Boris on the battle of Brno
Brno, the stunning, up-down-round-and-round Adrenaline Factory (as it would like to be known), nestled in the woods behind Karel Abraham’s family home…oops, the woods of the Czech Republic, I mean, was tension incarnate.
I have been lying down and being fanned by a slave girl since Sunday night, such was my state by race’s end. It was not the cage match that Assen was. We’re not going to see a race like that for a while, I reckon. But it was as tension-filled as a circus tightrope.
And it delivered two quite astonishing things.
The first was seeing Rossi hare off the start to lead into Turn One.
When was the last time the Doctor led into Turn One off the start? From second on the grid?
The second was seeing Jorge Lorenzo actually race his Ducati. And I mean really race. Like the multiple world champion that he is.
There had been yet further ergonomic adjustments to the Mamba’s fuel tank. His factory Ducati – already one of the ugliest, bitsa-looking bikes on the grid, was made even more exotic by these changes, and allowed Jorge to rest his arms with still greater comfort. Apparently.
It certainly seemed to work. For the entire length of the race Lorenzo was always in contention for the top step of the podium. And had him and Marquez not engaged in the duel towards the end of the race, Dovizioso might well not have won.
As surprising as it was for me to see Lorenzo banging handlebars like a Moto3 racer, I cannot imagine how Marquez and Dovizioso felt to suddenly have the Mamba cutting them up.
Everyone, including me, has told themselves Lorenzo cannot actually race bikes when there are more bikes involved than the one he is on. He excels in getting out the front and becoming a human metronome, cutting lap after identical lap, wearing his pursuers down and relishing the clear track ahead. But when it comes to swapping paint, and the ruthless cut and thrust of battle…well, he’s just not into that.
He was into it, of course, once upon a time. But he was younger then. As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr observed back in 1884, “In our youth our hearts were touched with fire”. Lorenzo’s as much as anyone’s.
I think the fire might be touching his heart again, judging from his performance. And he was literally glowing after the race. I guess the Adrenaline Factory worked overtime on him that day.
Even the Old Guy had some fire going. Rossi briefly led during laps nine and 10, but as always, the ongoing tyre-eating problem the Yamaha’s seem to have consigned him to battle for fourth with Cal Crutchlow.
Crutchlow ever so briefly hauled himself into contention at the pointy end. The reason he could do this was that in a bid to conserve their tyres the front runners ran consistent 1:57s for most of the race.
The race commentators had predicted 56s. Practice and Qualifying had reinforced that view. Race pace was going to be in the 56s.
But race pace was in the 57s. So of course Crutchlow was able to get to somewhere near the fast blokes.
Then as the race began to reach its climax in the final four laps, 56s began to appear at the front. First by Lorenzo, and then by Dovi – who despite being challenged several times by both Lorenzo and Marquez, rode a superb, controlled and decisive race.
Petrucci and Zarco, sixth and seventh respectively, struggled to keep up with the crew at the front, though Zarco (who since his crash at Le Mans just hasn’t been a player) is making noises about feeling better about things.
Dani finished behind them, still mildly lamenting how uncomfortable he is on the bike. He’s just too polite and professional to tell people what he really thinks, and I am hoping he will write a tell-all when he finally retires.
The rest of the field just seemed to be treading water around the elevationally exciting Brno, and the cameras stayed firmly clapped onto the front runners.
So much so that we didn’t even see when Rossi broke Crutchlow’s heart on the last corner, relegating the Englishman to fifth, while the usual suspects strung themselves out behind the leaders in a race that had everything – the tension-building processional grind, spectacular passing (by Jorge no less!), and a bit of a crashfest on the first lap from the luckless Vinales, who got tangled up with Bradl, Smith and a lot of Karel Abraham’s dad’s gravel. Redding also trowelled it a few laps later, but everyone seems pretty used to that by now so I’m not sure anyone really noticed.
What everyone did notice was Lorenzo.
Oh, and the fact that both he and Dovi pasted Marquez.
The next race is in Austria.
You remember Austria, don’t you?
Ducati certainly remembers Austria with great fondness.
MotoGP 2018 – Round 10 – Brno – MotoGP Results
1 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 25 Ducati Team Ducati 41’07.728
2 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 20 Ducati Team Ducati 0.178
3 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 16 Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.368
4 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 13 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2.902
5 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 11 LCR Honda Honda 2.958
6 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 10 Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 3.768
7 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 9 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 6.159
8 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 8 Repsol Honda Team Honda 7.479
9 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 7 Angel Nieto Team Ducati 7.575
10 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 6 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 8.326
11 RINS Alex 42 SPA 5 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 8.653
12 MILLER Jack 43 AUS 4 Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 16.549
13 MORBIDELLI Franco 21 ITA 3 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 19.603
14 SYAHRIN Hafizh 55 MAL 2 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 21.381
15 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 1 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 23.159
16 LUTHI Tom 12 SWI 0 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 27.673
17 NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN 0 LCR Honda Honda 28.311
18 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 0 Angel Nieto Team Ducati 41.172
19 GUINTOLI Sylvain 50 FRA 0 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 42.411
20 SIMEON Xavier 10 BEL 0 Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 50.941
MotoGP World Championship Points
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 181
2 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 132
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 113
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 109
5 Jorge LORENZO Ducati SPA 105
6 Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 97
7 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 94
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 90
9 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 81
10 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 61
11 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 58
12 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 57
13 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati SPA 51
14 Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 32
15 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 30
16 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha MAL 24
17 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda ITA 22
18 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 17
19 Bradley SMITH KTM GBR 13
20 Scott REDDING Aprilia GBR 12
21 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 10
22 Mika KALLIO KTM FIN 6
23 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE