PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
Two things became clear as milk today at the pre-Czech Republic MotoGP press conference: A) Is Brno really a Yamaha track? B) And does it really matter since every track seems to be a Marc Marquez/Honda track at the moment. The answers were different - based on what end of the table you were seated. Or if it said Honda or Yamaha on your shirt.
“We are at an important moment in the season, but we will see here,” Marquez said today. “It looks like the Yamaha will be strong because they already did a test here. Normally, especially Jorge [Lorenzo], is quite fast here and also Valentino [Rossi]. We will see. We will try to do our best like every race and try to be there.”
Brno isn’t anything like the three races in a row Marquez just won (Sachsenring, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis). For starters, it’s longer. It’s also faster and smoother. As Nicky Hayden said so eloquently – “This really is a Grand Prix track – big wide and fast.”
Marquez knows this. So he tried to downplay his chances. He was likely doing everything he could not to laugh while doing so.
“This circuit is totally different, like Indianapolis and Laguna and now Brno, so it will be interesting,” Marquez said. “It’s one of the biggest tracks in the championship so it will be interesting with the MotoGP because you enjoy it a little bit more. It will be hard and we will be concentrating our work. Now every race will be close because everybody is fighting for the same – to be there in front and we will see.”
Marquez won the Moto2 race last year at Brno.
Lorenzo also downplayed the fact that the Yamaha M1 should be better at Brno.
“It’s not so simple at this moment and we are not the favorites in any race at this moment,” Lorenzo said. “But I think we have more chances than at Indianapolis. This track has no first gear corner, have a lot of change of directions, so I think it will be good for my riding and also for the Yamaha. But in racing you never know what will happen so we have to wait for the first practice to see our level.”
Since he’s behind by 35 points, it’s crunch time for Lorenzo. And he knows it.
“They are important,” Lorenzo said of the three races in a row – Indy, Brno and Silverstone, in a week’s time. “We didn’t crash in Indianapolis; we got the third position, the podium, after some weeks without it. So at this moment if want to win this world title, we have start try to win as soon as possible. But the problem is at the moment is not so simple to win, but we are going to try.”
Valentino Rossi was also present at today’s press conference, the Italian having won his first 125cc GP at Brno – 17 years ago.
“I am very proud to be a part of the game still.”
But back to the business of today. Rossi wants the seamless gearbox. And he’d like it sooner rather than later.
“The bigger question that me and Jorge [Lorenzo] do every morning to the Japanese… ‘the seamless?’ But still not ready. I hope at soon as possible, but we don’t have a date.
“I think the seamless is very important to try and be faster, especially in the race distance, but I think is not enough. We have to try and continue to work on the bike because we have some other problems compared to the Honda at this moment that gives us more difficult to keep the pace. But two or three things and the seamless is one, but we have to continue to work on the M1 also on the rest.”
Reflecting back on his race at Indy – where he started horribly only to find speed mid-distance that resulted in him fighting his way to fourth at the finish – Rossi said he enjoyed the battles along the way.
“Is very good for me and for the team to have the second half of the race because we suffer during the weekend, also during the practice, I was never too strong and also the first part of the race was very difficult,” Rossi said. “But the second was not so bad. I did some good lap time and I can ride the bike in a better way and I feel good. It was also funny because I can catch [Stefan] Bradl and did a great battle with [Alvaro] Bautista and especially with [Cal] Crutchlow on the last lap. Unfortunately it was only for fourth place and we were too from the top three guys who were very fast from the beginning to the end. Anyway it was fun. It was a great battle. Here we have to do better. Be stronger in the practice and try to start more in front and take a good pace for all the race. On the paper this track is better for the M1. Our bikes likes the wide track, the fast corner, the smooth places. But anyway the Honda’s now, Dani [Pedrosa] but especially Marc [Marquez), are very, very strong so we have to do a fantastic job if we want to try and stay with them.”
Rossi and Lorenzo tested at the Brno circuit the week prior to Indy. But Rossi says not to read too much into it. They spent the majority of their time testing the seamless transmission and not as much on Brno racing settings. He said their advantage will likely evaporate by the end of tomorrow’s opening practice sessions.