MotoGP 2017 – Round Four – Jerez
MotoGP back in Europe this weekend as Jerez beckons the gladiators of MotoGP
The 2017 MotoGP Championship returns from three fly-away races to begin the European leg of the season with the Gran Premio Red Bull de España at Jerez in Spain.
A mixture of conditions have tested the MotoGP paddock and tyre manufacturer Michelin during the trio of events in Qatar, Argentina and America, thus all will be hoping for a weekend of more settled weather for the now traditional first race of the year in Europe.
Jerez is one of the best attended Grands Prix on the calendar with spectator numbers up to 250,000 known to attend over the three-days. The whole weekend has a true carnival atmosphere with thousands of people also lining the streets of nearby towns such as Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria to join in the festivities in a region that is renowned for its Sherry-making traditions. With huge crowds expected to fill the grandstands and hills around the Andalusian circuit, the event will certainly have a colourful and electrifying feel.
Jerez has a history of producing some memorable racing, this is due to its variable layout, featuring many camber changes, hard-braking zones and fast sweeping curves. The surface also offers very low grip levels, so Michelin will again have their hands full in coming up with the best compromise solution for the4,423m track.
The ‘Cathedral’ of Spanish speed, this season marks 30 years since the first GP was held at the venue and more history seems to be made every year.
The man at the head of the standings as the faithful prepare for the carnival is Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). The only man on the rostrum in the first three races, the nine-time World Champion has shown the old adage true and used consistency as its own weapon. Patiently waiting to pass Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) in Argentina and then stalking Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in Texas, the ‘Doctor’ is now feeling better on the 2017 bike – and knows he can last the distance. From here, the venues read like a greatest hits playlist for the Italian – beginning with one of his recent number ones in Jerez, where he won last year.
“I would never have expected to come to Jerez as a leader of the Championship. I‘m very happy because we managed to solve some of the problems we had encountered during the winter tests and we are doing really good races. We still have to improve the bike a lot, that’s for sure. The weekend in Jerez will be very important. This is the first European race and it‘s a circuit I really enjoy. We have improved a lot in Austin since the first free practice and now it will be important to improve again in Jerez. We are understanding how to work with this bike and I‘m sure we will be able to find what we are looking for.”
The road to glory on ‘enemy’ territory never did run smooth, however. The Spanish are a veritable armada in 2017, with a host of riders ready, willing and able to push the veteran for the win. One man sure to do that is teammate Maverick Viñales, who won the first two races of the season before making his first in-race mistake for over a year. Fastest in testing, fastest in Qatar and fastest in Argentina, the Spanish Yamaha rider may have lost the lead in Texas – but he’ll be gunning to take it back on home turf.
“After the disappointing result in Austin I‘m happy that I didn‘t sustain any injuries. We also proved that we have the potential to fight for the victory at every race and this motivates me to arrive to Jerez even stronger than I was at the last GP. Jerez is a good track for Yamaha, they‘ve always been very fast there, so I know that I can be as strong and fast in Jerez as I was in Austin and as I have been at all the tracks during the start of this season. We just should be focused, find a good set-up for the bike and push until the end of the race. I‘m extra motivated for the next round.”
The duel we were promised in Texas between Viñales and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) never did arrive, as the number 25 slid out of contention early. But the timesheets have built the showdown and sooner or later it will come. Will that be in Jerez? It could be the perfect place in many ways, with a home crowd like no other. Viñales is looking to bounce back, but Marquez already did that at COTA – back on the top step for the first time since Motegi last year and full of confidence. A good record at the track for the number 93 also makes good reading – something shared by his teammate.
“I’m happy the next round is back in Spain after three flyaway GPs, because racing at home and in front of my fan club is always special. Of course our win in Austin gave the whole team more confidence and motivation to keep up the hard work and to try to understand how to further improve our bike’s setup, although Jerez is one of the most difficult and tricky circuits from that point of view. It’s kind of an ‘old school’ track: very short, very narrow, with heavy acceleration points and strong braking areas. You have to make the bike turn well but you also need good stability under braking, because that’s where you can get good lap times. It’s a circuit where our opponents are always very fast, but anyway, I think we’ll be able to do well if we work well starting on Friday morning.”
