August 24, 2012  |   By Paul Kelly

MotoGP Race Preview: Grand Prix Of Czech Republic

A preview of the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic MotoGP World Championship event Aug. 26:

Race: Grand Prix of the Czech Republic
Date: Sunday, Aug. 26
Round: Twelfth of 18 races in 2012
Circuit: Automotodrom Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
Distance: 22 laps on 14-turn, 3.357-mile circuit
2011 Winner: Casey Stoner, Honda
2012 Points Leader: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, ninth, 84 points; Ben Spies, 10th, 66; Colin Edwards, 17th, 14.
TV: MotoGP: 8 a.m. (ET) Sunday, Aug. 26, SPEED. Moto2: 3 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Aug. 26, SPEED. Moto3: Noon (ET) Tuesday, Aug. 28, SPEED.
Web: www.motogp.com
Twitter: @MotoGP

LAST RACE

Dani Pedrosa became the first MotoGP rider to win the Red Bull Indianapolis GP twice and turned up the heat on World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo with a dominant victory Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pedrosa beat fellow Spaniard Lorenzo to the line by 10.823 seconds on his Repsol Honda. It was the second victory of the season for Pedrosa, who also won this event in 2010.

The victory helped Pedrosa close to within 18 points of Lorenzo with seven races remaining.

WHO’S HOT

Andrea Dovizioso: Italian Dovizioso has finished on the podium in four of the last five races on the Tech 3 Yamaha to stay in fourth place, the highest-ranking rider on a satellite (non-factory) bike. Dovizioso is the first satellite rider since 2006 to record at least five podium finishes in a season. Dovizioso also signed this week a lucrative, two-year contract with Ducati to ride one of its factory bikes starting next season.

Aleix Espargaro: Spaniard Espargaro has emerged as the best rider on production-based Claiming Rule Teams machinery this season, ahead of former MotoGP factory riders Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards. Espargaro placed 10th and ninth at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, respectively, on his Power Electronics Aspar ART bike.

WHO’S NOT

Casey Stoner: Reigning World Champion Stoner’s attempt to end his career with a third MotoGP title appears to be over after he returned to Australia this week for surgery to repair the broken right leg and ankle and torn right ankle ligaments he suffered in a vicious high-side crash during qualifying Aug. 18 in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Stoner will miss this event and may not return until late September or early October on his Repsol Honda. He entered this event 39 points behind championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.

Nicky Hayden: 2006 World Champion Hayden also will not compete at this event after missing his home round last weekend at Indianapolis due to a broken hand and a concussion suffered in a big accident during qualifying. This is the first time Hayden has missed consecutive races since he suffered a heel injury in 2008 while training on a motocross bike. He had started 67 consecutive races before missing the Red Bull Indianapolis GP last weekend. American Hayden hopes to return to his Ducati Team machine by the Grand Prix of San Marino on Sept. 16.

NEWS and NUMBERS

There will be just 19 bikes on the MotoGP grid at this event, as Honda and Ducati will not replace the injured Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden, respectively … Toni Elias will ride for the injured Hector Barbera for the third consecutive race on the Pramac Racing Ducati. Barbera suffered a broken leg in a motocross training accident a week before the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix last month at Monterey, Calif., and then suffered broken vertebrae in a crash during practice last weekend at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP … 2012 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa is the only rider to score points in all 11 races this season … Moto2 points leader Marc Marquez became the most successful teenage rider in Grand Prix history by winning the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19. Marquez, 19, has 22 victories in 125cc and Moto2 competition … This will be the 43rd World Championship event to take place at Brno. The only venue to host more Grand Prix races is Assen, which has been on the schedule annually since the World Championship started in 1949.