- 2018 Schedule & Results 1-10
Century-Man Marquez Seeks Another Brno Win
AUTOMOTODROM BRNO, Czech Republic, August 5, 2018
This week Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) returns from MotoGP’s short summer break for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno, where he is due to make his 100th premier-class start and will be aiming for his third win in a row and his fifth of the season. The aim is to further extend his points lead as he works towards a fourth consecutive World Championship. He has won four of the last five crowns.
Riding the best-yet version of the all-conquering Honda RC213V, and with growing maturity adding lustre to his extraordinary riding skills, the 25-year-old Spaniard claimed his ninth successive German GP victory before the holiday, extending his lead over closest rival Valentino Rossi to 46 points. This gives him a valuable cushion as the longest-ever season moves past its halfway point.
The win also extended Honda’s lead in the MotoGP Constructors World Championship. HRC is working towards a third constructors title in succession, having won six times in the past seven years.
Honda star Marquez has taken 40 victories from his 99 MotoGP starts, a remarkable statistic. The former 125cc and Moto2 World Champion also has a strong record at the sweeping Brno circuit, in thickly wooded hillsides outside the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno. He made a victorious MotoGP debut at the track in 2013, and won again last year, with two more podium finishes in between. He is aware that earning good points is now as important as adding to his tally of 40 MotoGP wins. At the same time, tireless work by HRC’s racing engineers mean that the latest development of Honda’s powerful V4 prototype is the best-balanced yet, and the checkered flag is a powerful lure.
Marquez has won five of the first nine races this year, and finished second in two more. He was denied points by a penalty in Argentina, and after falling and remounting in Italy. His Brno record includes victory also in his Moto2 championship-winning year of 2012, and he has been off the podium only once since 2011. The omens for another win are strong.
His elder team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) also has an excellent record at Brno. The 32-year-old Spaniard, who announced at the last race that he will retire at the end of this season, took the first of three wins and eight other podium positions here on a 125 in 2003.
The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion, who has ridden Hondas throughout his Grand Prix career, won the Brno MotoGP race in 2012 and 2014, and was second to Marquez last year. Having won at least one race in every season since 2002, Pedrosa is still seeking his first victory in 2018. His hopes have been blunted twice by crashes caused by other riders, the first at round two; and Pedrosa has been coping with various degrees of recovery from injury ever since.
Independent-team Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) has already achieved the goal of victory this year, with a fine win in round two in Argentina. Brno was the scene of his first MotoGP win in 2016, also on a Honda; his first podium finish in 2012; and the venue for his second-ever pole position, back in 2013.
Crutchlow has been a regular podium threat this season, also enjoying the well-balanced strength of the latest Honda; but the gritty Briton has faced various trials, including a crash while holding a strong position in the leading group at the last round in Germany. His next-best results have been a pair of fourth places, and he will be striving for a top-three return this weekend.
Three MotoGP rookies are also campaigning Honda’s RC213V, all ex-Moto2 stars working to adapt to double the horsepower and the much greater electronic and technical sophistication of the premier-class machines.
The most successful of the trio is reigning Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V). With a best of ninth place in May’s Spanish GP at Jerez, the 23-year-old Italian had scored points in every race until round eight, the Dutch TT. A fall during Assen practice left him with injuries to his left hand that ruled him out of that race, and (after a brave attempt in the first practice) the next in Germany. He should be back to race fitness after the summer break.
Moto2 race winner Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) has also made an impressive debut. The 26-year-old from Chiba has finished in the points four times, but a tumble in Germany spoiled his chances of adding to his score. Nakagami was carrying a heavy load at the time: as the only MotoGP rider taking part in Japan’s prestigious Suzuka 8-Hours race, he was flying to and fro between Europe and Japan on testing duties. In last Sunday’s race he shared an HRC-prepared Honda CBR1000RR with Takumi Takahashi and PJ Jacobsen, finishing second, just 30 seconds from the win, after eight grueling hours of challenging mixed wet and dry conditions.
Moto2 championship runner-up for the past two years, Swiss star Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) has found the transition to MotoGP more difficult, hindered when injuries incurred last season delayed his testing debut. He will be aiming to open his points score at Brno.
