The 2015 bwin Grand Prix České republiky gave the amped-up crowd of 138,000 a somewhat disappointing high-speed parade, with six of the top 8 starters crossing the line in the same position they started. One of these was polesitter Jorge Lorenzo, who drove his Yamaha YZR-M1 to the fastest lap ever recorded on two wheels in qualifying on Saturday. Leading unassailed from wire to wire, Lorenzo pulled into a tie with teammate Valentino Rossi for the 2015 world championship and, holding the tiebreaker, punched Rossi out of the lead for the first time this year.

Rossi pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the final minute of qualifying on Saturday afternoon, putting himself on the front row (third position) for only the 16th time in his last 100 outings. Resurgent world champion Marc Marquez, coming off two consecutive wins, qualified second, giving the world what the announcers referred to, over and over again, as a Dream Front Row. With Lorenzo and Marquez escaping at the start, and Rossi getting swamped back into 5th place, the dream ended in the first turn.

Marc Marquez got off to a good start, but this was simply Jorge Lorenzo’s round.

Lorenzo simply had another of those piston-like days where he appeared to coast to the win, never challenged, cool as a cucumber, while those behind him were sweating their asymmetric rears off trying to keep up. Marquez spent the day in second place, looking like he might be biding his time as he did in Indianapolis, until around Lap 8, when his tires dropped. Trailing by only 4/10ths at the end of Lap 6, he would end the day 4.5 seconds down, with Rossi six seconds farther back. A thorough, convincing beatdown at a track perfectly suited to Jorge Lorenzo. I’m surprised he doesn’t win here every year and that they don’t rename the track LorenzoLand.

Valentino Rossi remains tied with Jorge Lorenzo with 211 points but trails in the win column 5-3.

True Grit

As we’ve observed here before, Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa has the hardest luck and a pair of the biggest cojones on the grid. His chances for a first premier class title in 2015 were ruined in March when he had to undergo a complicated surgery to deal with his chronic arm pump issue, causing him to sit out rounds 2 through 4. He returned to action at Le Mans, barely, and was making steady progress back into contention when a mechanical issue in FP2 on Friday sent him flying over the handlebars and re-injured a left ankle that already contained a good deal of titanium from previous misadventures. Despite a visible limp, he managed to qualify ninth, getting pushed back to 10th at the end of Lap 1.

Dani Pedrosa was injured in a crash during practice but battled on for a respectable fifth-place finish.

Once he settled in, Pedrosa wove his way through the field until the middle of the race when, sitting in sixth place, he found himself running behind a pair of factory Ducatis, Andreas Iannone and Dovizioso intransigent in their refusal to get out of his way. With his adrenaline spike having subsided, along with the painkillers in his ankle, Pedrosa gritted his teeth and took on Dovizioso in a battle for fifth place that lasted from roughly Lap 13 until the final turn of Lap 22, at which point Pedrosa emerged in front of Dovizioso in the run to the wire. And though the result was a rather meaningless fifth place in a lost season, it provided another glimpse of the man within the man who is Dani Pedrosa, the Rodney Dangerfield of MotoGP, who doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves from folks like me.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Unlike his teammate, Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith remains unsigned for 2016 despite sitting fith overall in the championship.

Tech 3 Brit Bradley Smith, still without a contract for next year, put his satellite Yamaha in the middle of row two in qualifying and managed another respectable seventh place finish today. With the factory Ducatis having received upgraded engines, they had an easier time at Brno than they have of late, probably costing Smith a spot or two in the final standings. Smith’s Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro, 2016 contract in hand, qualified and finished eighth, and now trails the Brit by 25 points heading to the 2/3 mark of the season.

It was a case of trading places today on the factory Suzuki Ecstar team. Rookie-of-the-Year lock Maverick Vinales qualified seventh and was on the way to his 11th consecutive finish in the points when he crashed out on Lap 17. Teammate Aleix Espargaro, who has found the going very rough over the past several rounds, completed his worst qualifying session of the year on Saturday in 15th place, but managed to pull things together sufficiently during the race to finish ninth, despite trailing his brother by 20 seconds, enough time for Pol to enjoy a cream cheese kolache in pit lane waiting for big brother to show up.

Pramac Ducati stalwart Danilo Petrucci, who, like Avintia Racing’s Mike di Meglio has to shave, like, three times a day, was unable to recreate his qualifying magic in Indianapolis, where he started fifth, beginning the day’s action down in 13th position. He kept things together sufficiently to finish tenth, as Vinales and Crutchlow crashed out in front of him and Hector Barbera fell to 16th place.

Perhaps the saddest statement of the day came from announcer Nick Harris, who was so busy applauding the efforts of Loris Baz cutting into Barbera’s lead for the open class championship that he forgot that Baz’s season is probably over, due to the criminal issues surrounding the Forward Racing team’s owner. Baz is probably the latest victim of the old adage that it’s difficult to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys.

