#CzechGP Brno, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took an impressive win in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, taking the holeshot from pole after a dramatic downpour had delayed the start as the field waited for conditions to improve. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) shot up into second to take his fifth podium of the year, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completing the rostrum for podium number two this season. He was the top Independent Team rider.
After a rain shower, a delay and the Quick Start Procedure, it was Marquez who shot off the line first to immediately take the lead, with Dovizioso slicing up into second as Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Miller found themselves struggling a little more with grip. Initially, it became a four rider fight with Marquez, Dovizioso, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Miller creating a gap over just over a second back to Pol Espargaro (Red Bull Factory Racing), who had Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) for close company. As the laps ticked by the leading quartet were line astern as 0.8 covered them, and with limited dry track time throughout the weekend, the riders were wary of not jumping the gun too early.
Meanwhile, Rossi eventually got the better of Espargaro’s KTM, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) quickly dispatching the latter to tuck in behind ‘The Doctor’. But by this time, the gap to the leaders was over four seconds. Would Marquez turn the wick up even further? The signs were there and with 10 to go, fourth place Miller had dropped 1.5 off the race leader, with Marquez’ lead over second-placed Dovi creeping up over the half-second mark. Then, with nine to go, Marquez was making his move. The gap increased to nearly a second but at Turn 10, the number 93 had a warning shot on the front. It didn’t seem to faze the seven-time Champion though, as from then on, no one could keep the Honda man’s pace.
That meant it boiled down to a race for second and third between Dovi, Rins and Miller with five laps remaining. Would there be a late twist in the tale for P2? Rins closed Dovi down slightly but soon, it was the Suzuki under attack instead. Miller smelt blood and the Australian set his sights onto the back of Rins’ GSX-RR.
With two laps left, he went for it at Turn 1 but the blue machine fought back up the inside. No matter, Miller got the job done a few seconds later at Turn 5 and with Rins clearly struggling with his tyres, the Spaniard gave up the ghost. Up the road, meanwhile, Marquez was out of sight as he took victory number six of the year. 63 points is now his advantage heading to Austria, over Dovizioso, who returned to the podium for the first time since Mugello just behind him.
Behind Rins’ fourth, Crutchlow wasn’t far off the podium hunt, with the British rider finishing 1.2 off him in P5. Rossi took a pretty lonely sixth place to claim his best result since Le Mans; the nine-time World Champion the leading Yamaha in the Czech Republic as he finished three seconds ahead of rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Danilo Petrucci’s (Ducati Team) run of top six finishes in 2019 came to an end with a P8 in Brno, the Italian ahead of ninth place Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). After a bad start, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) recovered from 15th to 10th on a difficult day for one of the riders who looked like a serious contender before the weather shuffled the pack.
Pol Espargaro took 11th ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), with his fellow rookie Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) taking P13 and just ahead of Zarco. Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement, Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team), completed the points.
Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed at Turn 10 on Lap 7 – rider ok, and a crash took down Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) after a close encounter with Zarco on Lap 1.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took control of the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky for another dominant win, coming home over three seconds clear of his closest challengers. They were two rookies: Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) took second after initially proving the only man to have close to Marquez’ speed, and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racnig Team) completed the podium after a late charge through. It’s the first visit to the rostrum for both in the intermediate class.
Off the line, it was a lightening start from Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the Brit took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Marquez dropped back into second ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40). But by Turn 3, the number 73 had already hit the front and by the end of the first lap, he was nearing a second clear…could anyone catch him?
Di Giannantonio set about trying to. He was soon up to third and began to hunt down Lowes, attacking at Turn 1 on Lap 2 and then setting off in hot pursuit of Marquez. Initially the Italian rookie was nearly three tenths quicker, but the Spaniard responded a lap later to keep the gap stable between the two. That’s when disaster struck for Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) as the Swiss rider suddenly crashed out of contention at Turn 5, seeing his deficit in the Championship leap from eight points to, as it would turn out, over thirty.
Back at the front, Marquez wasn’t for turning and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) was up to third ahead of the Sky Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini and Nicolo Bulega. But Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) was on a charge in sixth, ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with Bastianini already having gained ten places up to 18th. Lowes then crashed, as did Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), before Navarro attacked Bulega for fourth. He then took Schrötter and Marini, with Speed Up seemingly looking at their first double podium since 2010.
