Pedrosa’s Brno win Brings It

bwin Grand Prix Czech Republiky, August 24-26, 2012

story and photos by Tim Hailey and MotoGP

Dani Pedrosa leads Jorge Lorenzo at Brno

MotoGP treated fans to some exciting racing this weekend at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa storming to a thrilling victory in the premier-class ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow, opening up the championship race once more.

Despite dark clouds looming, the track was dry, much to the delight of riders and fans, and it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo who got the holeshot off the line, holing off Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Crutchlow. Yamaha’s Ben Spies looked to continue his bad luck as he dropped back drastically after a few corners with a slipping clutch. This left Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi to chase down Crutchlow in third.

With 17 laps to go, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was involved in a tight battle with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, with the German taking the Spaniard for sixth after dicing for numerous turns. Meanwhile, Spies looked to have re-found his stride with the issue sorted, and was fighting his way back through the pack after dropping down to 13th. Three laps later, Bradl was dicing with Rossi for fifth place, getting the better of the Italian after a few attempts. On the same lap, Spies’ race came to an end after he crashed out of his charge.

Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva suffered a technical issue with 12 laps remaining, while Lorenzo and Pedrosa were neck and neck at the front of the race, having pulled out a significant gap over Crutchlow. On the same lap Bautista overtook Rossi, whose Desmosedici looked to be slowing. A lap later Pedrosa sparked some life into the battle at the front, as he got past Lorenzo on the inside, though the Mallorcan continued to stick to his rear wheel.

On the last lap it was MotoGP racing at its best with Lorenzo forcing his way past Pedrosa with a tough move, with the Repsol Honda rider fighting back almost immediately, and the two almost neck-and-neck into the final turn. With Pedrosa on the better line coming into the final turn, he got the best drive to the line to take his third victory of the season.

Crutchlow recorded his own milestone by taking his first ever podium in the MotoGP class, and ending a 12-year premier-class podium drought for a British rider. It was a fitting way to celebrate his contract extension with the team this weekend. Pedrosa’s win has moved him to within 13 points of Lorenzo and blown the championship race wide open at the top. Fourth spot went to Dovizioso, in front of Bradl, Bautista, Rossi and Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet who finished top CRT. Cardion AB Racing’s local rider Karel Abraham and De Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaró completed the top ten.

Marky Marc Márquez leads the Moto2 pack at Brno

It was Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez who took a stunning win in a close-fought Moto2 race at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno in front of Tom Lüthi and Pol Espargaró.

The track had dried out sufficiently to be declared a dry race, with Interwetten-Paddock’s Lüthi making the best of the conditions at the start taking the lead early on ahead of Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Espargaró and Márquez. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding’s race was unfortunately ended very early, as the Brit crashed out after three turns.

It was Márquez who made his intentions known early on as he fought past his compatriot into second. Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, not wishing the leading trio to pull away, overtook Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi with 17 laps to go, pushing past Espargaró shortly after. With track conditions still not ideal after the wet track before, riders were tentative to make rash moves, leading to uncharacteristically cautions racing. Eight laps before the end however Espargaró sized up Iannone and took him on the inside, as further down the grid Tech 3 Racing’s Xavier Siméon and Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Gino Rea both crashed out.

As Márquez looked for a way past Lüthi, Espargaró went past him into second, although was taken straight back. He was subsequently ordered to drop a place, after being sighted for passing under a yellow flag. Espargaró did however not see the pit board instantly, yet Iannone helped him by passing him with four laps remaining. This ignited an entertaining battle between the pair, as Lüthi lost the lead to Márquez. The dice for fifth place was also gaining momentum a few laps before the end with JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis swapping positions frequently.

The final lap was a thrilling affair with Lüthi and Espargaró desperate for the lead, with Iannone mixing it up as well. The Swiss rider looked to be lining up a move in the final turn, yet did not have enough drive on to the straight, meaning it was Márquez who took the chequered flag, with Lüthi and Espargaró completing the rostrum. Márquez now holds a 48-point lead at top of the championship standings in front of Espargaró. Fourth spot went to Iannone, followed by Corsi, De Angelis, Zarco, Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio and Pons’ Esteve Rabat.