Dani Pedrosa’s start at the Circuit of the Americas was one of the most electric moments of the race. Lightning quick off the second row, the ‘Baby Samurai’ shot round the outside to take the lead – and keep it for a good number of laps. Tyre wear in Austin negated a fight against Rossi for second, but Pedrosa took an impressive podium and the result speaks more for his 2017 pace than Qatar and Argentina. A winner previously at the track, Pedrosa could well be a key player.
“Jerez is a track that I like a lot. It has a bit of everything: tight corners, fast corners, changes of direction, some ‘wheelie areas.’ One of my best memories there is when I made my debut in MotoGP (2006) and I finished on the podium. I hope to keep the momentum from Austin and to continue the progress, improving our bike setup more, especially in maintaining a fast rhythm and faster lap time. Now we know more about the bike, what we need to improve, and what changes we have to make on the setup, so we definitely look forward to taking another step in Jerez. My fan club will be there and we want to have another good weekend in front of them and all our fans!”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) is another with a winning record in Andalucía. With a strange weekend with the weather in Qatar followed by a crash out on the first lap in Argentina, Texas saw some much more tangible progress for the ‘Spartan’ – graduating to Q2 and starting from the second row, before holding station behind his teammate Andrea Dovizioso for much of the first part of the race. Suffering tyre wear in the latter stages like Pedrosa, Lorenzo was still positive with the steps forward in Texas – and the number 99 has tested the Desmosedici at Jerez. On Thursday, it will be his 30th birthday, and 15 years since his debut in the World Championship. Motivation will be high.
“We arrive in Spain after three rather complicated races for us, but we have always made small steps forward in the latest rounds. Jerez is one of my favourite tracks, I have excellent memories of it, and I’ve scored a number of wins there, but it’s also true to say that it’s not the most favourable track for Ducati. We are analyzing all the data, including those from the recent test at this circuit, to carry on working on the bike and improve our competitiveness. I can’t wait to feel the warm support from the Spanish crowd and ride a Ducati for the first time in front of my fans.”
‘DesmoDovi’ will also be pushing for the Borgo Panigale factory, to get back into the higher echelons of the timesheets following his fight for the win in Qatar and subsequent tougher races. Also on Ducati machinery and aiming high will be Pull&Bear Aspar’s Alvaro Bautista, who starts his home race with a top four already under his belt in 2017 – and Reale Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera will be looking to unlock more of the potential of his GP16 on home turf.
“Finally we are back in Europe and even though we did a one-day test at this circuit one month ago, I don’t exactly know what to expect from the Jerez race. Our balance sheet after the first three rounds of the season is not satisfactory enough because we thought we would be quicker this year, but with the exception of the Qatar race, it hasn’t been like this so far. At any rate, we are all working to change the situation and although the Jerez track is one of the toughest for me and Ducati, I will be fighting hard in Spain to try and get back onto the podium.”
“I arrive at Jerez eager to have a good weekend. I feel really strong after training hard during the last week. I’ve been working on my riding style and I like the circuit, so I look forward to jump on the bike and work towards the race with the aim of getting close to the front runners. The first three races have been tough, but I’m sure that working together with my team, we can come back stronger. We have the right bike and all the technology we need to reach our goal. We just need a good result on Sunday.”
“After three races outside of Europe to start the season we arrive at Jerez in positive mood because of how competitive we have been in Qatar and Argentina. In Qatar we ran out of luck but in Argentina we were able to demonstrate our potential. In Austin, however, we had a few more problems due to a combination of the weather, the circuit, the tyres… I just wasn’t comfortable but in the race if it wasn’t for the crash I think we could have been fighting in the top ten. The crash was inexplicable, but it is time to look ahead. Jerez is special for the Spanish riders, it is our home race and I have very good memories of this track because it was where I scored my first win in 125. It was my first race with the Aspar Team and we won it. Also, we found a good feeling there in the November tests and to be honest that was the moment I started to feel good with this bike, even though the track conditions were different to what we will encounter this weekend. We want to work well from Friday, try to find the same feeling again, enjoy riding the bike and we’ll see what shape we are in for the race. Our goal this weekend is again to be fighting in the top five positions, which will be difficult but the home support will give us an extra boost. I am looking forward to working hard, making more improvements and starting the European leg of the season on the right foot.”
