FIAT Yamaha ready to come out fighting at Brno The Fiat Yamaha Team return from the MotoGP summer break this week ready for a flying re-start to the season as the World Championship resumes with round twelve of eighteen at Brno. Valentino Rossi...
FIAT Yamaha ready to come out fighting at Brno
The Fiat Yamaha Team return from the MotoGP summer break this week ready for a flying re-start to the season as the World Championship resumes with round twelve of eighteen at Brno. Valentino Rossi heads into the Czech Republic Grand Prix lying second in the standings, just as he did last season when he returned from the midseason break with a 51-point gap to Nicky Hayden - a distance he cut to just five by the final round at Valencia. This year he is 44 points adrift of series leader Casey Stoner with an extra round at Misano, just 15 kilometres away from his hometown of Tavullia, to help make up the difference.
It promises to be an intense finish to a demanding first season of 800cc racing, in which the new technical regulations and tyre restrictions have proved to be hugely influential in the outcome of race results. At the last two rounds, in particular, Rossi and his team-mate Colin Edwards have struggled to find a set-up and rear tyre to cope with the demands of the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca circuits and similar disappointment at Brno is an unthinkable scenario for the team's title hopes.
Engineers at Yamaha's headquarters in Japan have been working around the clock over the summer to ensure that does not happen as they aim for improvements in engine performance at a circuit where horsepower is key, especially on the short uphill straights towards the end of the lap. Michelin's Clermont-Ferrand factory in France has also been a hive of activity, with the tyre manufacturers eager to turn around a disappointing season in which they have taken four wins out of eleven - three of them with Rossi.
This year will be the 38th occasion that a Grand Prix has been staged at Brno since it was first used back in 1965 on an original road circuit measuring almost 14km. The layout changed several times before being made temporarily r edundant in 1977, with MotoGP taking a ten-year sabbatical before returning for the opening of the current incarnation in 1987. Subtle alterations were made in 1996 but the winding chicanes and dramatic elevation changes still retain much of the character of the old track, which still wanders its way through the surrounding forests.
Valentino Rossi heads to Brno planning re-launch his title challenge at what has been one of his most successful circuits. The 28-year-old took his maiden Grand Prix win at Brno in the 125cc class and has since added to his tally with a 250cc success and three wins in MotoGP, as well as three second places in the top class. In fact, the only occasion he failed to finish in the top two at Brno in MotoGP was in 2002 and a continuation of that run is the target this weekend.
"Of course Laguna was quite disappointing and it would have been nice to have been able to go into the summer break knowing we had closed the gap in the championship, but this sadly wasn't the case," says Rossi "Laguna made many things quite clear about the situation that we're in this season and I know that many people at Yamaha and Michelin have been working very hard during this break in order to help us to be in better shape at the next race. Now I'm really looking forward to getting back onto the bike and doing the best we can to get back into the fight.
"Of course we know that the championship is going to be difficult, but we were in a worse situation at this time last year, with less races remaining, and we still managed to come back to lead the fight. This time it will be very, very hard because Stoner is very strong and is not making mistakes, but we won't give up. I know my team, Yamaha and Michelin will continue to give 100% and we will fight at every one of the final seven races. Brno last year was the start of a turnaround in our fortunes so let's hope this is the case again this year!"
Colin Edwards did not have to travel far to enjoy his holidays after the last round at Laguna Seca, the Texan staying on in his native USA for an extended spell with friends and family. The break has given Edwards time to reflect on a tough few races leading up to his home Grand Prix and make plans to improve on a best result of seventh place at Brno, achieved in both 2004 and 2005.
"It's been great to have a decent amount of time at home since Laguna with the family," says Edwards. "I'm coming back feeling nicely rejuvenated and full of energy for the final couple of months. I've put the bad result of Laguna behind me now; obviously I was gutted not to have had a better result at my home race but there is no point dwelling on it. I'm looking forward now and my aim is to get some really good results under my belt between now and Valencia.
"Everyone's going to be back working at the maximum level and it's going to be good to get going again in Brno. I didn't have a great race there last year but I made some big steps forward in the test afterwards; this time I plan to do that before the race! I know that we'll all be working hard from Friday morning and be ready to run at the front."
Davide Brivio - "We can't make any mistakes" Brno is traditionally the round where the majority of factories test new parts, and even new bikes, ahead of the crucial title run-in and this season is no different. Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio has confirmed that the team are looking forward to improved engine performance from the YZR-M1 at Brno, whilst the Japanese factory will have new material available to test in a two-day session at the Czech circuit following the Grand Prix.
"I think it is fair to say that nobody at Yamaha or Michelin has taken a holiday since we left Laguna Seca!" said Brivio. "I know that in Japan they have been busy working on the engine and we hope to have a small improvement for the race at Brno. We also expect to have some new parts available to test on Monday, providing the final test with them in Japan was successful. Michelin have also been pushing hard to come up with something new for this race and we have a lot of confidence in them.
"As far as the championship is concerned, we are in a similar position to this stage last year in that we know that we cannot afford to make any mistakes or have a single bad race between now and the end of the season. Our competitors are very strong and it will be extremely difficult to beat them but our job is to try and to always give our best. Until the mathematics say we are beaten we will continue to fight."