The modern classic circuit of Brno is the final round before the five weekend summer break in the World Superbike and World Superbike schedule, making it a psychologically important weekend as much as it is another valuable opportunity to score championship points.
Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) secured his first World Supersport Championship race win at Brno last year and the young rider from Northern Ireland is currently the highest-placed Honda rider in World Superbike, fourth overall. Having made his breakthrough WSB race win at Misano in June, Rea is out for more of the same from now until the end of his rookie WSB season.
Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) is out to make up ground on his main World Supersport Championship rival Cal Crutchlow this weekend. Laverty now has to claw back a 28-point deficit, and keep 2007 World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) behind him as well.
Since the previous round at Donington in late June the top Honda teams and riders have had the opportunity to carry out testing sessions, at Imola; a recently modified circuit which returns to the calendar for 2009. Imola features some sections that are similar to Brno, but no circuit on the calendar features quite so many wide and fast chicanes as the Czech round, or a more sustained uphill drag towards the final corners.
Brno is a popular circuit with virtually every rider, such is its wide, fast and scenic layout.
Weather conditions are expected to be hot, but not as blistering as the 35 degrees experienced during the Imola tests on 15 and 16 July.
Fastest WSS rider in the recent Imola tests, Sofuoglu is third overall in the championship standings, with Crutchlow in on 185 Points, Laverty 157 and Sofuoglu 121.
Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) posted his fourth podium of the season at Donington, and having tested at Imola as well he is ready for the challenge of Brno, which he has raced a Superbike around before. He is now fifth in the standings, only ten points from Rea.
Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) is ninth overall, with Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) 11th but only two points behind his fellow Honda rider.
Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) is fifth in the overall WSS rankings now, one place and four points ahead of Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR).
After a scare during the Imola tests about how well his previously injured hip was healing, John Hopkins (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) will arrive at the Brno race with positive MRI scan results to bolster his confidence levels. Despite his late arrival in the series and his recent injury, he was eighth in race one at Donington Park.
Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) continues to adapt to life in WSB this weekend after starting the year on a 600cc machine. Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) and Jason O’Halloran (Althea Honda CBR600RR) represent the Althea WSS squad this week, as Aitchison attempts to get back on his Kyalami podium pace, and his fellow Aussie O’Halloran takes only his second career WSS ride; his first for Honda.
Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) finally enjoyed his testing ride at Imola, and will be out for his second top ten finish of the year at Brno.
Gianluca Vizziello (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) is hoping for updates in time for Brno, while his fellow Italian Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Honda CBR1000RR) hopes to build on his Imola WSB testing experiences.
After the long summer break the championship restarts at the Nürburgring, Germany, from 4 to 6 September, at what will be the 11th round of the 14 round season.
Jonathan Rea: “Brno was the place I won my first WSS race last year and I start giggling every time people start talking about Brno! Our recent test in Italy went well, and we really didn’t change so much on the bike. The bike has a good balance and we went fastest at the test, which was a result I think we all deserved as a team. I am really looking forward to Brno and it would be nice to leave there with two strong results. I am motivated every time I ride the bike now because I know we can win.”
Leon Haslam: “I was consistently doing fast times at Imola on race tyres on the final day, so I am looking forward to Brno. We tried a lot of things there, suspension set-up, electronics and clutches, but ran out of a little time to put it all together, so we will do that at Brno in early practice.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “On the second day of ours tests at Imola we found a good setting and I understood more about how the Öhlins suspension feeling is. By the end of the last session I was feeling better about it all. Brno was not that good last year but I hope this year will be better.”
Carlos Checa: “We tried lots of different set-up solutions at the Imola tests, and then we moved on to tyre testing. We were top five on real race pace at Imola, even in the heat, but in some areas I still feel I can improve. There are some similarities between Imola and Brno, especially the changes of direction. I think it should be a good track for us.”
John Hopkins: “I like riding the Brno track. It was my first European track after coming here in my first year of racing overseas in 2000. I have been able to set some decent results, both in qualifying and racing. It’s a nice and flowing circuit to ride. After our test last week I am feeling confident for the next race. I’m working on getting a hundred percent fit again in the days leading up to the race. The bike feels great and I just want to bring it on the podium at Brno.”
Matthieu Lagrive: “We are glad to have been able to test in Imola for two days because it was good preparation for the rest of the races this season. We improved the base set-up of our bike and we found some good solutions to be used at Brno. I like Brno; it’s technical and fast and it also suits my riding style. I know that I have to work hard during practice, to be able to start in a good position.”
WSS Rider Comments
Eugene Laverty: “I need to come back and win it at Brno, to beat Cal especially, and I think we can do it. We have improved a bit at the Imola tests. The main thing we worked on was the chassis setting. We tried a few things at Misano and Donington that didn’t quite work so we tried a different direction at the test and we got the feeling we wanted. We lost a bit of side grip in the previous two rounds but we have found it again at this test and kept the overall feeling of the bike. So I’m pleased to be heading to Brno with that.”
Kenan Sofuoglu: “We worked a lot on our suspension at the Imola test last week and we didn’t touch the fork setting for use under heavy braking, because it already works well in those situations. We tried a small thing in the balance and the height of the bike and it looks good, a big difference. I think for Brno the bike will be very, very good, and for sure we are ready after the test. I am confident for all the last five races.”
Andrew Pitt: “We are chasing a bit of a rear end movement all test last week but we stayed on the one bike almost the whole time, and we got a bit of a direction at the end. Brno? It will be smoother than Imola, and I am looking forward to getting a good race in there before the summer break.”
Anthony West: “I still can’t find my best pace and it’s stopping us getting to the front of the times and the races. I have had wins in this class before so we should be able to compete better than we are now.”
Mark Aitchison: “The test at Imola was good but we had to change the bike to suit the high temperatures too much, and I can’t imagine it will be quite this hot at Brno on track temperatures. I may be warm like these tests, but I really hope not! We have also worked on our overall gearing in readiness for Brno.”
Miguel Praia: “I tried some different riding positions on the bike at the Imola tests and we made some good lap times. Our engine is strong and after the good work that we did at the tests we found another good setting with the shocks, so we are even more confident for Brno.”
Gianluca Vizziello: “Our test at Imola went well, and we finished all the things we wanted to try before the end of the test. We have a good set-up for the Imola race in September. If things go the way we want I think we can have a very strong result in the Czech Republic.”
Jason O’Halloran: “This test was just to get a feel for the bike and the team before Brno and it worked pretty well. We improved each session. I have been riding a Superbike for the past two years, so it is a very different style to ride a 600. I am getting back into the groove to rev the bike harder and keep it in the high part of the RPM range. Each time I go out and get more comfortable. I raced at Brno in 2007, on a 600, so I should be ready to go when we get there.”