Brno, Czech Republic
Dani Pedrosa was the fastest man during the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Brno, setting a blistering pace from the off. While Marco Simoncelli led during the early part of the session, once Pedrosa got up to speed there was no stopping him. The Spaniard edged ahead of Simoncelli shortly after the halfway mark, then lit the afterburners, getting into the 1'56s and finishing up with a lap of 1'56.328, three tenths inside the existing race lap record, and just a couple of tenths of Valentino Rossi's pole record from 2009.
Casey Stoner ended the session in 2nd, and was the only man inside a second of Pedrosa, finishing 0.966 behind his Repsol Honda teammate, and a tenth ahead of 3rd placed man Simoncelli. Jorge Lorenzo was first of the factory Yamahas, just ahead of the third Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso and Lorenzo's Yamaha teammate Ben Spies. John Hopkins posted an outstanding result on the Rizla Suzuki, the wildcard rider finishing ahead of his teammate Alvaro Bautista, while Cal Crutchlow led his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Colin Edwards in 9th and 10th respectively. Valentino Rossi was the first of the Ducatis, the Marlboro Ducati man just under two-and-a-half seconds off Pedrosa's time.
The summer break is over for the 125cc class, and Nico Terol has taken up where he left off. The Bankia Aspar rider dominated FP1, ending the session with a lead over over a second at the Brno circuit. In 2nd, Alberto Moncayo held off challenges from Johann Zarco, while Miguel Oliveira finished in 4th, just ahead of his Blusens teammate Maverick Viñales.
There's a palpable sense of excitement in the MotoGP paddock now that it has once again reconvened in Brno. The riders love the track - Stoner put it in his top 3, along with Mugello and Phillip Island - and the region, and most have been off their bikes for long enough that they are starting to get antsy again. Nicky Hayden put it best: "I like racing motorcycles, so it's not like I was looking forward to the break," the American said, though he was looking a lot more relaxed than the last time I saw him at the Sachsenring.
There are two more factors adding to the excitement. One is the fact that it looks like being a warm and dry weekend, with rain only falling after 5pm, once the riders have cleared the track. After a season plagued with cold and damp conditions, a dry weekend is just what the riders have been crying out for. The good weather also comes as the tire regulations have been changed, Bridgestone acquiescing to the riders' requests for more tires and more choice. They will now have three different front tires to choose from instead of two, and they will also have a choice in the allocation of rear tires.
The remaining press release previews of the Brno MotoGP round from the Pramac Ducati team, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, and the Cardion AB team:
Press release previews of this weekend's Brno Grand Prix from the Moto2 and 125cc teams:
MotoGP is back from its summer break, and though the fans only had to face two weekends without the series - and one of those saw a World Superbike event - they are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Four Aliens and their mortal cohorts are back on track once again. And with good reason: Brno is a fantastic circuit, both in terms of layout and location; the wide track and series of left-right and right-left combinations offer a lot of different lines and passing opportunities - even for 800cc MotoGP machines - and the steep wooded hills of Moravia make for great viewing and some tough challenges.
As if to reward us for our patience, the Brno MotoGP round offers very rich pickings indeed. For Sunday's race is just one dish from the smorgasbord of intrigue and interest that is likely to be forthcoming. There is also Monday's test, the first public appearance of Honda's and Yamaha's 1000cc bikes - though not of the Ducati, more of which later - a much-anticipated event. Then there's Silly Season: Brno is traditionally the point at which teams start making their plans more concrete, and contract conversations stop being quite so casual.
2011 Brno MotoGP Press Release Previews - Yamaha, Honda, Ducati On Brno, And What They Will Be Testing On Monday
The first batch of press release previews for the upcoming Brno round of MotoGP, from the factory Yamaha, Honda and Ducati teams containing details of the tests to be held on Monday. Also, a Bridgestone press release explaining the new tire rules starting from now:
John Hopkins continues to sidle up on a full-time MotoGP return, this time with a wildcard ride at Brno in mid-August. The Rizla Suzuki team today announced that the American will join Alvaro Bautista for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno, aboard a second Suzuki GSV-R. Hopkins previously replaced Bautista at Jerez, after the Spaniard broke his femur in the opening round of the series, the American finishing in 10th. There has been talk that Hopkins would be racing as a wildcard for some months now, but the details had to be finalized. That has now happened, and Hopkins, who is second in the British Superbike Championship, will make his first appearance at Brno.
Below is the text of the press release announcing Hopper's wildcard:
Hopkins and Rizla Suzuki re-unite
Publish Date: Thursday, July 21, 2011
John Hopkins will race for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team in the Czech Republic round of the MotoGP World Championship at Brno on Sunday 14th August.
With the Brno round of World Superbikes the 8th out of 13, the lines of both the World Superbike and World Supersport championships are starting to become clear. In WSBK, three men have a realistic shot at the title, while in WSS, the championship leader took a big step towards consolidating his first title. Though it is too early to start handing out trophies, we can already start scrapping a lot of names from the list.
The two World Superbike races turned into a rather pleasing allegory for the current state of the championship fight. The three title rivals were the main protagonists in both races, the Italians Marco Melandri and Max Biaggi taking a race win apiece, while Carlos Checa limited the damage by taking two 3rd place finishes. Despite having given up 13 points to both of his rivals in the title race, Checa came away content: at Biaggi's favorite track, and a circuit where horsepower is crucial - and which the Ducati is crucially lacking - the Althea Ducati man still has a 30 point lead over Biaggi, and a 53 point lead over Melandri. He had been able to stay close to the two Italians in both races, and most importantly, he hadn't suffered the kind of punishment he had at Monza, where he gave away points by the bucketload to his rivals.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the races at Brno:
Results and summary of World Superbike race 2 at Brno:
Results and summary of the World Supersport class at Brno:
Results and summary of World Superbike race 1 at Brno: