 – 15.00. Warm –up and races
Monday August 22 ITV 4 20.00 – 21.00 Highlights.
Source: Nick Harris Communications