Brno

MotoGP – dominant win for Marquez at Brno

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took a back-to-back victory at Brno in challenging conditions, his third this year and the 58th in his career, extending his championship lead to 14 points over his closest follower.

It was the fifth flag-to-flag race that Marquez has perfectly mastered thanks to a mix of tactics and determination – on this occasion the Spaniard found himself struggling soon after the lights went off, having fitted a soft rear tyre that he wasn’t at ease with on a drying track.

He was the first to roll the dice and pitted on Lap Two, where his team was ready with his second bike fitted with slick tyres. That allowed him to pull a huge gap on his opponents, which he managed until the chequered flag.

Team-mate Pedrosa was also on form and secured a strong second place, bringing his career podium tally to 150 (and his MotoGP podium tally to 109, one more than Jorge Lorenzo) – Pedrosa switched to his second bike on Lap Four and re-entered the race in eighth position. He immediately started riding at a very fast pace, fighting his way forward to second and setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Maverick Viñales finished third on the Factory Yamaha, one place ahead of his team-mate Valentino Rossi with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top five on the LCR Honda.

The all-Spanish rostrum was a fitting way to honour the “Maestro” Angel Nieto, 12+1 World Champion, who passed away on Thursday.

Marquez said: “This was a very special Sunday because everyone was racing for Angel Nieto, but it was also a very challenging race. On the grid, I took the risk to use the soft rear tyre because I thought it would give me extra grip for five laps before pitting to change bikes, but it didn’t go like that.

“I soon started to struggle a lot and lost many positions. When I saw that, I decided to immediately get in and take the risk of the slicks. When I re-joined the race, honestly it was still too damp in some parts and I nearly crashed during the first lap out. When you go out for the flag-to-flag, it’s so difficult to get the feeling with the bike again, but I tried to quickly understand the grip.

“Honestly, today I took some risks but it was one of those days when you just have to do it. After pulling a great gap, I just tried to manage, to ride well, and to finish the race. I’m really very happy with the result. It’s a track I normally struggle at, one I worry about every year, and getting 25 points was very important. The Championship is still very, very tight; we must be able to be fast in every condition.”

MotoGP test – Lowes impressed by M1 on MotoGP debut

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Pata Yamaha WSBK rider Alex Lowes got the chance to ride a MotoGP bike yesterday as reward for winning the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.

Lowes joined Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider and fellow Suzuka team-mate Pol Espargaró at Brno to experience the YZR-M1 during the official one-day IRTA test.

The Lincolnshire lad had to wait until the last hour of the day before he could sweep his leg over the bike, but he soon got a feel for the power of the M1 and improved his first hot lap by over a second when he set a fastest time of 1’59.558s.

Clocking the twelfth fastest time and managing a 1.146s improvement in just fifteen laps, the test unfortunately ended a prematurely when Lowes suffered a small front end crash at the end of the session.

Lowes said: “Obviously this was one of the best days of my life! From when you’re a kid you dream about an opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike and it was fantastic. Obviously I didn’t do too many laps, but the feel of the bike was incredible. The power of the bike and the way that it turns was everything that I expected and even more than that, so it was an incredible experience.

“The brakes and the tyres are quite a lot different from a WSBK bike, but the biggest difference is the power. When I came from my first lap onto the straight I felt the engine’s full power and it was amazing, I couldn’t believe how fast it was, so I would say the biggest difference is the power.

“The crash was on my last couple of laps, nearly at the end of the day and obviously the reason was because I tried to push a bit too much without understanding everything. I braked a bit more and lifted the rear a bit, went a little wide and the track was a bit dirty and I lost he front. It was only a small crash but I’m feeling really sorry for that.

“Honestly, it was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed it, even if I did only 15 laps, they were the best 15 laps I ever had. I have no experience of anything like this before and the way you go from one side to the other, it’s like you are on a bicycle, it is really easy. So many things felt a lot better for me but were also difficult to understand in the limited time available, but it’s been great.”

MotoGP – Crutchlow gambles and wins big in Brno

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CAL CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR HONDA HONDA MotoGP GP Czech Rep 2016 (Circuit Brno) 19-21/08.2016 photo: MICHELIN

Cal Crutchlow rode the race of his life in Brno to claim his maiden MotoGP win and end 35 years of hurt for Britain.

The LCR Honda rider gambled on a hard compound front and rear wet weather tyre for the race, and was one of only three riders to match front and rear hard rubber after torrential rain had soaked the 5.403km track.

