Monday, August 17

LORENZO TIES ROSSI!

Jorge Lorenzo was sublime at Brno.
Jorge Lorenzo won his fifth grand prix of the season at Brno in the Czech Republic on Sunday in a convincing display, beating Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) who finished 4.4 seconds adrift in second place, and more importantly, Valentino Rossi who was third, more than ten seconds behind his Movistar Yamaha team-mate.

As a result, Lorenzo now ties Rossi at the top of the championship points table with 211 points, the pair of them 52 points ahead of defending champion Marquez.

Lorenzo's win ended a four year winning streak for the Repsol Honda team at Brno, which started when Australian Casey Stoner won the race in 2011.

Lorenzo had qualified in pole position, his lap of 1m 54.989s slicing more than half a second off the pole record of 1:55.527s set by Cal Crutchlow in 2013 on a Tech 3 Yamaha.

Later Lorenzo said it was his most satisfying single lap of his career - even though he had been a little to aggressive with the throttle in one of the final corners and had lost a tenth of a second or so with wheelspin.

It was a torrid qualifying session, with the top five qualifiers were all under Crutchlow's 2013 record.  That included Bradley Smith, on a Tech 3 Yamaha...

However, in regular timed practice, it was Marquez who had been consistently the fastest rider, recording nine laps in the low 1m 56s bracket.  Consequently he had looked a serious contender for race honours.  But in the race, Lorenzo grabbed the holeshot, took the lead and was never headed.


Marc Marquez was unable to match Lorenzo's
mesmerising pace.
Marquez gave chase and was close behind Lorenzo for the first five laps but was unable to mount a challenge as the Yamaha man dug deep and edged away.  Marquez was definitely pushing, setting the fastest lap of the race on the fourth lap as he tried to mount a challenge.

His 1m 56.048s best lap was just a whisker outside 2014 winner Dani Pedrosa's 1:55.027 lap record.

Rossi knew that to run with Marquez and Lorenzo he needed a front row start, and that's exactly what he achieved in qualifying, taking third place on the grid.  But he fluffed the start and was overtaken by the Ducati's of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone in the run to the first corner.


Rossi (left) and Lorenzo were in good heart after qualifying 
but the post race scene wasn't as jubilant for 
one side of the Yamaha garage
It took the first two laps for him to work his way into third place but by then Lorenzo and Marquez had already grabbed a big gap.  Rossi had opted for a different tyre combination: hard front and hard rear.  However, he said later that although he had expected that to play into his hands in the closing stages of the race, at no stage was he able to match Marquez and Lorenzo's pace.

Going into the race weekend, two time Brno MotoGP winner Dani Pedrosa had been expected to be among the front-runners but a freak crash in practice saw him riding with a badly banged up left ankle.  It transpired that a fork seal had let go on his Repsol Honda, spraying hydraulic fluid onto his rear tyre.

As a result he qualified in ninth place and had a lot of work to do trying to support team-mate Marquez.  He finished the first lap in tenth place and had to work his way past Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati GP14), Maverick Vinales (Suzuki), Pol Espargaro (Tech 3 Yamah), Bradley Smith, and finally the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.  In fact, Pedrosa's challenge on Dovizioso was one of the most interesting battles of the second half of the race.  The Ducati clearly had more grunt than the Honda up the hill at Brno so Pedrosa had to work out a way past on the brakes.  Three times he got ahead of the Ducati, only to have Dovi power back ahead.  However, on the final lap, Pedrosa finally made a pass stick, and finished fifth, a little over two seconds behind the second factory Ducati of Iannone.


He still wears the legend 'The Maniac' on his leathers, but there is a high degree of professionalism about Andrea Iannone these days.


Iannone in turn was two and a half seconds behind Rossi at the finish.

There is little doubt a fit Pedrosa would have qualified better and been in a position to run near the front.


Dani Pedrosa rode with a badly banged up left foot that had
hampered his qualifying performance but in the race
he turned in a remarkably gutsy performance.
Perhaps the rider who most benefitted from Pedrosa's injury was Rossi.  He was clearly the target Honda most wanted to beat, and if Pedrosa had been able to finish in front of the Italian, it would have helped Marquez's bid to retain his title.

It is worth noting that even though Lorenzo turned in a masterful display to clinch his first win at Brno since 2010, his race time of 42m 53.042s was just over five seconds slower than Pedrosa's 2014 race record.  And as already reported, Pedrosa's 2014 lap record remains intact.

For full race results, click here