2010 MotoGP Championship – Round Two – Jerez – Preview
After a three-week break in which the Grand Prix of Japan was rescheduled for October 3rd due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Championship resumes at Jerez this weekend with the Gran Premio bwin de España.
It is a circuit which has been a favourite of Valentino Rossi who has most recently won there in 2007 and 2009, finishing second in the year in between. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo’s pace at the track is undoubted – he has secured pole position there in his two MotoGP races to date, but is yet to win in the premier class at Jerez. The pair arrive in Spain first and second respectively in the 2010 standings after the opening round in Qatar.
The Gran Premio bwin de España will provide Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner with the opportunity to get his campaign off to a genuine start after he crashed out on lap six when leading at Losail in round one. The Australian finished third at Jerez last season, and a podium will be the only result he will have his eyes this time around on as he looks to make up the early points deficit on Rossi and Lorenzo.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) got his season off to a thrilling start by beating Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) to the final podium spot in Qatar, and the duo will both be looking to at least consolidate if not better their respective results at Jerez.
Displaying his lightning pace off the starting grid in round one was Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and the Spaniard will want to carry that through to race distance at Jerez where he won in 2008 and finished second last year, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) are still striving to get the most out of their bikes. The veteran Italian won the race in 2006, whilst Edwards finished on the podium in 2007.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3) announced his arrival as a full-time member of the MotoGP grid in style with a fifth-placed finish in Qatar, and the American now heads to a track he does not know. Spies was the highest finisher of the rookies in round one, but Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP), Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will all look to capitalise on their experiences of winning in the 250cc or 125cc classes at Jerez.
Taking the honour of the first ever victory in the Moto2 category in Qatar was Shoya Tomizawa of the Technomag-CIP team, with the youngster riding his race to perfection to secure the first Grand Prix win of his career. The Japanese rider could extend his early lead at the top of the standings even further at Jerez, a track he has raced at just once before. Last season’s placement of 12th in the 250cc class indicates that the 19 year-old knows his way round the circuit well enough to be able to expect to mount a challenge for a strong result.
Alex Debón (Aeroport de Castelló-Ajo) and Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) completed the podium at Losail, and having tasted success will both be feeling confident ahead of round two. Toni Elías (Gresini Racing) took an admirable fourth spot at the opening race despite not being in his best possible physical shape as he still felt the effects of the injuries sustained in a pre-season testing crash at Jerez. Further recovered in time for the return to the circuit, the Spanish rider will be confident in his ability to challenge for the podium.
Those riders who performed well in pre-season but were unable to take points in Qatar will also want to have strong showings at Jerez. Stefan Bradl (Viesmann Kiefer Racing), Alex de Angelis (RSM Team Scot) and Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) all failed to complete the opening lap at Losail, whilst Claudio Corti (Forward Racing), Kenny Noyes (Jack&Jones by Antonio Banderas) and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team) will be determined to score notable results at round two after missing out on the points. Vladimir Leonov (Vector Kiefer Racing) will also be sufficiently recovered from the fractured elbow he suffered in Qatar.
Nico Terol heads the 125cc standings after just one round courtesy of his tactically sound ride at Losail, where he led an all-Spanish podium, and he will try to replicate his result at the Gran Premio bwin de España. Jerez is a track at which the Bancaja Aspar rider has only recently experienced notable success, with a best finish of second in 2008. He will also be brimming with confidence after the third win of his career in Qatar.
Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) has a best result of fourth (2007) at Jerez, and will hope to step up after just missing out on the top-three in Qatar. Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) completed the podium in 2009 at Jerez and got his 2010 campaign off to a strong start with third in Qatar. Both youngsters will be going for victory as they take the battle to Terol.
Others who will fancy their chances of getting some valuable Championship points will be Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing), especially after the first podium of his career in Qatar, Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo) and 2009 World Championship runner-up Bradley Smith. The British rider of the Bancaja Aspar team will be determined to find his race pace and launch his 2010 title ambitions.
Along with the rest of the 125cc World Championship field there will be four wildcard entries taking part in the race, with three Spaniards in Isaac Viñales (Catalunya Racing Team), Juan Perello (SAG Castrol) and Johny Rosell (SAG Castrol) being joined by Dutch rider Michael van der Mark (Team Sachsenring).
The Gran Premio bwin de España takes place from April 30th-May 2nd, with the headline act MotoGP race getting underway at 2200 EST on Sunday evening.
— Yamaha Preview
MotoGP finally resumes action this weekend, after the recent Icelandic Volcano forced the postponement of the Japanese GP. It has been a frustrating time for the paddock as the ash cloud has billowed over Europe and it will be an excited Fiat Yamaha Team that lands in Spain this week, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo itching to get back to action after their brilliant one-two in the opening round.
