The summer break is over! After a three-week break, MotoGP returns this weekend at Brno, Czech Republic.
The riders have had a chance to relax and recover from any injuries, whilst the manufacturers have had a chance to evaluate their season so far. Now, it’s time to reset and get back into race mode.
It’s been quite the season so far, with many different stories hitting the headlines. Marc Marquez sits comfortably at the top of the standings. The reigning champion is 58 points clear of Andrea Dovizioso, his closest rival.
The championship battle appears to be over. However, Brno is a circuit that always mixes things up a little. Marquez only has two victories at the circuit in the premier class. So, who will step up and challenge in the Czech Republic?
More Brno Success for Ducati?
Arguably, no team wanted the summer break more than Ducati. The first half of the season was a mixed bag for the Italian giants. As the rounds came around, they fell further behind their rivals.
Dovizioso won the opening round at Qatar. However, since then he has only secured three podium finishes. More importantly, he hasn’t finished above Marquez at all.
Brno is a good circuit for Dovizioso to kick-start his season. The Italian won the 2018 race, with Jorge Lorenzo making it a one-two for Ducati. Power is important at a hilly circuit such as Brno, and the Ducati has plenty of that.
Meanwhile, Danilo Petrucci will be thrilled that the break is over. In contrast to his team-mate, Petrucci is enjoying life on the factory bike. Despite a slow start, he became a MotoGP race winner at Mugello and is only six points behind Dovizioso.
Petrucci his shown that he isn’t afraid to fight his team-mate, or Marquez for that matter, so perhaps we’ll see him on the top step this weekend.
During the first half of the season there have been some very promising signs for Yamaha. Maverick Viñales secured his and Yamaha’s first victory since Philip Island 2018 at Assen. He followed that up with a second place in Germany.
Surprisingly, if the Spaniard secures a podium at Brno it’ll be the first time he’s taken three premier class podiums in a row. He may have to fight hard in order to do so, Viñales’ record at Brno isn’t the best. He crashed out on the opening lap last year, finished ninth in 2016, and crashed in 2015. However, he did finish third in 2017.
Yamaha also have Fabio Quartararo on their books. The French rookie has been a sensation this season, becoming the youngest-ever MotoGP polesitter. In total, he has three pole positions and two podiums in 2019.
He’s only made one mistake so far, crashing out in Germany last time out. That incident will have motivated Quartararo even further. He’s now refreshed and fully recovered from his arm pump surgery.
Can Rins Bounce Back?
The last two races have not been kind to Alex Rins. The Suzuki man crashed out of the lead at Assen, before doing the same whilst in second at the Sachsenring.
These results have seen him drop down to fourth in standings, 84 points behind Marquez. Of course, this also means that the pressure, title-wise, is now off. Rins will be more determined than ever to add to his one MotoGP victory.
Rins has finished 11th in both of his premier class races at Brno. He did, however, finish second in the 2017 Moto2 race, and third in the 2015 event.
Will Rossi Respond to his Critics?
Plenty of people have been questioning whether Valentino Rossi should continue beyond 2019. Questions were raised following three consecutive DNFs and an eighth in Germany.
After a nice three-week break, Rossi will be hoping to bounce back immediately and start the second half of the season with a bang. Brno has certainly been good to him in the past.
The Doctor has five victories in the premier class. He also secured three consecutive podiums between 2014 and 2016. Rossi will now hope to find the perfect setup and match the success of Viñales and Quartararo.
Lorenzo Not Ready
Lorenzo will not be taking part at Brno this weekend. The Repsol Honda man is still recovering after fracturing his T6 and T8 vertebra at Assen.
Despite his overall condition improving, the 32-year-old remains in some pain and has limited movement on a bike. In an official statement, it was revealed that Lorenzo will not return until the British Grand Prix at the earliest.
Stafan Bradl will replace Lorenzo once again. The German was already due to appear as a wildcard, but he will now compete as the official second rider for Honda.
The weekend’s action begins on Friday (02 August 2019) with Free Practice 1 at 08:55. This will be followed by Free Practice 2 at 13:10.
Saturday’s (03 August 2019) action begins at 08:55 with Free Practice 3, with Free Practice 4 at 12:30. Qualifying 1 begins at 13:10, with Qualifying 2 at 13:35.
Sunday’s warm-up (04 August 2019) will begin at 08:40. The race begins at 13:00.