Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Brno:
2014 Brno MotoGP Friday Round Up: Yamaha's Big Improvement, Elbow Down In The Wet, And The Factory Bosses Speak
The first day of practice at Brno turned out to be a day of two halves. The morning was glorious, sunny and relatively warm. Clouds began gathering shortly after lunch, and the first spots of rain started to fall just as FP2 for the Moto3 class came to a close. The rain grew steadily heavier for the first half of the MotoGP afternoon practice session, easing up and stopping with some ten minutes to go. By the time the Moto2 bikes took to the track, the circuit was already drying, though it only really dried out completely towards the end of Moto2.
The two halves of MotoGP practice showed the same picture, however. Marc Marquez is fast in the wet and fast in the dry, and clearly looking comfortable on the Repsol Honda. Teammate Dani Pedrosa is also quick in both conditions, though a little closer to Marquez on a wet track than on a dry track. In the dry, Jorge Lorenzo is very close to Marc Marquez, but in the wet, both he and Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi are a second off the pace of the Repsols.
Speed in the morning had given Lorenzo confidence he could be competitive with Marquez, and his pace in the wet was not a worry, he said. Everyone had started slowly in the wet, and Lorenzo was no exception. For Rossi, the second they are giving away to the Hondas in the wet is an issue, but losing track time to the rain was more of a problem. Rossi had been fifth in the dry, just a quarter of a second off Marquez, and after FP1, he and his crew had some ideas to improve turn in and enter the corner faster, right where he is losing out to the others. The rain meant he did not have a chance to test it, and with the chance of rain on Saturday, Rossi was concerned he would not be able to try it out before the race.
Leon Camier turned a lot of heads at Indianapolis in his first ride on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda production racer. The Englishman was drafted in to replace Nicky Hayden while he recovers from surgery, but despite it being the first time he rode a MotoGP bike, the Bridgestone tires, carbon brakes, and the Indianapolis circuit, Camier was very quickly up to speed with the other Open class Hondas.
Having a fast rider come in to MotoGP from World Superbikes allows a number of comparisons to be made. Among the most interesting is the difference in technology and tires. At Brno, Camier explained the difference in feel and cornering between the World Superbike Pirellis and the MotoGP Bridgestones. The front tire, especially, is a completely different kettle of fish, requiring a different style, and therefore different set up.
"The main [differene] for me is the tires and the brakes," Camier told us, "the tires being the biggest one. It's just that you have so much more front grip and with angle that you can brake and turn in with the brake on. [The front tire] is adjusting itself to be able to do that."
The session started with the rain having stopped and the sun drying the wet track, but the conditions weren't good enough for anything but collecting wet data. As the track approached usability, Hafizh Syahrin and Anthony West traded fast laps at the top until the halfway mark.
With 20 minutes left, the top spot was occupied by several riders in succession as the conditions allowed the slick tyres to operate safely, but nobody in the top 30 was challenging the morning's times until the last eight minutes, when Mika Kallio took a tenth off his morning's best time. This was followed by a 2'03.268 that put Kallio within under two tenths off his Mark VDS teammate Tito Rabat's best time of the day. Thomas Luthi was second-quickest of the session, nearly stealing the top spot at the flag, ahead of Tito Rabat and Sandro Cortese.
Rain opened the session with Andrea Iannone and Hector Barbera setting the only dry laps, crossing the line as the skies opened. Dani Pedrosa set the wet pace and was predictably bested by Marc Marquez. Cal Crutchlow was briefly the quickest wet rider, but the Repsol Honda duo returned to the third and fourth places.
With more rain likely tomorrow morning, the places for the qualifying sessions could already have been determined this morning.
Alex Marquez leads the field by a third of a second, the same gap he trails behind the lap record of 2'07.622 with. Alex Rins, Marquez's Estrella Galicia teammate, and Alexis Masbou round out the all-Honda, all-Alex provisional front row, with Jakub Kornfeil managing to depose this morning's sensation Enea Bastianini.
Tito Rabat took the top spot off the early pacesetter Mika Kallio, and maintained his position with incrementally quicker laps throughout the session.
Sandro Cortese pipped Dominique Aegerter to second quickest at the end of the session, with both riders losing out to Rabat in the uphill third sector. Julian Simon made a rare appearance in the top four, while Mika Kallio sneaked in a quick time at the flag for fifth.
Marc Marquez has topped the timesheets for the first session of free practice for MotoGP at Brno, after a protracted tussle with Jorge Lorenzo. The Repsol Honda and Yamaha men swapped top spot a couple of times, pushing harder to take back the lead each time the other took it away. The difference was small, just under four hundredths of a second.
Dani Pedrosa ended the session in third, and right on the tail of the leaders, Pedrosa finishing just 0.015 behind Lorenzo, and five hundredths behind Marquez. Aleix Espargaro put in a late fast lap to take fourth, two tenths off the pace of Marquez, and dropping Valentino Rossi to fifth. Stefan Bradl took the sixth fastest time, after briefly leading the session.
