A wildly enthusiastic crowd, a great Grand Prix circuit, the perfect way to kick off the second half of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season. The Grand Prix of the Czech Republic this coming weekend sees races 8 and 9 of the 14 and it is time for every point to be counted.
Jorge Martín heads the points table but in his third Cup season he knows very well how things can turn around all to quickly. A pair of incidents in Race 1 at the last event at the Sachsenring could have cost him the whole weekend but in fact he fought back to net 4 points for 12th and then scored a fortunate win in Race 2 despite carrying an injury from the previous day.
Martín the man to catch
He heads the table with and impressive 130 to the 91 held by his closest rival Soushi Mihara and again fate played a strong hand in that as the 15-year-old Japanese was bowled out of Race 2 at the Sachsenring through no fault of his own. He is well capable of bouncing back this weekend as it was in Brno that he scored his best result last year in his first Cup season. He finished fifth 12 months ago but already has two wins to his name this year, victorious in the wet and the dry.
Spanish 16-year-old Joan Mir has climbed back to third in the table and is just two points behind Mihara as he looks to add to his single victory from Race 2 in Jerez. The man really charging up the table though is Turkish 17-year-old Toprak RazgatlÄ±oÄlu who scored a win and a third in Germany and was propelled to fourth on 75 points.
He displaced the rather unlucky third year Rookie Stefano Manzi who might have won either race at the 'ring but is actually still, still, still waiting for that first victory after being pushed out of Race 2. The 15-year-old Italian remains 4 points ahead of the man who unwittingly triggered his demise, 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray, who is looking for his first win of the season.
Italians with work to do
Manzi's fellow countryman and great rival Manuel Pagliani is trying to forget the Sachsenring after throwing away a comfortable lead in Race 1 and falling again in Race 2 as he was involved in the Manzi incident. The 17-year-old has the speed to win any weekend but only has a single Cup victory to his name from last year and three podiums this season.
Back from injury
So as always in racing there are plenty of 'should haves' and 'could haves'. They can keep us talking forever, the important thing is that the injury absentees; Bo Bendsneyder and Makar Yurchenko are now back in action. Dutch 15-year-old Bendsneyder, winner of Race 2 at his home GP has recovered from the left wrist he injured at a Spanish championship race in early July and still stands 8th in the table, the best of the newcomers even after missing the two races in Germany.
Yurchenko, the 16-year-old from Kazakstan, has yet to score this year having only competed in the first two races before sustaining two broken arms at the Spanish Championship round in Le Mans. He has some catching up to do of course and certainly Brno is a difficult place to do it, a tough test even for the most experienced.
Both races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world. Race 1 takes place on Saturday, July 12th at 16.30 CET and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.