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#CzechGP Teaser: Honouring past champions
The next stop on the MotoGP™ calendar sees the paddock ready to celebrate the 400th Grand Prix of the new era in the HJC Helmets Grand Prix České Republiky in Brno, with a quick turnaround after the thrills of the Austrian GP. Set in the Czech countryside in the south of the country, the Automotodrom Brno’s 5.4km of asphalt winds through the undulating landscape with one of the most impressive stadium sections in the world - and one of the biggest attendances. With Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) still leading the championship as the paddock makes the short journey north from the Red Bull Ring for the big 400, the riders are back on familiar ground at the legendary venue and ready to fight for another 25 points after the Ducati Team domination in Austria.
Overtaking Hotspots: #CzechGP
Championship leader Marquez has a good record at the Czech track, and a substantial 43 point cushion to play with as the Cervera native attempts to achieve his third world title in only 4 years in the premier class. Although some venues have seen the Spaniard with a runaway record – such as the Sachsenring – Marquez’ record at Brno is one matched – or bettered – by his contemporaries. With a P2 at the track in 2015 behind an unstoppable Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Marquez arrives in the Czech Republic with the championship on his mind after a good point haul at the Red Bull Ring despite a difficult weekend.
Marquez’ veteran teammate Dani Pedrosa is one of those with an enviable record at Brno - including a spectacular last lap win over Lorenzo in 2012 - and was the man to end his teammate’s domination in 2014 when the older Spaniard took the victory and set the lap record. After a 2015 weekend affected by a crash on Friday that left the former 125 and double 250 world champion riding through the pain barrier, Pedrosa will be optimistic upon his return to a track that has seen such success - and hoping to make some big progress in a tough season.
The man on the move in Austria was undoubtedly reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, however. The Movistar Yamaha rider ended a difficult podium drought with an intense ride at the Red Bull Ring to gain points back on Marquez in the title fight - and increased the gap between himself and teammate Valentino Rossi. As such, the title defender was the only man to make inroads in the higher echelons of the points standings last time out. Lorenzo, who took a signature lights to flag spectacular at Brno in 2015 and left his rivals in the dust, will begin the Czech GP with confidence from his past record at the track - added to his Austrian comeback.
9-time world champion Valentino Rossi is sure to prove as tough a rival as ever upon the paddock’s arrival in Brno. The veteran Italian has an impressive record in the Czech Republic – including his first ever GP win in the 125 world championship in his rookie year – but in recent seasons has struggled to move above P3 as his Spanish adversaries have claimed the track as their own. In 2015, Rossi came home third as key title rival Lorenzo dominated, but some incredible races – such as his victories at the Spanish and Catalan GPs – show the legendary rider is always a threat in 2016.
Ducati Team pairing Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso know the Automotodrom Brno will be a different challenge to the recently conquered Red Bull Ring. After Iannone’s stunning win in Austria – the first for the Borgo Panigale factory since Casey Stoner took the honours in Phillip Island in 2010 – confidence will be high and faith strengthened, but expectations will remain realistic as Brno could prove more difficult for the Bologna-based squad. The 1-2 completed by Dovizioso at the Red Bull Ring, that a first for the team since 2007, sets a fantastic foundation as Ducati look towards the future, however, and both riders will be focused squarely on the front.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) put in a solid ride at the horsepower-dominated Austrian GP to take another top 6 finish as he continues to impress, but Brno could prove more of a challenge – with a single podium for the 2013 Moto3™ world champion at the venue to date. Viñales, who will move to the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team in 2017 to partner Valentino Rossi, has already taken his Suzuki onto the podium this season and will be more motivated than ever to try and replicate that in the Czech Republic. Teammate Aleix Espargaro will be hoping to have an easier time in Brno after breaking a finger in Austria and trying to ride through the pain, and will hope the injury affects him as little as possible in the back-to-back Czech GP.
The fight to be top independent rider is headed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro as MotoGP™ heads to Brno, as the Spaniard continues to string together an impressively consistent season. Closest rival Hector Barbera, who recently re-signed with Avintia Racing for next season, was unable to finish in Austria but Espargaro’s P10 finish didn’t open the gap too much - with Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Ducati) proving the top non-factory finisher at the Red Bull Ring as the Brit came home eighth. The battle to be top satellite rider is sure to rage once again in Brno, with Espargaro in the front seat but everything still to play for.
Assen winner Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) will head to Brno hoping to be declared fit after a crash at the Red Bull Ring ruled him out of the Austrian GP, and after a last lap clash with Eugene Laverty (PULL&BEAR Aspar Team), Octo Pramac Yakhnich rider Danilo Petrucci will be facing a 3-place grid penalty in Brno – as well as having been awarded a penalty point for the incident.
The HJC Helmets Grand Prix České Republiky sees the MotoGP™ grid on track at the Automotodrom Brno for the first time this season on Friday 19th August after the short trip from the Red Bull Ring, with the green light going on for FP1 at 9:55 local time (GMT +2).
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