“I am really excited about the race this weekend in Jerez because I have already ridden my Ducati there in the test last November and I think this could be a good weekend for us, also because I really like the track. I am still recovering from the crash in Austin – my knee is quite good but the ankle is still quite swollen and painful, although it shouldn’t be a problem on the bike. Luckily we are not marathon runners, we are motorcycle racers. My neck muscles are also improving every day so I think that when we get to Jerez I will be almost 100%”.
“This is the first round in Europe and I look forward to start the race weekend. I always like to race in Jerez following the firsts rounds in Qatar and America. We have to wait and see how the tyres work. I hope to get the same good feeling that I had the last time, when we were testing there in November. If we can get this feeling from Friday, I think that we will be able to have a good weekend. I like the circuit and in Spain I always feel at home.”
Also racing on a form of home turf are EG 0,0 Marc VDS, with Jack Miller looking for another top ten and local hero Tito Rabat looking for another points finish.
With rookie Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) out through injury, Andrea Iannone will be lining up for the Hamamatsu factory alongside test rider Takuya Tsuda.
“I really hope this will be a positive race for us. Last year we did some testing here in Jerez and it left me with a positive feeling. Also the performance wasn’t bad. This gives me some real confidence for this race. We will need to work hard from the very beginning on Friday to fix some issues we have encountered, but we already have some ideas. I’d really like to end next Sunday with a smile on our faces.”
“First of all, I’m sorry for Alex´s injury, and I would like to wish him a speedy recovery and all the best. It’s a big surprise for me that I was given this great opportunity to replace Alex, and of course I’m very excited. It’s definitely like my dreams have come true. I´ve always dreamt about racing in a MotoGP one day, but I never thought that the chance would come like this. Fortunately I had an opportunity to test GSX-RR last November in Jerez, so the track is already familiar and I like its layout. Although I know it’s not that easy to compete against the experienced riders, and the track condition will also not as same as in November, everything will be a big adventure for me. All I can do is give it my all and do my best, both for myself and for the team.”
Rins was top rookie in Qatar but that honour has since moved to Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in both races ahead of the Spanish GP, and the Frenchman has been nothing short of stunning – two top fives, two top rides and just a few ruffled feathers. Zarco, teammate Jonas Folger and certainly Argentina podium finisher Cal Crutchlow will join Bautista on the hunt for Independent Team glory in Jerez – with competition tighter than ever.
“The Jerez round marks the beginning of the European races and it certainly will be interesting for us because the first three Grand Prix’s took place at very big and long circuits in Qatar, Argentina and Texas. The Spanish circuit is much shorter and tighter so I am curious to see how I will control the bike at this venue. After the great feeling in Texas and the solid fight to 5th position, I want to keep pushing and get as close as possible to the podium. By the end of the last race, I was not far from the top three so I will keep working hard in order to reach this target. In Andalucía, the weather should be clear and hot, but there is always the threat of rain, which we must be wary of. Lets see what happens with the conditions but I will go to this Grand Prix with an open mind and I will do my best to score a strong result again.”
“Now it’s time to head to Spain, and this is an event that I look forward to because I really like the circuit, plus, it will be good to start racing on European soil again. I have some good memories of the racetrack including last year, where I fought to a podium finish in the Moto2 class. In fact, the Circuito de Jerez is one of my favourite venues and I am excited to jump on my Yamaha and experience its power at the track, which is short, twisting and physical. At the last GP in Texas, we struggled a bit throughout the weekend so I want to come back stronger in Spain. I am determined to have a more positive time in Andalucía so the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team and I will work as best as we can in order to set ourselves up for the sprint on Sunday where I will fight for a top finish.”
“I’m looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez because it’s the first race back in Europe, so it’s all a little closer to home. It’s a circuit that I enjoy, even if we didn’t have the greatest race there one year ago. However, this time I go there with high hopes and after a positive last couple of rounds there is no reason why we can’t go and do another good job in Jerez. I’m looking forward to working closely with the LCR Honda Team once more to see if we can improve on our fourth place finish in Argentina last time out, and make sure that we have another great race”.
