Czech GP preview

MotoGP 500 World Championship Round eleven: Czech Grand Prix Brno, August 18/19/20 2000 The 500 World Championship blasts back into action at Brno this weekend after a well-deserved four-week break. Sunday's Czech GP is the 11th of...

MotoGP 500 World Championship
Round eleven: Czech Grand Prix
Brno, August 18/19/20 2000

The 500 World Championship blasts back into action at Brno this weekend after a well-deserved four-week break. Sunday's Czech GP is the 11th of this year's 16 rounds and after last month's sizzling German Grand Prix, the scene is set for a thrilling end to the first GP season of the new millennium. Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin) still heads the World Championship, having increased his lead over Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) to 38 points at the Sachsenring, but he could come under increasing pressure from the men who took first and second at the 'Ring, Alex Barros (Emerson Honda Pons-Michelin) and Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda-Michelin). Both the Brazilian and the Italian have shown impressive form over the past few months, rookie Rossi looking better and better with every race on his NSR500. Brno is a fitting stage for this crucial round of the series - the epic Czech track is a fast and testing venue, with abundant off-camber turns demanding the maximum from riders, machines and tyres.

The riders and the track

Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda-Michelin) may be out of the hunt for the 2000 500 World Championship but he will be aiming for victory at Brno, the veteran Honda rider's favourite track. Fresh from a much-needed holiday back home in Japan, Okada believes Brno gives him an excellent chance of scoring his first GP win of the year. So far this season he has been unable to reproduce his front-running form of recent years, with just one podium finish from the first ten races. He currently lies tenth overall.

Okada has a fine record at Brno. In 1997 he battled throughout the race with reigning World Champion Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda-Michelin), eventually sliding off on the last lap after mounting a spirited challenge on the Australian, then the all-dominant figure of 500 racing. The following year Okada was on course for a top-three finish until he ran wide, and last August he scored a superb win, beating eventual World Champion Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda-Michelin) in a thrilling last-lap encounter. Okada is straightforward in his reasons for liking the track.

"I hate small, slow corners - I like fast, long corners and there's plenty of them at Brno," he says. "I won there last year and I also won at Phillip Island and Assen, which are also all about fast corners. I think fast turns are a lot more fun, and I think they allow a rider to show off his talent in a better way".

"I always feel very confident at Brno and I like the whole circuit. It's an interesting track because there are many negative camber turns where you need good control of the tyres. I've never had a tyre problem there and I get excellent feedback from the Michelin front. Exit speed is very important at Brno because of all the long straights, so you need to keep a good line through the turns, and that's why you need good control over the front".

"I did have a big rear-end slide last year, but that was on the very last lap, just after I'd overtaken Crivillé.

I really wanted to win and was getting very aggressive with the throttle! It's quite a long race and there are a lot of long corners, so the rear tyre gets worked pretty hard and you have to ride in a way that conserves grip for the last few laps. That's something you always have to think about on a 500".

"My only real concern for the weekend is the weather. This year we've had so much rain, with conditions changing from one practice session to the next, so you can't do consistent work on bike set-up and tyre choice. I hope it stays dry this weekend."

Michelin's solution to the challenge of Brno

Brno is one of the quickest circuits on the Grand Prix calendar and a popular venue with riders who appreciate its fast, flowing nature. The track was constructed for the 1987 GP, just down the road from the original Brno street circuit that hosted World Championship racing from the mid sixties until 1982, after which the wall-lined venue was deemed too dangerous for world-level racing.

The circuit is the third longest in Grand Prix racing (after Suzuka and Assen) and sweeps majestically across forested hillsides, mixing fast and mediums-speed turns with several high-speed straights. The undulating nature of the picturesque track explains its chief characteristic - a number of adverse camber corners that demand dedicated work from riders, engineers and tyre technicians. Engineers usually adapt the standard set-up of their riders' machines to cope with the sloping turns, but the challenge also involves Michelin's tyre technicians, who work to offer maximum traction and the best-possible handling around this tricky circuit. Michelin Grand Prix manager Jacques Morelli expects more riders than ever could use the company's 16.5in rear and recently re-introduced 16.5in front this weekend.

