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The ‘Little Samurai’ returns to the top of the timesheets at a venue that has seen him take 11 podiums
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) has had a tougher start to the season than many but now back to full strength and having announced his retirement at the end of 2018, the number 26 shot back to the top of the timesheets at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky on Friday. A 1:55.976 was Pedrosa’s time to beat, taking him over a tenth clear of second placed and top Independent Team rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing). Pedrosa has 11 podiums at Brno including two MotoGP™ victories, the most recent of which he took in 2014.
Petrucci’s pace wasn’t the only talking point for the Italian on Friday either. The number 9 Alma Pramac Racing machine sported a new aero fairing – now homologated – which counts as Petrucci’s update for the season, as the updates are counted by rider and not by manufacturer. More updates could be seen to more Borgo Panigale factory machinery elsewhere as well – with Jorge Lorenzo’s fuel tank sporting further modifications.
But behind Pedrosa and another impressive performance from top Ducati Petrucci, the top three was completed by another Independent Team Ducati runner – Alvaro Bautista. After four top tens in a row before the summer break, including a fifth place at the Sachsenring, the Spaniard continued his impressive run on Friday in Czechia to put the Angel Nieto team in P3.
In fourth it was another high-profile performance to impress as Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) leapt up the timesheets late on. The Malaysian was not only top rookie by some margin, he was also top Yamaha – and that after teammate Johann Zarco had also shown some good form in the morning to top FP1. Zarco did also improve his time in the afternoon, nut by only a tenth – leaving him ninth.
Behind Syahrin comes the second factory rider on the timesheets: Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), and the Italian was the first to set a time attack on new tyres in the latter stages of FP2. He led briefly but rounds out the top five by the end of play on Friday – just head of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pairing Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi. The two Iwata-marque factory riders had differing narratives, however, as Viñales was down the timesheets in the morning before bouncing back to surpass his Italian teammate, and Rossi showed good pace in both FP1 and FP2.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) took P8 to just pip Zarco by 0.014 and was another Independent Team Ducati rider to put in an impressive performance, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) left to round out the top ten.
Notice some names missing? A host of usual top suspects found themselves out of provisional Q2 graduation on Friday, including former Brno winners Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in P14 and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) in P15. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone also missed out in P11 and P12 respectively, and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) slotted into that top 15 jigsaw in thirteenth.
So after a scorching Day 1 it’s Pedrosa who leads the way as the pack shuffles in Czechia – can he keep that on Saturday? With a stunning record at the venue it could well prove the weekend that sees Pedrosa add to his incredible record of winning a race every year for 16 consecutive years…but it will be far from easy. See if the pack can catch the number 26 in qualifying from 14:10 (GMT +2) on Saturday.
Andrea Dovizioso fifth on first day of free practice for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno. Jorge Lorenzo ends the day in fifteenth place
Andrea Dovizioso was fifth-quickest on the opening day of free practice action for the Czech Grand Prix, the tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship which is taking place this weekend at the Automotodrom circuit on the outskirts of Brno.
After wrapping up the morning’s FP1 session in second place, the Ducati Team’s Italian rider then set a time of 1’56.218 in the afternoon run to go fifth quickest.
Spanish team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who was twelfth in the first free practice session, ended up fifteenth after the Mallorcan rider could only manage a time of 1’57.205 in the afternoon.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04): 5th (1’56.218)
“Today was a very prolific day of work and we were able to try a lot of things in view of the race. Our pace is good, we already have some clear ideas about the set-up and the tyres, and we’re quick. At the end of the second session we didn’t want to put on the soft tyres but we were inside the top ten anyway. Now we have to try and work to improve our race pace a bit more, but all in all I’m really happy with my first day here at Brno.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99): 15th (1’57.205)
“It was a very complicated day for me today: I didn’t have any feeling with the front but above all I was lacking grip with the rear tyre and for this reason I’m a lot further back than I thought. During the two sessions we weren’t able to improve the bike and, despite the modifications we made, we’re still some way off the pace of the quickest riders. Maybe if I had put on new tyres at the end I could have finished the day closer to the leaders, but in any case I didn’t have either the speed or the consistency. Tomorrow we’ll make a radical change to the set-up and try and get directly into Q2.”
