After two sunny weekends in Jerez, the MotoGP paddock returns to a much cooler Czech Republic for the fourth round of the championship, the third for the premier class. Brno comes as the first of the triple-headers, with two visits to Austria in the coming weeks.
Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo comes into round four of the series as Championship leader after opening his 2020 campaign in perfect style, picking up two wins in Jerez. Fellow Yamaha rider, Maverick Viñales, lies second in the standings with Andrea Dovizioso in third.
First featured on the MotoGP calendar in 1993, Brno has played host to some incredible motorcycle racing moments. Jorge Lorenzo vs Dani Pedrosa in a head to head shootout in 2012, Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau going for the victory in 2005 and several first-time winners with Britain’s Cal Crutchlow and John McPhee taking the wins in a wet 2016 and Valentino Rossi taking his first Grand Prix victory back in 1996.
This weekend, the Czech hills are ready to echo the sound of 270bhp MotoGP bikes once again, despite recent rumours that the circuit would lose the prestigious event.
Last year was another stunning race with Marc Marquez taking his fourth victory at the Czech circuit. However, the eight-time champion will not be racing in the Czech Republic; instead, Stefan Bradl will occupy the RC213V. Bradl is the HRC test rider and a proven MotoGP front runner after competing in the premier class from 2012-2016.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda camp, Alex Marquez will return to MotoGP action to start his third premier class race. The Moto2 Champion lies 12th in the MotoGP standings and will no doubt be aiming for more points in the triple header. Marquez made improvements throughout the second round of MotoGP action and will be striving to carry his performance into Brno this weekend.
Staying with Japanese manufacturers, Yamaha has a lot of unanswered questions ahead of this weekend’s GP. The Iwata manufacturer saw Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi all stand on the podium in Jerez, but will their performances last at Brno.
Luckily for Yamaha, Brno has a lot of sweeping corners, change of directions and heavy braking points, perfect opportunities for the Yamaha riders to exploit their machines advantages. However, Yamaha will also have to deal with their top-speed deficit as Brno features three reasonably long undulating straights.
Valentino Rossi also has answers to find in his performance. Last race saw The Doctor return to podium form after overcoming an internal team dispute regarding the set-up of his YZF-M1. Rossi and his chief Mechanic David Muñoz made drastic changes to the number 46 Yamaha giving Valentino Rossi the feeling he needed to fight for his 199th podium finish. The nine-time World Champion will be hoping his issues have been solved and he can claim his 200th podium at the same venue he claimed his first race win 24 years ago.
Ducati is also searching for answers after Andrea Dovizioso failed to replicate his podium pace in the second race at Jerez while team-mate Danilo Petrucci crashed out.
Dovizioso, who is currently fighting for survival in the MotoGP paddock lies presently 3rd in the MotoGP standings, which on paper is better than arguably what Ducati deserve. The Bologna manufacturer is still looking for answers regarding the new Michelin rear tyre, something that has hampered the factory Ducati’s since it arrived at the start of the season.
Meanwhile, the Pramac Ducati’s will no doubt be aiming for a repeat of their Jerez performances. Both Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia were featured at the front in the two races, before sadly Miller crashed out of race two and Pecco Bagnaia was forced out of the race from P2 with an engine issue.
Over to Suzuki now, Joan Mir comes into round three 11th in the standings after his fifth-place finish in race two. Alex Rins also returns to action after his heroic performance at Jerez, just seven days after severely injuring his shoulder in Qualifying for round one.
KTM is coming into the Czech round ahead of their home rounds in two weeks in a very comfortable position. Leading rider Pol Espargaro had two positive races in Jerez and lay fifth in the overall standings behind Takaaki Nakagami. Brad Binder also had two intense races in Jerez, despite picking up just three points. Binder’s opening race saw the South African run off the track at turn five, before taking Oliveira out at turn one in the second race. Binder later crashed at the final corner, scoring no points in race two.
Finally, Aprilia will be hoping for a turn around in performance after picking up five points with Bradley Smith. Lead rider, Aleix Espargaro crashed out of both races, and never looked to have the pre-season pace that put the Aprilia inside the top ten comfortably. The Italian manufacturer will be hoping the cooler temperatures of the Czech hills can aid them in returning to the top ten this weekend.
The MotoGP weekend will be full of surprises, but with two races following the Czech Grand Prix, it will be a case of survival, avoiding injury and damaging the motorcycles too much.
The Czech round of the MotoGP championship takes place in Brno from August 7-9.
Featured images: MotoGP.com