2018 Czech Republic GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a three-week break, the entire MotoGP grid is ready to return to action to commence the second half of the 2018 FIM MotoGP World Championship, which begins this weekend at the Czech Republic Grand Prix at the Automotodrom Brno in Brno, and Marc Márquez, after winning five of the opening nine races, including the last two, has a firm stranglehold of the championship race heading into the final 10 races of the season as he looks to win his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and his seventh across all categories.

Márquez (165 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 46 points ahead of Valentino Rossi (119 points) from Movistar Yamaha MotoGP. Rossi hasn’t achieved a single win in 2018, but he has got five podiums, including a second-place finish last time out in Germany, but really needs to start winning if he wants to keep hopes of winning an eighth MotoGP World Championship in 2018 alive.

Same can be said of Maverick Viñales (109 points), Rossi’s teammate, who sits 56 points behind Márquez in the championship with only three podiums, including two third-place finishes in the last two races, but like Rossi, Viñales needs to start winning some races in order to keep his chances alive of winning a first MotoGP World Championship.

Behind the top three in the world championship, we have a tight battle for fourth between Andrea Dovizioso (88 points), Johann Zarco (88 points), Jorge Lorenzo (85 points), Danilo Petrucci (84 points), Cal Crutchlow (79 points), and Andrea Iannone (75 points).

Dovizioso has had an odd season with flashes of the speed and promise that we saw last year when he finished a close second in the world championship for the Ducati Team, getting himself two podiums, including a win, but it has been punctuated with mistakes, leading to retirements in three of the first four European races of 2018.

Zarco has been consistent for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 with two podiums, and top 10 finishes in eight of the first nine races, but the retirement at his home race in Le Mans, just his second retirement in his premier class career, was a huge blow in his quest for a top three finish in the championship.

Lorenzo is starting to come on strong you sense with back-to-back wins at Mugello and Barcelona, but the last two races, in particular the last race in Germany that you have got to make the right tyre decisions for you (the rider), and not necessarily the bike. I believe Lorenzo should be using harder, more durable tyres in races in order to maximise his potential on that Ducati, something which he started to do, resulting in two wins, but has slipped away from that again, and you sense the dynamic within the Ducati Team is not right.

Petrucci has been very consistent, and performing superbly for Alma Pramac Racing, while Crutchlow has underachieved for LCR Honda despite grabbing a win in Argentina earlier in the season. While for Iannone, the general speed of Team Suzuki Ecstar has slipped away of late, and it will need to be found again to challenge for a top five, or perhaps a top three finish in the championship.

Behind the top nine, we have a four-way battle for 10th between Jack Miller (57 points), who has struggled in the last four races due to one thing or another for Alma Pramac Racing, Álex Rins (53 points), who has made too many mistakes in 2018, but despite the general competitiveness of Team Suzuki Ecstar declining, he is still capable of a shock win, Dani Pedrosa (49 points), who seems content to be heading to the sunset right now for the Repsol Honda Team, and Álvaro Bautista (44 points), who has finished five of the last six races inside the top 10 for the Ángel Nieto Team.

So, who will win in the Czech Republic?

While it has been generally a tight grid where most have a chance of winning on any given day, there is one rider who is heads and shoulders above the rest, and that is Marc Márquez.

He is riding probably at his best level since 2014, where he won the opening 10 races on-route to winning his second MotoGP World Championship, and while the 2018 Honda isn’t as good as the 2014 bike, you sense that Márquez could ride away with this championship in the way that he dominated the opening 10 races of 2014.

 

 

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MotoGP Czech Republic GP – Preview

The 10th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic, and after a mid-season break that seems to have gone on forever, it is time to get back to racing to start the second half of the season to continue an amazing championship battle.

And what a battle we have! The top five riders in the world championship are separated by 26 points heading into the final nine races of 2017, and have all won at least one race during the opening nine rounds of the season.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on 129 points on his factory Honda, which is the lowest points score by a rider leading the world championship after the opening nine rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993, five points ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales, who is on 124 points.

However, Viñales has won more races so far in 2017 than his fellow Spaniard with three victories (Qatar, Argentina, and France), compared to Márquez, who has achieved two victories (Americas, and Germany).

Behind the two pre-season favourites after the halfway mark of the season is factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso on 123 points, six points behind Márquez in the world championship after winning two races (Italy, and Catalunya), and becoming the first Ducati rider since Casey Stoner back in 2010 to win consecutive races for the manufacturer.

Valentino Rossi is fourth in the championship on his factory Yamaha on 119 points, 10 points behind Márquez after achieving one victory during the opening half of the season, at the eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship at Assen.

Behind Rossi is Dani Pedrosa, who is fifth in the world championship on 103 points, 26 points behind his factory Honda teammate Márquez after winning the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year at Jerez, and is still well and truly in championship contention.

However, behind the battle for the championship is a great scrap for sixth in the championship standings between Johann Zarco (84 points), Jonas Folger (71 points), Danilo Petrucci (66 points), Jorge Lorenzo (65 points), and Cal Crutchlow (64 points).

All five of these riders have been on the podium at least once this season, and in the case of Petrucci, twice. As well as this, the three riders of those five (Zarco, Folger, and Petrucci) who haven’t won a race in the premier class in their careers to date have shown that they can challenge the very best on their day, and could possibly claim their first MotoGP race victories during the second-half of the season.

The two out of those five (Lorenzo and Crutchlow) who have won races in the premier class, and in the case of Lorenzo, world championships, have struggled to put together a string of good results so far in 2017, and need to find some consistency in the second-half to have any hope of achieving a top five finish in the championship.

So, MotoGP heads to the Czech Republic with at least ten riders who have shown that they are capable of winning a race in 2017, and with the conditions set to be fine, but hotter than normal, it leaves this race wide open.

However, especially given Honda have won five of the last six races at the Brno Circuit, if the track conditions are slippery, it will suit the Japanese manufacturer extremely well.

However, if the track has a lot of grip in its asphalt, it will bring it more in the favour of Yamaha, and in particular Ducati.

So, who am I tipping to win the Czech Republic Grand Prix?

Well, no rider has won at the Brno Circuit in consecutive years in MotoGP since Valentino Rossi won the races in 2008 and 2009, and suspect this record will still be standing at the end of the weekend.

So, I am going to tip Marc Márquez to win the tenth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship in a fantastic battle with Dani Pedrosa.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).