The rain continued to fall during the Moto3 and Moto2 races but eased off as the MotoGP grid formed, and with the rain clouds clearing, the 22-lap race was declared wet.

Riders and teams frantically tried to come up with a strategy just minutes before the lights went out, and with previous race winner Iannone’s last-minute decision to run a soft front and rear, many riders were left fearing they may have made the wrong decision.

Crutchlow started from tenth on the grid and fell down to 15th by the end of lap-one as he struggled for grip while trying to get his tyres up to optimum working temperature.

The factory Ducati’s made a lightning start and were joined by Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi before the factory Yamahas began to tumble down the order.

Crutchlow bided his time, carefully warming his tyres up before making a determined charge through the field, finding grip where no one else could. It was a riding masterclass in skill, bravery and confidence, carving his way through the pack before taking the lead from last week’s winner Iannone on Lap 16.

Crutchlow continued to pull away, riding the wheels of his Honda RC213V to cross the line 7.2 seconds ahead of second-placed Rossi.

It was a deserved victory, made even more special as Crutchlow became the first British winner of a premier class motorcycle race since Barry Sheene in 1981.

Crutchlow said: “I’m very, very pleased to get this win today as it’s something very special for my career.

“We took the gamble and I knew that after three or four laps I would be competitive, but it was quite difficult to manage the tyres at the start of the race, because I needed to get the heat in them.

“I knew once I got going it was the right choice of tyres and I’m really happy with this result for me and my team.

“Winning doesn’t feel like I expected it to. I last won six years ago and the emotion then was different to how it is now. I feel that the biggest emotion I had was three weeks ago when Willow was born, so I don’t think it compares in that sense but that being said, it’s the best day of my racing career and the best emotion of my racing career. Hopefully it can happen again.”

The battle for the remaining podium places was an enthralling encounter which saw many riders change places throughout the race. Valentino Rossi eventually took second place with the final podium position going to championship leader Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda.

The next race on the MotoGP calendar sees the paddock heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on Sunday, September.

MotoGP – bravery, audacity and talent see Marquez land pole in Brno

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Honda’s Marc Marquez dug deep in Brno today, earning pole with an audacious last lap during an intense qualifying session.

Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo looked set to have put his recent crisis of confidence behind him with an imperious riding display, posting a blistering lap time to lead the field. However, Marquez had other ideas, and on the last lap of the session he posted the fastest time in the second and third sectors, quickly closing in on the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro. It looked like he was about to get held up by the duo ahead of him, but in an outrageous display of bravery, accuracy and skill, the Spaniard pounced, diving under Rossi to place his bike just inches behind Espargaro, gaining a handy tow from his compatriot on the drag to the line. It was enough to land him his 63rd pole position, a result which sees him equal Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in career poles.

Marquez said: “I honestly didn’t expect to get this pole position. I saw myself fighting for second place or to be on the front row, which was our main objective. Lorenzo had a great lap this morning that I believed would be difficult to match, but I was able to find a good reference that helped me during the qualifying session.

“Espargaro and Rossi were in front, and I was able to take advantage of their slipstream and overtake them in the final corner without losing time. In the end we did a very good time and I’m especially happy with how FP4 went, as we took a step forward in terms of our pace. “We’ve completely changed the set-up and things have gone much better. If the race is dry tomorrow it gives me hope, because I was finding things tough. If it rains then it will be more difficult, but I’m happy because we’re competitive.”

MotoGP – double podium for Yamaha duo

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo put on an incredible show at Brno, keeping rival Marc Marquez at bay for 22 laps to cross the line with a convincing 4.462s gap.

Lorenzo had a brilliant start, taking the holeshot from pole and immediately tried to break away with Marquez running closely behind him. After the opening lap the X-Fuera rider posted times in the low 1’56s for the next eight laps. Riding faster than anyone on track, the pair created a gap to the group battling for third, but with 14 laps to go the Majorcan’s pace proved to be too hot for his rival, and he managed to break away.

In his element, Lorenzo remained unthreatened for the remainder of the race and continued to manage the gap to Marquez perfectly, claiming a first victory in Brno for Yamaha since 2010 by a convincing length.

