Czech GP, Brno in review: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez has made more MotoGP™ history, winning Sunday’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky to become the first rookie ever to claim five victories in his maiden season. On this occasion, the Repsol Honda Team rider came out on top after an immensely close fight with teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo.
Following the morning Warm-Up that took place amid distinctly overcast conditions, riders feared for a wet Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. Although spots of rain did briefly fall, prompting the white flags to fly on Lap 14, there proved to be no major changes in the weather. On the front row of the grid, Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow started from pole position for the second time this season, but would unfortunately crash out of the race.
Marquez’s ride was a mixture of patience, aggression and defence, with the Spaniard running second behind Lorenzo as the reigning World Champion scorched off the start line. The pair would proceed to swap places on various occasions, with the final pass coming at Turn 3 with just under four laps to go. Pedrosa also dispatched of Lorenzo, but two final tours was not enough for last year’s winner to hunt down his teammate who won by three tenths of a second.
In fourth place, Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi ultimately came out on top after a race-long duel with GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, whereas LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl experienced a quiet ride to sixth spot from Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden, locked together once again. The top ten was completed by Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, just one second ahead of CRT rival Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) who had started in front of him.
A second lap collision between Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti saw both riders retire, with the Italian later undergoing an x-ray to his right hand before spending Sunday night in Fakultni Nemocnice Brno Hospital after experiencing concussion. The other two retirements were Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek – from his home Grand Prix – and Tech3’s Bradley Smith, who were both out of action on the third lap. There was also frustration for pole man Crutchlow, who crashed out of fourth place on Lap 8 as he looked to hunt down the leading trio, as well as for Czech Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) who was unable to score points at home. Wildcard Martin Bauer (Remus Racing Team) succeeded in completing the distance.
The final race in the on-going triple-header will be the Hertz British Grand Prix at Silverstone, to which Marquez heads with 213 points, 26 – and more than the equivalent of one race win – ahead of Pedrosa and 44 in front of Lorenzo.
Mika Kallio has won in Moto2™ for the first ever time, celebrating victory at the end of a dramatic and closely fought bwin Grand Prix České republiky. The Finn shared the podium with Takaaki Nakagami and Tom Luthi, as championship leader Scott Redding limited the points-loss by finishing four places behind Pol Espargaro.
Before the start of the 20-lap encounter at Brno the worry was a threat of rain, but the race would eventually not be affected by any showers. Kallio started fourth for the Marc VDS Racing Team, as the grid was headed up by Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team). As the former moved up to second at the start, all were away cleanly with the exception of Nakagami’s teammate Julian Simon who crashed at the first corner.
The race would prove to be one of two major focal points. The first was a titanic contest for the lead, which was shared over the distance by Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Tom Luthi and Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, as well as Nakagami and Kallio. The top spot first became Kallio’s on the fourth lap, but perhaps the most crucial moment of all was when he extended the lead to half a second as the chasing group fought furiously on the final tour. This would prove to be Kallio’s first victory since he won the 250 race at Donington Park five years ago.
The other obvious battle of the day was that of the title pretenders, as Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40) and Redding (Kallio’s teammate at Marc VDS Racing Team) duelled with each other on-track, somewhat surprisingly as the Spaniard had started on the front row whereas the Englishman – who was yet to score at Brno in Moto2 – was coming from 13th on the grid after struggling in qualifying. Redding grabbed fifth place from his rival on Lap 9 but, having escaped a tap from Espargaro, would soon feel the wrath of others and ultimately sank to eighth whereas his chief opponent forcefully took fourth from Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco on the last lap.
As Kallio beat Nakagami to a first Moto2 win and Luthi picked up his second rostrum placing of the season, Espargaro and Zarco completed the top five from Terol, Indianapolis winner Tito Rabat (Tuenti HP 40) and Redding. Eight riders failed to finish, including reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) who – after starting fifth on the grid – suffered a crash at Turn 1 and will now require surgery to attend to a fractured right ulna. With five laps to go, there was a three-way collision at Turn 3 triggered by the out-of-control Mike di Meglio (JiR Moto2), who was collected by Alberto Moncayo (Argiñano & Gines Racing) as Marcel Schrotter (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) also crashed out of proceedings. It was later confirmed that di Meglio had sustained a fractured sacrum in the lower back.
Sunday’s result sees Espargaro close in on championship leader Redding by five points, bringing the leading gap down to 21 with seven races remaining in the 2013 season; winner Kallio jumps up one championship position, to fourth overall.
Moto3™ championship leader Luis Salom has returned to winning ways, picking up his fifth victory of 2013 in Sunday’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky. Having grabbed the lead on the final lap, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was able to open up a small cushion as four rivals squabbled over second place behind him.
Spots of rain were deposited on Brno as the red lights went out, with Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins leading from his third consecutive pole position. Maverick Viñales (Team Calvo) was first to steal the top spot before Salom went through at Turn 3; such battles would continue until the 19th and final lap, with Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger also very much in the mix.
Heading into the final tour, the pair of Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders were running first and second and on course for a repeat of last weekend’s Indianapolis result. However, having already established a reputation for judging the late stages of races, Salom overhauled the duo at the first and third corners, respectively. It was at this point that Marquez and Rins appeared to begin hurting one another’s races, with Viñales sweeping around the outside of Turn 4 before Folger strode ahead of the dicing duo to snatch the final rostrum placing at the penultimate corner of the race.
Salom – impressively recording the fastest lap on the last lap, despite a fractured heel – collected his fifth victory of the campaign and his first since Assen, crossing the finish line half a second ahead of Viñales to ensure that the latter remains second in the standings despite being the only rider to have finished on the podium at every one of the first ten events in 2013. Folger’s podium finish was his second of the campaign.
Five riders failed to finish. Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo was out on the opening lap, with Ongetta-Centre Seta’s Isaac Viñales and CIP Moto3’s Juanfran Guevara soon joining the Finn on the sidelines. The final two retirements were Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3), with Binder forced to crash trying to avoid Baldassarri’s bike after the Italian highsided.
Salom now heads back to his native Palma in Mallorca to undergo surgery on his fractured heel before contesting the Hertz British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend, into which he heads with a 14-point lead over Viñales with seven races to go.