Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made small gains on championship leader Marc Marquez in Austria last week, but the Honda rider remains a daunting 43 points clear at the top of the standings.
Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso made up a Ducati one-two at the Red Bull Ring, with Lorenzo third, Rossi fourth and Marquez fifth.
It was only the second time this season that Marquez has finished off the podium, and the Spaniard will be eager to get back on top this weekend at the Czech Republic Grand Prix as he goes in search of a third career MotoGP title in 2016.
Read on for a closer look at the key riders for the race in Brno, Czech Republic, along with full scheduling and live-streaming details.
|Czech Republic GP Schedule|
|Saturday, August 20||8:55 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.||Free Practice 3|
|Saturday, August 20||12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.||Free Practice 4|
|Saturday, August 20||1:10 p.m. - 1:25 p.m.||Qualifying 1|
|Saturday, August 20||1:35 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.||Qualifying 2|
|Sunday, August 21||1 p.m.||Race|
The form rider so far in 2016, Marquez remains the man to beat despite finishing outside the top three last time out.
He had a big crash in practice in Austria that caused an injury to his shoulder, and despite struggling to match the pace of the Yamahas and Ducatis in the race, he did a stellar job to limit the damage to his championship lead.
The 23-year-old's consistency will likely be concerning his title rivals, as it is difficult to see where Marquez might make major losses and the likes of Lorenzo and Rossi can make up ground.
Despite admitting that Brno is not one of his favourite circuits, Marquez has won there in the past—in 2013—and is eyeing another podium finish on Sunday, per MotoGP.com: "Brno isn’t one of my favourite tracks but we’ve been able to get some good results there in the past. We must be really focused and work well in order to be able to fight for the podium again."
BeIn Sports USA provided a rider's view of the circuit:
If the Honda rider can get a top-three spot, then it will be difficult for his rivals to make up any significant ground on him.
While there is still some way to go in the season and pressure could play a huge part, Marquez has his destiny in his own hands as far as a third title is concerned, and he could deal another blow to the rest of the field with a good result in Czech Republic.
Iannone's victory last time out was his first ever in MotoGP and Ducati's first race win in six years.
Is was a significant milestone for both team and rider, and the Italian looked fast in Austria at the Red Bull Ring.
Without the pressure of a lack of victories to contend with, Ducati could yet play a huge role in Brno and for the rest of the season.
A championship victory is out of the question for Iannone and Dovizioso, but if they can breach the podium intermittently in the run-in, it could make a huge difference in the race for the title.
Iannone, 27, is clearly on a huge high after Austria and believes Ducati can go well again in Czech Republic, per Geoffrey Dore of allsportsnews:
It is still very difficult to explain my feelings after the win in Austria, but I can only say that it was a truly incredible weekend.
Now we go to Brno for the next race and I think that this circuit is also very good for us. Last year I finished fourth despite a technical problem but now we have a good pace for fighting for the podium at every round. For sure also our rivals are very strong at this track but I think there is a good chance for me to score a good result again.
If he can split up the likes of Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo, he could yet play a major role in a crucial race on Sunday.