The MotoGP World Championship is back this weekend after the summer break which commenced on the 15th of July after Marc Márquez’ victory at the GermanGP. The first race (and tenth of the competition) of this second half, is taking us to Brno in the Czech Republic, a circuit famous for being one of the longest and hardest of the calendar due to its many slopes (there is a total 74-metre change in elevation in each lap) and its fast bends.
Márquez, the current defending champion and leader of the standings, is today the clear favourite to take the title but, from this point on, any race can be decisive. Those who have done well in the first half will be fighting to keep their position, and those who haven’t done as well will be under increasing pressure to perform as they see how their time runs out.
Can anyone dispute Márquez’ victory?
Despite many already considering Márquez to be the only possible winner, the Spaniard is not underestimating his rivals and said to be coming to Brno just the same as if he had no points at all: “It was also good to enjoy a few days of vacation to recharge the batteries and prepare for the second half of the season, which will still be very long with 10 races to go, and not easy at all. Our rivals are riding fast at every circuit.” (…) “l go to Brno not thinking about the advantage in the Championship, as if we were all still at the beginning, on zero points.” The five-time champion will run in the Czech Republic his 100th GP race, 40 of which he has won.
Márquez has also so far taken five of the nine races of the first half, and incidentally, ever since 2002, every single pilot that has reached that milestone has gone on to win the title. His two closest rivals are both the Yamahas, Valentino Rossi, 46 points behind and fellow Spaniard Viñales at 56 points’ distance. These two brilliant contenders are also underway to achieve some records of their own. Viñales, for instance, has been the only pilot to come in points in every single race of the season so far. Rossi is set to become in Brno the first pilot in history to accrue 6000 points during his career in MotoGP (he now has 5.994).
The Yamahas are strong but… Do they have what it takes to rival the champion? They have had a podium in the last 12 consecutive races but paradoxically, they haven’t had a win in the last 19 (since Assen 20017). Despite Marquez’ clear advantage and good form we mustn’t forget that the championship’s leadership has already changed hands three times during the first half: Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Marc Márquez. The Spaniard is a very safe bet but the truth is that things are not yet decided, as Dovizioso declared this week to the media: “There are many points at stake, so everything is open (…) Whoever wants to see it objectively, sees it that way. We are in a sport conditioned by millions of factors, how can you think that the Championship is over? It can’t be.”
1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 165 points
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 119
3. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 109
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 88
5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha Tech3) 88
6. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Ducati) 85
7. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati Pramac) 84
8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/LCR Honda) 79
9. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 75
10. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati Pramac) 57
By T.C. | Photo: www.motogp.com