MotoGP in Brno and British Superbikes at Thruxton – preview

Ian Marsden
Marc Marquez, who leads the championship, is seen here celebrating at Sachsenring - AFP

At the mid point of the season it is Marc Marquez who leads the championship thanks to his win at the last round at the Shachsenring, Germany. With previous leader Andrea Dovizioso only managing an eighth place finish, the Italian has dropped to third. Dovizioso's points tally of 123 is the highest scored by a Ducati rider after nine races since Casey Stoner scored 148 points by the same stage of the 2009 season. Ominously, the last Ducati podium was also by Stoner in 2010, when he finished third.

Maverick Vinales' fourth place kept the young Spaniard in second place. Vinales has not been outside of the top two places so far this season, but with only a slender five point margin between him and teammate Valentino Rossi in fourth it won't be an easy task maintaining that record this weekend. And with only ten points covering the top four places the championship is close enough for the lead to change hands again.

Dani Pedrosa, currently fifth in the championship standings will be looking for his 150th Grand Prix podium this weekend in Brno. Should he achieve a top-three finish he will be only the third rider in history to achieve this alongside Giacomo Agostini with 159 GP podiums and Valentino Rossi with 225.

Dani Pedrosa Credit: AFP/MOHD RASFAN 

Rossi jointly holds the record for most wins at Brno, he and Max Biaggi both have seven race wins across all the classes are at the circuit. Sunday should see Rossi's 22nd consecutive start at the Czech circuit. It will be only the second circuit at which Rossi will have raced in every year of his GP career.

Johann Zarco in sixth place continues to be both top privateer and top rookie, but thanks to his second place finish in Germany team mate Jonas Folgar now trails the Frenchman by only 13 points. Folgars podium finish was only the second by a German rider in the MotoGP era. Stephan Bradl taking the other at Laguna Seca in 2013. Folgars podium finish also means that all four Yamaha riders have now finished on the podium in 2017. Between then Folgar and Zarco have claimed top rookie at eight of the nine races to date.

Last years race was won by Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda, the first win by a British rider in 35 years.

MotoGP world championship standings

1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 129 points

2. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 124

3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 123

4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 119

5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 103

6. Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 84

British Superbike Championship preview

The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship has a new leader ahead of round seven at Hampshire's Thruxton circuit. Ominously for the rest of the field, that new leader is none other than reigning champion Shane Byrne on his Be Wiser Ducati. The five-time champion took the lead after taking both race wins in a commanding performance at the last round on the Brands Hatch GP circuiting – this after also taking both race wins at the preceding round at Snetterton.

Byrne has now finished on the podium in the last eight races,including five wins. Knockhill been the only circuit where he failed to stand on the top step of the podium. Last year Byrne took one race win at Thruxton. We have to go back to 2012 for the last time Byrne didn't stand on the podium at the Hampshire circuit, in the intervening period he has taken two race wins, three second places and on third. Byrne is undoubtedly on the march, with the forty year old looking as hungry as ever as he strives for BSB title number six.

Had JG Speedfit rider Leon Haslam not been forced to sit out both rounds at Knockhill after his practice crash things would undoubtedly have been different at the head of the championship, but let's not forget that Byrne sat out both races at round one through an injury sustained pre season. Haslam came closer to his early season form at Brands Hatch taking third and fifth places. With Byrne now having a 31 point lead over Haslam as well as a significant advantage in the all important podium credits the Kawasaki rider can't afford to allow Byrne further opportunities to pull away.

Leon Haslam in action at Brands Hatch Credit: Ker Robertson /Getty Images Europe 

Haslam, who is currently third, is only two points behind his team mate Luke Mossey and will be desperate to assert himself as number one in the Kawasaki garage. After making the shootout last year Mossey has been the surprise package this year and is looking odds on to make the shootout again, only this time with a realistic chance of challenging for the championship.

With 31 points covering the top three a similar margin (33 points) covers 4th to 8th. Honda Racings Jason O'Halloran is currently 4th with 133 points with RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki rider Jake Dixon in 8th with 100 points. O'Halloran is top placed Honda and is 53 points ahead of team mate Dan Linfoot in 10th. It has been a tough start to the new Fireblades first season, but the team do now seem to be turning the corner, whether it will be too late to challenge for the championship remains to be seen.

Another rider who seems to coming in to form is Josh Brookes on the Anvil Hire Tag Yamaha. An uncharacteristic mistake cost him in race two at Brands and spoiled what had been a good weekend for the 2015 champion.

Peter Hickman continues to impress and is currently in sixth place.

British Superbike Championship standings 2017

1 Shane Byrne Be Wiser (Ducati) 190 points

2 Luke Mossey JG Speedfit (Kawasaki) 161

3 Leon Haslam JG Seedfit (Kawasaki) 159

4 Jason O'Halloran Honda (Racing) 133

5 Josh Brookes Anvil Hire Tag (Yamaha) 129

6 Peter Hickman Smiths Racing (BMW) 119