Fresh from a two-week summer break, Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo head to Brno in the Czech Republic this weekend riding high at the top of the championship.
Despite a disappointing last round in the UK the pair remain first and second in the standings
with seven rounds remaining, setting up a thrilling final seven-race run to the end of the season.
Brno is a special track for Rossi as the Italian took the first of his 101 career victories there, in the 125cc class in 1996. Since then he has added a 250cc win and four MotoGP victories to his tally, including a commanding one last year on the way to his eighth World Championship title, and three second places. The 30-year-old slid out of the lead in Donington last time out but remounted to finish fifth, meaning he managed to extend his lead at the top of the championship to 25 points from his team-mate.
“The summer ‘holiday' wasn't as long as usual but anyway I've had the chance to recharge the batteries in the break and I'm feeling rested and relaxed”, Rossi said. “Last time out wasn't ideal but in the end it was a positive day for us and we now have a one-race buffer at the top of the championship. Despite this breathing space we can't afford to relax for a minute because our rivals are very strong and I expect everyone to be at their best in Brno. It's a great track for me and I took my first ever win there; I'm hoping for another good result this time.”
22-year-old Lorenzo also has an impressive record at Brno, having won there in 125cc and twice in 250cc, both times from pole position. He finished tenth at the Czech track last year, a creditable performance considering that he was nursing broken bones in his foot sustained at the previous round in America. This year he arrives more or less in full fitness, having had a chance to fully recover from another foot injury, lying second in the championship and determined to put in a good performance to try to close some of the 25-point deficit to Rossi.
"I'm really excited about this race after what feels like a long time without one”, he said. “It was good to have a bit of a break and I used the time to work on my fitness and to completely recover from the injuries I had after Laguna, in the gym and with my physiotherapist. The result is that I feel much better than I did in Germany and England and I'm excited to be getting back on the bike. I like Brno and I have had good results in the past there, including three wins. This time my aim is to fight hard and get back on the podium.”
This year marks the 40th time a Grand Prix has been held at Brno since the 14km road circuit was first used in 1965. Today the modern track retains much of the character of the original road circuit, with its winding chicanes and dramatic elevation changes. The well-balanced nature of the circuit makes it an ideal testing venue and the team will remain there after the race for a key mid-season test.
Brno sees an important new rule come into existence, with all riders now restricted to just five engines for the final seven races of the season with a 10-point deduction for any rider who goes over his quota.