Jonas Folger takes the Moto3 win

In an enthralling Moto3 race at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno it was Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who held his nerve in drying conditions to take victory in front of Luis Salom and Sandro Cortese.

Despite no rain falling it was declared a wet race from the start, with most of the riders opting for slick tyres as a dry line was forming quickly. It was AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin who got the holeshot, yet it was JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, on wet tyres, who soon took the lead on the still very damp track. With 18 laps left he was however being chased down by Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, who had made his way into second.

It was two laps later that Folger, on slicks, pushed past for the lead, as the ever-drying track was causing Vázquez problems. Behind the two, Mahindra Racing’s local replacement for the injured Danny Webb, Miroslav Popov, Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil and Racing steps Foundation KRP’s John McPhee were having a great race dicing for podium positions. Half way through the race, both Khairuddin and McPhee had gone past Vázquez, as the pursuing group containing Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese closed in on that fifth spot. In the meantime, MZ Racing’s Toni Finsterbusch retired with a mechanical issue.

Caretta Technology’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi was forced to retire with six laps remaining, whilst Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales had slowly fought his way up into fourth place. It was heartache for Khairuddin as he crashed out of the race with four laps left, as Popov fell coming onto the straight. The final laps provided the typical battle between Cortese and Viñales for the final podium spot, with Kornfeil struggling to keep the pair off. Going into the final lap, RW racing GP’s Luis Salom, who had been stalking behind, snuck behind Cortese, with Viñales and Kornfeil behind.

In the end was Folger who crossed the finish line first with a near six-second gap to take his second-ever GP win ahead of Salom, who had pushed passed Cortese in the final turns. This now gives Cortese a 32-point lead at the top of the championship standings ahead of Viñales, who came in fourth. Behind him were Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, Kornfeil, Cortese’s teammate Danny Kent, Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, Rins’ teammate Miguel Oliveira and Fenati’s teammate Alessandro Tonucci.


Lorenzo takes Brno pole

Qualifying for the MotoGP took place under frequently ominous skies at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno today with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo on record-breaking pace in the premier-class taking pole position for tomorrow’s race ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo’s time in the high 1.55s only narrowly beat Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Crutchlow into second on the grid, despite the Brit crashing half way through the session. For Crutchlow, who re-signed with the squad for another year today, this is his best MotoGP qualifying result to date. Completing the front row is Repsol Honda Team’s pace man from yesterday, Dani Pedrosa, whose session got off to a bad start after dropping his bike in the early stages. He then went out on his second bike, yet stated that this had far more chatter issues than the one he crashed.

Row two is headed by Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies in fourth, after the Texan looked to be riding near his best form once again. In fifth, Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso was not able to beat his teammate’s time, and also had to park his bike up on the side of the track at the end with a technical issue. Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi lines up in sixth place, recording his best qualifying result since joining the Italian outfit last year.

Row three sees LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl in seventh place on the grid, with the German no doubt looking to improve in tomorrow’s race. Eighth place went to San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who will be disappointed at being beaten by the rookie on the other satellite Honda. Completing the third row in ninth is Cardion AB Racing’s local rider Karel Abraham, who will have delighted his home fans, despite dropping his bike in the gravel at the end.

In tenth, Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, who also crashed in the session, managed to finish as top CRT. The only other rider to suffer an accident was San Carlo’s Michele Pirro, who like the others, walked away unscathed.

Pol Espargaró

In an eventful Moto2 qualifying session for the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky it was Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró who stormed to pole position in front of Tom Lüthi and Scott Redding.

In a session that was frantic from the off it was Espargaró who recorded his fourth pole position this season with a record time of 2.01’953 ahead of Interwetten-Paddock’s Lüthi, who had looked stronger at the start. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding was only fractionally slower than the Swiss rider, yet still managed to secure a front row start. Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez will be disappointed with his qualifying session, having missed out on the front row for only the second time this season. The championship leader did well to stay on his bike, as he had a moment towards the end as he pushed for a better lap.

