We have been coming to Brno for 10 years now, and this was the best!


A record-break 155,000 people came to Brno Sunday to enjoy perfect weather and great racing; and we had a weekend packed with fun!


Brno for our customers starts Thursday evening for a Happy Hour in the Starbrno brewery. A taste of things to come as this is a very yummy pint which we will get many opportunities to sample over the ensuing days...


Friday was a great day at the track - our Team Experience customers got to see their ‘homes’ for the weekend.  We had 125cc customers with Team Ongetta and MotoGP with LCR Honda. This was a special weekend for our work with Team Ongetta - not only is it the home race of our sponsored Czech 125cc racer Jakub Kornfeil; but we also did a one-event sponsorship of British rookie Harry Stafford. Harry had yet to get a point in the GP, but we promised he’d break his duck at Brno... We were delighted to be proven right on Sunday as he took 3 points!  He’s really proven himself to be a gritty and fast kid - they are looking for help to secure a ride for 2012. If you want to get involved, contact us...


Our Friday night opening party is already legendary - this year topped the charts though! Very atmospheric trackside location - you can see the setting sun as you work your way through the bottomless Starobrno beer and local wines!  Every year we bring the cover band ‘Green Steam’ (the drummer is
editor of the Czech Motorcycle News!) who do brilliant oldies that always gets the floor heaving. This year we had a number of special guests.  Perhaps the star guest was MotoGP rider and reigning Moto2 world champion Toni Elias. With him was LCR Honda boss Lucio Cechinello. Moto2 team manager and former rider Pablo Nieto (son of legendary ‘Angel’ Nieto) joined us; as did 125cc riders Danny Webb, Harry Stafford and Jakub Kornfeil. Red Bull Rookies riders James Flintcroft (UK) and our sponsored rookie Brad Binder (South Africa) rounded out a great opportunity for our 300 or so guests to meet some of the racers up close! LCR Honda also brought some of their bunny girls (Czech, of course!), which was appreciated by at least half the audience! 


We reflected that every one of these riders went on to have their best ever result of the season Sunday - with Harry getting his first points, James taking a podium in the first race and a 4th in the 2nd, Jakub pulling an amazing 7th; and Toni posting his best result of the year!  (Well, Brad has done better, but he got points in the wet which doesn’t happen often!) Coincidence?  We think not! Thanks for all your support!


However the highlight of the night was our Charity.GP benefit auction for Riders for Health. We limited the auction to a few high value items and raised an astonishing €5550 for Riders!

The items and donors were:

  1. Rare 2010 Moto2 Champion Tee Shirt (Toni Elias) donated by Gordon Howell

  2. LCR Honda team shirt signed by Toni and Lucio plus Saturday dinner with the team in the paddock for two

  3. 2x San Carlo Honda Gresini Tee shirts signed by Marco Simoncelli plus Saturday dinner with the team in the paddock for two

  4. Red Bull Rookies championship helmet worn by 2009 World Champion Jakub Kornfiel, donated by Jakub

  5. 2 x MotoGP Paddock Passes with team hospitality from LCR Honda, donated by IRTA and LCR

  6. Cal Crutchlow Tee Shirt signed by Cal with a private Tech3 pit tour conducted by Cal personally

  7. Pair of Danny Webb racing boots donated by Danny

  8. A Ducati Corse cap sign by Valentino Rossi, donated by Ducati

and finally...

  1. A Pole Position Travel Brno 2011 Polo Shirt signed by virtually ALL MotoGP riders (including Rossi, see pic!)


This final item was donated and signatures collected by Pole Position Travel, and we would like to thank all the riders! The shirt fetched €2000!


Saturday dawned with rain, but that evaporated for most of the day (sadly to reappear right after the Red Bull Rookies race started, causing that to be red flagged). Pedrosa set an uncatchable pace to take pole in MotoGP; Terol’s pole in 125 was hardly a surprise; and the Moto2 pole went to a deserving Iannone. Despite the weather, the Rookies race was the highlight of the day, with victory after the restart going to American rookie Rookie Joe Roberts, Joe actually started the second time from the last place! Not only his first win, but his first podium! Arthur Sissis from Australia (pictured) regained the series lead with a strong 2nd place finish. These races are always exciting!


Saturday night, while one group sampled the charms of the Starobrno Brewery, about a dozen people enjoyed the hospitality with teams LCR Honda and Honda Gresini, and 125 Team Ongetta. We met many riders, in addition to Toni, Hiro and Marco; visited both pit boxes and generally made a nuisance of ourselves around the paddock.  It was magic! All being Italian teams, the food was great; and we had a rare chance to see the paddock ‘relaxed’. Thanks to all three teams for a great night out!


Sunday was a perfect day.


Our coaches ran spot on time, missed all the traffic (significant in a record-breaking crowd) and we didn’t miss a minute of action!  Of course the day seemed to last about 10 minutes...


