Round 10 Czech Republic MotoGP- Automotodrom Brno
Again the weather wreaked havoc with the riders and teams with track temperatures hitting around 50 degrees Celsius during the practice sessions over the weekend. Decisions were then being made based on these conditions. But as luck would have it the temperatures came down quite a few notches to around 38 degrees. Tyre choices were crucial and new game plans were enacted with all riders choosing either the front medium or hard and the rear soft or hard tyre compounds.
Valentino Rossi made a great start of the line taking holeshot from his second place grid position. He and Marc Marquez managed to edge pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso back to third place as they rounded the first corner of the 21 lap race. Dovi however, quickly found his way back up to second and an early battle followed as Rossi and Dovi vied for top spot.
Some early exits were made from the field as Maverick Vinales, Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith crashed together in turn 3. On returning to the garage Vinales was visibly limping. Bradley Smith was able to re-join but was forced to retire in lap 5.
Rossi and Dovi swapped positions multiple times during the opening lap while Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo sat closely behind them. The two Ducati’s came out the victors as they crossed the line with Dovi leading the race and Lorenzo now in third after passing Marquez.
As the raced progressed into lap 3, Marquez ran wide pulling back in on top of Cal Crutchlow forcing him to sit up and slow which allowed Danilo Petrucci to pass him. To add to this Cal was passed a few corners later by Johann Zarco.
Lap 5 saw Marquez pass Lorenzo to ride in third and for the next few laps there was a large group of about nine riders bunched up in the top spots, all running a slow pace. A few laps later the pace started to quicken and so did the action. In lap 7 at turn 13 Scott Redding crashed out of the race with the rider fortunately unhurt. A lap later Lorenzo made two attempts to reclaim third from Marquez and was successful on the second. Rossi also passed Dovi to lead again.
With 13 laps to go, Marquez again passed Lorenzo and Tito Rabat was forced to end his race with mechanical issues. The action continued to heat up with Marquez attempting to take second from Dovi at turn 5 during lap 10 and Cal Crutchlow making a close but clean overtake on Lorenzo. Lorenzo however was unimpressed and offered a shake of the head.
Lap 11 saw the lead change again with Dovi securing top spot from Rossi and a few corners later Rossi lost second place to Marquez and third to Crutchlow at turn 12 of the following lap. By lap 13 Rossi was in 5th after Lorenzo claimed 4th.
It seemed that Lorenzo was now on a mission and took third spot from Crutchlow. He made the move at Turn 14 of lap 16 with a distinctive and classic clean Lorenzo overtake (no head shaking required).
The last few laps remained as action packed with Lorenzo trying to steal the show. He lunged up past Marquez and briefly past Dovi but ran wide allowing Dovi to take back the lead but he was able to hold second. He attempted to take the lead but again committed the same error as before as he ran wide and returned to second spot.
With 2 laps to go it looks like the podium winners had been decided apart from the order as the lead group pulled more than a second clear of Crutchlow in fourth. Meanwhile, Lorenzo and Marquez were not giving up hope of improving their positions but both couldn’t stick it.
In the last lap Marquez made another attempt briefly taking second but at turn 5 Lorenzo reclaimed his position with the two appearing to contact. From here the race was decided as Dovi crossed the line to win the Czech GP with Lorenzo then Marquez taking the final podium positions.
Valentino Rossi after his initial great start where he was in the top two places for half the race was unable to match the pace of the podium finishers and but was able to beat Cal Crutchlow to fourth after passing him on the final chicane. Rossi’s fourth place points grab however allowed him to take the honour of being the first rider to reach 6000 career points. It is a great achievement for such an amazing rider. Congrats to “The Doctor”. On another positive note for Rossi, after today’s P4 he remains second in the championship behind Marquez.
Petrucci crossed the line in sixth with Zarco, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Iannone completing the top ten.
Next on the calendar is the Red Bull Ring in Austria on August 12th.
1st Andrea Dovizioso
“I’m so happy. At this track we have an advantage in acceleration and that gave us the possibility to fight until the end with Marc, who had a better pace in practice. I had a good strategy because everyone is struggling with the rear tyre and I’m really happy with the way we’ve worked.”
“It was really difficult. When you see on the pitboard ‘Group of 3’ and ‘Jorge and Marc’, it’s not good! I’m happy with the way I managed that, also because we were fighting with the grip. So, it wasn’t just about speed, but speed and the sliding.”
“The front worked really well and I’m very happy with its performance today, especially on this track where there are a lot of bumps and it is normally very difficult. We are very focussed on the rear because on our bike we are always trying to preserve the tyres for the end of the race. Overall this weekend it has been very good as we had an advantage with our bike with acceleration, so we always have a chance to fight right till the end. We are still trying to adapt the bike to the tyres and get the very best performance and that is something we will continue to work on.”
2nd Jorge Lorenzo
“I decided before the race to try a different strategy this time to save the tyres because, if not, I wouldn’t have finished the race. Especially on the front. I had a lot of graining on the right side of the tyre, so I needed to change my riding style completely, lean a bit less and to wait for my moment, from the middle of the race until the end – and it worked. I didn’t make a good start so I said ‘I’m 3rd or 4th, so it makes sense to wait a little bit and see what happens.’ So, I saved energy, I saved tyres and finally it paid off because I was really competitive at the end of the race, especially on braking.”
“Marc and Andrea on the last laps started to brake earlier and earlier, so I recovered a lot in braking but on acceleration I used just a little bit, so I arrived too late for them. It was a great battle but I think I just needed one more lap. When I overtook Marc, I just needed one more lap to catch Andrea for the last overtake for the win…I think, in terms of speed, especially at the end of the race, I was probably a tenth faster but it wasn’t enough because I was fifth or fourth, third then in the last two laps I was second, so I just needed one more lap!”
3rd Marc Marquez
“The race in the beginning was slow, and everybody was trying to save tyres. The track grip was not perfect at the beginning but, step by step, I got better and better and I got the confidence. I was following Dovi with good pace, I was comfortable. But when Jorge arrived, we started to fight and in that fight it was quite difficult for me for this reason: Ducati riders have very strong acceleration.
“I was ready to fight but, honestly, fighting against Ducati is so difficult. They have incredible acceleration, incredible braking stability, so it’s so difficult to overtake them. In end, we finished 3rd. We finished really close. We tried. But I’m really happy because we did a great job. We increased the lead in the championship.”
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