Getty Images

Marquez perfects wet-to-dry tire switch for dominant Brno MotoGP win

Leave a comment

Marc Marquez swept to his third win of the 2017 MotoGP season in Sunday’s Czech Republic Grand Prix after perfecting the switch from wet to slick tires and leapfrogging the field when they pitted.

Marquez started from pole at Brno, only to drop back through the field after electing to fit his Repsol Honda bike with soft wet rear tire.

The Spaniard was brought into the pits to make the switch for slicks early, with a drying line soon appearing and the rest of the field following suit in the laps that followed.

Marquez had been able to lay down a quick enough pace in order to vault to the front of the pack once the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco had pitted, regaining P1 on Lap 6 and staying out in front to the checkered flag.

Marquez ultimately crossed the line with a 12-second advantage over Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, while Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales was a further six seconds back in third place.

Valentino Rossi took P4 after a late pass on Cal Crutchlow, the Honda satellite rider left to settle for fifth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.

Brothers Aleix and Pol Espargaro were eighth and ninth respectively, while Jonas Folger completed the top 10 for Tech3. Despite leading early on, Ducati’s Lorenzo eventually finished 40 seconds back in 15th place.

Marquez’s victory extends his championship advantage to 14 points over Viñales, with Dovizioso sitting a further seven back for Ducati in third.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.