We had serious misgivings entering the 125cc race.  All our riders were considerably down in the grid; and was looking to be another Terol runaway. Fortunately we were wrong! Terol retired with a malfunction; and there was a great battle between Zarco and Cortese for the lead. The German just edged out the former Red Bull Rookies champion Zarco; but it came down to the wire. Running his own race, 13 seconds behind Vinales in 6th and 15 in front of Grotzkyj in 8th, we were proud that Jakub Kornfeil ran to a strong 7th; which on top of his 5th place result here last year and race win the year before proves that he doesn’t let ‘home pressure’ deflect him!  Danny Webb and Harry Stafford were fighting each other for 12th, much to the anxiety of both pits! Thankfully no mishaps, and Danny took 12th and Harry finally taking his first 3 points with a solid 13th! It should be noted that Harry started 31st on the grid, thus making an incredible 19 positions (of which just 6 were ‘gifted’)! Harry & Jakub’s team mate Jasper Iwema took 10th, providing the stunning result of all three Ongetta riders in the points for the first time this season! With Marcel Schrotter’s 14th both Mahindra riders were in the points, which is showing significant improvement by the team this year!


The Moto2 race developed into a lengthy 4-way battle between Marquez, Iannone, Luthi and de Angelis with a great victory ultimately by Iannone.  Again, the way racing should be! Sadly Bradley Smith crashed after a brilliant start...


In MotoGP, we expected Dani Pedrosa to walk away with it; but alas a crash while in the lead set his ambitions back. Cal Crutchlow also crashed, which was a deep disappointment to his fans as well as himself. He needs to get his early season confidence (and bike!) back, but we trust he knows his fans are still 135% behind him! The enigma of the weekend was Karel Abraham. We spoke to his chief mechanic Monday: they were struggling all weekend to get the bike settings right, and Karel himself was succumbing a bit to the intense local pressure as the first ever Czech to ride a MotoGP race at Brno!  His crash was perhaps inevitable - as Cal will agree this is a tough competition! Better luck in Indy! Toni Elias took 11th, which was his best result this year; he is just starting to get to grips with the bike - we really hope he gets back into the fight!


However the highlight of the race and perhaps the weekend was Marco Simoncelli’s epic battle with Dovisioso for the podium. Dovi ultimately got 2nd but Marco’s 3rd place finally brought a long-awaited podium ceremony for the former 250cc world champion. We were so excited that we rush out to the podium to catch the biggest smile you have ever seen! Check out our video as we get sprayed with his champagne!


The best race of all was the last however, as the Red Bull Rookies took to the track for the 2nd time. We have never seen a tighter race - the leader board showed a leading group of 17+ riders throughout almost the entire race! 10th place went to our sponsored rider Brad Binder; and HE was just 1 second from the winner! In the final lap, the series leader Arthur Sissis pulled to the front and we (several Australian customers) ran out to the terrace to watch him win and nearly cement his world championship bid. Alas! We heard a shout from inside the hospitality and discovered that Arthur had crashed out just 2 turns from the finish!  What frustration! This leaves Arthur 6 points behind with just a single race to go in Misano.  We will be wishing him (better) luck!


Sunday night 50 guests joined us for our traditional ‘Moravian Evening’ in U Kralovny Elisky - the oldest wine cellar in Eastern Europe. Live music, wine tasting, great food and company - a perfect way to finish the weekend!


Monday about 30 of us went back to the track to check out the official MotoGP test. We were guests of LCR Honda (the team of the weekend!) and got private guided tours of the pit, explored the paddock, saw many riders; saw the first 1000cc bikes being tested and more. At lunch, we were honoured with a welcome from Toni Elias and a great technical discussion from Neil Spalding. We all jumped onto the podium for a great photo op! And one lucky lady - Evi from Greece - got a private tour of the service road on a scooter (piloted by yours truly!)  A great experience for both of us. In our lap we encountered Toni just after he crashed on turn 9. He was okay, but complaining of pain. I offered to take him back to the paddock, and his first reaction was not to inconvenience our customer! He is a true gentleman... (Evi insisted, and I started to take him back, but then his  colleague arrived to take him over)


I also have to tip my hat to LCR Honda - they were amazing hosts; not just for the test but helping in the charity auction, doing a great dinner Saturday (along with an equally excellent Gresini), a showing our team experience customers a wonderful time! Their commercial manager and the man who orchestrates all this, Fabio Alberti, is our candidate for King of MotoGP!  n.b. amongst his jobs is selection and photography of the umbrella girls. Playboy is a sponsor. Tough job. Pictured is his job of pinning the tail on the bunny!


Dinner at my favourite micro-brewery rounded out a perfect day and a perfect weekend.


Some photos from Fabio Alberti of LCR Honda. Check out their facebook

(Brno is great for the World SBK as well.  See here...)

See all our Brno MotoGP offerings.

 

Grand Prix of Czech Republic 11-15 August 2011