Reigning Champion becomes just the fourth-ever rider to do so in rain-affected Czech GP, two Ducatis join him on the podium
It was another sumptuous Sunday ride for Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as he took victory in a start-delayed Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky to become the fourth-ever rider to reach 50 premier class victories. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took second place in Brno to lead home fellow Ducati man Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), the Australian beating Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins in the latter stages to earn his second rostrum of the year.
A heavy downpour after the Moto2 race put a massive spanner in the works for the MotoGP riders ahead of the race start. The start/finish straight through to Turn 4 were completely wet when the riders went out for their sighting laps, they all went out on the wet tyres, with Race Direction declaring it a wet race. But, with the pitlane remaining open, a lot of the riders came back in and went back out on slick tyres – what would the correct decision be?
A couple of menacing dark clouds were on the horizon as tensions built for the start of the race. However, with riders voicing their concerns, the start was delayed due to track conditions with Michelin confirming every rider had opted for the slick tyres. The riders and teams left the grid to get ready for a Quick Start Procedure, meaning pitlane will be open for just 60 seconds. In addition, a new race distance of 20 laps was confirmed – but questions were still being asked of the weather, with more rain expected. The safety cars were out testing conditions and at 14:20 local time (GMT+2), it was confirmed the pitlane would open at 14:35 for a 14:40 race start, with a 20-lap race now confirmed.
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Once the race had fired into life, polesitter Marquez got the launch he was looking for as the lights went out, second on the grid Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) got his GP19 spinning but didn’t lose too much time, with Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) getting a sluggish start from P3 with that side of the circuit still damp from the earlier rain. Dovizioso managed to slot in behind Marquez into Turn 1 after his great start as the MotoGP™ field safely negotiated the opening corner. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) didn’t safely negotiate the exit of Turn 4 though after Morbidelli and Zarco made contact, with the Italian collecting the helpless Mir on the way into the gravel.
Soon enough the top four were breaking clear from the rest. Marquez, Dovizioso, Rins and Miller had created a gap over just over a second back to Pol Espargaro (Red Bull Factory Racing), who had Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) close for company. As the laps ticked by the leading quartet were line astern as 0.8 covered them and with limited dry track time throughout the weekend, the riders were wary of not jumping the gun too early. Meanwhile, Rossi eventually got the better of Espargaro’s KTM, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) quickly dispatching the latter to tuck in behind ‘The Doctor’. But by this time, the gap to the leaders was over four seconds.
Would Marquez turn the wick up? The signs were there. With 10 to go, fourth place Miller had dropped to 1.5 back of the race leader, with Marquez’ lead over second-place Dovi creeping up over the half-second mark. Then, with nine to go, Marquez was making his move. The gap increased to nearly a second but at Turn 10, Marquez had a front-end scare. However, this didn’t seem to faze the seven-time Champion as from then on in, Dovi couldn’t keep the Honda man’s pace. It quickly became a race for second and third between Dovi, Rins and Miller and with five laps remaining, would there a late twist in the tale for P2? Rins closed Dovi down slightly but soon, it was the Suzuki that was under attack.
Rins dropped to over a second behind Dovi and Miller smelt blood. The Australian hooked his sights onto the back of Rins’ GSX-RR and with two laps left, Miller went for it at Turn 1 – but the blue machine fought back up the inside. No matter, Miller got the job done a few seconds later at Turn 5 and with Rins clearly struggling with his tyres, the Spaniard gave up the ghost. Up the road, Marquez was out of sight as he took victory number six of the year – 63 points is now his advantage heading to Austria. Dovizioso returned to the podium for the first time since Mugello, Miller made it two rostrums in 2019 with a well-earned P3.
Rins had to concede a podium finish to cross the line fourth and on another day, Crutchlow could well have been in the podium hunt – the British rider finished 1.2 off Rins in P5. Rossi took a lonely sixth place to claim his best result since Le Mans, the nine-time World Champion was the leading Yamaha in the Czech Republic as he finished three seconds ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Danilo Petrucci’s (Ducati Team) run of top-six finishes in 2019 comes to an end with a P8 in Brno, the Italian led ninth place Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). After a bad start, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) recovered from 15th to 10th on a disappointing day for one of the early weekend contenders.
Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed at Turn 10 on Lap 7 – he’s ok.
Another masterclass from Marquez sees the 26-year-old enter the record books once more with his 50th premier class win. The riders will be aiming to stop it become number 51 in Austria, with the action kicking off at the Red Bull Ring in under a weeks’ time. But first, a Brno test on Monday!
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +2.452
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +3.497
4. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki ECSTAR) +4.858
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +6.007
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +9.083
7. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +12.092
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +13.976
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +15.724
10. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +16.558