News 13 Aug 2010

MotoGP: Top riders speak out ahead of Czech Grand Prix

Lorenzo has enjoyed a dominant season so far in 2010.

Lorenzo has enjoyed a dominant season so far in 2010.

The Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky marks the start of the second half of a season that has been well and truly dominated by Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard is currently 72 points clear at the top of the championship standings, having racked up six wins and three second places during the first half of his 2010 campaign.

Another top-two finish would make Lorenzo only the third rider in GP racing’s 62-year history to place either first or second in the opening ten races of a season, but the Fiat Yamaha rider was more concerned with the championship during the press conference, rather than the records he’s breaking as the season progresses.

“I like this track very much as it suits my riding style very well and I would obviously like to win here, but my main objective is the championship, so we will see how things go this weekend,” Lorenzo told the assembled journalists at the press conference on Thursday.

“It will be difficult to repeat the results from the first half of the season, but that’s not really our goal. The goal is simply to finish races and get on the podium.”

The championship leader was quick to admit that, during the short summer break, he’d broken the habit of a lifetime and actually enjoyed some time off, after a particularly busy first half to the season.

“For the first time ever in my racing career I made some holiday during the break,” admitted the Fiat Yamaha rider. “Normally I would spend the break training, but this year for the first time I went somewhere exotic for my holiday.”

Currently lying third in the championship, Andrea Dovizioso is keen to rediscover his early season form this weekend at Brno, after finishing off the podium in the last four races.

The Italian narrowly missed out on a podium finish in this race last year, but goes into this weekend knowing he needs a good result if he is to hold off the challenge of Casey Stoner, who lies just 12 points behind the Repsol Honda rider in the championship.

“We had four or five really good races at the start of the season, but the last few races we haven’t been able to fight for a podium because the other riders have improved more than us,” said Dovizioso. “Brno is not one of my favourite tracks, so it will be quite hard for me this weekend but, of course, we will still fight. Three riders are quite close in the championship now, so we could see a good battle for second place in the standings during the next nine races.”

Stoner did not race at Brno last season, after withdrawing from the championship for three races with illness. However, the Australian was a winner in the Czech Republic in 2007 and looks to be on a good run of form, having finished on the podium in the last four races. However, the Ducati rider was quick to point out during the press conference that appearances can be deceptive.

“The results might look like they’re getting better, but we seem to reaching our maximum too early in the weekend and then not improving any further,” explained the former World Champion. “I’m then making mistakes trying to stay with the other guys during the races. Everyone at Ducati is working hard to find improvements, but if we continue as we are then it will be hard for the rest of the season.”

Brno has been a particularly successful hunting ground for Valentino Rossi in the past. The Italian has won five times here in the premier class but, while he arrives at Brno off the back of a podium finish at Laguna in only his second race back after injury, Rossi is still not back to full fitness following his Mugello crash.

“The break has helped a little bit with the injuries,” declared Rossi. “I feel better than I did at Laguna and both the leg and the shoulder have improved. I have more power in both now, but I’m still not 100%.”

Rossi’s future is still the major talking point in the MotoGP paddock and the reigning world champion was quite clear about the timing of an announcement regarding his plans for the 2011 season.

“An announcement about 2011 will be made after the race on Sunday,” stated the Italian.

Randy de Puniet listened with more than a little interest as Rossi explained about his recovery from injury, as the LCR Honda rider sustained almost identical fractures after crashing and then being run over by Mika Kallio during the Sachsenring race.

Just three weeks after an operation on his injured leg de Puniet was back on a bike at the Alés circuit in France, declaring himself fit to race this weekend after completing 30 pain free laps aboard a standard Honda CBR1000R.

The Frenchman’s aim is to finish this season as the top privateer and he’s determined to race to a top ten finish this weekend, in a bid to claw back points on Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider, Ben Spies, who currently leads de Puniet by eight points in the championship standings.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped with my recovery,” said the LCR Honda rider. “It’s a surprise to be here this weekend, but a nice surprise. I started physiotherapy just three days after the operation on my leg and the recovery has been good.

“I tested a standard bike last week in France and everything was okay. I actually think this weekend will be easier than last year at Brno, where I rode in a lot of pain just after breaking my ankle.”