Bastianini, however, was on a mission. He took Schrötter before closing down Navarro in the final two laps, setting up a grandstand finish. As Alex Marquez took yet another incredible win – and his team’s 100th Moto2™ podium – to extend his Championship lead to 33 points, ‘Diggia’ following him home for his first podium in the intermediate class and the battle was on on the final lap to decide who would join them on the podium. It came down to Turn 10, with the ‘Beast’ slicing through and Navarro unable to respond.
The Spaniard therefore took fourth ahead of Marini, with Schrötter coming home in sixth. Nicolo Bulega continued his positive weekend to come home with his best result in Moto2™ in seventh, ahead of Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40), who holds onto third overall but is now equal on points with Navarro in fourth. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) shot through from 17th on the grid to confirm his pace in Czechia in P9, with Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) completing the top ten.
Baldassarri slipped down to P11, Binder crashed out, and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) took his best result of his rookie year in the intermediate class in P12, just ahead of fellow KTM-riding rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completed the points.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) has taken back the Championship lead in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, fighting it out at the front throughout a classic, chaotic Moto3™ race to come home a tenth and a half ahead of key rival Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). The two men remain only three points apart at the top of the standings, just with the roles now reversed. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completed the podium from pole ahead of Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), although it was the man in fifth who stole the headlines as Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took an awesome P5 from pitlane.
Arbolino got the holeshot from pole, with some immediate drama hitting the pack off the line: John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered an issue from second on the grid, the Scot left slow in the field and those behind forced into avoiding action. Most succeeded, but wildcard Yuki Kunii (Asia Talent Team) did clip the number 17 and went down. McPhee, then also carrying damage, managed to stay upright, although he retired.
Meanwhile at the front, rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) was making short work of the race lead as he pushed past Arbolino, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) for close company too. Sure enough, however, it soon became a classic Moto3™ group fight at the front. And after regrouping for a few laps, it was the VNE Snipers duo of Arbolino and teammate Romano Fenati who led the way, that lasting until 10 laps to go, with Dalla Porta then attacking for, and keeping, the lead.
Canet wasn’t going to let his key rival escape from the pack, however, and with three laps to go produced a fantastic two-rider pass into Turn 3 to get himself up into the top three. Four of the top five in the overall standings were in a battle at the front: Dalla Porta, Canet, Arbolino and Antonelli. But who would emerge victorious?
The last lap board was signalled and Dalla Porta held firm, but Arbolino got the better of him into Turn 3 and Canet then followed him through into second, having started the last lap in fourth. Then, on the exit of Turn 9, Canet was able to capitalise on a small mistake from Arbolino and moved through to the lead, head down and the Spaniard faultless to the line. He would prove uncatchable through the latter half of the lap, taking his second win of the year by a tenth and a half.
Behind Canet, Dalla Porta at least managed to get past Arbolino to do some damage control and stay within three points of the top, the number 48 forced to settle for second for the fifth time this year. Polesitter Arbolino completed the podium and moves up to fourth in the standings, just ahead of the man he also pipped on track: Masia.
Niccolo Antonelli, meanwhile, completed his absolute charge in fifth. The Italian was forced to start from pitlane after a problem on the grid and was electrifying in his progress through the field. First getting into the fight for points, then the top ten and then, incredibly, starting to get involved in the podium fight, the number 23’s race was a masterclass in comebacks. On the final lap he was well within the fight, but ultimately couldn’t quite make the podium, coming home in fifth. But Antonelli’s deficit to the win, from pitlane, was under half a second.
Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was an impressive presence in the front group once again and the Japanese rookie took sixth for the third time in four races, now only 12 points behind Rookie of the Year leader Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), who crashed in Czechia. Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) was seventh after a solid ride for solid points, getting the better of veteran compatriot Romano Fenati, who slipped down to P8 by the end of the race. Home hero Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) made a stunning charge through the field from 20th on the grid to come home in ninth, able to escape the clutches of Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power)… the man who started just behind him.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) continued the trend of huge progress through the field in 11th having started 24th, the Japanese rider able to get past early leader Raul Fernandez, who took P12. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) had a solid Sunday for more points in P13, ahead of Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46).
Suzuki was a crasher from the front group early on, and home hero Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) also went down. Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammates Sergio Garcia and Alonso Lopez tangled and failed to finish, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) crashed.