MotoGP returns to Brno after the summer break, and the competition is hotting up. At this point in the season, the top five in the Championship – Marc Marquez, Maverick Viñales, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa are within twenty six points of each other, with the top four split by just ten points.
The first half of the season has been made up of ten different podium finishers, four different Championship leaders and five different winners, and there is no sign of things calming down. The quality of racing improves each time, and heading to the Automotodrom Brno for the Monster Energy České republiky is sure to build upon that.
Marquez leads the Championship for the first time this season, his win at the German GP pushing him to the top of the standings. He took victory at the historic track back in 2013 as a MotoGP rookie, and has since had numerous podium finishes. However, his team-mate Pedrosa has also won here, after a hard fought battle with Jorge Lorenzo back in 2012. Repsol Honda go to this track with an advantage, having tested here recently and having a top track record of wins and podiums.
But you can never rule out the Movistar Yamaha team. Both Viñales and Rossi have seemingly struggled, but both sit in second and fourth in the overall standings respectively. After taking wins in Qatar, Argentina and Le Mans, Viñales will be heading to Brno with winning on his mind. Rossi’s nine World Championship titles speak for themselves. Brno was the backdrop to his first ever GP win back in 1996 in the 125 World Championship. One year later, he won the 125 title at the Czech GP. Brno has been good to Rossi, and he will be looking to get the advantage on his rivals at the halfway point in the Championship.
The Ducati Team results are fluctuating. Dovizioso is one of the five different winners and four Championship leaders, whereas Lorenzo makes up one of ten podium finishers. Dovizioso was part of the Ducati 1-2 last year in Brno, and will be looking to get back up on the top step. Lorenzo is still visibly struggling on his machine. Although he has only had one podium, he isn’t in the title fight – somewhere he was used to being in his days on the Yamaha. In 2015, Lorenzo took pole at the Czech circuit and won the race but whether he can win here again on the Desmosedici is yet to be seen. He’ll be aiming for a strong race finish, to try and take eighth in the overall standings from Danilo Petrucci, who sits just one point in front of him.
Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team have done nothing but impress this year. Both of them now have GP rostrums to their names and could play a vital role in mixing up the results for the rest of the season. Folger won in the Moto2 World Championship at Brno last year, and will be looking to get back on the rostrum as he did last time out in Germany.
Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) has also impressed this year. From his modest press conferences to his aggressive racing on track, he has constantly improved. In the second half of the season, he’ll no doubt be fighting for the win once more, as we’ve seen him do in the past.
Part two of the MotoGP season begins on Friday with Free Practice 1 at 9:55am (GMT+2).