The amazing Marquez show continued at Brno, where Repsol Honda star Marc claimed a sixth win in ten races. With just one non-finish with a crash in Texas, Marquez has not finished lower than second so far – and today’s start to finish win by an eventual 2.452 seconds over Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) extended his points lead over the Italian to a comfortable cushion of 63 points.
Weather struck the track on Saturday, leaving all riders short of set-up time and giving Marquez the chance to claim a blistering pole by some 2.5 seconds, with a high-risk run on slick tyres on a damp track.
Today, confounding dry-weather forecasts, more showers hit the sweeping 5.403-km Brno circuit during the lunch break, forcing the start of the premier-class race to be delayed by 40 minutes to allow the patchily wet track to dry, and with race distance cut by a lap from 21 to 20.
Marquez led from first corner to the last, closely pursued for the first half by Dovizioso, Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) and second qualifier Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati).
After that it was time to push. Marquez survived a scare at the bottom corner, but was soon drawing away remorselessly.
Dovizioso was safe in second; but Rins was struggling with wheelspin at the end, giving the determined Miller the chance for a late attack, to claim his second podium of the season.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) came through from 11th on the grid for fifth. His last victim had been Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha), who was three seconds ahead of star rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha). Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) was ninth; Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) still close in tenth, managing to fend off a charging Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha), who had finished the first lap 15th after a dismal start from the third row.
Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM), who had given the Austrian marque its first front row in wet practice, dropped to a distant 14th in the dry race.
Marquez now has 210 points – an average of 21 out of a possible maximum of 25; then Dovizioso 147, Petrucci 129, Rins 114 and Vinales 91.
MOTO2 RACE – 19 laps
Younger brother Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) led from the first lap to the last in a mercifully dry Moto2 race before lunch – his sixth win in the last seven races as his purple patch extends, along with his championship lead. The only interruption to his winning run came when he was knocked off at Assen.
Two class rookies joined him on the podium, with Speed Up rider Fabio Di Giannantonio a lone second almost throughout, and Italtrans Kalex rider Enea Bastianini displacing second Speed Up rider Jorge Navarro on the final lap.
Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) was the eventual winner of a long battle for fifth, from Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex).
Championship challenger Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) crashed out in the early stages.
Marquez now has 161 points to Luthi’s 128; then Fernandez and Navarro on 110 and Schrotter 107.
MOTO3 RACE – 18 laps
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) played his cards right for a second win of the season and to regain the championship lead in a typically hectic Moto3 race, with a lead group shrunk from 17 to ten by the end over the line within less than two seconds.
He narrowly edged out Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda), up from 17th on the grid, and also regained the title lead from him by just three points.
Pole starter Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) was a close third.
Front-row starters Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Honda) and John McPhee (Petronas Honda) had different problems.
Antonelli had to start from pit lane after stalling on the formation grid, but came through to a strong fifth, even challenging for the lead.
McPhee crawled off the line after hitting his pit-lane speed limiter, and was clobbered from behind by wild card Yuki Kunii, who landed unconscious in the track, but was able to limp away. McPhee made it to his pit, but had to be lifted off his bike with bad left leg injuries.
Canet leads Dalla Porta 148 to 145; then Antonelli (98), Arbolino (93) and Masia (78).
Marc Marquez took his Repsol Honda to an extraordinary sixth pole of the season in treacherously changeable conditions at Brno for tomorrow’s Czech Republic GP.
Rain was coming and going, and the track drying towards the end of the 15-minute Q2 session when the championship leader elected to take the risks of slick tyres on a still-drying line.
In an edge-of-your-seat spectacle, Marquez pushed beyond what looked possible, and as the rain started again around the top of the hilly layout, at the start-finish section, he took to the top of the time-sheets.
But he wasn’t finished yet … and in another lap of astonishing derring-do he carved another 1.5 seconds off to underline his superiority. The rain was falling heavily through the final chicane, the Honda slithering and sliding. But he was unapproachable.
“I realise now it was too much risk, especially with the situation in the championship. But it is my ambition, my mentality,” he said.
Second, 2.5 seconds down, was another man who shines in difficult conditions, Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati), who fell on his final attempt to improve further. He was also on slick tyres. “I gave it everything, but Marc is a step ahead. I’ll try and follow him and learn from him.”
Johann Zarco was third, declining to risk slicks but making the most of wet tyres to give KTM a first-ever front-row start, and himself a fillip in his difficult first season on the Red Bull bike … but only, he said, “because of the rain”.
The late times saw Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), on wet tyres, move up to fourth, ahead of second Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaro, who like Zarco was through from Q1.
Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) completes row two; Valentino Rossi’s Monster Yamaha leads the third from second factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, and his own team-mate Maverick Vinales. Yesterday’s dry-weather fastest Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) was tenth, from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha).
Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) emulated his big brother and fitted slicks on a drying track in the final session of the afternoon, and regained pole by a massive two seconds.
Briton Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex) had just put himself fractionally ahead of Marquez’s previous lap time, and stayed in second. Another late-comer in the improving conditions was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex), back on the front row.
Rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex) will lead the second row from Speed Up rider Fabio Di Giannantonio and another rookie, Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM), making the most of the conditions.
Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) leads row three from Bo Bendsneyder (NTS) and another rookie, Jake Dixon (KTM); Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40 Kales completes the top ten.
Remy Gardner had topped Q1, but ended up 25th. American KTM rider Joe Roberts was also at the top in Q1, but a heavy high-side crash ended his session early, and he could only watch in frustration as he slipped out of the crucial top four.
Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) shone in the wet conditions to take pole by four tenths of a second, at the head of a phalanx of four Hondas. John McPhee (Petronas Honda) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) join him on the front row – all three of them winners this year, and the last two previous Brno winners.
Tatsuki Suzuki heads the second row on the second SIC58 machine, from the KTMs of Raul Fernandez and Aron Canet.
Valentino Rossi was called before the panel of stewards on Friday, accused of failing to respond to flags and a dashboard signal to pull off the track, after his engine suffered a smoky blow-up.
It happened early on the lap, and Rossi said that at the first sign of trouble, he’d pulled in the clutch. But he completed the lap at low speed, the engine smoking heavily as he weaved from one side to the other, to avoid the racing line.
He had checked to see there was no oil leaking, and it transpired that he was correct. Yet there remained the potential of leaks, and there was widespread belief that a more responsible rider would have pulled off the track directly. This was reflected in a stormy Riders’ Safety Meeting, where Rossi was forced to defend himself.
But there was official sanction as well, with Rossi given an official warning.
According to race director Mike Webb, at the time black-and-orange flags had been displayed and a message sent to the dashboard display. “It’s a standard thing – the normal protocol. There was a flag out for sure. It was fairly late in the lap because there is always going to be a slight time delay.”
Because there had apparently been no response, Webb had referred the matter to the stewards, who are responsible for disciplinary matters.
KTM’s New Moto2 Machine
KTM’s all new Moto2 machine was not the instant answer that the riders may have hoped for. The bike arrived for official Red Bull Ajo team riders Brad Binder and Jorge Martin without any previous chance to try it … and proved tricky up against a pack of race-proven rivals.
“It’s like starting all over again,” said Binder. Although the chatter problems appeared to have been solved, it was back to square one in terms of looking even for a base setting, let alone fine tuning for the track.
The bike has a completely new chassis as well as all-new fully enclosed bodywork, which renders the unique steel-tube frame invisible, and links the fairing flanks with the dummy tank cover in a continuous sweep of bright orange.
“The whole balance is different,” said Binder, who had earlier opined that the previous two versions made for the new-this-year Triumph engines had too much weight over the front wheel.
“The engine has been moved back, and we’re really starting again.”
Was there potential for improvement?
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
KTM was a strong challenger last year, especially at the end of the season, when Binder and team-mate Oliveira won three of the last six races. Compared with Moto2 rivals Kalex, Speed Up and the Japanese NTS chassis, KTM have missed the margin quite badly with the new 765cc Triumph engine.
Rodrigo Fast to Crashed
Gabriel Rodrigo had no sooner set fastest Moto3 free practice lap on Friday when disaster struck the Spanish-born Argentinean rider. A fearsome high-side at the fast first corner threw him heavily, rebreaking the right collarbone, and adding a fracture to the pelvis.
The Kommerling Gresini Honda rider was promptly ruled out of Sunday’s race, and almost certainly also next weekend’s Austrian GP. He returned directly to Barcelona’s famous Dexeus clinic for treatment and possible surgery.
“The season doesn’t seem to get better,” said Rodrigo, whose switch to Honda has yielded good speed but sparse race finishes. “We paid a big price for this mistake. I want to apologise to the team, who deserved a lot better this weekend,” he said.
The Oncu arrival in MotoGP took a step forward at Brno, with second twin brother Deniz making his GP debut on an Ajo Moto3-team Red Bull KTM alongside Can.
Deniz had to wait until his 16th birthday before he was permitted a wild card ride. His twin brother had been allowed in a year early as a concession for winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Entered in last year’s season-closing Valencia GP as a wild card, he became the youngest ever race winner in a wet race that saw more seasoned riders pay the price.
