The MotoGP™ paddock return to track action at Brno this weekend after the summer break and in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky pre-event Press Conference, World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – who starts his 100th premier class race - was joined by closest challenger Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), his teammate Maverick Viñales, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Angel Nieto Team riders Alvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham, the latter riding in front of his home supporters this weekend.
Understandably, talk centered around the second half of the season after a two-weekend break, with Marquez enjoying his time off to relax and analyise the season so far. “Summer break has been good like always,” begins Marquez. “Time to relax and analyse the first part of the season, which has been good but there are a few mistakes we can improve. Now it’s time to get back to the office and find that same mentality again because it was the right one. I hope we can start in a good way, get the feeling and achieve the same results.”
The Spaniard holds a 46-point advantage over Rossi and some are saying the Championship is already over. However, the Spaniard has no intentions of relaxing and knows the Yamahas are coming strong with both hoping they can start chipping away at his overall standings lead at Brno. “It’s good we start the second half on top with the advantage but the season is long and we need to keep the same mentality, they’re (Yamaha) improving every race,” explained the six-time Champion. “We need the same speed and concentration, there will be some circuits that are more difficult but we’ll try to manage it – what we did in the first half.”
Rossi first reflected on his opening half of the season, in which he secured five podium finishes to sit as his rivals nearest threat. “I’m happy in some ways – five times on the podium in nine races isn’t bad, and second in the Championship is quite good, but the problem is that I wasn’t strong enough in the first half to try to win,” said the ‘Doctor’, who recognised the gap to Marquez is too big. However, the nine-time World Champion admits improvements have been made to the Yamaha throughout the season, so can he close the gap to the top? “In the first half of the season the entire team have been able to improve the balance and we’re a bit more competitive but we still need to understand the way to go faster.”
And what about teammate Viñales? The Spaniard sits third in the Championship and comes into the second half of the season off the back of two consecutive podium finishes. “It’s important to understand the bike, race by race I feel better every time,” admitted the number 25, who continued to say if Yamaha find the next step, they’ll be very competitive.
“And I can start pushing on the limit. There’s a lot to still improve but we have a good bike and if we manage it we can be very competitive. We’re riding our bike at the best level, we just need to make another step. I’m very happy with the last two races and in the box, and we need to continue like that.”
So, by the sounds of it, Marquez is right to keep a watchful eye on both Yamaha riders as they lead the charge to chase the number 93 down in the Championship, with Rossi indicating both he and Viñales will have something to test on Monday - could it make the difference? “We have something but not a lot, they are still working a lot at Yamaha but maybe we need a bit more time.”
Find out who will draw first blood between Yamaha and Marquez at the Czech GP when the premier class riders head out for FP1 at 09:55 local time (GMT +2), with FP2 kicking off at 14:05 local time.
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