ROUND 10: BRNO
After the shortest summer break that we can remember, the paddock was back at Brno for the Czech GP. On paper it did well in the past for Rossi even though it seems more like a Honda track where the Ducati can provide huge performances. So how did it all turn out ?
1. Back to school works well for Dovi
After becoming Marquez’ main rival last season and winning the opening round at Losail this year, Andrea Dovizioso went by a more difficult phase of his carreer. Always there amount the best ones but never having enough to give to win again, the italian suffered a lack of victory during 8 races to finally get another one at Brno.
Marquez said very early on during the weekend that “DesmoDovi” was the man to beat and he was right as Andrea went on to take the pole position on Saturday, his first this season. The win on Sunday though didn’t come as easily. The leading group of 6+ bikes was too much to his taste so he decided to try to break it by changing the pace: “At the beginning, i was trying to make something strange, because the lead group as big. It’s always better to have less riders when you start to fight for the win, especially when you have to manage the tyres.”
However, it didn’t work so the italian then had to adapt the strategy lap by lap, rival by rival: “The group stayed at six bikes until five laps to the end so i decided the strategy lap by lap. I was trying to understand the main competitor, Valentino, for the firs laps of the race. At the end i was waiting for Marc because i heard his engine in every braking point. (…) I thought he had some margin. But at the end Jorge came with a really good speed and we started battling. It wasn’t easy because the last five laps the tyre dropped”.
The Czech GP win is the first one for Andrea since Losail. A lack of 1st place that he doesn’t believed to be because of the bike though: “I think we did a small step during he winter. We did 3 mistakes in the season. This weekend if the confirmation our bike is a bit better than last year”.
Thanks to his 2nd GP win of the season, Dovizioso is now 3rd in the championship standings but way too far from Marquez to catch him without the spaniard making a mistake.
2. Welcome back to the Por Fuera of old
Jorge Lorenzo might not left Brno with the 25 points from first place but he sure was the man of the race.
From a general consensus from the social medias, fans and reporters were amazed by Lorenzo’s last part of the race, the way he was aggressively riding like he used to do in 250 but never on the limit thanks to his now huge experience at the highest level. I believe we were all especially in owe of that one attack on both Marquez and Dovizioso all at the same time. Por fuera almost got a new nickname!
An impressive comeback due to a radical change of strategy from the number 99. The one rider who used to start like a bullet, take the lead at turn 1 and give it all to create a gap, knew it was not going to work today: “This time I needed to change the strategy, especially because I had some problems to finish the race on the front tyre on the right side. I needed to ride quite a bit different from the beginning, and taking profit of a not-so-good start, I decided to stay in third, fourth position for so long, to save energy, to save tyres“.
A new strategy that proved to work and that could have gave him another success if it wasn’t for Marquez’ last attempt at passing him for 2nd in the last laps: “This was new for me, very new, but this time [it] paid off. Maybe I arrived too late. For sure didn’t help that Marc overtook me, but he must try, he always tries, for sure he must try the best for him. Bot for sure it didn’t help because Andrea goes away half a second [ahead].
The last lap was one he will remember for some times as he was both attacking to come back on Dovizioso, and defending his position against Marquez: “I needed to be fast but also I needed to make defensive line, because I knew Marc wanted to try. And even like that, making the defensive line in the last lap, I made the fast lap in the last lap.”
It’s also worth noticing that for once, Lorenzo decided to race with a hard/hard tires combo which is the clear opposite to what he used us to. Something of a very good omen regarding his future at Honda.
With Austria, Misano and more tracks he likes coming, Lorenzo could found himself to be the man to beat in the second half of the season if he can keep his current form and adapting his riding style and race choice to different strategy than the one Lorenzo-style of winning a race he always delivered so far. He is 5th in the standing (remember he was 20 or so with only 6 points, 3 races in the season, call that a comeback!) and has his very own teammate, Dovizioso in 3rd as a target. Is a remontada in the plans ?
3. When is the best you can get
Marc Marquez went into the summer break, strong of a very dominant win in Germany but knowing things would be harder at Brno. Once again, he was right. Never really dominating though never off-pace either, the spaniard could have won the race had he decided to try some crazy moves on the ducatis but prefered to stay calm and collect points: “During the race i feel quite good and strong with the bike and i was able to ride well to save the tyres. The problem arrive when you need to fight against the Ducati riders because they have really strong acceleration, top speed and braking point. It was difficult to overtake them but i say "ok i will try but don’t be crazy”
While he only took a 3rd place, it was overall a good weekend for the spaniard as he was able to open even more of a gap in the standings. He is now leading by 49 on Rossi (2nd): “We are leading the championship by 49 points, 68 on Dovi and the target is this.”
The race in Austria might have to be one where marquez will have to be carefull and settle for points rather than win too but he knows better tracks are coming for them: “Will arrive a few circuits we have very strong points on the bike. But we need to understand some manufacturers and riders are faster than us. We need to try to be smart”. This, Ladies and Gents, is how you win a title.
4. The Mack Gate !
It was a very polemical weekend for Vinales and one that turned out to go from bad to worst. From being forced to go to Q1 to being involved in a crash during the race’s early laps, Vinales had to withdraw from the MotoGP test at Brno on Monday due to pain in his shoulder since the crash: « i don’t know what happened, i just lost the bike. »
If nothing went the way the spaniard wanted on track, it was going no better off track.
Vinales and crew chief, Ramon Forcada are to part ways at the end of the current season. It’s kind of a no-news as the rumor regarding the two men feud grew stronger and stronger each week since the very early start of the year.
Both Vinales and Forcada are two very strong character and even though Forcada’s way of working and being with a rider gave him 3 motogp world title with Lorenzo (known to be another really strong character), it seems that Maverick decided he had enough of this forced marriage which doesn’t work.
Wanting to stop working with one of the most famous crew chief in the paddock is one thing, doing it the right way is another. Letting the rider take such a decision alone and not forcing him to talk about it with the main protagonist, aka Ramon Forcada, clearly wasn’t the way to go…
Now i do not know we is leading the PR department at Yamaha but he should probably be fired at the minute for letting such a polemic happened and not being able to stop the rider from talking about it to press earlier than on Saturday…
And Maverick to ad: “ It’s not in the warm up that you found the right way to setting up the bike.” Drop the mic. War is open in the 25 box.
5. Honorable mentions
– Dani Pedrosa proved that if it wasn’t for the Michelin tires he cannot make work on the honda, he would probably not retires as with higher temperature he topped Friday’s FPs.
– Valentino Rossi’s frustration is growing bigger and bigger stating to the press that he’s better, stronger and faster than in the past but the bike isn’t. Lin are you listening ?