The Spaniard takes over the lead from Rossi in the championship as the pair are on equal points, each having earned a total of 211 points so far, but Lorenzo having two more GP wins this season, was delighted to win but felt he could have ridden even quicker. He said: “I didn’t need to push at the end, so this was not a perfect race, because I could have been a little bit faster. I had a margin, not enough to be comfortable but enough to risk less. I pushed so much at the beginning of the race and I gave my maximum to escape from Marc, who stayed behind me for a lot of laps. I expected the race to be a little bit quicker at the beginning and to be riding 1’55,9, but with a full fuel tank, and also after the Moto2 the track seemed to have a little less grip, it was not possible. Luckily for me after a few laps I started to brake better with less fuel in the tank and enter corners faster than before. I improved my times only by one tenth of a second, but it gave me a 0,6s advantage in one lap and that went up to one second and I was able to get away little by little and win the race.
Teammate Valentino Rossi also put up a strong fight during the early stages of the race when he battled with Bradley Smith and Andrea Dovizioso to take the chequered flag in third place.

Starting the race from third on the grid, Rossi slotted into fifth place, but quickly fought his way back to the front, overtaking Smith for fourth, but he lost valuable time behind Dovizioso in their battle for third place. With Andrea Iannone looming in fifth, Rossi put extra pressure on the compatriot in front of him and made the pass stick at the end of the third lap.

The Doctor put his head down to close the over two second gap to the frontrunners, but was unable to claw back the lost ground. Riding a lonely race, he focused on holding off his trailing rivals and crossed the line in third place, 10.397 seconds from the front, to make it his eleventh consecutive podium of the season.

MotoGP – first double front row start for Yamaha in 2015

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo put in another strong qualifying performance to secure pole for tomorrow’s race at the flowing Automotodrom Brno.

But Lorenzo wasn’t the only Yamaha rider on fire as teammate Valentino Rossi put in a stunning ride to secure third, just 0.364 seconds from pole, for a first double front row qualifying result for the factory Yamaha team since Misano 2014.

Lorenzo continued his dominant form from the third and fourth free practice session this morning and, although he was the last rider to head out on track at the start of the 15 minute session, he went to work immediately. His first flying lap delivered a 1’55.238, smashing his own lap record and shooting him straight to provisional pole.

He hurried back into the pits for fresh rubber with seven and a half minutes remaining and was back on track in confident mood with a little under six minutes on the clock, ready to raise the level even further. He broke another record with his next flying lap, the first ever lap under the 1’55 mark with a 1’54.989. He had time for two more laps, but was unable to further improve upon his incredible lap time and will start tomorrow’s race from a well-deserved pole position.

Lorenzo said: “My pole lap was very good, almost perfect, except maybe for the last corner because I had a lot of wheelsman. I am confident for tomorrow’s race because I think we have a great base setting. We will see what the weather will be like and how are rivals are doing, but we are confident.”

Teammate Rossi also gave a strong performance this afternoon. Having been quick in today’s practice session the Italian made best use of the qualifying tyres in the quick fire heat. He left pit lane as one of the first riders, but headed straight back after scrubbing in his new front tyre.

He returned to the track with twelve minutes left of the session, his first lap of 1’56.345 putting him in seventh place. He kept pushing as everyone else was changing tyres and posted a 1’55.856 for fourth before arriving back at the box for another tyre with four minutes of the session left.

He rejoined the fight less than a minute later for a final attempt to improve his grid position as a last minute flurry of activity pushed him back to fifth. He gave his all on his final lap and delivered a brilliant 1’55.353 for third position on the front row of the grid

MotoGP – Pedrosa suffers massive high side but escapes injury at Brno

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A leaky front fork caused Dani Pedrosa to have a massive highside at Brno but for once the Spanish rider walked way without suffering serious injuries.

Pedrosa crashed early in the afternoon’s practice session – on just his second lap – after some oil leaked from his front fork as he rode through turn 13. He visited the medical centre for an x-ray where they confirmed there was no fracture but heavy bruising to the left ankle. He finished the day fourth overall in the combined times with 1’56.784 (FP1).

He said: “I had a problem with the front fork which I didn’t realise until some oil hit the rear wheel as I was leaning over to the right into turn fourteen. The bike threw me off quite violently and I took a big knock to my left foot. I went to Clinica Mobile for a check-up and they performed an x-ray on my left ankle. Thankfully they confirmed there was no break or fracture, just a heavy contusion so I will have some treatment tonight and see how the situation is in the morning.”

there was no fracture but heavy bruising to the left ankle. He finished the day 4th in the combined times with 1’56.784 (FP1).there was no fracture but heavy bruising to the left ankle. He finished the day 4th in the combined times with 1’56.784 (FP1).