A sixth Honda will be on track, ridden by HRC tester and former MotoGP and Superbike rider Stefan Bradl (Team HRC Honda RC213V). The German, who last contested the MotoGP class in 2016, had an early chance to readapt when he took over Morbidelli’s machine on the first afternoon of the German GP weekend, switching mid-weekend from TV commentator to contestant to finish a creditable 16th. Bradl was Moto2 World Champion in 2011.
In Moto2, where all riders are supplied with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines, the aim of close and competitive racing has been amply fulfilled in 2018. Not only have individual races been hard fought, with five different winners in the first nine races, but the championship also is close. There are just seven points between first and second; and barely 20 points covering from third to sixth.
Only one rider has more than a single victory – overall leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) has added three more since winning the opening round under floodlights in Qatar. But he had bad luck in the last round in Germany, when he had to take avoiding action when Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) fell right in front of him on the second lap. Bagnaia dropped from third to almost last place, but had worked his way through to 12th by the finish.
Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) has won just once, in Italy at the start of June, but four other podium finishes and a valuable fourth in Germany closed him to within seven points of the leader.
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) has yet to win this year, and also had an unfortunate German GP, dropping to 13th after running near the front, stiff and sore from a heavy crash on the Saturday. He lies third overall, 28 points behind Oliveira.
His team-mate, reigning Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), moved up to fourth overall with a best-yet second at the last round, his third podium in his rookie season.He is just two points ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex), who has scored zero points in the last two races, with a flat tire in the Netherlands followed by a crash in Germany, after winning the opening round of the European season in Spain.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) took his maiden Moto2 victory in Germany to close to within two points of Baldassarri. He is the first South African to win a junior-class race since Jon Ekerold won the Italian 350cc GP in 1981.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter), Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) and Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing Speed Up) complete the top ten. Quartararo won his first GP in Catalunya in mid-June.
Honda holds the high ground also in Moto3, where rival factories compete with 250cc single-cylinder four-strokes. Riders of the Honda NSF250RW machine, which dominated last year’s championship, hold four of the top five places.
This includes first place, after two wins in a row extended the lead of Spain’s Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW). The title favorite had dropped behind Italian Marco Bezzecchi after crashing out of three races after the start of the European season, twice as an innocent victim of other riders’ mistakes.
Martin has won five out of nine races so far this year, and has a remarkable history of pole positions as well, with six in the last nine races, and a class record of 15 in total. He is anxious to convert this speed to a title win, before moving up to Moto2 next year.
Just eight points separate the three Honda riders holding the next three positions. Neither third-placed Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) nor Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) has taken a win this year, with the latter still awaiting a first victory in the class. He fell one point behind Canet, who was a close fifth in Germany, when he crashed out of that race.
Italian Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) is another seven points away, after his hopes were dashed when he also tumbled in Germany. He had claimed a first win of the season two rounds earlier in Catalunya, and was third next time out in the Netherlands.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) is the next Honda rider, lying tenth overall; with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) 11th.
Twenty-year-old Chiba-born Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) is 15th in his best-yet season, including two top-six results. Eighteen-year-old Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) from Fukuoka, is 18th, with Spanish rookie Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) sandwiched between them in 16th.
Brno has been part of the World Championship calendar since the mid-1960s, when the nation’s Grand Prix was staged around a 10.92km/6.785-mile street circuit on the outskirts of the city. Mike Hailwood won the 1966 and 1967 500 GPs there on his Honda RC181 four, but the circuit was deemed dangerous, and hosted its last premier-class GP in 1977.
It took a decade before the current Brno circuit was completed. Honda has enjoyed great success at this fast, undulating circuit which features many tricky downhill corners that require a perfect chassis set-up. Marquez, Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Tadayuki Okada, Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau have all won premier-class races with Honda at the modern Brno venue.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team:
“We had a good test at Brno and we’re coming off of wins at two very different races, one an all-out battle and one more tactical, so we arrive in Brno in a confident mood. It was also good to enjoy a few days of vacation to recharge the batteries and prepare for the second half of the season, which will still be very long with ten races to go, and not easy at all. Our rivals are riding fast at every circuit and in every situation, so we must understand and plan the best strategy each time. We’re working very well with the team and the HRC engineers, and we must continue that trend. I’ll go to Brno not thinking about the advantage in the Championship, as if we were all still at the beginning, on zero points. The target for Sunday is to try and win, but if the situation won’t allow it, we’ll manage to get the best result possible.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda CASTROL:
“I think that the summer break was necessary. August will be a busy month for MotoGP because we also have a test day on 19 August in Misano. Brno is a special track for me, since my first MotoGP victory there in 2016. The crash in Germany was my mistake and I missed the chance to fight for the podium but we have to take the positive things and get ready for this weekend. If we look at the world standing now I am only nine points from the fourth rider, so from now on we must work together in order to obtain the best results.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team:
“We’ve had a few days off, not a real summer break but good nevertheless. Now we go to Brno, which is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar, so we hope to be a little faster there. In order to do that, we must improve the feeling and setup of the bike, because so far we’ve been facing some problems everywhere. We mainly need to improve in cornering, because at the moment I can’t turn the bike fast enough, especially mid-corner and out of the corners.”
