After a four-week holiday break, the MotoGP World Championship is back on. The 2019 Czech MotoGP, and tenth appointment of the calendar, is taking place this weekend (2nd– 4th August).
Marc Márquez arrives at the legendary Brno circuit as the undisputable leader with a 59-point advantage over the rest. His latest exhibition at the German GP left no doubt about who is commanding the championship with an iron fist.
Honda and Marquez: Strongest on the track
Marquez is feared by all his rivals, but his closest pursuers in the standings, the Ducaties of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, could still unsettle the champion on Sunday. Not in vain they did get first and second positions in Brno in 2018.
Meanwhile, Marquez’ teammate at Honda, Jorge Lorenzo, will not make it to the 2019 Czech MotoGP. Still convalescing for the serious accident he suffered in Holland, he will not be fit to climb back up the unruly RC213V until England.
Ducati needs to win
With last year’s 1-2 very much in its mind, Ducati arrives at the 2019 Czech MotoGP full of confidence. The red bullets are very well suited to the Brno layout. The pilots from Borgo Panigale, Andrea Dovizioso and his loyal esquire Danilo Petrucci must aim for the first step of the podium.
That is their only chance to stop Marquez escaping solo towards the title. Dovi, the sempiternal sub-champion, in particular, must really make a statement this weekend.
Dovizioso hasn’t had a win since the inaugural race in Qatar and it seems that even Petrux, who has just had his contract extended for another year, is pushing him out. The two Italian teammates are just three points apart in the standings. The civil war is on!
Yamaha: Rossi in crisis & Viñales on the rise
Yamaha is undergoing a somehow similar situation to that of Ducati. Their supposed head of ranks, Valentino Rossi, is seeing his position threatened by Maverick Viñales.
The #46 just cannot get it right. He is immersed in a performance crisis from which he doesn’t seem able to come out. He is collecting a string of disappointments and falls with an M1 which is just not fast enough.
The controversy regarding his age and imminent retirement are livelier than ever. Faced with this bleak prognosis, he arrives at a setting which is not very favourable to him.
He hasn’t won in Brno since 2009. The pilot from Roses, on the other hand, was on his way up before the summer break. His victory in Assen and second position at the Sachsenring circuit have put a smile back on his face.
The satellite Yamahas of Petronas STR will have another chance to shine this weekend. Their star pilot, Fabio Quartararo is excelling this season. Despite his fall in Germany, his two previous podiums in Barcelona (second) and Assen (third) confirm that the French rookie is currently one of the fittest in the grid.
Marquez himself is well aware of that and has already sent a few darts to the Frenchman. Eighth in the standings he is 15 points and three positions ahead of his teammate Franco Morbidelli. The Devil is bound to put up a good fight this Sunday.
Suzuki: Rins wants another podium
After two zeroes in the last two races, Alex Rins needs to climb back up to the places of honour. He seems a bit lukewarm of late and his overwhelming victory in United States and second position in Jerez are getting further and further away.
Since then he hasn’t even got close to the podium and that has been three months and five races back. If wants to still be in for at least second, and he is currently 26 points behind Dovi, he needs to be in the top three.
The opposite is true for his teammate Joan Mir. The pilot from Mallorca has been getting better as the season progresses. After his great performance in Germany, where he finished seventh after a great come back, he hopes to keep on growing within the category.
Last but not least, congratulations are in order for Tito Rabat for his recent two-year contract extension with Avintia. The brave Catalan pilot will remain in the team at least until 2021.
Images of 2019 Czech MotoGP Preview: Repsol Honda HRC.