Czech GP: Honda preview

Honda's Grand Prix riders return to action this weekend following a brief midseason break, hoping to build on recent successes. Honda RC212V riders have won two of the last three MotoGP races and they dominated the recent British GP, taking three...

Honda's Grand Prix riders return to action this weekend following a brief midseason break, hoping to build on recent successes. Honda RC212V riders have won two of the last three MotoGP races and they dominated the recent British GP, taking three of the top four placings. Honda also leads the 250 World Championship after two wins from the last three races.

The shorter-than-usual summer break did at least allow Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) to focus on training and returning to full fitness. The determined Spaniard, who won July's US GP and currently lies fourth overall, struggled with injuries during the first half of the season and believes that he has now put those problems behind him, so he can concentrate on riding, rather than dealing with the pain. Pedrosa is looking forward to riding fully fit and to riding at Brno where he has an excellent record, with a podium finish in MotoGP and victories in the 250 and 125 classes.

At Donington Park three weeks ago Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) scored his maiden MotoGP victory, a success that was long overdue for the likeable Italian. Dovi showed his remarkable talent in treacherous conditions, taking the lead after Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) crashed just in front of him. History has shown that a rider's first win in the premier-class is a landmark occasion -- once you have won once you have no doubt you can win again -- and Dovizioso will be aiming to back up his debut win with further successes in the near future.

Although Sunday's race -- the 11th of this year's 17 MotoGP rounds -- is important, the day after will also be crucial for Pedrosa, Dovizioso and their fellow RC212V riders. A full day's testing is scheduled for Monday, the first MotoGP test since mid-June. Testing has been drastically reduced this year to cut costs, which makes each and every test even more important than in the past.

Another cost-reducing measure comes into effect at Brno, with MotoGP teams restricted to the number of engines they can use for the first time in the sport's six decade history. Each rider must use no more than five engines during the final seven races of the year. Next year the restrictions are even tighter, with riders allowed six engines for the entire 18-race series. The rules should allow substantial cost savings for the teams and the factories. Engines will be sealed by the MotoGP technical director, so they cannot be rebuilt, modified or used for testing or on the dynamometer within the specified time frame.

Honda's best-placed satellite RC212V rider Randy de Puniet faces a tough weekend at Brno, after fracturing a bone in his left ankle during training. The Frenchman fell while riding motocross with his trainer Yves Demaria and underwent surgery to have the damaged bone fixed. The injury is a real blow for de Puniet who has been on tremendous form in recent weeks; at Donington he scored his first MotoGP podium with Honda.

Team-mates Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) go into the Czech GP full of optimism after they both showed impressive speed at Donington. De Angelis equalled his best-ever MotoGP result by finishing fourth, while Elias led the race and was running with the leading pack when he slid off. Both men are big fans of the majestic Brno circuit. Last year Elias finished second at Brno and he'll be aiming for the podium once again this Sunday.

This will be a big weekend for Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), the former 125 World Champion who graduated to MotoGP just two months ago. The Hungarian's fans gather every year in their thousands at Brno to cheer on their hero, who will be aiming to score MotoGP points for the third consecutive race. Talmacsi finished 12th in the damp British GP.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) goes to Brno fully aware that this will be a crucial race in his bid for the 250 World Championship. The Japanese star is currently on brilliant form, leading the points chase following victories in the Spanish, Dutch and British 250 rounds. Brno is a high-speed circuit where top speed really matters, so Aoyama's Scot Honda crew have been working hard during the summer break to make sure he has as much speed as possible. Aoyama likes the Czech venue where he has produced podium form.

Team-mate Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) is turning out to be the find of the 250 season. The 22-year-old from Naples is one of only three riders to have scored points in all nine rounds so far -- an especially impressive achievement for a youngster learning a new class. De Rosa will be aiming to score yet another top ten finish at Brno -- he has finished inside the top ten at eight of the nine rounds so far.

Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) and Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) have also put in strong results this year, Faubel already having scored a top-three result and Wilairot looking capable of battling for a podium finish when things go his way. Faubel is currently on target for a top-ten championship finish and he will be going all out to keep that aim in sight at Brno.

Team-mates Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) and Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) and Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) continue their rookie GP seasons at Brno, aiming to put the lessons learned in the first half of the season to good use. Tomizawa has impressed with his speed so far, but has had a few too many DNFs. At Donington the Japanese youngster rode within his limits for his fifth points score and he'll be aiming to keep scoring at Brno. Debise has added points in the French and Dutch rounds, while Chesaux has only one score so far, in Germany.

Brno is one of MotoGP's faster circuits where horsepower can really count, so the Repsol Honda team will be looking to take advantage of the impressive straight-line speed shown by the factory RC212V at recent races. The Czech circuit has been part of the World Championship calendar since the mid 1960s, when the nation's grand prix was staged around a 10.92km/6.785 mile street circuit on the outskirts of the city. Mike Hailwood won the 1966 and 1967 500 GPs there on his Honda RC181 four, but eventually the circuit was deemed too dangerous and hosted its last premier-class GP in 1977. It took a decade before the current Brno circuit was completed. Honda has enjoyed great success at this fast, undulating circuit which features many tricky downhill corners that require a perfect chassis set-up. Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, Tadayuki Okada, Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau have all won premier-class races with Honda at the modern Brno venue.

HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) says: "It was a short summer break, but it was long enough for me to get back into training properly and build my fitness to close to 100 per cent. So I'm feeling ready for the second half of the season and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the bike and fighting at the front again. It's going be very important that I can now concentrate totally on riding the bike without any pain, and these last two weekends off have helped me in that sense. Brno is a circuit that I like very much: it's technical and demanding. Plus the weather is usually good which would make a nice change. We have the final day's testing for the season on Monday and it'll be important for us to do some more evaluation work on the new engine and modified chassis which we've been running at the last few races. I'm feeling fit and ready for this race and me and the team are ready to get out there and put in a good result."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) says: "I'm sure that me and the team arrive in Brno in a very positive mood thanks to the victory in the last race at Donington Park. I'm very motivated and I'm really looking forward to the race, and also to the test session on Monday because that should be valuable for us. I spent the two weeks of the summer break at the seaside not far from where I live and I had the possibility to relax, spend some time with my friends and also do some training ready for this weekend because Brno is a difficult and physical track. It's a very fast circuit and I'm confident that our package can work well -- in particular that we can make good use of the power of our engine. There are also many long turns that are quite demanding and you definitely need to quickly adjust your riding style to the characteristics of the track. I like the nature of this circuit, and the atmosphere created by the crowds of spectators on the hillsides is very special."

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) says: "Immediately after the surgery I was discouraged and thought I wouldn't be able to race in Brno. But thanks to the rehabilitation programme my ankle is improving day by day. I can easily move it and I will be fit for the race. Brno is one of my favourite tracks and the good results we gained in the first part of the season give us the confidence and the incentive to keep running at the front."

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "After my fourth place at Donington it was wonderful to go home and celebrate with my family and friends. Then I drove a Renault Clio S 1600 as the pace car in the San Marino Rose'n Bowl Rally, which was fantastic -- rallying is my big passion. That was my only time off during the break -- I have spent the rest of the time in training for Brno. I really like the circuit and in terms of its technical characteristics it is very similar to Sachsenring, with a nice flow to it but with some hard braking and acceleration zones. It may be impossible to repeat my result from Donington but in any case I'll try my best to bring home another good result that keeps the season moving in a positive direction."

Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "I love the Brno circuit because of the way it flows and the elevation changes. The other thing l like about it is the three or four braking zones at the end of long straights, where you have to brake really hard because the corners are quite tight. Obviously I have great memories of Brno from last year, when I finished on the podium after a truly disastrous start to the season, so I have high hopes for this weekend. The crash at Donington was disappointing but I have been trying to look back on the positive side of the weekend in England, which is that I was fast and strong and on the pace with the lead guys, and there's no reason to think I can't repeat that level of performance at Brno. A repeat of last year's podium would be difficult but I firmly believe the whole team is working well and anything is possible. During the two-week break I've been training in my gym at home and running a lot -- the area where I live is ideal for it. I'll take a beach holiday on an island somewhere in September."

Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) says: "Every year, my fans gather in the C sector of the Brno track, so I can look for them easily, even during the race! It is fabulous seeing our national flag and the banners flying in the air. This is always a special weekend for me -- special pressure, but also special joy. The Brno layout suits my riding style: I love this wide track where you can choose between several different lines. It is flowing, and not stop-and-go. I love it, in spite of the fact that it has never been too good to me in the last laps. More than once I lost a great result just in the final kilometres. This year, on a MotoGP bike, a totally different approach will be needed. I would love to finish inside the top ten. This would mean seven rivals behind me, which would be great."

HONDA 250cc RIDER QUOTES

Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) says: "I did not go to Japan for the summer break. I preferred to stay in Barcelona where I could train for the Czech Republic GP. I love the Brno track. It is not easy, with its long straights, its ups-and-downs and the high top speeds reached. Perhaps it is not the most suitable track for my Honda, but we can do well in the technical sections and in some of the turns. And, moreover, nobody expected us to do as well as we did at recent races, so why shouldn't we do well here?"

Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) says: "I like Brno. It's a great track - flowing, high speed, Mugello-style. I know that the team are working to improve the performance, and I'm very confident: our crew has been able since the beginning of the season to prepare an excellent bike for both riders. Rain or sun? Honestly, I don't care. It's the same, for me".

Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG): says: "I used my holidays to do everything I can't do when I'm racing: meet with my friends, be with my family and try to disconnect, but for sure I was training on my mountain bike and in the gym to be ready for the next half of the season. Now I'm impatient to ride the bike again. We need to feel the speed and I the last race in Donington already feels so long ago. My adaptation to the Honda is coming good, though it's been difficult because I was riding Aprilia for so many years. I can say that the Honda is easy to ride and each race we find something new to improve. For the moment this is my best year in the 250 class and I'm happy for it but I want more and I will try to show it at Brno."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) says: "I didn't waste my holidays, I enjoyed time with friends and family and I was also training to maintain my peak physical condition. I miss riding and now I'm ready to score a good result, so I will push hard in Brno. I know that the first half of the season was a little bit irregular but I hope to change that."

Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) says: "It has been good to have a short break, but I am really looking forward to racing again this weekend. Every track is a new discovery for me this year, which is very interesting, but also quite tough. I will do my best at Brno -- I know the most important thing is to finish the race and gain more experience."

Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) says: "We have already shown we can score points, so that is my target once again at Brno. The team is working hard to give me the best bike they can, so I am confident we can fight for more points this weekend."

Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) says: "I didn't get any points at the last race, but Germany proved we can be in the top 15. I am still learning plenty, I know that is the most important thing for us this season, but at the same time I want some more good results."

-credit: honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Sete Gibernau , Wayne Gardner , Randy de Puniet , Gabor Talmacsi , Andrea Dovizioso , Toni Elias , Hiroshi Aoyama , Shoya Tomizawa , Dani Pedrosa , Mike Hailwood , Valentin Debise
Teams CIP