But a similar fairytale start for Deniz seemed remote, after qualified 27th, on the second-last row of the grid, compared with Can’s fourth at his Valencia debut.
Can qualified 13th for tomorrow’s race.
Ducati Aero Correction
Correction: yesterday’s aerodynamic report was not quite correct. Ducati’s new aero package is not three-a-side, but just two, and resembles last year’s fairing. The major difference is that the boxes on the lower fairing flanks now have two horizontal internal vanes, rather than being empty.
Suzuki’s new upward-flared top wings, however, are as described.
Aside from the fact that the upper wing is further back, the curvy loop at the top of the fairing resembles Honda’s squarer “bow tie” winglets, used all year. Suzuki’s previous version has the second wing below rather than above the first.
Honda also had a new piece of bodywork that appeared on the rainy second day at Brno – a rain deflector attached to the swing-arm, that could in no way be confused with an aerodynamic device.
The more things change… the return from the summer break saw business as usual, with Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez in a shoot-out for top MotoGP time, and the familiar doubts about a possible change in the weather making today’s top ten times potentially crucial to who goes straight into Q2 tomorrow.
Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) took the honors, narrowly deposing Marquez at the end. His time of 1m 55.802 was inside the race record but over a second shy of the track’s best lap. More importantly, he was 0.023 of a second faster than Marquez’s best, set a couple of laps earlier in the title leader’s own soft-tire run on the Repsol Honda.
Jack Miller was third-fastest, a couple of tenths away on the Pramac Ducati, with factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso fourth, with the same best lap, but a fractionally inferior second-best time.
Maverick Vinales was the better of the factory Yamahas in fifth, and fast throughout; Monster Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi had a difficult session with a smoky engine blow-up spoiling his progress. But the veteran multi-champion did make it into the important top ten in the closing minutes, ending up ninth.
Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) was sixth, then Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) scraped into 10th, at the expense of second Suzuki rider Joan Mir. Takaaki Nakagami was also dropped to 12th, the LCR Honda rider then suffering a fall as he tried to make it into the top ten.
Satellite teamster Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) was the top KTM, 13th ahead of Honda test rider Stefan Bradl, riding the Repsol bike in place of the still-absent Jorge Lorenzo. Oliveira had been an impressive fourth-fastest in the morning.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) ended up 15th; while Johann Zarco on the factory KTM was down in 20th.
2019 Czech Republic MotoGP Results—Friday MotoGP
As in MotoGP, it was a class rookie on top of the times. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) ran a 2m 1.695 to head a close batch. On a track with poor grip, he was just a tenth outside the best lap.
As in all classes, today’s times could be crucial for Q2, with only the top 16 guaranteed to go straight in, and the top 18 all within one second.
It was another class rookie second-fastest, with SKY VR46 Kalex rider Nicolo Bulega ahead of a gang of six of Kalexes. Tetsuta Nagashima was third; then Marcel Schrotter, Augusto Fernandez, Thomas Luthi, then championship leader Alex Marquez, still less than three tenths down.
Second Speed Up rider Jorge Navarro placed eighth, with Sam Lowes and Luca Marini (both Kalex) completing the top ten.
Just out of it … Red Bull rider Brad Binder, best KTM, with an all-new chassis that was strong from the start. He was narrowly second-fastest in the morning, after leading much of the opening session.
2019 Czech Republic MotoGP Results—Friday Moto2
Close times as usual in the smallest class promised a big pack in the race but did not come without a cost for the fastest rider Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda). He had just set the fastest time, half a second off the best lap when he suffered a violent high-side on the first corner.
Erstwhile leader Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM) and points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) also crashed together at the end of the session, after the chequered flag.
Vietti ended up fourth behind a trio of Hondas, with Toni Arbolino (Snipers Honda) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) second and third. KTM’s Jaume Masia was fifth, ahead of Dalla Porta; former points leader Aron Canet (KTM) was seventh.
2019 Czech Republic MotoGP Results—Friday Moto3
2019 Czech Republic MotoGP Results—Friday News
Repsol Honda’s New Frame
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was again testing both the original RC213V aluminium-beam chassis and the carbon-fiber-clad version first seen with test-rider Stefan Bradl at the Spanish GP.
But he was not sure if and when he’d be ready to race it.
“At the Sachsenring, I liked the new one, but I preferred to stay with what we already understood. We will see,” he said, on the evening before practice.
On Friday, after two sessions, he remained unsure.
“I set my best time on the new chassis, but in performance, both are very similar, and the old one is the old one, and I know all its reactions.
“The new chassis changes the balance. We need to analyze the positive and negative things. It would be easier to decide if we had not been winning races with the old one, but it is not like that.
