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Before the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix got underway on Friday, motogp.com checked in with Randy Mamola as the MotoGP™ Legend shared his expert thoughts on what he’s looking out for this weekend in the premier class.
KTM: SHOWING PROMISE
“First, I’ve decided to talk about Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder. Why? Well, they showed so much promise in Jerez. Watching the races in Jerez we saw so much potential from KTM. We saw Pol Espargaro battle for a podium and ended up in sixth, only 1.1 seconds away from Dovizioso who finished third, we saw Binder racing at the front with the other guys inside the top five and Miguel Oliveira eventually finished eighth but also showed lap times similar to those in the top five.
“Unfortunately, a week later, things didn’t mature because Binder’s error into Turn 1 took out Oliveira and neither rider finished. I believe both those guys, having qualified on the second and third rows, could have finished inside the top five and would’ve challenged for the podium and that would’ve been exciting. The reason I’m excited for Brno is because I’m interested to see how KTM does on a faster circuit, one that needs more horsepower. All three seem to be able to get good pace out of the bike and I want to see if that transfers to a totally different circuit to Jerez like Brno.
“Last year, Pol Espargaro finished 18 seconds behind the race winner in 11th place. It was an exceptional race last year though because it was wet at the beginning, so let’s see what KTM’s riders can do after showing so much potential in Jerez. It’s also great that this bike is working well not only in the hands of the factory riders but for the satellite guys too.”
YAMAHA ON SONG, BUT WILL IT CONTINUE?
“Yamaha had an exceptional two weeks down in Jerez but it didn’t come without it’s issues, in particular with reliability. At the Spanish GP, Valentino Rossi’s bike broke down and then Morbidelli had the same issue a week later. When manufacturers have reliability issues with the engine, the first thing they do is turn the RPM down, whether that’s 300, 500 or 600 is up to them. But, can they consider doing something like that heading to a circuit that requires a lot of horsepower and top speed?
“With Fabio, two first places, he rode exceptionally well. Stayed smooth, stayed focus and did what he had to do to win those races. Especially impressed with race two because Maverick showed so much promise on paper in qualifying and in practice, showing he could at least go hand-to-hand with Quartararo, but that wasn’t to be. He just had issues again in the second race amongst the competition with his teammate Valentino, Francesco Bagnaia and Franco Morbidelli. He eventually ended up second place, but these two guys going into Brno are going to be interesting to follow. One: because there’s a competition to see who the best Yamaha rider is, and two: there’s another competition about this World Championship and there’s other riders around them trying to take points off them.
“Both Valentino and Franco have a DNF. Valentino in race one and Morbidelli in race two. It was very difficult to see and we hope that Yamaha can get the engines prepared right for Brno. But it was race two that was exceptional to see with Valentino running as high as second place and battling with these guys. For anyone out there who doesn’t believe in Valentino, you have to show the utmost respect for this guy and what he’s doing. He’s having a lot of fun out there and we all thought he was going to fade, but it wasn’t to be. He battled all the way to the end out there and it was good to see him eventually finishing third. The sad part was Morbidelli because for me, it could have been a complete lockout with the first four bikes being Yamahas but it wasn’t to be because of his failure. But Franco, listen: your time is there, you’re riding exceptionally well and good luck to you this weekend and keep it on the road.
“The top Yamaha rider last year was Valentino is seventh place. Even in practice, which was mostly in the rain, was difficult. This track doesn’t typically suit their bike very well so it will be interesting to see how they get on this weekend.”
BRNO AND AUSTRIA – DUCATI DREAMLAND?
“Let’s talk about Pecco Bagnaia and Pramac Racing now. I was so happy to see him running at the front in Jerez but also so sorry to see the heartbreak he must have felt at the Andalucia GP, when he was running in second with six laps to go, three seconds clear of Rossi, and he had a mechanical. It was very, very sad to see, but what’s been really good is that he’s definitely given Jack Miller on the other side of the garage and Andrea Dovizioso in the factory team something to think about.” Unfortunately for the Italian, he’s been ruled out of the Czech and Austrian Grands Prix after sustaining an injury during FP1 in Brno.
“I’m going to be following those guys too, Miller and Dovizioso, because last year Dovi was second and Miller was third. The Ducatis run really well there. It’s a high horsepower circuit, which, of course, suits them, so we’ll just have to see who comes out on top because they’re all going to be up there battling it out at the front. That’s going to be a super cool contest to keep your eye on.”
HONDA: NAKAGAMI LOOKING SHARP
“I’m going to talk about the LCR Honda riders [Takaaki] Nakagami and [Cal] Crutchlow, but before I do, I would like to say something about the official Repsol Honda rider and current World Champion, Marc Marquez. Marc went under surgery this week; as he was preparing for the Grand Prix he had an issue with the plate in his arm and had to have another operation. Marc, we wish you the best of luck with your recovery. Come back fully fit, this Championship wants to see you.
“Ok, so LCR Honda. First with Nakagami; after finishing in fourth place at the Andalucia GP, the best finish ever for Nakagami, he is going to be really looking forward to this weekend in Brno where we know the Hondas work. He rode exceptionally last week, finishing just one second behind Valentino Rossi from a podium position. In saying that, he has been very, very strong periodically, up and down, but it looks as though Honda LCR team gave him a good package. Let’s hope they can do the same going into Brno. But, as I said, the Hondas tend to go well around Brno, they have a lot of power, like the Ducatis, so it will be fun to see.
“Cal Crutchlow now. He’s still carrying an injury in his left hand, the scaphoid, which he had surgery for just days before the Andalucia GP. He’ll be looking to improve on that. For anyone who has ever broken a bone in their hand, especially the scaphoid, you know how difficult it is to do anything with your hand; picking up things and so on, let alone racing a motorcycle at speeds of 200 mph. So, I’m looking forward to that, Cal rides very well and quite fast in Brno, it’s one of his favourite race tracks, so I expect him to be up there as well, as long as he can keep the pain away.”
“We’ve put down ‘familiar terrain’ and that’s because, this year, Brno is at the same time as normal, so we don’t expect something like what we saw in Andalucia with extreme temperatures, track temperatures, and issues with tyres. But, then again, don’t forget last year, just before the start of the race while they were on the grid, it started to rain and delayed everything. It’s going to be exciting to see. For me, Brno is one of those race tracks that really allows the bikes to stretch their legs and there is an array of riders and array of motorcycle manufacturers that can be in the top five, and that’s going to be exciting to see.
“And the last thing that I’d like everyone to know, when I’m talking about these bikes, as I go down the list, with riders and different manufacturers, the amount of satellite teams this year that are actually beating the factory teams is exceptional! And that just shows me that the technology and the camaraderie that the factory teams are showing towards the satellite teams is impeccable. It’s fantastic to see and I can’t wait for this Sunday’s race. Enjoy it everybody!”
1 year ago