Johann Zarco remains the top rider in Moto2, setting a class record with his tenth-consecutive podium after his win at Brno.

Finally, lest I be accused of un-American activities, Nicky Hayden started 21st and finished 17th, a minute and two seconds behind Lorenzo. Were he a mechanic instead of a rider, his work today would be referred to as “turning wrenches.” And while the ever-upbeat Hayden claims to still enjoy his job, the numbers argue otherwise. How much fun can it be for a former world champion to finish behind the likes of Alvaro Bautista and Hector Barbera?

The Big Picture

While the Movistar Yamaha teammates are ostensibly tied in the standings, Lorenzo holds the tiebreaker as well as the advantage heading into Round 12 at Silverstone. Rossi has not been a factor in the British Grand Prix for a decade, since it was run at Donington Park. Lorenzo has three wins and a second in Britain over the last five years. Rossi was quoted this week as saying that if he expects to win the title this year he needs to start winning races again, his last win having come at Assen back in June.

Jorge Lorenzo takes the win and the momentum in the 2015 MotoGP season.

Marquez told a little bit of a white lie today after the race, stating that his goal for the weekend was to cut into Rossi’s advantage over him. (I suspect his real goal was to watch both factory Yamahas go pinwheeling into the tire barriers while he ran away from the field for an easy third consecutive win.) True, he is now only 52 points out of the lead for the year, whereas he was 56 points out yesterday. Marquez had absolutely no impact on today’s race, other than putting a smidge of pressure on Lorenzo during the first six laps. One can only say that as regards equipment, riders and race management, Team Yamaha is superior to Team Honda in 2015. A few more performances like we saw from Jorge Lorenzo today will earn him his third premier class title and cement his place in racing history.

There is no taking of prisoners in LorenzoLand.

2015 MotoGP Brno Top 10 Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha
2 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda +4.462
3 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha +10.397
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati Corse +13.071
5 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +15.650
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse +15.725
7 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +21.821
8 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +23.240
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Estar +43.784
10 Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Ducati +45.261
2015 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 11 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 211
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 211
3 Marc Marquez Honda 159
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati 142
5 Bradley Smith Yamaha 106
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 104
7 Dani Pedrosa Honda 91
8 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 81
9 Cal Crutchlow Honda 74
10 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 63
  • JMDGT

    Rossi is right. He needs to start winning again.

  • Ozzy Mick

    For what it’s worth, the composition of the TOP TEN riders in this race is 5 Spanish, 4 Italian, 1 Brit (who may be out of a ride next season). Positions 11 to 20 were filled by 3 Italians, 2 Spanish, and 1 each from USA, Australia, Colombia, Germany and Britain. Total of 7 Italians and 7 Spanish in the top 20!
    If interest in the sport is based on nationalistic feelings, they may as well just race in Italy and Spain. Fortunately us diehards appreciate watching the skills of the top riders, but “die” is the operative word. I know from experience that interest in the Australian race dies off dramatically when there isn’t a competitive Aussie rider. Same in the States, I guess…?

    • TalonMech

      Here in the US, motogp has always been a tiny blip on the radar. Even when Hayden, Rainey, Shwantz, and Kenny Roberts were winning championships, very few cared. Americans would rather watch stock cars (which don’t have a single stock part on them) go fast and turn left.
      For whatever reason, motorcycle racing never really caught on. It’s always been relegated to some obscure cable channel, if it’s televised here at all. Meanwhile Nascar gets played on major networks going round and round, turning left, entertaining throngs of Busch beer swill in rednecks.

      • Bruce Allen

        One of you guys (Old MOron) speculated that in the U.S. these types of athletes are attracted by sports like snowboarding and skateboarding, even motocross. In the U.S., the only money in motorsports is the 4 wheeled variety. Plenty of factors, none of them helpful. It’s a shame Indy will fall off the calendar next year. Imagine a racing league that drops both Laguna and the IMS in favor of places like Aragon and Argentina.

        • Ozzy Mick

          So, Mr Allen, hope you won’t be out of a job soon. Would you consider moving to Spain or Italy (where, by all accounts, there are excellent, twisty roads and car drivers respect bikers)? Can you speak Spanish or Italian? I guess if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em, what say you?

          • Bruce Allen

            Seeing as how there’s a warrant for my arrest in Spain, due to some difficulties during my last visit there, and I don’t have a single word of Italian other than “prego”, I’d say my use by date is rapidly approaching. MO could easily find a writer fluent in both, but is he going to give you Heidi, The Bruise Brothers, Captain America, The Dueling Andreas, or any of the other stuff that keeps you coming back?

