Brno, Czech Republic - Overall leader Marc Marquez said he would be happy with a podium finish when the MotoGP championship resumes after the summer break at Brno on Sunday, with standings unusually tight at the top.
Marquez, winner of the German Grand Prix for Honda immediately before the summer break, tops the rankings on 129 points, five ahead of fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales on a Yamaha. Italy's Andrea Dovizioso on a Ducati is third on 123 points, ahead of compatriot and the sport's legend Valentino Rossi on a Yamaha with 119.
"Brno is a nice track," Marquez said, "but one of the most demanding, with many changes of direction and uphill and downhill sections."
The three-times MotoGP world champion, who won his only premier-class race at Brno in 2013, tested at the 5.4 kilometre circuit during the summer break.
"It was good to go testing at Brno during the summer break because it allowed us to work on the bike and stay focused on the job," said Marquez, who finished third at Brno in 2016 behind winner Cal Crutchlow and Rossi. "We'll try to make the best of the work we've done during the test and to prepare to fight for the podium on Sunday.
"Such a close season is exciting but also very demanding, meaning that you have to always keep your concentration high and try to constantly be at the best level possible, adapting to every situation."
Besides the testing, the 24-year-old Marquez spent part of the summer break with his friends, just like his closest rival Vinales, who is 22.
'No room for mistakes'
"I've enjoyed the summer break a lot," said Vinales, who finished ninth at Brno in 2016. "I spent it with friends and family, but now I can't wait to be back on the bike again.
"We have to be focused on the second half of the season as it is going to be crucial if we want to fight for the championship title. There is no room for mistakes.
"I've been training during these weeks to be ready for Brno and Austria, two tracks that I really like and where I think that I can be strong."