Brno (Czech Republic), 3rd August 2018
Action got underway at the Automotodrom Brno circuit today with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales initially struggled to find the right set-up on the first day of the Czech GP, but persevered. He caught up at the end of the afternoon session, securing sixth position in the combined rankings. Valentino Rossi spent the scorching hot day improving his pace and rode to seventh place in FP2.
Viñales had a quiet start to the first GP of the second half of the season. Having stood on the podium at the previous two rounds, he followed the same procedure and tried out different set-up approaches in the morning practice. He concluded FP1 in 14th position with a 1’57.764s, 1.117s from first.
The Spaniard displayed his determination in the afternoon. He continued the preparation for Sunday’s race, not letting the heat get to him. His hard work paid off at the end of the session when he dropped into the low 1’56s, setting a fastest time of 1’56.392s for sixth place in today’s combined times, 0.416s from first.
Rossi had an encouraging start to the morning session, putting his YZR-M1 in second place on his opening lap. He then swiftly moved on to putting his attention towards finding a perfect balance for his bike. As the session progressed he improved and he rounded off the morning practice with a best time of 1’56.888s for fifth place, 0.241s from the top of the rankings.
The Italian picked up work where he left off in the FP2 session, remaining only focused on improving his bike’s race set-up. In the final stages the Doctor had one final push, despite the draining weather conditions, and bettered his morning time by nearly half a second with a 1’56.480s lap. He ended the first day of practice in seventh position in the combined free practice standings, 0.504s from the front.
It’s not been an easy start to the second part of the season, mainly because of the heat here in Brno. Usually we suffer in these kind of circumstances with high temperatures. We still have work to do on the set-ups, but in general the riders’ feelings with the bikes were not so bad in the first sessions. We have to deal with the lack of grip – mainly on the rear – and improve this aspect using electronic and mechanical solutions. We’ve also tried most of the tyre specs and tomorrow we will test the remaining options to find the best one for the race.
It’s been good, because I think the bike was not working perfectly yet, but we’re still quite close to the top, especially with our rhythm. We have to keep working, there’s room to improve and we need to keep pushing. The feeling with the tyres is good, I felt good the whole time with all types of tyres, we just need to make it work. Honestly, today has been difficult, it was really hot. It seems it will be like this the whole weekend, so we have to hurry up on the set-up because at the moment it’s not ready yet. I will try to keep up the pace I had at the previous GPs. Brno maybe isn’t the best track for me, but the bike is working well. We know we can do great.
Being back on the bike is always a good feeling. Today the conditions were very difficult because it was very hot, so physically it’s very demanding and it’s especially hard on the tyres. In fact, the level is still a bit difficult to understand. A lot of top riders tried different tyre options. I tried the soft and the medium, but not the hard option, which isn’t looking so bad because here the tyre degradation – especially the rear – is quite high. After some laps the rear slides quite a lot, so we still have a lot of work to do. We’ll see what our pace will be like tomorrow.
CRUTCHLOW SATISFIED WITH START IN BRNO
PRESS RELEASE: 03 August 2018 | Brno GP Day One
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow declared himself satisfied after the opening day of free practice for this weekend’s Czech Republic Grand Prix. In sweltering conditions at Brno, the Briton – who won at this circuit in 2016 – finished Friday down in 14th position riding his Flex-Box branded RCV, but insisted he had made positive strides as track temperatures reached up to 50 degrees Celsius.
Crutchlow posted the 11th fastest time during FP1, but then slipped back three spots in the afternoon session. However, the LCR man was still only around a second behind Honda factory colleague Dani Pedrosa who put up Friday’s quickest lap. Crutchlow insisted afterwards he was happy with the progress his team had made and is hopeful of significant progress in Saturday’s qualifying
Cal Crutchlow – 14th
(1’57.014 – lap 7 of 17)
“Overall, we’re in a sticky situation because the potential is not bad at all. We worked through the programme that I had set for the day, the end result was quite good and I was satisfied with what we did. Hopefully if we can continue the work we did today and progress tomorrow I’ll be happy. I have a good pace and a good rhythm and am satisfied with today”.