A late charge in the last ten minutes saw the second half of the top ten shaken up. A lot of riders pushed for a fast lap on a dry track, with the threat of rain this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Andrea Dovizioso, Yonny Hernandez, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith put in time that would provisionally see them through to Q2, at the expense of Michele Pirro, Andrea Iannone, Scott Redding and Cal Crutchlow.
Enea Bastianini has topped the first session of free practice for the Moto3 class at a sunny Brno. The Go&Fun Junior rider was the fastest of a large group of riders who pushed late as the track warmed up, putting three tenths of a second on championship rivals Alex Marquez and Jack Miller. Efren Vazquez ended the session in fourth, after leading for much of the session, while Karel Hanika posted an excellent 5th fastest time in front of his home crow, just edging out Isaac Vinales.
Is this the race it finally happens? Will Marc Marquez' record-breaking streak of wins, his perfect season, finally come to an end? We have discussed the statistical improbabilities of it continuing to the end of the year before. At some point, the chips will fall someone else's way, and a small mistake by Marquez, or just a perfect weekend by one of his rivals will see someone else on the top step of the podium.
What would it take to beat Marquez? Dani Pedrosa had a strong idea. "A win makes you stronger, so every time Marc wins, he is more committed," Marquez' Repsol Honda teammate said. "So your approach every time is harder, you have to be even more committed." Did he have a plan to try to beat Marquez this weekend? Proceed as normal, look for speed every session, try to find the perfect set up. There was no point trying to formulate a plan of attack. "You can't plan things against Marc," Pedrosa said, "he is smart, he can adapt each time."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of the Brno round of MotoGP:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, and Dunlop:
Karel Hanika reveals keys to Brno
Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie analyses every corner of Brno track which hosts his home Grand Prix this weekend.
08/12/2014 - Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic
The winner of the 2013 Red Bull Rookies Cup has shown in recent races that he belongs in the Moto3 Top 10, and that he has the talent to fight in the first group in his maiden year of GP racing. Karel Hanika arrives in Brno in good shape for the Czech Republic Grand Prix, his home round and an event that he hopes will see him at his best in front of his fans. The winner of two races at the track in the last two years in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie is expected to be fast at the Automotodrom Brno from the off. Here he reveals the keys to the 5.4km circuit that he knows like the back of his hand.
The British Grand Prix is to move, if everything goes to plan. At a press conference held today, Dorna and the management of the Circuit of Wales announced that a deal had been reached that will see the track, to be built in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, will host the race for the next five seasons, with an option to extend the contract for another five years after that, until 2024.
The only problem is that the Circuit of Wales does not exist yet. The track is part of a £ 315 million project aimed at regenerating the Blaenau Gwent region, a once-prosperous region that has lost most of its employment since the coal and steel industries closed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company have set up a scheme to create a major motorsports industry hub centered around an FIM and FIA homologated race track, capable of hosting world championship racing.
Bradley Smith is to keep his MotoGP ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for another season. After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Smith's place in the MotoGP team had been in doubt, as this was the year when the Englishman had been expected to deliver. Smith had shown glimpses of his potential at a number of rounds, often being fast in practice. But several crashes and poor race results have seen Smith fall short on Sunday, when it counts.
Smith keeping his place is in part due to team boss Herve Poncharal keeping faith in the young Briton, who has raced for Tech 3 in Moto2 and MotoGP since 2011. But the lack of a suitable replacement was also a reason for Poncharal to retain Smith. Poncharal told MotoMatters.com at Assen that he had no interest in current riders in MotoGP other than Smith, but was looking to Moto2, and even Moto3. Credible reports suggested that Yamaha was keen on bringing Alex Rins in to MotoGP straight from Moto3, but Rins turned down the offer, preferring to go to Moto2 instead. Poncharal was also interested in Jonas Folger and Maverick Viñales, but Folger is in the middle of a two-year contract in Moto2, while Viñales elected to sign for Suzuki.
Below is the press release issued by Tech 3 on Bradley Smith's new contract:
Riders and managers will be very busy this weekend at Brno, as negotiations continue for the open slots left on the 2015 MotoGP grid. The deals that saw Stefan Bradl leave LCR Honda for Forward Yamaha and Cal Crutchlow depart Ducati and head for LCR Honda have kicked negotiations for the remaining seats into overdrive. Forward Yamaha still has one seat open, with Aleix Espargaro set to join Maverick Viñales at Suzuki, a deal due to be announced in September. There are two Open class Hondas available, at Gresini and Aspar, with Scott Redding moving up to take the factory RC213V, and Hiroshi Aoyama set to lose his seat. Pramac Ducati has one seat available, now that Andrea Iannone has moved up to take Crutchlow's place in the factory Ducati team. And Aprilia will have two seats to fill when they reenter the class in 2015.