August 16th, 2015
The future of the MotoGP round at Brno has finally been secured. The regional authorities have stepped in to secure funding for the Czech Grand Prix for the next five years, starting from 2016. A deal has been struck with the Czech Ministry of Education and Sports, the City of Brno, and the Moravian regional government to ensure that the Czech round stays for the foreseeable future.
The round had been in doubt for some time, as haggling over finances between the circuit, the city council and the regional government saw the sanctioning fee go partially unpaid for the past several years. The rights to the round have now been placed with a new and separate organization, run by the various regional and national governments involved, who will organize the round at the Brno circuit. With the financing in place, the race will continue for at least the next five years, and probably beyond.
The entertainment value in MotoGP waxes and wanes through the years. One year, the races are all serial snoozers, each race settling into a procession a lap or two after the start. The next, everything is turned on its head, every race a tense battle to the line for a close finish. We are lucky indeed that this year falls very much into the latter category. There have been some classic races already, and tomorrow's race looks like being an absolute corker. The two title favorites and the most highly-tipped outsider are on the front row of the grid, two fast Ducatis and the best satellite rider at the moment are behind them on the second row, and one of the most exciting young talents in MotoGP will start from seventh, and is clearly competitive. Battle tomorrow is not just for victory, but for the momentum in the championship. And if the racing needed spicing up any more than it has been already, it might just rain.
The big surprise on the front row is Valentino Rossi. The Italian has been mediocre at best during qualifying, ending up all too often on the third row of the grid, and having to pull off miracles to fight his way to the front. It was clear that something was afoot this morning, when Rossi posted an exceptional time in FP3 to take him into second spot, and very safely into Q2. Clearly, he and his team had been working on something to find some speed on a single fast lap, in a bid to boost his qualifying position. It made qualifying an even more intriguing spectacle than usual, with the question at hand not just who would grab pole, but whether Rossi would be able to raise his game and put himself in a position to be competitive from the very first laps.
Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone and sponsors after qualifying at Brno:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Jorge Lorenzo has topped the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Brno, the Movistar Yamaha rider going fast from the off, setting his quickest lap on his first flying lap, and laying down a withering pace. Teammate Valentino Rossi was 2nd fastest, Rossi close to Lorenzo's pace on his second run out of the pits, but coming a tenth short to catch the Spaniard. Marc Marquez finished the session as 3rd fastest, ahead of the Ducati duo of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, Iannone posting a particularly impressive string of 1'56s in his run. Dani Pedrosa ended the session in 6th, still struggling with a severely painful foot, but quick nonetheless.
Results and summary of Moto3 qualifying practice:
Jonas Folger topped the final session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Brno, flying to the top of the timesheets at the end of the session, and deposing Tito Rabat. Rabat had led right from the start, laying down a blistering pace as he prepared for the race, but the Marc VDS rider could not match Folger's fast flying lap. Alex Rins took 3rd, the HP Pons rider once again impressive after victory at Indianpolis, keeping Rabat in sight throughout the session. Franco Morbidelli grabbed 4th spot, just edging ahead of Rins' teammate Luis Salom. Championship leader Johann Zarco ended the session in 8th.
Jorge Lorenzo has made his intentions very clear in the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class. After setting a solid pace in the first part of the session, the Movistar Yamaha upped the pace to put a huge gap between himself and the rest of the field, setting a new lap record for Brno in the process.
The final minutes of FP3 turned into something of a Yamaha rout. Valentino Rossi put in a fast lap at the very end to take 2nd, over half a second behind his teammate, but ahead of Marc Marquez in 3rd. With qualifying coming up, where Rossi has been weakest in recent years, that single fast lap bodes well for him. Bradley Smith took 4th spot, with a late charge to get in behind Marquez, making it three Yamahas in the top four.
Andrea Iannone was fast throughout FP3, wrapping up 5th spot with a fast lap at the end, finishing ahead of a very impressive Maverick Viñales, the Suzuki rider taking 6th. A fleet of Ducatis followed, with Yonny Hernandez at the helm, the Pramac Ducati finishing ahead of both Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati. Dani Pedrosa rounds out the top 10, after a brave performance on what is obviously a very painful foot, pushing hard to set a fast lap right at the end.
Danny Kent has taken charge of the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Brno. The championship leader took the lead in the session early, but was soon bumped from the top of the timesheets by teammate Efren Vazquez. But as the session neared its end, Kent pushed on to put some distance between himself and the rest of field, ending the session nearly a third of a second ahead. Fabio Quartararo put in a late charge to secure 2nd spot, ahead of Miguel Oliviera, demoting Efren Vazquez to 4th. Jorge Martin put the Mahindra into 5th place.