“The heat is not great because, as we know, the Honda is a very physical bike to ride. I felt fine on the bike today, I feel in good shape and competitive, but when you’re in a battle with eight riders you know about it – it can get hot”.
HRC wildcard Stefan Bradl starts his preparation for the race at a sunny and hot Brno
A seventh Honda rider took to the track in today’s MotoGP free practice sessions at Brno, with encouraging results in view of Sunday’s Czech Grand Prix.
HRC MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl, who recently replaced fellow Honda rider Franco Morbidelli at the German GP (16th) and is racing as an HRC wildcard at Brno, set an impressive eighth-fastest time in the morning’s first practice session in 1’57.291, just over six tenths from the top.
The 2011 Moto 2 World Champion wasn’t able to improve on that mark when the higher temperatures of the afternoon affected the track’s grip, and he ended the day in 16th place (1.315″ off the top in the combined classification). Still, he is fully focused in sorting things out tomorrow in order to earn a good starting position for Sunday.
Team HRC – MotoGP
“All in all, it was a good day for us. This morning in particular I immediately felt good on the bike and was able to do some good lap times. It was nice to find myself in a top-10 position. This afternoon our main target was working on used tyres, but we struggled a bit because the grip level in the hot temperatures was very low. We tried a couple of setup adjustments that didn’t work out as we expected. We’ll work on our data to make some changes, as we aim to be as fast on used tyres in high temperatures as we were in the fresher morning conditions.”
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ RETURNS FROM HIS INJURY WITH A FEW UNEXPECTED DIFFICULTIES
SCOTT REDDING RECKONS WITH A LOSS OF FEELING IN FP2
The scorching asphalt of Brno in the Czech Republic hosts the return of the MotoGP riders. For Aleix Espargaró, these were the first two sessions after the injury he suffered on the Sachsenring, a condition that made itself felt. In fact, the Spanish Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider suffered from back and rib pain, not enough to keep him from riding, but certainly penalising. From a technical point of view, Aleix complained of difficulties maintaining speed going through turns. This problem was mitigated by the changes made between the two sessions, as demonstrated by the 1.2-second improvement.
Scott Redding did not find the right feeling on the Czech asphalt straight away either, in any case improving between the two sessions, but with more room for growth to explore in the qualifiers and the race.
“I am well and it is always a pleasure to get back on the bike, but today I was in more pain than I expected to be. This past week, I trained on the bicycle without problems, but astride a MotoGP bike, the situation changes. In the direction changes, every time I move I have back and rib pain. Brno is one of the most demanding circuits from a physical point of view and I am suffering, but I will try to tackle this like a normal race weekend, managing the situation and taking painkillers especially for the race. My physical conditions aside, today I did not feel very much at ease on the bike. We continue to be hampered by understeering. When I release the brakes, the bike struggles to turn and that keeps me from maintaining good speed through the corners, which is fundamental here in Brno with all of these long sweepers. In any case, I am confident that as early as tomorrow we will be able to improve and be more competitive.”
“This morning, both Aleix and I struggled quite a bit with the bike. In the afternoon, with the hard tyre on the front and back, I felt better straight away. Toward the end, something must have happened, because I completely lost the feeling with the front end. As far as settings are concerned, the changes were not drastic enough to completely change the way the bike handled, so we need to check the data. On the up side, I did my best starting test of the season, so that is a small satisfaction on a day that was quite honestly rather complicated.”
As MotoGP gathers in Brno for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic this weekend Red Bull KTM Factory Racing sits 14th (Pol Espargaro) and 19th in the current MotoGP FIM World Championship standings and 5th in the Constructor’s table after nine rounds of nineteen in the 2018 campaign. Espargaro has scored points in seven of the Grands Prix to-date, including five 11th position finishes while Smith and test rider Mika Kallio classified 10th for their best result of the season so far last time out at Sachsenring in Germany and at the wildcard in Jerez.
