Following only a few-days break since the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, the MotoGP Championship headed to Bruno for the Czech Republic Grand Prix.
Things got underway Thursday for round 11 of 18 with the traditional pre-race conference. In attendance were the current MotoGP points leader Marc Marquez, Yamaha Factory Racing's Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team's Nicky Hayden, and home hero Cardion AB Motoracing's Karel Abraham. Also in attendance was the current Moto3 points leader, Red Bull KTM's Luis Salom.
Marquez has been on a complete tear, the 20-year-old rookie of Spain winning the last three consecutive races, including a dominating performance at Indy. Though he's a favorite for Brno, he has his doubts.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “It’s an important moment of the season. It looks like Yamaha will be strong here because they have already done a test, especially Jorge looking strong; but we will see and try to do our best here and beat them.
"Every race will be close, with everybody fighting to be in front. We will see. At the remaining races the championship is quite close with many, many points left – still nearly half a season in front of us.”
It's a different story for Lorenzo, though, the reigning MotoGP Champion who is third in points, 35 behind Marquez and 14 behind the man in second, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
He needs to get back to the top of the podium to redeem some points missed due to his broken left shoulder sustained in a crash at Assen.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “It’s not so simple. I don’t think we’re the favorites at any race at the moment, but I do think this track will be good for my riding and the Yamaha…We didn’t crash at Indianapolis and got a podium after some weeks without it. Now, if we want to win this world title, we have to win as soon as possible. At the moment it’s not so simple, but we’re going to try.”
As for nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Italian took his first-ever victory in 1996 at Brno, and has many great memories of the Czech circuit.
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We have to do better by being stronger in practice, starting further in front and being better in the race. On paper this track is good for the M1, but right now Honda – especially Marc – is very strong so we have to do a great job to stay with them.
“It’s a long, long time! But I’m very proud to still be here and to have stayed at the top. It was a moment I will never forget, because in a career of a rider, your first World Championship victory and your first pole is always fantastic. I like this track a lot.”
As Hayden continues to struggle while the Ducati is being further developed, he thinks Brno will be suit the GP13 over the layout of Indy, where he finished ninth.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP13 MotoGP) says: “I didn’t come to Brno last year, so I hope on paper we can be a bit more competitive with less bumps and longer straights – but I’m sure everybody thinks the same! Brno is a track I really love and I think everybody does. Let’s hope we can be more competitive than last week."
Hayden also would not respond to any of the rumors regarding his future, and where he will be in 2014: “I really can’t (tell you anything). It’s not just me, I really don’t know yet, but it does look exciting because a month ago I didn’t have this many options – some that are really quite exciting that got me looking forward to the future. These next few weeks are a crutch time, I would say, to make some choices, but I’m looking forward to making some decisions and see what is left.”
Abraham continues to recover from a huge crash at Indy, but will be looking to please his home crowd with some better results.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Racing MotoGP) says: “We tried to push at Indy but had some technical problems which basically kicked me off the seat. My left shoulder is almost dislocated and now really hurts. We have already made our decision. I definitely want to race on Sunday.
"We’re working really hard, physio on shoulder every day. It will probably be necessary to get some anaesthetic on the shoulder – don’t really want to – but it’s necessary.”
Abraham also confirmed that the team is in talks about buying Honda’s “production racer” for next year, yet said that nothing had been signed at this time.
Salom, who was also injured at Indy, discussed how he wants to keep his championship lead following Brno.
Luis Salom (Red Bull AJO Moto3) says: "I had an injection before the race but sometimes couldn’t feel my foot and for that reason kept putting the bike into neutral. Last night I went to hospital again, who did an x-ray and revealed the foot was broken. I don’t have so much pain now, so I’ll try to be back okay again. Yes, they are looking at Monday [to operate] but I really don’t know. We need to try tomorrow and see how it is after, but I hope not to have so much pain, to be able to go really fast, and not think so much about the foot.”
Many riders also visited Thursday the Vankovka Mall in Brno to greet fans, including LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, Karel Abraham, and Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek, as well as Moto2™’s Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter, Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Luthi, Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese and Moto3’s Redox RW Racing GP’s Jakub Kornfeil.
The riders will be out on Brno Friday for the first practice sessions of the Czech Republic Grand Prix.