Lining up next to him in fifth is Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi, marginally ousting his compatriot Andrea Iannone on the Speed Master bike. Iannone recovered from a heavy crash early in the session, which saw the red flags come out briefly to clean the track of oil patches. He was able to re-join the latter stages of qualifying. Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami put in a good showing in seventh to head the third row, pushing Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol into eighth. Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter and JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco complete the top ten.

As well as Iannone’s heavy crash, QMMF Racing Team’s Elena Rosell suffered her second fall of the day, while Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Gino Rea also had a spill into the gravel. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis had an enormous “tank-slapper”, which violently threw him off the bike in the latter stages of qualifying. He also walked away unscathed. Arguiñano Racing Team’s Ricky Cardús and Kiefer Racing’s Max Neukirchner did not take part in qualifying as they are ruled out of the weekend due to injuries sustained in previous sessions. Cardús has a dislocation of the right acromioclavicular joint (shoulder) and Neukirchner a fractured third metacarpus in his right hand.

Maverick Viñales

In a Moto3 qualifying session for the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno that was threatened by rain throughout it was Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales who went fastest to take pole position ahead of Sandro Cortese and Zulfahmi Khairuddin.

Viñales’ lap of 2.08’075 was just enough to secure the Spanish youngster his fifth pole position of the season. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s championship leader Cortese had looked like he was on pole-pace in his final hot lap, yet dropped off in the last sector of the track to miss out by just over three hundredths. AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Khairuddin will be incredibly pleased with his performance, with the Malaysian starting from the front row for only the second time in his career.

San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolò Antonelli was another rider that had a good session, as he heads up the second row in fourth, ahead of Indianapolis race winner, RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom. Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Héctor Faubel put his bike in sixth, after finding some extra pace in the afternoon. Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil was pushing hard in front of his local support, and was rewarded with first slot on the third row.

Lining up next to him is Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins and Cortese’s teammate Danny Kent. Faubel’s teammate Jonas Folger completes the top ten. As the Moto3™ grid tried to get some hot laps in early on with dark clouds threatening from the start, there was a big crash early on between Ambrogio Next Racing’s Giulian Pedone and Salom’s teammate Brad Binder. Both fortunately walked away, albeit rather gingerly. Pedone’s teammate Alex Márquez crashed twice during the session, the second time with Andalucia JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Alberto Moncayo. Both riders were unhurt.

Pedrosa burns it up in Brno

Dani Pedrosa leans in at Brno

As the MotoGP classes got their first taste of the track for this weekend’s bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky at Brno it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who set the tone after posting the fastest time of the day in the premier-class ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.

Set in hot conditions on the harder rear tire, a lap in the high 1.56s placed him ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who was a surprise crasher half way through the afternoon session, focussing his efforts on the softer rear tyre. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso completed the top three as he continued his good form this season, finishing less that two tenths off the top. Italian Dovizioso has finished on the podium in four of the last five races on the Tech 3 Yamaha to stay in fourth place, the highest-ranking rider on a satellite (non-factory) bike. Dovizioso is the first satellite rider since 2006 to record at least five podium finishes in a season. Dovizioso also signed this week a lucrative, two-year contract with Ducati to ride one of its factory bikes starting next season.

In fourth, his teammate Cal Crutchlow was having a good day as he put in a fast lap at the end of the afternoon practice, matching his performance of the morning. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl set the fifth quickest time of the day, with the German even setting the fastest time in the first sector of the track.

Sixth place was occupied by Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, who had one of his best outings all season, finishing less than half a second off Pedrosa’s Honda. In seventh, Yamaha’s Ben Spies suffered a crash in the afternoon session, and was unable to better his time from the morning. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista went eighth fastest, also crashing out in the afternoon with three minutes left after pushing for a faster lap. His best time was also set in the morning.

Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet finished the day in ninth and as top CRT and was the only other rider in the top ten not to improve in the afternoon. His teammate Aleix Espargaró set the tenth fastest time of the day, yet also dropped his bike in the gravel with only two minutes left in the latter session. Spaniard Espargaro has emerged as the best rider on production-based Claiming Rule Teams machinery this season, ahead of former MotoGP factory riders de Puniet and Colin Edwards. Espargaro placed 10th and ninth at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, respectively.

Pramac Racing Team’s Toni Elías, standing in for the injured Héctor Barberá was 11th. Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez caused the red flag to come out briefly for air-bag fence repairs, after crashing his bike for the second time in the day in the second practice, while Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci was a crasher in the morning session. None of the riders were hurt in the incidents.

On the first day of Moto2 practice at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in Brno it was Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró who set the fastest time ahead of Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis.

Espargaró set his quickest lap late in the morning session, when track conditions proved their most ideal. Lüthi on the other hand, who had been on the pace throughout the day, was on his best form in the afternoon until he crashed his bike 20 minutes before the end. And despite not being able to get back out on track, his time of 2.03’103 put him just a fraction behind the Spaniard. Third quickest was NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis, finishing just ahead of Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding. The Brit had looked on record pace in the afternoon session, yet his best lap was scrapped, due to him cutting the track at turn two.

Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi put in a terrific performance for fifth, ahead of Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez, who was less than two tenths down on the Italian. Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone clocked the seventh fastest time of the afternoon, as he looks to fight for the win once more like he did last year.

Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio, Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol and Italtrans Racing Team’s Claudio Corti, a crasher in the morning practice, completed the top ten. As well as Lüthi, other fallers included Desguaces La Torre SAG’s Marcel Schrötter, Corti’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami, Kiefer Racing’s Max Neukirchner and Espargaró’s teammate Axel Pons. Neukirchner’s fall resulted in a fracture of the third metacarpus in his right hand.

It was Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales who went quickest on the first day of Moto3 practice at the bwin Grand Prix ?eské republiky in front of Jakub Kornfeil and Danny Kent by setting the top time in the afternoon session.

Spaniard Viñales was in scorching form on the opening day, as he posted the fastest time of 2.09’480 to make his intentions clear this weekend, having to make up for his DNF last time out. It was however local rider Kornfeil on board his Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta that stole the show to take second spot of the day with a lap just under three tenths off the top. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Danny Kent finished the day in third, doing well to recover from his crash in the morning.

AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin had led a large part of the afternoon practice, yet was unable to capitalise on this in the final stages. He nonetheless ended the day in a respectable fourth, ahead of San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolò Antonelli, who improved significantly on his showing in the morning session. RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, last race’s winner, brought his bike home in sixth, over seven tenths off Viñales in top spot. Behind him, the morning’s pace setter, Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger came in seventh, with Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi behind.

Red Bull KTM Ajo ‘s Sandro Cortese had a subdued day for his standards finishing ninth, and only jumped into that position after his final lap in the afternoon practice, with Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira completing the top ten. Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins crashed out of the session with 16 minutes left, whilst MZ Racing’s Toni Finsterbusch did the same earlier in the afternoon. The morning session was also marred with crashes, as Mahindra Racing’s Ricardo Moretti took out Andalucia JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Alberto Moncayo, while Caretta Technology’s stand-in rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi slid off track at the same time as Technomag-CIP-TSR’s Alan Techer. Moretti suffered fractures to his number 6 and 7 ribs on his right side, while Techer was concussed, rendering him unfit for the race.

Stoner pulls out of Czech GP

Casey Stoner’s Indy crash

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner gave a press conference explaining he has to head back to Australia to undergo treatment on his ankle injury sustained last weekend in Indianapolis, rather than compete in this weekend’s bwin Grand Prix Czech republiky. Stoner will leave Brno this evening for Australia after his doctors advised him to have surgery on his damaged ankle to avoid any permanent injury. The Repsol Honda rider stated that he hopes to be back for his home race in Philip Island in late October, yet said that nothing could be confirmed until the surgery has taken place. Stoner also sighted his severe disappointment at the injury, which he believes has put paid to his championship chances: “We’re pretty much out of it, even going into this weekend. But now that we’re not competing it’s done and dusted. Very frustrating, but life goes on.”