2018 has been a term of encouraging progression for the team, factory and the prototype KTM RC16 race machine in what is only KTM’s second season at the pinnacle of motorcycle competition. To back up that notion another use of numbers and data becomes very relevant.
With 51 points in total – test rider Mika Kallio also weighing in with his contribution in Qatar and Spain – Red Bull KTM have improved in all but two events and accumulated 29 more than they had managed at this stage in 2017 (where they had logged 22 points).
The team have bettered their fastest lap at seven of eight Grands Prix (discounting Catalunya for the revised 2018 layout): the most notable of these achievements coming at Qatar, Austin and Assen where the quickest time was more than a second under their 2017 efforts.
Thanks to fine-tuning with chassis, electronics and engine settings to make the most of the Michelin control-tyre potential, the crew have also helped Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and Kallio vastly shrink the race distance to the eventual winner. There has been a significant reduction at every Grand Prix, and the standout is undoubtedly at Assen – one of the trickiest and most rapid courses on the calendar – where the gap to victor Marc Marquez plunged from 69.3 seconds to just 15.8.
Before his unlucky knee injury at Sachsenring, Kallio had been helping to develop the latest version of the RC16; a model that troubled the top ten of the grid at Jerez in May. Technical evolution is concise, relentless and ‘sixth gear’ for the team and the whole R&D staff back at Mattighofen.
“We try to have a constant development of the bike, so when we’re able to bring something in, we’ll do it,” Team Manager Mike Leitner admitted to during an assessment of the manufacturer’s young MotoGP story and outlook for the future. “But, of course, we’re trying to stay within the rules and the rules in MotoGP are also quite tight. So some things we can only bring next year and we try to constantly improve our ‘2018’ bike on all aspects: we work to try and improve on the chassis side, we work hard on the electronics and engine side, the aerodynamics side, so let’s see what we can bring in this second half (of the season). It won’t be everything at once, it’ll be step by step.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team will continue their fascinating and positive journey at Brno and then head straight to their home Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on August 12th.
Syahrin and Zarco display fantastic opening to second part of 2018 in Brno
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo of Hafizh Syahrin and Johann Zarco commenced the Monster Energy Grand Prix Cescke Republiky with great enthusiasm and a very strong performance today.
While Syahrin was incredibly fast from the word go, while getting used to his Yamaha YZR-M1 at the long Automotodrom Brno quickly, he improved by unbelievable 1.228 seconds from the first session this morning to eventually finish Friday in fourth spot as the best Yamaha rider and the best rookie of the field.
Meanwhile, Zarco topped FP1 with a fabulous 1’56.647, he was working on his race pace during the second Free Practice this afternoon. Thereby, he lowered his lap time from this morning to this afternoon by 0.112 seconds in order to end up in ninth overall. Both, Syahrin and Zarco can’t wait to be back on the hot Czech asphalt tomorrow at 9.55 local time for the third practice session.
Position: 4th – Time: 1’56.200 – Laps: 29
“Today I felt really good with the bike. The bike and me work very well together, so I have to thank my guys a lot. We were working hard during the nine races in the beginning and after the summer break I’m back in great shape. I tried to understand all the main things and it worked well. At the moment we are provisionally in Q2, but of course we know, that tomorrow morning will be interesting to really find out where we are. I try to be focused, keep calm and try to ride smooth, because on this flowing track I can truly discover how to ride in a good way without pushing too hard. In the end, I’m really happy that our work is paying off. Tomorrow, my goal is to go to Q2 directly.”
Position: 9th- Time: 1’56.535 – Laps: 32
“It was good to restart. FP1 has been pretty good. With the new medium tyre I did a great lap time and was happy to be first. In the afternoon it was very hot. The good thing is, that we could try almost all the tyres and understand, plus getting some feeling, which is very important to prepare the rest of the weekend. On the last exit with the new soft tyre, I have been unlucky. Because on the two fast laps that I was supposed to do, I had to overtake slower riders and lost time. It’s a pity to not be able to do a very good lap time in the end, but we are inside the top 10, which is a great sign for tomorrow.”