August 15th, 2014
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.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Racing is mostly about self-interest. It can be no other way. And even though the cliché that says nice guys don’t win is incorrect, the nice guys who do succeed only do so by morphing into ruthless assassins the moment they start thinking about racing, let alone actually going racing.
But even in this most vicious of sports there are times when self-interest needs to be overruled for the general good.
Interview: Alvaro Bautista On The Pros And Cons Of Nissin And Showa, Electronics, And The Importance Of Training
Since leaving Suzuki when the Japanese factory withdrew from MotoGP at the end of 2011, Alvaro Bautista has been with the Gresini Honda team. There, he has ridden the team's factory RC213V, racking up three podiums and one pole for the team. Things have not been as easy for him as for the other Honda riders, however, as Gresini has a deal with Showa to supply suspension and Nissin to supply brakes. As the only team in the paddock on that combination, competing against the massed ranks of Brembo/Öhlins-shod MotoGP machines has been hard. Where the Brembo/Öhlins bikes have masses of data from other riders they can compare their set ups against, Bautista and Gresini have only their bike, and the data from the bike on the other side of the garage. In the previous two seasons, that was an FTR-built machine powered by a CBR1000RR engine, making data comparison very difficult. This year things are a little easier, with the RCV1000R being closely related to the RC213V, but challenges remain.
At Barcelona, MotoMatters.com friend and contributor Mick Fialkowski caught up with Bautista to ask him about his season so far. In a long conversation, Bautista talks about the difficult start to the season, the challenges presented in developing the Nissin and Showa suspension, about the changes made for the 2014 season, and about the fitness required to compete at the top level of MotoGP. It made for a fascinating discussion:
Mick Fialkowski: Alvaro, it's been an up-and-down season so far. First three races without points, then a podium at Le Mans. What happened?
Alvaro Bautista: I think in the first three races we just had bad luck. We were competitive in Qatar. Also at Austin I was in the podium group, as well as in Argentina. We had a setting that wasn't too bad for the race but I didn't finish, so it was just bad luck. Then I scored a podium at Le Mans and in Mugello I struggled a lot with the setup of the bike. Using this suspension and these brakes the thing is that when we have problems, it's difficult to fix them because we don't have any reference, only myself, and that makes it more difficult for us.
The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.
Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.