Jorge Lorenzo, who is currently leading the standings by 18 points, stated that while Stoner’s news may help him in a competitive sense, it is unwelcome news for all: “It’s very bad news for the championship that Casey has retired from this race and the next two or three races. It’s also bad that Nicky [Hayden] and Héctor [Barberá] aren’t going to race on Sunday. So wish all three a quick recovery, especially Casey, as he is a very tough competitor for me and for Dani, so without him the next races will not be the same. For sure it will be easier for both of us to win races because Casey is always there; he’s very fast and very competitive.”

On the prospect of Brno, the Spaniard stated: “This is a very different track – much wider, the tarmac is different, so for sure my feeling on the bike will be too. But of course it’s going to be hard again, especially with Dani, but I think we can be more competitive than at Indianapolis.”

Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo’s closest competitor, was equally downbeat on losing his teammate for a while: “Obviously it’s bad news, especially for my team and for me. Casey and me always push each other in every session. Being along in the team, I have to push all I can. Brno is a track I like so I like riding here. Last year I made a mistake, but I’m happy to race here and I hope to do well.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was yesterday confirmed as Valentino Rossi’s replacement in the Ducati Team for next year alongside Hayden, spoke about his enthusiasm for the new project, yet is focussing on his job at hand right now: “Yesterday we signed and it was a big decision. I’m so happy and so excited to be part of the project with Ducati and Audi. I spoke with Del Torchio and Preziosi and they explained the project to me as well as Audi coming in, so it looks like there are many things to get a result. Everybody knows Ducati’s situation, and I’m confident about us working together to get a result.”

He also commented on Stoner’s situation: “It’s not nice to get results like this and it’s always bad to see a rider crash and get injured, so this is really bad. Casey is a really fast rider and he can fight for the championship. Yes, I’ll have more of a chance to fight for third position, but right now I’m focussed to get a result. I’m really confident with the team, and the bike is always getting better.”

This is the first time Hayden has missed consecutive races since he suffered a heel injury in 2008 while training on a motocross bike. He had started 67 consecutive races before missing the Red Bull Indianapolis GP last weekend. American Hayden hopes to return to his Ducati Team machine by the Grand Prix of San Marino on Sept. 16.

Depleted after racing the Indy GP with a broken ankle, Stoner accepts kudos from Czech rider Karel Abraham

Cardion AB’s Karel Abraham, who has had a difficult season so far said: “I’m definitely fully fit now, but it’s definitely been a bad season. But the last races in America were quite good, and we got a lot of points, which was good for us. I don’t think the championship can be good in the end because we’ve missed so many races, but I’ll definitely try to have some good races, which would be important for me and for my team’s mentality too.”

On the same day, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis spoke about Valentino Rossi’s role and confirmed that once he is back with the team from the 2013 season, both him and Jorge Lorenzo will get equal treatment and support, however the development lead will go to Lorenzo with Rossi in a supporting role. This is down to the fact that Yamaha still views Lorenzo as their most capable rider to win the championship.

It is yet to be seen whether Rossi will be able to bring his crew chief Jeremy Burgess and the rest of his team with him to the Japanese outfit, yet Jarvis dis say that the possibility exists. And to put any rumours about the Italian’s move back to Yamaha full to bed, the MD confirmed that is was Rossi who first approached them.

There will be just 19 bikes on the MotoGP grid at this event, as Honda and Ducati will not replace the injured Stoner and Hayden, respectively. Toni Elias will ride for the injured Hector Barbera for the third consecutive race on the Pramac Racing Ducati. Barbera suffered a broken leg in a motocross training accident a week before the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix last month at Monterey, Calif., and then suffered broken vertebrae in a crash during practice last weekend at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.