Rossi Powers Through Field to Take Second in Breathtaking Brno Race
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi brilliantly turned the Grand Prix Ceské Republiky around today, claiming an incredible second place on the podium after making a perfect tyre decision. Jorge Lorenzo secured seventeenth position after being forced to switch machines twice due to a problem with the front tyre on his first bike.
Wet conditions made for uncertainty regarding the tyre decision at the start of today's race at the Automotodrom Brno. Rossi had a cautious start as he launched his Yamaha from sixth on the grid and dropped back to twelfth position, before picking up the pace. The Italian overtook his teammate for eleventh place but was then passed by Dani Pedrosa.
After waiting seven laps for his harder spec tyre to get up to temperature, The Doctor knew it was time to put the hammer down. He had to let Cal Crutchlow go in front and followed him to Pedrosa, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, who he passed with 14 laps to go. A lap later Rossi gained a position as Andrea Dovizioso suffered a technical problem. The Italian kept following Crutchlow and continued to work his way past Danilo Petrucci and Maverick Viñales, as Aleix Espagaró retired from the race, and then set his sights on Marc Marquez in fifth place, overtaking him with seven laps to go.
Riding as the fastest man on track the nine times World Champion passed Hector Barbera a lap later and had the crowds cheering as he wrestled second place from Andrea Iannone. Rossi then quickly took off, creating a distance between himself and the Italian, but soon realised that the margin between him and the now leading Crutchlow had grown too large to close in the last four laps. The Doctor decided to settle for second place, finishing 7.298s from first and taking twenty points for the championship.
Lorenzo was on the same tyre combination as his teammate and took a while at the start to get heat into his tyres. From second on the grid he fell back to sixteenth place before being able to push hard. The Mallorcan made a charge in the second half to the race as his tyres started to produce more grip. What followed next was a flurry of overtaking manoeuvers as he fought his way to tenth place.
Lorenzo kept riding aggressively, but was forced to come in to the pit box with seven laps to go after losing much of the central tread from the front tyre. The unforeseen sudden pit stop forced him to change to his second bike which was fitted with slick tyres for a potential normal bike change in the flag to flag conditions. The track was still far too wet for slick tyres so he returned to the pit box a lap later to switch back to his first bike which had since been reequipped with a new front tyre. This then allowed him to finish the race in a disappointing and distant seventeenth place.
Rossi's second place moves him up to second position in the world standings with 144 points, 53 points behind the leader, with teammate Lorenzo six points behind him in third place.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP now head to Silverstone in the UK for the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"After seeing today's weather forecast we knew that the game would be decided by tyre choice. We chose the hard rear for both Valentino and Jorge because we expected the track to dry very slowly and we thought that the hard option would let us finish the race without changing the bike. We were right! Of course we also expected the first laps to be difficult for both riders and they were extremely good to manage the situation. Valentino handled the beginning of the race with his usual calm and experience and he did not panic when he got back to 12th position. He was also reactive to understand when it was time to change the pace and attack. Second position is fully deserved and allows him to reduce the gap to the top of the standings. Despite the final result, Jorge's race was impressive. Without the problem of the front tyre, he could have been on the podium. All team members worked really hard from Friday and especially today during the race, as they were ready to face all circumstances. We will now stay in Brno until tomorrow for the IRTA test to work on some new parts and have a direction for the second half of the season."
2nd / +7.298 / 22 laps, Championship: 2nd / 144 points
"At the beginning I was desperate because I thought we made a mistake, but lap by lap the hard rear became better and it was a very long race, you have to stay concentrated not to make a mistake. I started from p12, so it was a great race and I'm happy with these 20 points, also because I'm second in the championship and I think today we did a good job and we made the right choice."
17th / +1 lap / 22 laps, Championship: 3rd / 138 points
"It's a big pity because I was doing a great race, only I had some difficulties stopping the bike at the beginning when there was a little bit more water and especially with the hard tyre on the exit I didn't have grip. I needed to be very careful and that is why I was quite far from the top. Little by little, as the track dried, the rear became better and I started to gain confidence, so seven laps before the end the front tyre tore up so I had to change bike twice and finished the race on the first bike in seventeenth. Rossi was unlucky in Mugello and I was very unlucky today, a lot of bad luck this season. We have to work, so this doesn't happen more often, because we see it happen sometimes in the dry and today in the wet and we have to try not to have more tyre mishaps in the future."
Espargaro clinches valuable points in tough Czech Grand Prix
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro persevered against the challenging conditions at the Czech Grand Prix to finish in 13th after what was a tricky race for the 25-year-old. The Spaniard kicked off his round 11 campaign from 12th on the grid and immediately ran with the factory MotoGP bikes at the front of the field. He slipped to 8th on the third lap but pushed onwards as he aimed to stay with the leading group. As the track began to dry Espargaro was shuffled back, despite his best efforts, and by lap fifteen he was running in 13th. Eventually, he met the chequered flag in this position to close what was a tough weekend. Today's result sees the 2013 Moto2 title winner move up to 7th and as the top independent rider in the 2016 World Championship standings and he now intends to produce a strong result at the next round after tomorrow's test in Brno.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith endured a disappointing end to the event after unfortunately suffering with a technical issue which caused him to retire from the Grand Prix. The Briton leapt forward from the middle of the fourth row of the grid and quickly set about moving through the pack as he completed the opening lap in 9th. He was pushed back one position a short time later, but remained focused and did his best to preserve his tyres for the second part of the race. However, at the midway point, the 25-year-old had to pit due to a technical issue with eight laps left to run. Nevertheless, Smith fully aims to bounce back in front of his home fans at the British Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.
13th / +43.202 / 22 laps, Championship: 7th / 81 points
"This morning in the warm-up I struggled quite a lot in the wet but to be honest, we managed to improve the bike significantly for the race. Therefore, I was able to pass many riders at the beginning of the GP as I felt really comfortable. However, when the track started to dry, I began to face some difficulties because I lacked grip and traction, but I tried to keep my pace without making any mistakes so that I could take home as many points as possible. I believe that today we weren't able to use the electronics to their best potential, plus I think the hard rear tyre would have been a better choice, especially at the end of the race. Yet, I rode this compound for two laps and I didn't feel 100% happy with it, so we went for the option that we used in the warm up. Now I really hope that we'll have a dry race in Silverstone because with no rain, we are usually strong and we will be able to show our true potential."
DNC / 22 laps, Championship: 15th / 42 points
"Of course, it's disappointing to have another DNF for a technical issue, especially as my race was running positively up until that point. The opening lap went quite well, and I was able to make up a few positions plus, I felt quite comfortable on the bike. When the track started to dry, I could increase my pace and push harder so that I could go with the guys close to me. Still, at the same time, I was looking after my tyres because I was certain that tyre management would be crucial at the end of the race. Yet, unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to prove that as I had to pit in. The riders who I was close to before I pitted, ended up finishing in 5th and 6th so this is where I would have seen myself at the end of the race and that definitely would have been a good result ahead of my home GP. Considering that it was one of the weekends where we were closer to the front from the word go, it's a big shame, but also due to it being the second time I've had to retire because of a technical issue in 2016, which is just bad luck. However, with the test tomorrow, we will go over a few things which will boost my confidence for my home Grand Prix at Silverstone, which is up next."