Round 11 of the MotoGP season heads to Brno for the Czech Republic Grand Prix, with Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez still unbeaten in 2014.
The 21-year-old from Spain has been all-conquering during his campaign, winning all 10 rounds of the season.
He took the victory in the previous race in Indianapolis by a slim margin over Jorge Lorenzo. Marquez now stands a staggering 89 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa in the championship race, per MotoGP.com, and will surely retain his crown in the very near future.
Here is the schedule for proceedings at Brno, with start times and stream information.
|Free Practice 3||Aug 16||8:00 a.m BST/ 3 a.m ET||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Free Practice 4||Aug 16||12:30 p.m. BST/ 7:30 a.m. ET||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Qualifying 1||Aug 16||1:10 p.m BST/ 8:10 a.m. ET||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Qualifying 2||Aug 16||1:35 p.m BST/ 8:35 a.m. ET||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
|Race||Aug 17||1 p.m. BST/ 8 a.m ET||BT Sport app (subscription required)|
(The BT Sport app is available here.)
Reigning world champion Marquez has seemed unstoppable this year, beating all contenders in a wide range of conditions.
The current championship leader goes into the race at Brno full of expectation after testing on the track three weeks previous.
Marquez explained his thoughts going into Round 11 and how Yamaha pose a threat to his current dominance, per MotoGP.com:
I feel good after winning at Indianapolis. Here in Brno it is a completely different circuit to Indy but we did a test three weeks ago, so we should have a good set up. Yamaha were close to us in Indy and I expect them to be strong again here, but I am feeling good and we’re ready to fight.
Marquez sits on 250 points for the season so far, and the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will do well to chase him down at this stage.
Five-times world champion Mick Doohan believes Marquez has taken the sport to a new level, saying he makes the other riders seem like "amateurs," per the Sydney Morning Herald:
He's certainly the man of the moment – he's making the other guys look like amateurs. He's got a teammate on a similar bike, he's got good rivals on other competitive bikes, but he's just riding on a different level to everybody. There is no doubt there's every chance he's going to win all 18 [races this year].
Marquez is the overwhelming favourite to take an 11th straight win, and based on current form, only the mid-season break to his rhythm presents a serious threat on paper.
Race legend Valentino Rossi will only have been able to sit back and admire the quality produced by Marquez since the Spaniard broke through as a rookie last year.
But Rossi showed good speed at the previous meeting in Indianapolis, and there is a train of thought developing that he could compete with Marquez this weekend.
However, Rossi's form at this track has been shaky in recent times, with the Italian rider saying, per MotoGP.com:
You can use the maximum potential of the bike here. My recent results here have not been great and last year I was too far from the top three. So my target this weekend is to improve my lines, improve my riding, I need to do that if I want to be on the podium. I think the race from Indy was one of the best in the recent period.
Rossi currently sits in third position in the World Championship table and will leapfrog Pedrosa should he outperform the Honda rider.
Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo performed wonders in Indianapolis, challenging Marquez all the way to the line, eventually edged out into second place.
Lorenzo ended the race less than two seconds behind the world champion and proved how competitive he can be on his Yamaha. He climbed to 117 points for the season, consolidating fourth position in the overall race.
The Spanish star is buoyant going into the Czech GP after his brilliant performance in Round 10, per MotoGP.com:
I was really pleased with the second place at Indianapolis. We arrive here now at a track which theoretically is good for our bike and my riding style, with the chicanes and the importance of corner speed. We’re very motivated this weekend and we will be aiming to repeat Indy.
Brno is faster and wider than Indy and I have won here four times, so we need to do the job on the track.
Can the Yamahas top the podium in the Czech Republic?
Lorenzo ran Marquez very close in the previous race, and Brno gives both him and Rossi the chance to catch the unstoppable racer. Lorenzo's record in the Czech Republic is superb, and he will be brimming with confidence going into the race.
But Marquez knows his form dictates that he is on his way to history. He will feel he can win every race of the current MotoGP season and seal his place among the greatest grand prix riders in the history of motorsports.