      • Ozzy Mick

        It’s the same in Oz altho instead of driving left around an oval, V8 Supercars, racing on road tracks, dominate. F1 has a following coz we have Daniel Ricciardo, who replaced Mark Webber at Red Bull. As others have commented, both the US and Oz cultures are car dominated, unlike in Europe where bikes and scooters are a way of life. One glimmer of hope in Oz is that new bike sales to newbies has been increasing over the last couple of years, but this is countered by inept motorcycle sports administrators who can’t seem to organise a piss up in brewery, as we say in Oz.

  • Old MOron
    • Bruce Allen

      Another of these swarthy Latin types who need to shave more than once a day. Petrucci, di Meglio, Barbera, etc. Lorenzo probably shaves once a week. Marquez may have not started shaving yet. Hmmm, is this an emerging pattern?

      • Old MOron

        I grew a summer beard once: some here, some there.

        • Ozzy Mick

          Hey Old MOron, can’t help wondering…is the big O in MOron a typo, or is it really THE BIG “O”?

          • Old MOron

            Hey Mick, about my screen name:

            Once upon a time, this website was known as Motorcycle Online, and we abbreviated it as MO. The website was a well-loved internet presence frequented by interesting and impish characters. One of these characters once noted that “you can’t spell moron without MO.” And a MOronic theme was born.

            Everyone who frequented the old MO came to be known as a MOron. Our perspectives were MOronic. Our opinions were MOronic. It was just good fun.

            So my screen name is a nod to the old days. I stopped reading MO for some years when the fun sort of went away, but I’m happy to say that the qualities that made MO well-loved in the past have largely returned.

            BTW, I couldn’t find the original post where the MOronic theme was coined, but here are two references from 2003. The first one is from MO’s old bulletin board. You’ll see that one of the users refers to himself as a MOron. http://www.motorcycle.com/forum/kawasaki-news/1613-zx-10r-photos-4.html#post39810

            And here is an official usage in a MOronic article – also from 2003. Do a search for “intrepid MOron”: http://www.motorcycle.com/events/ebass-bmw-k1200rs-walkabout-3825.html

          • 12er

            Around the same time that the comment button was “upchuck a thought” or something along those lines.

          • Bruce Allen

            And here I thought I was old. You guys must be ancient. (You’ve also forgotten more about this sport than I’ve ever known.) Keep those cards and letters coming, kids.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Hey, thanks man! The origins of MOron are certainly…umm…fascinating! I had wondered about the availability of a Forum. Using the link you provided, I’ve just registered and am awaiting acceptance (or otherwise…sniff) from the moderator.
            BTW, if I may risk sounding condescending, you write really well old MOron. Ever considered a job in journalism? As in motogp reporting? If you can say more than “Prego” in Italian, and don’t have a warrant for your arrest in Spain, you’re one up on Bruce Allen…(see his post below). But he’s right, you have to bring us Heidi, The Bruise Brothers, Captain America, et al.

          • Old MOron

            Gee, I appreciate the encouragement, but I’m much better taking potshots from the sideline. I wouldn’t last a week working for a rigorous editor like Kevin Duke!

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  • Old MOron

    “…Dani Pedrosa, the Rodney Dangerfield of MotoGP, who doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves…”

    There’s a big difference between Rodney and Pedrobot. Rodney was a likable character. Pedrobot? Well… I forgave him for Estoril 2006 a long time ago. But his strong association with Alberto Puig, his cheating on his yacht captain license… Well, he’s not sympathetic like Rodney was.

    • Bruce Allen

      I agree that Pedrosa is about as funny as a rubber crutch, but he probably deserves more respect than I give him. Imagine spending you whole career going up against Rossi, Lorenzo and now Marquez. Three of what will prove to be the greatest riders in moto history, all of whom were dedicated to keeping him off the podium. Bad timing, bad luck for little Dani.

      • Ozzy Mick

        I’m peeved, Mr Allen…you neglected to mention Stoner.

        • Bruce Allen

          You’re right. (And Nicky Hayden, too. lmao.) Stoner was right in there, too, making Pedrosa’s life hellish on both the Ducati and the Honda.

  • spiff

    Is anyone else looking for a more traditional way to celebrate out of Lorenzo? All of it is a bit much, but thats him. On the other hand leaving the podium with champagne wasn’t cool. He left the other two looking at each other. Heck, I don’t think they even sprayed the girls.

    • Bruce Allen

      I think in 2015 he’s so surprised when he wins that he hasn’t prepared a celebration. He probably had a number of routines ready to go until MM took 10 straight. Back in 2012 he did the golf thing and a bunch of other stunts that were fun and funny. These days I think he feels fortunate to escape with his trophy and his body in one piece.