Thursday, 01 August 2019
After summer break, the time is finally here to hit the tarmac once again and it’s the classic Automotodrom Brno that kicks off Act II of the season. In the pre-event Press Conference for the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, reigning Champion and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was joined by Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), his teammate Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), home hero Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and 2020 MotoGP™ signing Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to talk shop before the lights go out.
Marquez was first to speak, and he’s in the best position of all – leading by a good margin and ready to get back in business. “The second part of the season will be the most important. Summer break has been very good. Time to relax, disconnect but also time to prepare for the second part of the season together with my brother and yeah, it’s time to rejoin the Championship. We will try to restart the same way we finished. We will see here in Brno and let’s enjoy it on the track!”
Looking back over the first half of the year, the reigning Champion was positive, as can be expected. “The first part of the season has been interesting. At some tracks it was one manufacturer, at others it was another but the main thing is we were always there. We were always there to have a small chance of victory or second place and this will be the target for the rest of the season. Here we will see which rider and which manufacturer will be there, but our goal is to fight for the podium, try to fight for the victory until the end of the race and yeah this is the way. If that’s impossible then it’s time to survive and time to take points for the Championship.”
Up next was Assen winner Viñales, who also took a podium in Germany. He’s another on full power looking into the second half. “I am full of energy because I finished the last two races in a good way. For me, this summer break was very long because I was waiting to be on the bike, the mood I had was really good. With the same mentality, we have nothing to lose and we will try to push at the maximum from the first lap on Friday. I feel good, calm and we need to keep trying to take the maximum from the bike, try and be at the front and understand and a learnt a lot.
“I think it will be very different, we will try a different way, as the bike is different to last year. I feel like we can profit from this layout and I am curious to see and I hope in the second half of the season we can prove our potential.”
Teammate Rossi spoke next, a man who was on a more difficult run heading into the holidays. He’s now ready to start trying to unlock the secret to speed on the 2019 machine, having already taken podiums but then started to struggle a little more of late.
“For sure the break is a good chance to recharge the battery and take the right energy for the second half. The last races of the first part were very tough and very difficult. We expected to be stronger, so we need to concentrate and work better to be stronger for this second part.
“From Jerez, Quartararo and Maverick were very strong so this means the bike is competitive. We need to find another way to find the good feeling with the bike to ride at the limit.”
For Crutchlow, 2019 has also been more of a challenge at times. But the Brit dug deep and impressed in Germany to take a rostrum finish despite carrying a cycling injury, and Brno holds good memories of his first Grand Prix win.
“It’s great to be back after the summer break. I am very happy to be here in Brno and be working with the team again. I seem to favour the second half of the season over the first half, we have two podiums so far and maybe we can to that – perhaps this weekend!”
The Brit also got out on two wheels – of the pedalling sort – over the break, and it didn’t go too badly to say the least. “It was a fun and great event on the Isle of Man, I targeted to win and finished third! Maybe if I do the same this weekend, I’ll be happy again. It was typical Isle of Man weather with rain and winds but I think we will be a bit more fortunate this weekend. We will see how it goes this Sunday afternoon.”
Next on the mic was home hero Karel Abraham. He’s had a tougher year so far but Brno is always a special race…and the target is points in front of the home fans.
“It’s been a very difficult season so far, if we’re scoring points anytime that’s a success and it will be a success for this weekend as well so I think that we have done a lot of work with our team and we have improved, especially on Friday and Saturday but Sunday is where it counts. We need to get better on Sunday but if we score points, as I mentioned, it will be a nice weekend.
“You can see the field is very close and it’s very difficult for me to get better results, like top ten would be a dream but it’s very hard. We have to work very hard for it, especially to make all the laps constant which is what counts.”
Finally, it was time to hear from Binder. The South African has taken two intermediate class podiums in a row after a hard beginning to the season, and he’s also now confirmed as moving to the premier class next year.
“Looking forward from now, I am super excited to be stepping up to MotoGP next year. I know it is going to be a massive task but all in all, I am ready for the challenge and I am really excited. This year has been a bit of a disaster to say the least, but each weekend we have found a little bit more. Basically, now we have a new bike and looking forward, I hope it is what we are looking for so we can chase after more victories and get some points back.”
How many? This weekend will start to tell the tale of Act II. MotoGP™ gets back in action on Friday morning in Brno, with lights out for the premier class race on Sunday at 14:00 (GMT +2). Don’t miss it!
Top photo L-R: Binder, Crutchlow, Viñales, Marquez, Rossi, Abraham