The man who’s been completely unstoppable so far in the 2011 MotoGP Championship is no doubt Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner.
Except for a DNF due to the now famous crash at Jerez with Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, the Australian Stoner has been on the podium in every round, including five wins.
With his dominate win at the last round in Laguna Seca, Stoner now holds a 20-point lead over the reigning MotoGP Champion, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. In third 50 points behind Stoner is his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso.
Following is what the riders were saying leading up to this weekend’s Czech Grand Prix in Brno, Round 11 of 18 in the 2011 MotoGP Championship.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “After the long break we are going to Brno completely recharged and ready to fight and try to reduce the gap with Casey.
“This is a track I like and where I won last year. I hope we can start the second half of the season on the podium. After the race we will be testing the 1000cc bike for one day. I am really looking forward to discovering the new Yamaha.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “It’s been really cool to hang out at home with my friends and family in Texas and take a break from the racing. I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike now, especially at Brno which is a track I really enjoy.
“It was good to me in Superbike and we showed a lot of potential there last year, I nearly had pole position and think I could have challenged for a podium if I hadn’t suffered a frond end grip issue early in the race.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “These two and a half weeks have flown by for me, but I really enjoyed this break. The truth is that I needed it, first of all to rest after the last few races that were physically hard for me but also to disconnect a little and to train, to get back my physical strength and be fit again. My holidays have been a combination of all.
“When I got back from Laguna I spent some days doing nothing just to relax the whole area of the neck, arms and back. After this I’ve been combining physical training with relaxation exercises to avoid over stressing the area. Now I’m looking forward to competing again and enjoying the races until the end of the season. The bike is working very well this year so I hope we can get good results and win races in this second half of the Championship.
“Brno is a track I like, I’ve won there in 125 and 250, and I’ve had some podiums also in MotoGP so to fight for the victory is a challenge for me and I’m very motivated. I’m also looking forward to the test at Brno with the 1000cc bike. I missed the first one in Jerez due to the injury and I’m exciting to see to see how the new bike works.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I spent the summer break with my family and friends at the seaside in Sardinia. Early in the morning I was training, then I could play with Sara, my little daughter. It was a new experience for me that I really enjoyed. It was a perfect time to relax and switch off and now I’m ready for the second part of the season.
“We arrive in Brno very motivated as we want to redeem the disappointing result of Laguna. Brno is a fast track, the curves have a long range so the speed in the mid corner is high. I’m confident that we can be competitive there, the Honda machine is working very well and the characteristics of the track suit my riding style too.
“It’s similar to Mugello and we look for a good result. Casey [Stoner], Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] will be strong rivals, but I’m confident that we will be able to fight with them. We are determined to return on the podium. This is our target.”
Casey Stoner (Respol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’ve really enjoyed this summer break. After a great race in Laguna, we decided to stay in California and visit some friends and enjoy some down time, mixed in with some training.
“Now I feel relaxed and ready for the second half of the season. I’m looking forward to going to Brno, it’s a circuit I’ve always enjoyed and I believe with the results we’ve had in the past years we can expect to have a good race there.
“I’ve seen that the Honda can be very competitive at all circuits this year so I’m sure we will also be strong in Brno. The fact that it’s very fast and flowing has helped the Yamaha’s in the past seasons and I think Jorge [Lorenzo] will be strong there, so I will be watching for him.
“We’ll be working on overcoming some of the issues we’ve had in the fast corners at circuits this year and we will certainly be looking for the win, or at the very least some more important Championship points.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “After Laguna I took a few days of vacation, at the beach close to home. It was a short break but enough to recharge the batteries following an intense period.
“Now we’ll spend a nice mid-August at Brno-classic! Seriously, I’m always happy to go there. I like the track not only because it’s very nice, wide and fast, and I’ve always gone well there, but also because it’s a special place for me since it’s where I earned my first pole, my first win and my first world championship.
“During both the race weekend and the Monday test, we’ll continue concentrating on the bike’s setup, with the goal of reducing the gap to the lead group.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “It’s been a bit of a break, but fortunately not all of it was away from bikes! On August 5 I had an opportunity to ride a Ducati 1198 SP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the entire infield section has been resurfaced, from Turn 5 to 16, in order to eliminate the bumps that used to limit our line options.
“Indy was already a great track, but now it’s safer and even more fun. A big thanks to Ducati North America and IMS for all the hard work to make the test possible. I’m ready to get to Brno now. It’s a very different circuit to what we’ve been to for the last two races at the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca.
“Those are tight with short lap times, and Brno is definitely a big, open track. We know it won’t be easy, but we’ve just got to keep chipping away. It’s clear that everybody at Ducati is doing the maximum, so we’ll go there and try to get a good result. Obviously the test on Monday will be really important for us. I’ll probably just ride the GP11 on the race weekend and then test the new bike on Monday.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “Obviously I would have preferred to go on holiday on the back of a different kind of result but that’s the way it was and we just have to learn our lessons and move on from what happened at Laguna Seca.
“After a wonderful holiday in some fantastic American parks I go to Brno looking for the best possible result. We have to focus on the second half of the season and try to score some positive results. The circuit suits my riding style even though I didn’t go so well there last year in MotoGP. I have won there before in the 250 class and I have also been on pole and on the podium in 125. Overall it is a track I like and I hope to do well.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “The result at Laguna Seca wasn’t particularly pleasing but I still wasn’t in good physical shape so now after this break I hope I am in better shape and form at Brno. I need to rediscover my confidence in myself and in the bike.
“It will be my first MotoGP appearance at Brno because I was injured here last year so it will be a new experience but I like the track and I was on the podium here in the 250cc class in 2006, as well as finishing fourth in 2009. I have the motivation to do well this weekend.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I am really excited about going to Brno, even though it has never been a great track for me for some reason. But it is the start of the second half of the season and I can’t wait to get back on my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. I had some decent time off with the family and spent some days in the Boot Camp.
“All the guys from the Team came straight after Laguna Seca and we all had a great time, and it is clear that I’m not the only one fast on two wheels in our squad! Looking ahead to this weekend, I’ve had some decent results at Brno but nothing really great.
“I’ve never scored a top six there so I’ll be aiming to put that right on Sunday. We’ve struggled with set-up issues since Sachsenring and nothing has gone fantastic since then. But I’m confident we can make the bike better at Brno and a good result will set us up nicely for the last seven races, starting with another trip home to Indianapolis later this month, which I’m really excited about.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I am looking forward to the second half of the season as some of the tracks that are coming up I know and I’ve done well on before, including Brno.
“Almost all the circuits in the first half of the season were new for me and I always had to learn from zero. But that’s all part of the learning experience and I’m concentrating solely on getting a good result this weekend and putt ing the bad luck behind me.
“The last few races have been quite difficult, but I showed at the start of the season my potential with some strong performances, and that’s the form I need to rediscover, starting in Brno this weekend. The track is a good one for me and I’ve got good memories from last season when I got on the podium and also took pole position in World Superbikes.
“So it is a track I know I am fast on and I am looking forward to seeing how it feels on a MotoGP bike. I had a good summer break and stayed on in America for a holiday, but now I’m ready to get back working hard with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and having a good final part of the season.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “I’ve been relaxing since the last race with a few days at the beach and now I’m training hard and looking forward to Brno. The last two races have been very positive and I think as a whole we are in the best position we have been since I’ve been in MotoGP.
“We need to continue with the progress we’ve made recently and the results will start to come. I had an injured back at Brno last year and couldn’t ride at my best, but I’m 100% now and will be pushing from day one. I hope John has a good weekend and enjoys himself; it will be good to have him there as it will give us the chance to push each other along.
“I’m sure we can work well together to get a good setting for the GSV-R and it will be nice to have a team mate again! I’m excited about the Brno race – I will be giving my maximum!”
John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “This is my third race in as many weeks and I am really looking forward to it! It’s been very busy and doing these three different championships back-to-back is quite a challenge, but I am really excited to be back in amongst the big boys at MotoGP.
“When I rode at Jerez earlier in the year I’d had no real 2011 racing experience so it was a bit ‘in at the deep end’. It was also the first time I’d raced with my wrist working properly since the operation, up until then it was still healing and the few times I’d been on a bike in 2011 had been for pre-season tests and the filming shoot at Qatar.
“Now I feel that I have gained more confidence and I’m riding better than ever. I’m really pumped that the race is at Brno because it is one of my favourite tracks and I hope I can go well. I’m under no illusions that it will be tough, because the other guys have been racing on MotoGP bikes all season and I’ll need some time to get up to speed with the bike and tyres, but I’ll be giving it all I’ve got to try to get a good result for the team.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “Unfortunately, the shoulder problem is persisting. The doctor said I should undergo surgery, but I’ll only consider that after the championship. For now I’m undergoing therapy every day. For Brno I hope to continue improving my physical condition. I’ve rested during this two-week break, which I really needed. I want to ride well and to finally have a good result. The Czech track is one of my favorites, so hopefully I’ll manage that.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Team GP11 MotoGP) says: “Missing the race at Laguna Seca was very difficult for me to accept, especially after the hard work carried out during practice and qualifying. During the past couple of weeks, I visited the doctor to better understand the situation with my pelvis.
“Fortunately, there are no fractures, but the pain still hasn’t gone away. I underwent, and am still undergoing, daily therapy in order to be ready for Brno. The bike had responded well to input in recent races, and it would be a shame not to take full advantage of this positive moment for us with the bike.”