“I can’t wait to ride again in Europe and especially in Jerez, one of my home Grand Prix races. I like the atmosphere of the Spanish crowd, as well as the track. After the crash in Argentina and the problems in Austin I want to have a normal GP again and we will try to find the best setting to do another good race.”
“I have very fond memories of the race in Jerez last year, when I took both pole position and the win. I like the circuit and I will be aiming to take another step forward this weekend. The goal is definitely to earn my first MotoGP championship points.”
Consistency has been key so far, but the showdown of the century is never far away when the world’s best face down the world’s best venue. Against the backdrop of one of the sporting wonders of the world, MotoGP head out in Jerez for FP1 at 9:55 on Friday (GMT +2), and it’s carnival time on Sunday at 14:00.
MotoGP World Championship Classification
- Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 56
- Maverick Viñales (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 50
- Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 38
- Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 30
- Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 29
- Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 27
- Johann Zarco (FRA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 22
- Jonas Folger (GER) Monster Yamaha Tech3 21
- Jack Miller (AUS) Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 21
- Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Racing 21
- Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Racing 17
- Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Pull&Bear Aspar Team 14
- Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Ducati Team 12
- Aleix Espargarò (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 10
- Andrea Iannone (ITA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 9
- Loris Baz (FRA) Reale Avintia Racing 9
- Tito Rabat (SPA) Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 8
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager
“After all the fly-away races it is good to be starting the European leg of the season and travelling to venues that are closer to home, which have with easier logistics. Jerez is one of the tracks that we are targeting for improvements this season. It is a low grip circuit, with many directional changes, as well as being quite narrow. The diversity of the corner layout means that we need to offer a tyre with a balanced character to provide good handling from low speed through to high speed corners and from flat turns to changes in elevation, so this makes it quite technical in all aspects. We have a range of tyres that will give us the sort of progress we are looking to make and then on the Monday at the test we will be supplying some new options, as well as giving the riders some existing alternatives to try out and make comparisons with the tyres we already have in the range. Jerez itself is an amazing event, full of excitable and colourful fans and it’s a race that has given some memorable battles and is certainly a great place to start at in Europe.”
MotoGP Race Results Jerez 2016
- Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 45’28.834
- Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 00’02.386
- Marc Marquez Honda ESP 00’07.087
- Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 00’10.351
- Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ESP 00’14.143
- Maverick Viñales Suzuki ESP 00’16.772
- Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 00’26.277
- Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 00’30.750
- Eugene Laverty Ducati GBR 00’32.325
- Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 00’32.624
- Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 00’38.497
- Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 00’39.669
- Loris Baz Ducati FRA 00’45.227
- Stefan Bradl Aprilia DEU 00’47.886
- Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 00’47.988
- Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 00’49.414
- Jack Miller Honda AUS 00’49.513
- Tito Rabat Honda ESP 00’53.334
- Scott Redding Ducati GBR 01’05.555
MotoGP 2017 – Round Four – Jerez
The Moto2 grid gear up for another shot at derailing the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider’s charge
It’s three out of three for Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) as the paddock heads back onto European soil, and the man of the moment has seemed the same unfazed whirlwind of speed at every venue. With only his recent exploits to make him the favourite going into Argentina and the Americas, the
Spanish GP arrives, however, with already proven speed – and the Jaws theme tune to go with it.
In some ways, the race in Texas threw the previous formbook out the window for the top four. Like Morbidelli, neither second placed Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) nor fellow podium finisher Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) had a great record at the track, but that makes for an exciting prospect ahead of Jerez. As ominous as Morbidelli may seem, both Lüthi and Nakagami have form at the venue. Lüthi, who is bucking his trend of being a rider who gains strength throughout the year, will surely take some heart from his record in Andalusia – with three previous podiums and only one finish outside the top ten. Surprised by his ability to stay with Morbidelli in Texas, maybe Jerez will help close that gap and open up the battle.
Nakagami also has some good finishes in Jerez, with two top fives to his name already. The Japanese rider may not have been on the podium at every round like his Swiss and Italian rivals, but a blip in Argentina doesn’t diminish the Japanese rider’s speed. Then there’s Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – already getting the new KTM intermediate class chassis onto the podium in its debut season – who is sure to put up another challenge as he settles into life as a frontrunner in Moto2. And Jerez was the first test venue of the year for the Moto2 grid, meaning the Austrian factory have data.