"The camber factor is the major feature at Brno and I'd say our main concern is the front tyre," he says. "It's hard to say but I think our 16.5in front could be useful here. Not many riders have used this tyre so far because we've had such bad weather this year, so there's been no time to test it. But riders evaluated the tyre for the first time at Mugello, the day after the Italian GP, and a lot of them liked it there, and Mugello is quite similar to Brno with a lot of off-camber corners. You need a stiff construction tyre for all the heavy braking at Brno, plus a lot of grip to cope with the angles of demanded by the negative camber."

Brno's character can also cause chatter - a high-frequency vibration caused by the tyre phasing from grip to no grip and back again several times a second. At best, this can be a major inconvenience to riders, at worst, it can cause them to fall. But there's been less talk of chatter over the last year or two, thanks to improvements in suspension and tyre design.

"Brno's downhill, off-camber corners put more weight on the front tyre and that can cause chatter," adds Jacques Morelli. "It's not always an easy problem to solve. You can reduce chatter but only by reducing grip, so as usual we have to work to find a compromise between maximum grip and minimum chatter."

The rear tyre isn't a major concern at Brno, though there are some parts of the track that demand more from the rear - the uphill, positive-camber corners where the riders accelerate particularly hard, putting a lot of stress on the rear.

Brno tyre information

Michelin transports approximately 2400 tyres to Brno this weekend - 1800 slicks and 600 rain and intermediate tyres.

A total of 17 Michelin staff looks after the needs of riders - six technicians, nine fitters, one manager and a co-ordinator. And Michelin has five juggernauts at the track - four tyre transporters and one office/fitting equipment truck.

<pre> Brno data Lap record Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda-Michelin) in 2m 02.335s at 158.996kmh (1998)

Pole position 1999 Jurgen van den Goorbegh (MuZ-Michelin) in 2m 01.572s

Recent winners of the Czech GP 1999 Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 18.066s 1998 Max Biaggi (Kanemoto Honda-Michelin), 45m 12.043s 1997 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 25.012s 1996 Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 38.884s

Provisional positions 1 - Kenny Roberts (Suzuki-Michelin) 161 points 2 - Carlos Checa (Yamaha-Michelin) 123 points 3 - Valentino Rossi (Honda-Michelin) 112 points 4 - Loris Capirossi (Honda-Michelin) 112 points 5 - Norick Abe (Yamaha-Michelin) 106 points 6 - Alex Barros (Honda-Michelin) 104 points 7 - Alex Crivillé (Honda-Michelin) 88 points 8 - Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki-Michelin) 78 points 9 - Garry McCoy (Yamaha-Michelin) 68 points 10 - Tadayuki Okada (Honda-Michelin) 65 points 11 - Max Biaggi (Yamaha-Michelin) 64 points 12 - Régis Laconi (Yamaha-Michelin) 64 points 13 - Jurgen v.d. Goorbergh (Honda-Michelin) 56 points 14 - Jeremy McWilliams (Aprilia-Michelin) 54 points 15 - Sete Gibernau (Honda-Michelin) 41 points 16 - Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia-Michelin) 26 points

500cc category / Michelin partners

 N° Rider      Team
 1 Alex Crivillé     Repsol YPF Honda Team
 2 Kenny Roberts    Telefonica Movistar Suzuki
 4 Max Biaggi     Marlboro Yamaha Team
 5 Sete Gibernau     Repsol YPF Honda Team
 6 Norifumi Abe     Antena 3 Yamaha - D'Antin
 7 Carlos Checa     Marlboro Yamaha Team
 8 Tadayuki Okada    Repsol YPF Honda Team
 9 Nobuatsu Aoki    Telefonica Movistar Suzuki
 10 Alex Barros     Emerson Honda Pons
 12 Shane Norval     Sabre Sport
 15 Yoshiteru Konishi    Technical Sport Racing
 17 Jurgen v.d. Goorbergh   Rizla Honda
 18 Sébastien Legrelle    Tecmas Honda Elf
 24 Garry McCoy     Red Bull Yamaha WCM
 25 José Luis Cardoso    Maxon Dee Cee Jeans
 31 Tetsuya Harada    Blu Aprilia Team
 43 Paolo Tessari     Team Paton *
 46 Valentino Rossi    Nastro Azzurro Honda
 55 Régis Laconi     Red Bull Yamaha WCM
 65 Loris Capirossi    Emerson Honda Pons
 99 Jeremy McWilliams    Blu Aprilia Team

