Marc Marquez Leads MotoGP Title Chase Heading To Czech Republic

10 rider quotes from Thursday’s pre-race press conference at Brno.

Brno press conference
MotoGP is back on track this weekend at Brno in the Czech Republic.MotoGP

MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez was joined on Thursday at the pre-event press conference for Sunday's Czech Grand Prix at Brno by fellow premier-class riders Maverick Vinales, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Jonas Folger, and Czech Republic native Karel Abraham. With nine rounds down and nine more to go, just 10 points separate the top four.

Marc Marquez, REPSOL HONDA team
The FP1 session was run on a full-wet track with Marc Marquez ending in P2.Repsol Honda

Dorna announced that the Finnish GP at the still-under-construction Kymiring near Iitti will join the race calendar beginning in 2019, with the first event of a five-year contract "set to bring Grand Prix motorcycle racing back to a country with an incredible history in motorsport." The planned 2.858-mile track is located about 60 miles northeast of Helsinki.

Angel Nieto
Angel Nieto (with Valentino Rossi) was a 13-time World Champion, but due to superstition would always refer to the number as 12 + 1.MotoGP

Following the press conference, word arrived that “12 + 1” World Champion Angel Nieto had died from head injuries suffered last month in an accident on the island of Ibiza. Racing for Derbi, Bultaco, Garelli, Minarelli, and Kreidler, the charismatic Spaniard won 90 Grands Prix and scored 139 podiums in the 50cc, 80cc, and 125cc classes. Nieto was 70 years old.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: "The summer break was a time to relax, a time to train, a time to test here in Brno. Now, it's time to turn on everything, try to get again the rhythm of the race weekends. The second part of the season will be very hard—very difficult to be always in the top, to be competitive."

Marc Marquez, Repsol HondaMotoGP

Maverick Vinales, Movistar Yamaha: "We restart the second part of the season on a good level. I feel really good about my physical condition, and mentally I feel really strong—as always. We had one month to think and also for Yamaha to collect all of the information. Now, I'm trying to feel again as strong as I was in the first part of the season."

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team: "We struggled here a little bit last year, but for everybody I think it's a difficult track. Last year, the grip wasn't the best and there were a lot of bumps so we have to see how the conditions are this year. Apart from that, every race this year is a different story. It's like we start a new championship."

The Doctor
Valentino Rossi, Movistar YamahaYamaha Racing

Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha: "I'm so happy to be [in the title hunt] because this championship is very interesting. A lot of different results from one week to the other. Really, five riders are still in the fight for the championship with no big difference. We start the second half, and every weekend will be a surprise. Nobody knows what to expect."

Karel Abraham, Pull&Bear Aspar Team: "I'm really happy to be back in MotoGP, and I think that now with a good bike and a really good team, we are doing a really good job. The results just came, especially the best one from Assen. There are a couple of things we need to work on, of course, but we are getting so much better every GP. I'm really pleased for that."

Pull&Bear Aspar Team
Karel Abraham, Aspar TeamMotoGP
Jonas Folger
Jonas Folger, Yamaha Tech 3MotoGP

Maverick Vinales, Movistar Yamaha: "For me, we have to improve especially when the conditions are not the best. When we have mixed conditions or rain conditions, we have to improve, and it's something we have to do quite fast. We have a lot of work. In Brno, I always ride quite fast. Let's see."

Jonas Folger, Monster Yamaha Tech 3: "Our goals are bigger now because we did second [in Germany]. We want to repeat that. If feels great to show the people, and especially myself, that I am able to do this. I have to take the things I learned from Dani [Pedrosa] and Marc [Marquez] during the race and try to do another good weekend here in Brno."

Movistar Yamaha
Maverick Vinales and Valentino RossiYamaha Racing
Ducati MotoGP aero fairing
Day 1 at the Czech Grand Prix saw the Ducati Team break cover with a radical new aero fairing.Dcuati Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: "At Brno, normally we struggle a little bit. In the test, we struggled on the first day, but then on the second day we improved a little bit. At minimum, we arrived here with a good base setup. But it looks like the temperature during this weekend will be very, very high; in the test, everything was a bit more 'fresh.'"

Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha: "You have to be strong when you feel good with the bike and the tires, and try to not be too much in trouble when you are not so fast. Under one point of view, it's good. You can think weekend by weekend, if not day by day, and try to be ready for all the situations."

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team: "We have a different bike, but the key I think is the same for everybody: Try to fight and be on the podium as soon as possible and as much as possible. This is the goal. It's not so easy to be competitive in every condition. Looks like this year is like this for everybody."