Last year’s Spanish GP saw home hero Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) crash out, but the 2014 Moto3 World Champion has shown some serious pace this season. Especially strong at the start of races in Qatar and COTA, the rider from Cervera also had some real speed for his teammate in Argentina until his last lap bad luck. Despite that incident, Marquez is the only man who has been within striking distance of Morbidelli on a final lap so far in 2017.
Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) was a strong performer in Texas on the Suter, a track where he was one o the few to have a great record, and will be looking to try and keep that solid form in Jerez – as will Tech 3 Racing’s Xavi Vierge. Vierge, an impressive and consistent performer on the Mistral 610, is even in the top five in the standings as we head to his home race – and will be looking to keep his incredible roll going in Andalusia.
“Right now I have no idea if I can go to Jerez and win for the fourth time in a row. All I can do is see how things go in the first free practice sessions, because Jerez is a track that everyone knows well from testing and a lot of people are going to be fast there. I’m sure I’m not going to have it all my own way this weekend. Tom Lüthi will be strong again; he has been right behind me in all the races so far this season and I think the same will be true in Jerez. We will work in the same way as we have done all season and then see where we are on Sunday when the lights go out.”
“Jerez is always special for me. It’s the first Spanish race of the season and I like the track a lot. The atmosphere is always incredible, but we can’t afford to be distracted and we need to concentrate fully all weekend in the same way as we have done at the opening three races. This is a circuit where I was fastest in preseason testing and, although racing is always different, it’s also a track at which I’m confident we can try and push for the win if all goes well in practice and qualifying.”
Moto2 World Championship Classification
- Morbidelli 75
- Luthi 56
- Oliveira 43
- Nakagami 32
- Vierge 25
- Marquez 24
- Bladassarri 21
- Marini 20
- Corsi 19
- Aegerter 18
Anyone’s game: Moto3 touch down in Andalusia
After two wins to open the year, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) showed he wasn’t untouchable at COTA, crossing the line in eighth as expected Championship rival Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) took a stunning first win of the year. Now it’s his home race, and the points leader will be looking to fight back fast – but the field seem to be closing in.
Texas had seen compatriot Aron Canet (EG 0,0) dominate the timesheets in almost unbelievable style, before the Spaniard dramatically highsided out of the lead under pressure from Fenati. The EG 0,0 rider will be looking to write a different story on home turf in Jerez, and teammate Enea Bastianini will also be keen to join the charge at the team’s home venue – having shown much improved pace in Texas to come home fourth.
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) is the man looking for much of the same after his form so far in 2017. The only rider on the podium every race and now second in the standings, Martin knows consistency wins trophies – and will have even more motivation in his home nation. The rider just behind him on points, John McPhee (British Talent Team), should also be a force to be reckoned with – debuting well on the Official Test timesheets first time out with his new team at Jerez earlier in the year.
“It’s been a great start to the Championship with two podiums and then cutting the Championship gap in Texas. Now I’m ready to head back to Europe and to Jerez, where we’ve already tested and we have a great base to start from. It’s also a track I like and I think it should be a good one for me and the team. Now my focus is on getting back on the podium, and being as strong as possible throughout every race like we know we can. It’s a long year ahead but I’m excited for the challenge!”
The Italian charge, alongside Fenati and Bastianini, will surely also feature Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46). ‘Diggia’ had a tough start to 2017 with a broken collarbone in preseason, and crashed out in Argentina after an incident for which Bulega was penalised. But back on the podium in Austin, the Gresini rider goes into Jerez with higher confidence and ready to get back to his stunning 2016 form.
Bulega is the man who will be hoping to keep his traction in Jerez, after two tough races and then a top five in Texas – after a rookie and first ever pole at the Spanish GP in 2016, the VR46 academy man was also top in Official Testing at the venue. Good reading for Bulega ahead of lights out.
The Moto3 grid is deep in 2017, and it could be anyone’s game once again. Now back at a track where many have much more experience, the fight is sure to hot up in Andalusia – and Mir is sure to give everything to get back on top.
Moto3 World Championship Classification
- Mir 58
- Martin 52
- McPhee 49
- Fenati 45
- Migno 25
- Di Giannantonio 24
- Oettl 20
- Canet 18
- Guevera 17
- Loi 15