The rear tyre isn't a major concern at Brno, though there are some parts of the track that demand more from the rear - the uphill, positive-camber corners where the riders accelerate particularly hard, putting a lot of stress on the rear.

Brno tyre information

Michelin transports approximately 2400 tyres to Brno this weekend - 1800 slicks and 600 rain and intermediate tyres.

A total of 17 Michelin staff looks after the needs of riders - six technicians, nine fitters, one manager and a co-ordinator. And Michelin has five juggernauts at the track - four tyre transporters and one office/fitting equipment truck.

Brno data Lap record Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda-Michelin) in 2m 02.335s at 158.996kmh (1998)

Pole position 1999 Jurgen van den Goorbegh (MuZ-Michelin) in 2m 01.572s

Recent winners of the Czech GP 1999 Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 18.066s 1998 Max Biaggi (Kanemoto Honda-Michelin), 45m 12.043s 1997 Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 25.012s 1996 Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda-Michelin), 45m 38.884s

Provisional positions 1 - Kenny Roberts (Suzuki-Michelin) 161 points 2 - Carlos Checa (Yamaha-Michelin) 123 points 3 - Valentino Rossi (Honda-Michelin) 112 points 4 - Loris Capirossi (Honda-Michelin) 112 points 5 - Norick Abe (Yamaha-Michelin) 106 points 6 - Alex Barros (Honda-Michelin) 104 points 7 - Alex Crivillé (Honda-Michelin) 88 points 8 - Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki-Michelin) 78 points 9 - Garry McCoy (Yamaha-Michelin) 68 points 10 - Tadayuki Okada (Honda-Michelin) 65 points 11 - Max Biaggi (Yamaha-Michelin) 64 points 12 - Régis Laconi (Yamaha-Michelin) 64 points 13 - Jurgen v.d. Goorbergh (Honda-Michelin) 56 points 14 - Jeremy McWilliams (Aprilia-Michelin) 54 points 15 - Sete Gibernau (Honda-Michelin) 41 points 16 - Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia-Michelin) 26 points

500cc category / Michelin partners

        N°      Rider                                           Team            
        1       Alex Crivillé                                   Repsol YPF Honda Team
        2       Kenny Roberts                                   Telefonica Movistar Suzuki
        4       Max Biaggi                                      Marlboro Yamaha Team
        5       Sete Gibernau                                   Repsol YPF Honda Team
        6       Norifumi Abe                                    Antena 3 Yamaha - D'Antin
        7       Carlos Checa                                    Marlboro Yamaha Team
        8       Tadayuki Okada                                  Repsol YPF Honda Team
        9       Nobuatsu Aoki                                   Telefonica Movistar Suzuki
        10      Alex Barros                                     Emerson Honda Pons
        12      Shane Norval                                    Sabre Sport
        15      Yoshiteru Konishi                               Technical Sport Racing
        17      Jurgen v.d. Goorbergh                           Rizla Honda
        18      Sébastien Legrelle                              Tecmas Honda Elf
        24      Garry McCoy                                     Red Bull Yamaha WCM
        25      José Luis Cardoso                               Maxon Dee Cee Jeans
        31      Tetsuya Harada                                  Blu Aprilia Team
        43      Paolo Tessari                                   Team Paton *
        46      Valentino Rossi                                 Nastro Azzurro Honda
        55      Régis Laconi                                    Red Bull Yamaha WCM
        65      Loris Capirossi                                 Emerson Honda Pons
        99      Jeremy McWilliams                               Blu Aprilia Team

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Series MotoGP
Teams Williams