Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) put a spectacular show to walk away with the Czech GP crown. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo came second, snatching the lead away from Marc Marquez (Honda) who rounded off the podium. Valentino Rossi finished fourth while Cal Crutchlow finished fifth in the race. The Czech GP was significant for two riders – Marquez and Rossi. For Marquez, the Czech GP was his 100th race and Rossi created history by becoming the first rider with more than 6,000 points to his credit (6,007 to be precise). This is the second win for Dovizioso this season, after winning the opening race in Qatar. Marc Marqez still leads the championship with 181 points, followed by Rossi at 132 points. Dovizioso is placed third in the overall championship with 113 points.
Starting the race at pole position was Dovi, followed by Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo and Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). The battle for the first place started early in the race, as Rossi led the race briefly but Dovi got the better of him and the couple of them were leading the pack for the first few laps. The lead changed hands a number of times and it reminded of the Dutch GP – but that wasn’t about to repeat here. The last eight laps saw the top six riders maintain a good lead from the rest of the pack and in the final laps, the gap between the top three and the rest of the pack got wider.
Marquez and Lorenzo led the race briefly but Dovizioso raced flawlessly to take back the lead every single time. Rossi, however dropped down from second position to fifth position and was fighting hard to stay in the top three, but in vain. Lorenzo pulled out some dramatic moves in the final laps to climb up the order and snaffle the lead away from Marquez who was trailing close behind Dovizioso. It was a close battle for first place between the three of them, but ‘DesmoDovi’ didn’t give up and maintained the lead during the critical laps of the race. Overall, it was a great weekend for Ducati as they finished 1-2. Rossi didn’t have the pace with him today, and just managed to overtake Crutchlow settling for fourth place despite starting from second position on the grid.
There were a number of crashes in the race. At turn one, in the very first lap Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and wildcard entry and former Aprilia rider Stefan Bradl (HRC Honda Team) crashed out. Lorenzo recorded the fastest lap in the race at 1:56.640 in the 21st lap.
It is still very early to predict the outcome but Marquez doesn’t seem to have any clear threat to his claim for the championship crown. Rossi is still struggling to find pace in critical areas where it matters and 68 points separate Dovizioso and Marquez. With Lorenzo giving a tough fight and putting his best show, Ducati will find it hard to replace Lorenzo who is at the peak of his form. With all these in the mix, the next race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria is certainly going to offer some thrilling stuff.
Words by Ganesh Murthy