A Race full of Drama at Brno MotoGP!
On Friday, the weekend started with a damp free practice then a dry one, with all the riders keen to get to grips with circuit.
Frenchman Johann Zarco topped the time sheets in a wet free practice one, ahead of Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.
Free practice two, it was Andrea Dovizioso who finished on top in front of the German, Jonas Folger, Italian, Danilo Petrucci, and Frenchman, Johann Zarco, with the top men down the field. Marquez in 10th, Vinales 11th, Rossi 14th and Lorenzo in 15th place.
Normal service was resumed in free practice three. Marc Márquez frantically topping the time sheets ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Andrea Dovizioso and Britain's Cal Crutchlow in 6th. Jorge Lorenzo in 9th position.
Saturday qualifying was all action as well!
A very close run session, right up to the end. With Marc Márquez just pipping Valentino Rossi by only .092 of a second. Dani Pedrosa took third, ahead of Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Vinales ahead of the rest of the racers in a dry session.
Sunday, race day.
The dramatic race was packed full of incidents and action which started as a wet race. Although the rain had stopped the track was still wet so all riders chose to start on wet tyres. A dry line began to appear on the warm-up lap as the riders made their way round to the starting grid.
Marquez, from pole, got a lightening start with Rossi hard on his heels. It was Ducati's Lorenzo who passed them both from 6th and flew into the lead.
He began to get passed riders and dropped to 10th place on lap two, as his tyres couldn't cope. Marquez - who started the race on a wet medium front and a wet soft rear, was having grip problems and dropped back suddenly, so he pulled into pit lane at the end of the lap to change to his second bike, fitted with slick tyres.
Rossi moved up to second place on lap two and was chasing after Lorenzo, who had pulled a gap of 1.5 seconds. Rossi soon was past the Ducati rider and took the lead on lap four as they stayed out on wet tyres. Most of the top racers copied Marquez' lead, pulling in to switch to slick tyres.
Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi could have challenged for victory if he'd changed bikes earlier - read his interview below. The 38-year old, did fight his way back after a great display of rider skill, getting passed all the racers from 14th to finish fourth.
It was a great day for the factory Repsol Honda team, as Dani Pedrosa finished a credible second to celebrate his 150th podium, while Maverick Viñales also clawed his way to third from tenth, for the factory Movistar Yamaha team.
Marc Márquez is now 14 points ahead of Yamahas Maverick Viñales, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso in third, with Valentino Rossi now 22 points adrift in fourth, one point behind Dovi.
Jorge Lorenzo made his pit stop at the end of the fourth lap but Rossi continued leading another lap, while Marquez was already charging through the field and was into fourth by the time Rossi eventually pulled in to swap to his other machine at the end of lap five.
Johann Zarco was in the lead on the Tech 3 Yamaha, but the French rider was now the only rider still on track with wet tyres. His turn as the race leader lasted only a few minutes as he was quickly overtaken by Marquez on slick tyres.
Marquez's quick decision on lap two, left his rivals playing catch up, with Zarco making his change so late, Marquez was now 19 seconds clear at the front ahead of Aprilias Aleix Espargaró and Britain's Pramac Ducati rider, Scott Redding, with Rossi down in 13th.
Marquez now had the race win within his clutches, with a comfortable lead, he kept control, managed his pace to take a comfortable victory.
Team-mate fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was rapidly moving up the field on his factory Repsol Honda and on lap nine he took both Redding and Espargaro for second. Pedrosa surged ahead to take second and he was never troubled for the rest of the race.
Now it was catch up time for Valentino Rossi, who cleverly took several places to move up to ninth on the Yamaha M1.
Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa were now well clear in front and the battle for third spot was between Danilo Petrucci on his Pramac Ducati, Aleix Espargaró, on his Gresini Aprilia and 2016 winner Cal Crutchlow on his LCR Honda. The three swapped places, while Maverick Viñales continued his charge and soon passed Crutchlow and Petrucci into third on lap 15.
Valentine Rossi was busy working his way past the racers, getting up to fifth place as he soon caught Cal Crutchlow. The gap between the pair on lap 20 was 0.6 seconds. Crutchlow, the British rider, made a good fight of it, but he was unable to stop Rossi getting by for fourth on the last lap.
Race Direction penalised Aleix Espargaró three places for 'unsafe release in pit lane', which made Suzuki's Andrea Iannone fall and collide with his team mates bike, as he came in to change bikes on lap three. The Aprilia rider, Espargaro was demoted to eighth.
The Factory Ducati rider, Andrea Dovizioso came in sixth after Cal Crutchlow followed by Petrucci, Espargaro. His brother Pol Espargaró, took a great ninth place for KTM factory team.
The German MotoGP sensation, Jonas Folger finished tenth on his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha after getting past Álex Rins on his Suzuki and Folger's own Tech-3 Yamaha team-mate Zarco on the last lap.
The local boy who lives less than a mile from the circuit, Karel Abraham on his Aspar Ducati, finished 13th, Jack Miller on his Marc VDS Honda and early leader Lorenzo took the final points as they finished 14th and 15th.
Spaniard, Alvaro Bautista and Frenchman Loris Baz were crashers, while Englishman, Bradley Smith was a retirement on the factory KTM machine.
Valentino Rossi made a mistake over when to come in, he said he was waiting the team's signal to come in to change bikes, which came too late for him to challenge for the victory.
Valentino Rossi's performance was terrific in the second half of the race as he was able to snatch forth place. This was a good fourth place for him, on the final lap after an error in judgement cost him the chance of the win and a podium at the least, as his Movistar crew had not signalled for him to pit as early as it could have been.
Racing in first place, early on with wet tyres on the track drying out fast, he stayed out until the end of lap five, losing valuable time to Marc Márquez, who did swap bikes on lap two, while Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Viñales both came in on lap four.
This would cost Rossi the 38-year old his chance of victory. When he emerged out of pit lane he was 14th on lap six. He finished over two seconds behind Vinales, after diving past Cal Crutchlow on the last lap for fourth place.
After the race by Neil Morrison crash.net.
After the race, Valentino said "I'm very happy this time because normally I'm the only stupid one, " he joked. "This time we are four or five. We share the 'donkey' name. This time, like I said, we are a bit unlucky".
"It's always difficult in these conditions with the flag-to-flag. For sure it's not my strongest point, this type of racing. At the end the result is not so bad. We improve a lot from the other flag-to-flag. I finish fourth. I think before the end of my career we can defeat this flag-to-flag race.
"At the end the result is not so bad. I think in the full dry or the full wet race I can fight for the podium for sure. But this remains a good weekend because I work well in the box. I feel good with the bike and I was strong in the wet and dry.
"The race was very hard. I push very hard from the beginning until the end. It's a shame because we could take more points and arrive on the podium. But it's like this. Considering the conditions, fourth place is not so bad. "
Asked why he had not come in earlier, when it was apparent dry tyres were the best option, Rossi said, "First of all, it's a lot different compared to last year because last year, the track never dried up. At the end we finished with the wet tyres. We know this time could be a flag-to-flag, but I didn't think so on the first lap.
"For some reason, maybe less water, the track dried quickly. Usually in the first lap with the slicks in the wet, we are a bit in trouble with the Yamaha. I tried to push as much as possible in the wet because I was stronger, to have a small advantage with the slick.
"It's not like last year, " he said. "We agreed with my team to [show] 'BOX' and when I see 'BOX' I come back [to pit lane]. Unfortunately the board arrive one lap later. I always have the problem in this condition that I'm first. A lot of riders are helped by being in the second group. One enters and everyone enters.
"The problem is I was a bit too strong in the wet. Last year at the Sachsenring they put the board out for me but I continue. I said, 'When I see the board I come back. I promise. ' But unfortunately the board arrive a bit too late. To understand the moment to come back is not my strong point. I think I can come back one lap earlier but this time we are also a bit unlucky.
"Anyway, fourth is better than fourteenth or eighth. Also, I enjoy. I recover and there were a lot of battles. It's a shame, because in a normal race I could fight for the podium in both conditions. "
This result means that Valentino Rossi stays in fourth in the championship, he is now is 22 points behind Marquez.
Marc Márquez took a dominant third victory of the MotoGP season at Brno, timing his pit stop to perfection on a drying track to out-smart his championship rivals. With the race beginning on a wet track but with the sun shining, it seemed only a matter of time before the field would have to switch to dry tyres, with all 23 riders opting to go with wets for the start.
Pole man Marquez was the only one in the top eight to run a soft wet rear tyre and he soon lost the lead to the Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo at Turn 5 on the opening lap before quickly dropping down the order.
The factory Honda man had dropped to 10th when he pitted at the end of the second lap for his dry tyres on his other bike, a decision which proved to be a masterstroke. Several other riders came in the following lap, but none of the leading group, with Lorenzo leading Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and fast-starting Johann Zarco out front.
Lorenzo finally came in at the end of lap four after losing the lead to Rossi, but dropped well down the order as his second bike hadn't been fired up when he arrived at the Ducati pit.
That left Rossi, Dovizioso and Zarco out front, but they were losing eight to 10 seconds a lap to Marquez, who was already setting a scintillating pace on slicks.
Rossi and Dovizioso finally came in for their dry tyre bikes on lap five, with Zarco staying out an extra lap after being passed for the lead by the much faster Marquez.
With a 20-second lead over his nearest opposition, it was a simple case of reeling off the remaining laps for Marquez, who ended up 12. 4s clear at the finish for the 32nd MotoGP victory of his career.
Dani Pedrosa came home second while a further 5. 6s back at the finish was Maverick Viñales on the best of the factory Yamahas, In the closing laps, Crutchlow found himself caught by Rossi, the Italian finding a way by at Turn 5 on the final lap to grab fourth place.
Dovizioso was sixth, the best of the Ducatis, followed by Danilo Petrucci's Pramac Ducati machine and the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaró.
Pol Espargaró took KTM's best ever MotoGP finish so far, in ninth, while the top 10 was completed by Jonas Folger (Tech 3 Yamaha), who pitted twice in the space of two laps as his bike was not ready, being changed from a wet set up to dry.
Lorenzo's race never recovered from his botched stop, and he claimed the final point in 15th.
Czech MotoGP Brno Race result
MotoGP World Championship Standing after 10 rounds.
- Roland Potter