Rizla Suzuki will resume the 2011 MotoGP season at Brno after a short summer break with a double-headed assault at the Czech Republic circuit.
Álvaro Bautista will be joined by Wild-Card John Hopkins as the Spaniard plans to continue with the good vein of form that he has shown in recent races. Bautista looked to be heading for a top-six finish last time out at Laguna Seca – to follow his seventh at Sachsenring the weekend before – until a crash ended his hopes. Bautista has grown in confidence over the last few events and is now showing the kind of form that he displayed in pre-season testing, before a serious leg injury at the first race in Qatar halted his season before it had begun.
Hopkins will be making his second appearance of the year for the Rizla Suzuki team, after deputising for the injured Bautista at Jerez earlier in the season. Hopkins is now full of confidence following a successful season so far in British Superbikes with the Samsung Crescent Racing team and a competitive outing – including pole position – at the recent UK round of the World Superbike Championships. Hopkins last raced at Brno for Rizla Suzuki in 2007 when he recorded his best-ever finish in a Grand Prix of second, on his way to fourth overall in that season’s standings.
The Automotodrom Brno is situated in the south-east of the Czech Republic in the area of Kyvalka, about 16kms from Brno city centre. Its close proximity to Austria, Hungary and Poland, enables Brno to be one of the best attended races of the season, with approximately a quarter-of-a-million fans expected to pass through the gates over the weekend. The present 5,403m Brno Grand Prix circuit was built in 1987 and is located in woodland near to the old street circuit which previously staged the event.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track with Bautista and Hopkins on Friday 12th August for the first two free practice sessions, with another 45-minutes of practice on the following morning. Saturday afternoon will see the all-important qualifying session where grid places will be decided for Sunday’s 22-lap race. The Brno event signals the start of the second half of the 2011 season and round 11 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 14th August.
“I’ve been relaxing since the last race with a few days at the beach and now I’m training hard and looking forward to Brno. The last two races have been very positive and I think as a whole we are in the best position we have been since I’ve been in MotoGP. We need to continue with the progress we’ve made recently and the results will start to come. I had an injured back at Brno last year and couldn’t ride at my best, but I’m 100% now and will be pushing from day one. I hope John has a good weekend and enjoys himself; it will be good to have him there as it will give us the chance to push each other along. I’m sure we can work well together to get a good setting for the GSV-R and it will be nice to have a team mate again! I’m excited about the Brno race – I will be giving my maximum!”
“This is my third race in as many weeks and I am really looking forward to it! It’s been very busy and doing these three different championships back-to-back is quite a challenge, but I am really excited to be back in amongst the big boys at MotoGP. When I rode at Jerez earlier in the year I’d had no real 2011 racing experience so it was a bit ‘in at the deep end’. It was also the first time I’d raced with my wrist working properly since the operation, up until then it was still healing and the few times I’d been on a bike in 2011 had been for pre-season tests and the filming shoot at Qatar. Now I feel that I have gained more confidence and I’m riding better than ever. I’m really pumped that the race is at Brno because it is one of my favourite tracks and I hope I can go well. I’m under no illusions that it will be tough, because the other guys have been racing on MotoGP bikes all season and I’ll need some time to get up to speed with the bike and tyres, but I’ll be giving it all I’ve got to try to get a good result for the team.”