2014 Brno MotoGP Preview - Beating Marquez, Lorenzo's Revival, And Filling Second Seats

Is this the race it finally happens? Will Marc Marquez' record-breaking streak of wins, his perfect season, finally come to an end? We have discussed the statistical improbabilities of it continuing to the end of the year before. At some point, the chips will fall someone else's way, and a small mistake by Marquez, or just a perfect weekend by one of his rivals will see someone else on the top step of the podium.

What would it take to beat Marquez? Dani Pedrosa had a strong idea. "A win makes you stronger, so every time Marc wins, he is more committed," Marquez' Repsol Honda teammate said. "So your approach every time is harder, you have to be even more committed." Did he have a plan to try to beat Marquez this weekend? Proceed as normal, look for speed every session, try to find the perfect set up. There was no point trying to formulate a plan of attack. "You can't plan things against Marc," Pedrosa said, "he is smart, he can adapt each time."

If it will take a whole series of events going against him to beat Marc Marquez, Brno is probably a good place to start. Though the Spaniard won here last year, it is not a track he feels comfortable at. The flowing nature of the track, with lots of changes of direction and fast and wide chicanes, plays to the strengths of both Yamahas and Hondas. The Yamahas benefit from the corner speed they can carry, and from the speed with which they can change direction. The Hondas benefit from being able to use their advantage in braking to get ahead of the Yamahas, park it in the corner, and disrupt their line. That isn't always successful, as the many combinations of corners allow a rider being attacked to take a different line in the following corner. If you lose out in one corner, you can usually attempt to strike straight back in the next.

Valentino Rossi has happy memories of the circuit, having taken his first Grand Prix victory here eighteen (count them) years ago, as well as his first pole position. Brno has also played a key role in some of his many world titles, as races where he turned the momentum of the season around. Memories will not be enough, however, Rossi is also missing some speed. His problem at Indianapolis was particularly in the second half of the race, and this was something he and his team would be working to improve. His start at Indianapolis was excellent, he even qualified well. It was just that he couldn't match the speed of Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo as the race progressed.

Jorge Lorenzo had the opposite problem at Indianapolis, getting a mediocre start and braking too early into Turn 1. That meant he got caught up behind Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso, and lost time there. By the halfway mark, once he had disposed of Rossi and Dovizioso had faded once his tire had gone away, Lorenzo was matching Marquez' times lap for lap. The problem was, matching the times was not enough, Marquez already having built a gap. At least Lorenzo showed he had the pace to fight with Marquez once more, though circumstances worked against him. At Brno, and at Silverstone in two weeks' time, Lorenzo will be doing all he can to preempt those circumstances.

Whence came Jorge Lorenzo's revival. A part came from his fitness, the Spaniard putting in long days in the gym and on the mountain bike to build his strength and confidence. Part came from the improvement in the bike, Yamaha bringing electronics updates to help make the engine response less nervous, the new, shorter exhaust pipe also helping in that area. Even the changes Bridgestone have made have helped, Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg explained. Bridgestone introduced a heat-resistant layer into all their softer option tires in 2014, to prevent problems in extreme conditions. At the beginning of the year, Bridgestone was choosing the same compounds as were used last year, but with the heat-resistant layer, the tires weren't responding the same and losing a little bit of grip right on the edge. After discussion with the teams, Bridgestone have started supplying tires with a fractionally softer compound with the heat-resistant layer. The result is to restore the feel of the 2013 tires, while keeping the protection against tire damage which the heat-resistant layer provides.

This modified approach means that Lorenzo has a bit more of the edge grip he seeks, and can push that little bit harder. With a bit more edge grip, a slightly less nervous engine, and more physical fitness, Lorenzo is back to being competitive. Zeelenberg was confident that Marquez' streak would come to an end either at Brno, or at Silverstone.

Brno also sees a hive of activity concerning next season. With Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano flying in to discuss the Italian factory's return to MotoGP in 2015, there is much jockeying for position for the remaining seats. The Aprilia seats look set to go to Marco Melandri and Alvaro Bautista, though Eugene Laverty believes he is still in the frame. Laverty has also come to Brno to talk to Pramac Ducati about the open seat in that team, while team managers mull over their options for filling empty seats. Teams like Aspar and Gresini face a quandary: do they try to attract young talent who might cause the occasional surprise, but cost a fortune in crash damage? Or do they go with a steady pair of hands, an older, more mature rider who will bring the bike home in a respectable position, keep the sponsors happy and not wreck the bike every other meeting? In other words, do they gamble on Dominique Aegerter coming good, or on Mika Kallio putting solid points on the board week in, week out? The fattest cherries have all been picked, what remains are a lot of solid riders. Choosing one rider over the other is exceptionally hard, in those cases.

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This may be the weekend that someone beats MM.
But I feel the probability is small.

