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The summer break is over and the teams are ready to for battle at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic. Some of the riders felt the time off was too short and others were eager to get back on their bikes including Marc Marquez who starts his 100th MotoGP race this weekend. The MM93 Spanish Ant looks refreshed and is focusing on starting off on the right foot from day one. Marquez wants to ensure that he continues at the front of the sport and has smooth momentum because mistakes can be easily made. Marquez: “summer break has been good like always. Time to relax and analyse the first part of the season, which has been good but there are a few mistakes we can improve. Now its time to get back to the office and find the same mentality again because it was the right one”. Feeling at one with his machine is a big part of why Marquez is excelling and outperforming the rest of the grid. Right now, his bike is strong at every circuit. This is a wish of so many other teams. Sitting quietly confident next to Marquez is Valentino Rossi. The Doctor and Mr Consistency! Rossi is setting up the foundations in Brno and really believes that he can charge for race wins. The key area of growth we have noticed with Rossi is that with the small window of relaxation in between events he is looking stronger than in 2017. We feel that the calendar schedule this year is working more in favour of Rossi and showcasing his ability to race, recover and race again. Could this be the golden ticket to a 10th World Championship?

Rossi: “I am happy in some ways. Five times on the podium in nine races is not bad. Second in the Championship is quite good. But the problem is that I was not strong enough in the first half to try to win.” At present, the question that still frustrates Rossi is how their bike and he can go faster to catch Marquez because at times, the Spanish rider just disappears at the front and no one can go toe to toe with that kind of race pace. The Doctor has work to do. The summer heat and sunshine are definitely going to throw a spanner in the works for the Movistar Yamaha team because Rossi already noticed on day one the impact of the hot conditions. Rossi: “On Friday, the conditions were very difficult because it was very hot, so physically it’s very demanding and it’s especially hard on the tyres.” We are aware of Rossi planting seeds of doubt out there in order to psych out his competitors. He is more than capable of pushing the limits to ensure a top place finish. He will be one to watch this weekend at Brno. Every session in the lead up to qualifying will be vital to ensure a good starting position because the further down the grid you are, the harder it is to recover to riders like Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales.

In a Yamaha contrast, Johann Zarco appears to have regained some of his mojo back after a disastrous couple of races. The moment he crashed in Le Mans at his home race, everything changed and Zarco has been off his game. In fact, he was struggling to a point where people were concerned about his mentality. With that said, he fired his long term manager and has retained him as a rider coach which appears to have helped Zarco regain confidence. It really is about time that Zarco arrived to the party. The French rider is inside the top ten which is a booster to his morale and we look forward to seeing how it transforms during qualifying and on race day. His Yamaha teammate Hafizh Syahrin utilised his skills to understand the former Lorenzo style of riding during his career at Yamaha and mimicked the style during practice. It certainly boosted the Malaysian riders timesheet results and put him as high as fourth on day one. Seriously impressive from the young rider who showcased maturity in starting the second half of the season. 

Lastly, the Ducati riders look strong though have already experienced some challenging issues. DesmoDovi: “Today was a very prolific day of work and we were able to try a lot of things in view of the race. Our pace is good, we already have some clear ideas about the set-up and the tyres, and we’re quick.” In contrast, Lorenzo felt a little more under pressure: “It was a very complicated day for me today: I didn’t have any feeling with the front but above all I was lacking grip with the rear tyre and for this reason I’m a lot further back than I thought. During the two sessions we weren’t able to improve the bike and, despite the modifications we made, we’re still some way off the pace of the quickest riders. Maybe if I had put on new tyres at the end I could have finished the day closer to the leaders, but in any case I didn’t have either the speed or the consistency. Tomorrow we’ll make a radical change to the set-up and try and get directly into Q2.” As we know with the Spanish Spartan, anything can happen and a radical set up change could be the ticket to the front. Right now, eyes are on Alvaro Bautista who overnight just went faster and faster in a race to save his job! It is incredible how a fear of losing your job can send shivers down the back of Bautista and create a storm of opportunity within practice and certainly qualifying to come. The track is set, the weather is hot and the riders ready to charge!

Credit: Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

Credit: Ducati Corse Press

Credit: Ducati Corse Press