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“My hand is feeling much better and the rest after Germany was just what I needed to concentrate on getting myself as close to full fitness as possible for Brno. I was back on two wheels training last weekend, so I am confident I will be able to ride in Brno without too many issues and I’m confident we can continue working well with my team to improve the bike.”
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU:
“These two months have been very busy for me. Races, post-race tests and Suzuka tests, and the 8 Hours. Not a proper summer break for me! But I am happy about the result we achieved in Suzuka. Now it’s time to concentrate on the second part of the season. Unfortunately I missed a good occasion in Germany. I had the potential to finish the race in the top ten and it’s still our main target for the future races. Every track is different for me on a MotoGP bike and Brno will be the like that as well.”
Thomas Luthi, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“I am really looking forward to being back with my team and on the bike this weekend in Brno. I tested at the track not so long ago, so I have a good reference and some information on the set-up. And it is the first time I’m going to a circuit where I’ve ridden a MotoGP machine before for any length of time. I hope this is an advantage for me, especially on the first day. When I look back on the Sachsenring there were many positives for me to take from that weekend and hopefully I can continue in that direction in Brno. The clear aim again is to try and break into the points and hopefully I can do it for the first time this weekend to make the best possible start to the second half of the season.”
Stefan Bradl, Team HRC:
“Jumping in for Franky [Morbidelli] in Germany was the best possible practice for the wild card races at Brno and Misano. I had only ridden the MotoGP Honda for six days this year, so I did not expect much after missing FP1. I just wanted to enjoy the race and my aim will be the same at the Czech GP. I have not tested there, as this track is not part of our three-track test program. But I rode at Motegi during the week after the Germany GP and I am convinced I can fight for points.”
Francesco Bagnaia, Sky Racing Team VR46:
“After two weeks of break and a few days of holidays, It is time to get back to the track in Brno. A technical track, very similar to Mugello, with an incredible uphill in the last sector. In the first half of the season, we have been competitive and constant, we will continue to work hard in this direction to confirm what has been done so far.”
Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo:
“Our goal for the coming races is to take a step forward with our qualifying results. If we gain grid positions it will be easier for us to tackle the races in the second half of the year. The difference between the majority of riders is very small and any tiny improvement immediately has a big impact on qualifying results. We're going to work harder than ever to win the maximum number of races possible. Our intention is to fight for the win whenever we have the opportunity.”
Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
“I have been enjoying some holidays and I have been able to rest for a while. I feel back to my best shape again to face these next two races and the second half of the season. I feel ready and the next three tracks, at Brno, Spielberg and Silverstone, are three that I like a lot and I’m going to try and be at the front from day one. I ride very well at these tracks, so I’ll keep focused and try to recover some points back in the standings to fight for our main goal, which is winning the World Championship. My team and I feel very motivated and we’ll give everything again in every race.”
Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Moto3:
“I like Brno. Last year I could not take part in the GP due to injury, but in the previous editions I was always able to qualify well there (3rd and 4th). I’ll get there ready and fit, so the goal is to win!”
Aron Canet, Estrella Galicia 0,0:
“Brno is a circuit that I like and I come into this race with a great desire to fight for the win, because the last few races have brought very positive results. We will try to conclude that work with the best possible race performance.”
Fabio Di Giannantonio, Del Conca Gresini Moto3:
“I’m charged up and ready for Brno; I’m trying to get there as ready as I can. And light, because of the uphill section! It’s time to turn things around, so we are keen to get back into action after a short summer break, which felt so long!”