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Caught by the fuzz

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It’s 4.30pm in the afternoon, I’ve been riding for some nine hours already, and I’ve wasted the best part of 90 minutes getting lost on the outskirts of Prague. I’d lost the signs for Brno as soon as I entered Prague and quickly found myself snared in its ring road system – pulling over to ask for directions didn’t help either; the further east you go, the greater the language barrier. And the problem with riding with no maps or sat nav and relying on a crude set of directions stuck to the tank is that once you deviate from said route you’re screwed.

After finally extracting the CBR 600-RR from any one of the featureless roads feeding Prague’s endless industrial estates I picked up the E65 and saws signs for Brno, still some 130 miles away.

The traffic thinned out after twenty or so miles and the CBR’s tank had just been brimmed, so I decided to gun it and cover as much ground as possible in as short time as possible. The next hour or so disappeared in blur as I cut my way through traffic, comfortably cursing around the 120mph mark, happily minding my own business and dreaming of a cold pint and a hearty steak.

After draining another tank I stopped to refuel. I was now only 30 miles from Brno. And then it happened. As I overtook the clapped out red Skoda on my right, I glanced over and saw a video camera gaffer taped to the dash pointing forwards. It looked odd but as I checked out the driver and passenger, a couple of weary middle-aged men, I didn’t think any more of it and as I left them behind and they got smaller and smaller in my mirrors I forgot about them completely. Soon they had disappeared from sight altogether and my mind started drifting to getting out of my leathers and enjoying a hot shower.

Five minutes later I saw a some blue lights in the distance. I looked down at my clocks, eased off the gas and cruised to the inside lane. They couldn’t be for me – I pretty much had the road to myself. Must be an accident somewhere. I glanced in the mirrors again and they were much closer; they were clearly shifting. And then they were alongside me, a red police stop matrix sign flashing angrily in the brand new VW Passat’s rear windscreen.

I pulled over and was instructed to follow them. After some five minutes’ riding we pulled into a lay-by and were greeted by three riot vans and two marked squad cars. I removed my helmet and was surrounded by police. They spoke no English, I spoke no Czech. There’s an uneasy stand-off until I started talking German to one of the female cops. ‘This your bike?’ Well, no actually it wasn’t. It’s a Honda press bike. ‘Does Mr Honda know you have his bike?’ Yes, I guess so. After handing over my passport, driving licence and the bike’s V5 and certificate of insurance, the battered red Skoda pulls up. “You were speeding. We have film of you doing 140kph in a 80kph limit.” I ask to see the film. They decline…the camera’s not working. They’re going to impound the bike or I can pay a €350 fine. I hunt through my wallet – I’ve got €25 in shrapnel. The cops in the unmarked Passat offer to take me to a cashpoint, but I’ll have to leave the bike, the key, my Arai, my Kriega rucksack, my passport and my driving licence with their mates in the lay-by. It doesn’t feel right, but I’ve got no choice.

After some 20-minutes in the car the road we’re on is getting narrower and narrower as we head further into the wilderness. It’s getting darker too. The silence isn’t helping the mood, and I realise I’ve no idea if these are real police or not – I haven’t seen a single piece of ID yet, and the Skoda was clearly fucked. I’m trying to exude calmness on the outside but inside my stomach’s doing cartwheels and my mind’s racing away from me, my thoughts bouncing off the rev limiter– they’ve got guns, nobody knows where I am or what’s going on. It reminded me very much of when I had got carjacked in a new TT at a petrol station in Latvia when I was working for Audi…I could just sense something was going to happen.

And then in the middle of nowhere we pulled up, and there on the corner was a cashpoint. I withdrew the cash, handed it over and the mood changed instantly. The policemen’s grimaces were replaced with smiles, they started laughing and joking, and even put some music on the radio. I started to relax.

We eventually double backed on ourselves, rejoined the motorway and arrived back at the lay-by, bike and luggage exactly where I’d left it. I got out the car, asked for a receipt and they just smiled and drove off. And the others did the same. I’d clearly just been robbed, in broad daylight by the police, and there was fuck all I could do about it. Their beers were very much on me tonight.

I suited up, fired up the bike and cautiously made my way to Brno, still seething inside my lid.

When I look back on it, it’s things like this that make trips abroad. I loved that bike, proper loved it and can remember pretty much every one of the 24,000 miles we covered in the six months I had it in 2010. Yes, I’d been royally shafted by the people who were supposed to protect me, but it could’ve been worse…they could have recorded my real speed.

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