“Brno should be good”
As the three-week, MotoGP summer break draws to a close, Kawasaki Racing Team riders, Randy de Puniet and Anthony West are, yet again, ready to get back on their 800cc Ninja ZX-RRs and face the remaining rounds of the 2007 world championship.
12th race of the season takes place next weekend at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic with the 5.4km track hosting the 22 lap contest.
De Puniet has especially good memories of the place, having claimed no less than five top ten finishes there in his 250cc days, including a win in 2003 and a podium in 2004. Having left the paddock with a spring in his step after an excellent 6th place at Laguna Seca, the 26-year-old Frenchman aims to ride his Bridgestone-shod Ninja to an equal, if not better, position at Brno. Currently standing 13th in the championship, de Puniet hopes to add to his tally of 50 points, which has already placed him ahead of Toni Elias, Makoto Tamada and Carlos Checa.
West has also visited the circuit on numerous occasions when he was riding in the 250cc class, including getting a fourth position in 2004, but this will be his first race at the track on a MotoGP machine. Having joined the Kawasaki squad late in the day (at Donington Park in June), he's already put his stamp on the championship, racking up 29 points in just four races, with three out of those four seeing him finish in the top ten.
Working increasingly well with his ‘new' team, the 26-year-old Australian has so far embraced, with both talent and enthusiasm, the sudden learning curve of joining the premier class and, after some intense training during the break, hopes to maintain this remarkable momentum.
Brno provides some great, and scenic, racing, with its wooded hillsides, sweeping undulations, numerous corners and short, sharp straights. Opened in 1987, it replaced the old road racing circuit just 10km away, where cars and bikes had raced since the early 1900s. The track, roughly 200kms from Czech capital, Prague, proves an enduringly popular round of the MotoGP calendar: its central European location making it a Mecca for motorcyclists from many surrounding countries.
The current circuit record holder is Loris Capirossi who, in 2006, put in a time of 1'58.157; while the highest recorded top speed at this championship round is a staggering 311.24kmh, ridden by current World Superbike rider, Max Biaggi, in 2004.
Whether or not those records will be broken this time around remains to be seen but there's going to be no shortage of fantastic racing to be had as the teams and riders return with a vengeance to make their mark on the second half of this year's nail-biting championship.
Randy de Puniet
“I had a holiday with friends in Los Angeles after Laguna but, after arriving home in Andorra, I've been training hard, doing a lot of sport to get my fitness back after the injuries I sustained earlier in the year. I've been riding my bicycle, motocrossing and running and now I feel very fit and ready for the rest of the season. Also, I like Brno. I won there in 2003, got a second in 2004 and had many top ten finishes there, when I was riding in the 250cc world championship. I think the Ninja ZX-RR is going to perform well there, too, with good power for the straights and plenty of acceleration. I'm looking forward to it.”
“I've spent the break doing a lot of fitness work although I had a bit of time off in Santa Cruz at the start of the break, which was a good holiday even if it was a bit short. I can't wait to get back on the bike though. Before the break, I'd been riding almost non-stop so, without that, I've been feeling a bit lost. Now I want to carry on where I left off. I wasn't expecting to get such a good result in Laguna but figure if I can do that on a track I don't know, then hopefully I can keep on improving when I'm back on a track I do know. I'm more familiar with the bike now, too. I'm looking forward to seeing the team again and working together and I'm having a lot of fun on this bike so yes, Brno should be good.”