“It looks like tomorrow the weather will be not so good, so maybe I cannot decide tomorrow. But … we have a test on Monday.”
HRC technical manager Takeo Yokoyama, speaking at the joint technical briefing on Friday, confirmed that “from Jerez we have been trying something like this. We have modified it already four or five times. There are some positive and negative things … we are studying what is the benefit of this material, and we are still in the middle of studying it. Once we know more, all riders will have it.”
Aprilia’s New Racer
Few secrets emerged at the annual technical briefing, where HRC’s Yokoyama joined by Aprilia’s Romano Albesiano and Suzuki’s Shinichi Sahara. But all the delegates agreed that while any chance of looser regulations in the new five-year period, which will begin in 2022, were potentially exciting but also ruinously expensive.
Aprilia had “reached the limits” with their current V4, and were to introduce an all-new bike next year, said Albesiano. This would be “a really big step”, but without major changes. It would be a vee configuration in line with the company’s DNA; while the regulations already specify a maximum of four cylinders, and a maximum bore size of 81 mm. (A three-cylinder engine with that bore size would have an unfeasibly long stroke.)
Different engine designs, said Albesiano, raised the specter of “balancing regulations”, as used in World Superbikes, mainly through rev limits, which was “a big problem in Superbikes. Also, the effect on the budget would be explosive if we changed the bore size.
“If we had real technical differences, we could see 30 seconds between first and fourth place,” he added. The current technical conformity had yielded much closer racing.
No Satellite Suzuki—Again
Suzuki’s hopes of a satellite team were back on hold, said Shinichi Sahara, and the earliest it would be possible would be 2021.
“We are studying about a satellite team, but we haven’t reached any conclusion,” he said. “For sure it will not be next year, but we are thinking for 2021.”
All delegates agreed that plans to increase the number of races and reduce official tests would throw more importance on having not only a test team but also a satellite team, where new ideas might be tried.
KTM’s New Moto2 Bike
KTM’s promised all-new Moto2 bike, designed to reverse the problems suffered by its riders in the first part of the season, arrived as promised at Brno … and made an encouraging start, with top rider Brad Binder second-fastest out of the box in the first practice.
“This year has been a bit of a disaster,” he said on the eve of the meeting. With the new Triumph engine, KTM had been on the back foot compared with Kalex and Speed Up.
“But every weekend we seemed to find something.” He had finished second at the last two races before the summer break.
He had not had a chance to test the new bike, but he was confident engineers had taken account of all the feedback.
“We changed the balance a bit. I think the old one had too much weight over the front. This bike is all new: the fairing is different, the tank is different.”
Ducati and Suzuki’s New Fairings
Ducati and Suzuki were both sporting their second-guess aerodynamic bodywork at Brno, completing their allocation for the year.
Ducati retained their three-a-side configuration, but the wings were smaller and more shapely. The aim was to reduce downforce to improve cornering, according to team spokesman Davide Tardozzi.
Suzuki has modified their droopy-mustache-style wings and was running both old and new versions at Brno. On the old, the loop continues to a lower level on the fairing flank, where the new one flares upwards.
Pasini In At Tasca
Erstwhile super-sub Mattia Pasini is back in Moto2 with a fourth different team this year. But this time it’s for the rest of the year. He has been slotted into the Tasca team in place of fellow veteran Simone Corsi, whose results had fallen short of expectations.
Pasini (33), who was unable to find a ride for this season, took fourth place at CotA in place of injured Pons rider Augusto Fernandez; and was back to non-finish at the next two races, at Jerez on Jake Dixon’s KTM and at Le Mans on Pawi’s Petronas bike, where he qualified fourth. At the Italian GP, he finished 11th on the same rider’s bike.
Corsi, meanwhile, scored points just once, although when the 32-year-old crashed out at Le Mans he was disputing the top places.
Miller’s 2020 Contract
Jack Miller’s hopes of announcing a new contract at Brno with Pramac Ducati for next year were on hold, with “fine details” still to be confirmed.
Miller is expected to stay with the satellite team after the factory renewed current rider Danilo Petrucci’s contract alongside Andrea Dovizioso.
But the Australian was confident that it was only a matter of time. “Nothing has changed,” he said. They had a hand-shake deal, but it was all yet to be finalized.
One possible stumbling block is an allocation of 2020 factory bikes. At present, the team runs one full factory spec bike for Miller, but junior team-mate Pecco Bagnaia has been promised one for 2020 in the terms of his two-year contract.
Pramac will not only need Ducati to promise an extra pair of top-spec bikes but also find the means to pay for them.
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