Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

By Steve ParrishBBC motorcycling commentator

After three weeks off for everyone it will be like the first day back at school when the MotoGP riders start their engines in Brno this weekend.

The riders will have been resting up and preparing themselves ahead of what should be a very interesting run-in to the season.

It was a really hectic schedule for everyone before the break, with six races in eight weeks, and it's not just the riders who needed some time off.

The engineers and mechanics will feel better for a few weeks off, though I doubt the boys from the Ducatiexternal-link factory will have been getting much downtime.

I would have thought they must be looking to make radical changes to the bike as they are getting nowhere at the moment.

They are already a second a lap off the pace and they must have totally rethought their plans for next year's bike as well. The chassis they have got simply does not work and it has been a case of going back to the drawing board.

Valentino Rossi is under contract at Ducati for next year as well and if he is struggling again then it would be a disastrous way for him to wind down his career.

At a recent race there were only two journalists who turned up for his press conference after years of not being able to get in the garage and it is a shame for his fans around the world and a shame for the whole sport.

To see one of the greatest riders of all time scrabbling around in midfield is not right and hopefully he will be back up at the front where he belongs soon enough.

At the front, it is shaping up to be a classic end to the season with just 20 points between Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.

They have both been very consistent and quick all season and it is very hard to pick a winner, just keep watching as there could be some classic races between now and the end of the season.

British rider Cal Crutchlow has had a horrible run of races since his injury at Silverstone but let's not forget that this is his debut season.

He maybe needs to review his expectations for the rest of the year. A solid run of top-10 finishes would be a positive end to the season for him and at least he is back at a track he knows this weekend.

After the race, there is a test at Brnoexternal-link next Monday when some of the teams will be putting the 1000cc bikes they will ride next year through their paces for the first time.

It will be fascinating to see how they compare to the 800s they have been riding this year but I would expect them to be at least a second a lap faster.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to a good friend of mine Gary Nixonexternal-link, who passed away last week. I spent some time with him at the last race at Laguna Seca and he was a true legend of motorcycle racing.

Brno prediction:

1) Casey Stoner 2) Jorge Lorenzo 3) Dani Pedrosa

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