After a well-earned two-week summer break, the Fiat Yamaha Team will reform at Brno in the Czech Republic this weekend as the second half of the 18-race MotoGP season gets underway. Jorge Lorenzo lands in eastern Europe as the runaway championship leader and his team-mate Valentino Rossi is hoping to be back to his best after the time off has given him further opportunity to recover from the broken leg and injured shoulder he sustained earlier in the season.
Lorenzo has won an incredible six out of nine races so far this season and come second in the remainder and he signed off the for the summer break in the best possible frame of mind, having won commandingly at Laguna Seca last time out. The 23-year-old has spent time fitness training and relaxing in the Dominican Republic during the holidays and is looking forward to getting back to the business of racing this weekend. He has three wins at Brno to his name, one in 125cc and two in 250cc, but he has had little luck there in MotoGP and last year he crashed out when sparring for the lead with Rossi, something he will be hoping to forget this time around.
Brno is an historic track for World Champion Rossi as it was there that he took the first of his 104 Grand Prix wins, in the 125cc class in 1996. Since then he has gone on to take a further six wins at the track, five of them in MotoGP and including the last two years. The 31-year-old Italian made a sensational return to the podium at Laguna Seca only seven weeks after breaking his leg but he was not yet back to peak physical condition. A two -week holiday has given the nine-time champion another chance to work on his strength and fitness and he hopes to be in much better shape at this race and ready to mount a challenge for race wins over the remaining half of the season.
A Grand Prix was first held on the Brno road circuit in 1965 and since then over 40 World Championship races have been contested there. Today the modern track retains much of the character of the original road circuit, with its winding chicanes and dramatic elevation changes and it is a favourite track with the riders, often bringing as it does fast and close racing.
Jorge Lorenzo - "Targeting a first Brno MotoGP podium"
"The holidays were perfect. Ten days in the Caribbean for rest and fun, charging the batteries for the second half of the season. I needed it because the calendar has been busy in the last month and now I can focus on the rest of the season. We are going to Brno, a track I like and where I've won three times, but never in MotoGP. I haven't even got a podium here and this is my challenge, my first podium in the second part of the season and in Brno. Czech Republic is a nice country, with amazing people at the race and also the track is impressive, fast and with some good hills. After the race I will stay in Brno to try something new on the bike, something to improve our bike until the end of championship. Good place to restart!"
Valentino Rossi - "Aiming for a good second half!"
"I've had a good break and it's helped me a lot to have this time to work on my physical condition. I'm feeling good about my leg and my shoulder and I hope that this weekend I'll be feeling much stronger. Brno is a great track for me and it's always special because it's the first place I ever won at. Last year I had a great race, this year will be harder because I'm not completely fit yet but I am looking forward to getting back on the bike. We have half the season still to go and our aim is to have a good second half!"
Wilco Zeelenberg (Lorenzo crew manager)- "Thinking about the podium and points"
"We already had a bit of a look at what happened last year and we've watched the race together. Jorge likes the track very much and he was in good shape, fighting with Valentino, but the crash was his mistake because he pushed a bit too far. This year however things are very different and he has a big cushion in the championship so he can relax, think about the podium and taking the maximum points he can in order to keep a comfortable lead."
Davide Brivio (Rossi crew manager)- "We are ahead of ourselves!"
"We are about to start the second part of season and we are quite excited about it. Valentino has been working hard on his recovery and, although he won't be at 100% yet at Brno, we are ahead of ourselves because after the initial injury we thought he wouldn't be back until this race. It has been very important to be back in the last two races to get back to race pace. Now we will work towards a great end of the season, waiting to see Valentino fighting again for the victories. Brno will be the first real step of his recovery"
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 104 (78 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 232 (172 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 59 (49 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 32 (11 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 137 (43 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 40 (14 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Brno: Record Lap
J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2009, 1:56.670
Brno: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2009, 1:56.145
Grand Prix Results: Brno 2009
1. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 43'08.991
2. D.Pedrosa (Honda) +11.766
3. T. Elias (Ducati) +20.756
DNF J. Lorenzo (Yamaha)