Lorenzo matching MM's times in the last half of the race at Indianapolis?
OK, but I think Lorenzo was riding as hard as he dared.
And I think MM had some speed left in reserve, he didn't look to be riding at 100% to me.

Aegerter has only 3 DNFs in 5 years in Moto2. he got so close to the record for consecutive point-scoring finishes until that mechanical DNF in Qatar this year. he's probably a great bet for someone to finish races in GP.

Would love to see the Swiss rider get a shot! Sure only one win but one of the most consistent riders out there. Always in the top three and had one of the longest point scoring streaks in recent memory

I would like to see Aegerter get a ride and indeed he had a good point scoring run but before this year his results were pretty appalling. His always in the top three is far from true- he has but 4 third places, 1 second and a win. Given he has been in GPs since 2006, that is far from stellar or even solid really. I think, of the two, Mika is a better bet.

From Austrlia 2012 to the end of 2013 he had 10 top 5 finishes and in 2014 he is top 5 six out of 10 rounds and only one DNF. Which was his first DNF since Catalunya 2011! Not too shabby. And if you're looking for a rookie, might be nice to have one without a record for sending the bike down the road.
I really like Mika but he's been there before. It worked for AE 41 taking a step back, maybe Mika would come back stronger. But Mika has been in it since '01! So I don't know if that argument works

No point in talking about Marc Marquez. At some point he will stop winning this season. The question is when and there is no scientific basis for providing an answer to that question. I would like to see him win this so he can get ahead of Agostini and Doohan.

But what about next years machines and riders. I hope there is something positive coming out of all the brouhaha about Aprilia's fast forwarded entry (though how I can call advancing from 2016 to 2015 fast forwarding, but it surely cannot be rewinding!!!!) and who will pilot their machines from and at the back of the grid. Avintia, can you hear? What machinery and who will be piloting them? Some answers please. I ask the same of Ioda Project. Please people, those of you who have yet to decide, do so quickly and announce something exciting. Talking about Marquez is getting to be a bore.

I don't think he can get ahead of Agostini. His record is something utterly ridiculous like 50+ wins in a row. He won every single race for 3 seasons in a row.

I think A vintage was covered in one of MM'so silly season articles. IIRC, they will use Ducati machinery and Barber a will ride for them, the other machine being open currently.

Hope that helps.

Your answer helps and thank you for that. But I think they said that while they were talking to Ducati, they were also still open to linking up with Yamaha and Kawasaki (though this angle is inexplicable). After that there has been no official announcement (to the best of my knowledge) and therefore what you say must be true. Thanks for taking the time to reply to the query. I appreciate that.

After discussion with the TEAMS? Really? Seemed as though Marc, Rossi and Dani were getting on fine with the initial compounds early in the season? The only one suffering was Jorge-just as Rossi did last year-however VR didn't get any special changes to rubber supply in 2013.....
Jorges revivial at least in part is smelly to say the least

Pol Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow has similar issues with the tire performance as well, if I remember correctly.

Please bring Marco back! On a proper MotoGP bike. Show Ducati that there is such a thing as an Italian company that builds racing motorcycles, not corporate egos. Stop throwing money at barely street-legal stupidbikes you can't sell, gain a place in the real World Championship so millions of wannabe kids will buy black scooters and MM (oh, that will get confusing) gear.

Cal does not count as a valid example - he seems to have issues with everything

Indeed, the constant whining, complaining and mouthing off is an attempt to disguise a total absence of talent or ability.

Cal Crutchlow hold the current pole record at Brno, set last year ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi. Talent is not the problem. Clearly, Crutchlow has not adapted to the bike at all well, but people quickly forget that this time last year, it looked like Crutchlow might be able to win a race sometime.

The Repsol team held a private test at Brno after the Sachsenring GP, remember? So they already had a chance to gather data with the new tires and they start the weekend with a good set-up to begin with.

I think that will make it just that bit harder for everyone else to beat Marc. Except for Dani, if he finally had a perfect weekend. Maybe a race like Brno 2012? Fight to the last corner? Now that would be a barn burner.

Oh, and before I forget: Any news about a possible Brno-contract for 2015? Is it just the track-official's negotiation-tactics to press the government to give away the necessary funding? Or will there really be no Czech GP in 2015?

Update on my own question: Just a few minutes ago, during the coverage on MotoGP FP2, german television reported that the Czech round is safe for 2015.

Allegedly, some local polititian has offered to give Dorna the financial guarantees, should it be required.

Not sure why everyone is so confident that MM's winning streak will end at some point this season. He has brushed off everything that has been thrown at him, and is generally winning races comfortably. If I can still get good odds on a perfect season, I'd undoubtedly put money on him. Each week, I become less and less convinced that he has any weaknesses to be exploited by his competitors.

I find myself conflicted every MotoGP weekend - I am both awestruck by his talent and bloody-minded commitment to standing on the top of the podium, whilst also quite depressed about the lack of competition for the championship. And worse? Who's going to stop his domination over the next 5 years or longer?