Round 10 at Indianapolis has just flashed by, and now the fast men of world championship grand prix racing will back up again this weekend at Brno, one of the most feted circuits on the calendar.
With constant elevation changes as it sweeps across forested hillsides, Brno's fast and undulating corners always push riders and engineering to the limit. Over the years, the 5.4km layout has produced some classic encounters, including a memorable battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in 2012.
Pedrosa got the upperhand in that stirring battle, and in the last two years Honda has continued its winning streak at Brno, with Marc Marquez getting the job done in 2013 and then Pedrosa — the lap record holder — backing up again in 2014.
In fact, Yamaha's last victory was in 2010 courtesy of Lorenzo, but with the tuning fork brand in much better shape than previous seasons it will be confident of its chances in its 22-lap race.
After 10 of 18 rounds of the MotoGP title, Valentino Rossi leads on 195pts from Lorenzo (186), Marquez (139), Ducati Team's Andrea Iannone (129) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 97). Lorenzo trimmed Rossi's lead by 4pts at Indianapolis after his close second place finish behind Marquez, but the Italian continues to hold sway courtesy of his 100 percent podium finishing record in 2015 — an extraordinary level of consistency for a rider who has nothing left to prove.
Rossi would dearly love to make it eight GP wins at Brno, and his fifth in MotoGP, which would take him past former great rival Max Biaggi, who also has seven victories on his CV in the Czech Republic.
"Brno is a nice track, I like it better than Indianapolis," said Rossi. "But at the same time, my teammate Jorge Lorenzo is very strong in Brno. Marquez will also be strong, as he was in Indy. We'll have to do the maximum again in this weekend to not lose any more points, but I'm feeling positive and I think that we will make it a good weekend."
Marquez will again have a huge bearing on proceedings, as he shoots for three wins in a row.
"It was a tough race in Indianapolis, very demanding, but I’m really happy to have taken two consecutive wins," said Marquez. "Brno isn’t one of my favourite tracks and I’ve had mixed results here in the past but we arrive there with good momentum and we will work hard to be ready for a battle."
Pedrosa has his best chance of victory so far this year, but even if that doesn’t eventuate he could be a real thorn in the side of Rossi and Lorenzo by taking valuable points away from the Yamaha factory pairing — especially if Marquez takes the major spoils.
Even though he's tumbled down the rankings since a scorching start to the year, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) can certainly push the Honda and Yamaha factory pilots at Brno — and the Italian is certainly due for a change in fortunes after being pushed wide at Indianapolis on lap one and shuffled back to last place. The lightning fast Ducatis — and that counts for the brand's satellite riders, too — should be suited to Brno's open expanses.
Cal Crutchlow (CWM LCR Honda) was also forced wide at Indy and lost a number of places after a great start, and he'll want to get a wriggle on to keep Smith in his sights for leading satellite rider in 2015. Crutchlow is currently eighth on 74pts, behind Dovizioso (94) and in front of Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Maverick Vinales (Ecstar Suzuki, 62).
Vinales' teammate Aleix Espargaro was a subdued figure at Indianapolis so look for him to bounce back at Brno, while a whole equip on the rebound is Forward Racing, which will return to action after the arrest of owner Giovanni Cuzari for tax-related issues. Loris Baz will be joined by Claudio Corti, who replaces Stefan Bradl after the German left the team and joined Aprilia alongside Alvaro Bautista.
Meanwhile, Aussie Jack Miller (CMW LCR Honda) was the only rider to DNF at Indianapolis after a crash, following on from his best qualifying position for the season. He was running as high as 12th after another blazing start, so he's gathering speed: consistency is now the next frontier.
And just a final MotoGP note ahead of Brno: the last time a polesitter won the premier class race at Brno was Rossi way back in 2009. Since 2009, no rider qualifying higher than third place on the grid has won a MotoGP race in the Czech Republic.
In Moto2, Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) is still on a high after his first class win at Indianapolis, adding more shine to an already extremely impressive rookie season. The win saw him leapfrog past world champion Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) into second position behind runaway leader Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport).
Rabat was the winner last year by nearly four seconds, but the depth in the Moto2 stocks has improved dramatically this year, with perhaps eight riders capable of taking victory. There's probably one certainty at Brno: Zarco may not win, but the consistent German is likely to be one of the key front runners yet again.
Australian Anthony West (QMMF Racing) is coming off a 13th place finish at Indianapolis.
Moto3 was turned on its head at Indianapolis as rain made its presence felt, but normality is expected to return to Brno. That means title leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda) will be in the picture, as he has been all year, joined by the likes of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team), Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and young gun Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
Australia's Remy Gardner (CIP Mahindra) didn't get to show what he was really capable of at Indy after brilliant practice and qualifying form, so he'll be galvanised to produce a big performance at Brno.
The three world championship races at Brno will be held over the following distances and times:
• MotoGP: 22 laps, 118.9km, starting at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST)
• Moto2: 20 laps, 108.1km, starting a 12:20pm local time (8:20pm AEST)
• Moto3: 19 laps, 102.7km, starting at 11:00am local time (7:00pm AEST)