Rossi has an impressive record at Jerez, with seven wins in all classes there including three for Yamaha in 2005, 2006 and last year, when he overhauled Dani Pedrosa to take his first win of the season. Despite being on a high from his brilliant win in Qatar, Rossi was perhaps more grateful than most for the volcano’s eruptions as he slightly damaged his shoulder muscles in a motocross training accident ten days ago. The cancelled race has given him unexpected extra time to recover and he hopes to be in good enough shape to put up a fight in Jerez.
Lorenzo is now hopefully back to full fitness after breaking his hand in the pre-season and the 22-year-old has a score to settle with the first Spanish track of the year, after he crashed out when challenging for the podium last year. It was at this track where he made history as the youngest ever rider to compete in a Grand Prix and he has won there twice since, on the way to his two 250cc titles in 2006 and 2007.
The Andalucian city of Jerez is a shrine for Spanish motorcycle racing and draws one of the biggest crowds of the year. More than 120,000 fans make the pilgrimage south and pack into the natural amphitheatre to create a three-day carnival. The track itself has few hard braking points and little opportunity to fully open the throttle, but often throws up some spectacular racing. The 4.423 km layout features regular and quick changes in direction, meaning the rider requires a responsive overall set-up and good grip at maximum lean angles.
Valentino Rossi – “Amazing atmosphere and fantastic fans”
“Of course it was a pity not to go to Japan, Yamaha’s home race, but we will go in October now and for me it was quite lucky to have this extra week. I didn’t hurt myself badly in the motocross fall but my shoulder was quite sore so it was good to give it more time to recover. I don’t know yet how much it will affect me this weekend, I hope not too much. The win in Qatar was fantastic but we saw there that we are lacking in some areas compared to our rivals so we have work to do. I love to race at Jerez, the atmosphere is amazing and I have fantastic fans in Spain. Last year I had a great win and I hope we can challenge again this time.”
Jorge Lorenzo – “You can hear the crowd!”
“I was sad not to go to Japan because I love the country and the race and last season I won, so I was looking forward to going back. Anyway, we can’t change it and at least we will still go, in October. Now we go to Jerez, an amazing track where you can actually hear the crowd as you race! At Nieto and Peluquil corners especially you can feel the people, it’s like nowhere else in the World Championship. Last year I crashed when I was trying to pass Stoner and get the podium but until then the weekend had been good, I was fast and took pole position. This year I’m confident that I can finish the race and get as close as possible to the front.”
Davide Brivio – “A good track for Yamaha and Valentino”
“We are going straight to Jerez after a longer rest than we expected. Unfortunately Valentino won’t be in the best shape due to his recent injury sustained while training with a motocross bike. We will have to see to what extent it affects him but we hope he will be okay. Jerez has always been a good track for Yamaha and Valentino likes it very much. It will be an interesting race because several riders will be competitive there and we hope to see another close race like Qatar. It will be nice to be back in Europe and to meet all the European fans again after such a long time.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – “Back to full strength”
“It was a shame not to race in Japan but it seems like the best decision was made; it would have been bad if only half the teams could get there! Jorge was looking forward to racing there but he will get another chance and the good thing is that it’s given him more time to regain full strength in his hand. He showed in Qatar how determined he is, when we weren’t expecting him to be that strong so soon, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do in Jerez at his first home race.”
— Ducati Preview
The second round of the MotoGP World Championship will finally take place on Spanish soil next Sunday, with the Jerez circuit welcoming the paddock to Europe following the postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan until October 3rd due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.
The Andalucian circuit has not traditionally favoured the characteristics of the Desmosedici but a podium for Stoner in 2009 and the hard work carried out on the GP10 this winter by the Ducati Marlboro Team, Filippo Preziosi and his technicians in Borgo Panigale, should allow the Australian and his team-mate Nicky Hayden to look ahead to the weekend with more confidence.
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team
“It is pretty unusual for a GP to be postponed but like last year in Qatar it is the kind of thing we can’t predict or control so we just have to look ahead to Jerez and the job that awaits us there. In the past it hasn’t been one of the more favourable circuits for us but we made some steps forward last year and finished on the podium. We start from zero this time around though and on Friday we’ll be working hard to find a set-up for the race. You need good handling for this track but also good stability and I think the direction we’ve taken with development of the GP10 should allow us to be competitive on Sunday.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Marlboro Team
“We were all ready for a flyaway race and instead we’re going to Jerez for the first GP in Europe, where the paddock is all set up ‘properly’ with the motorhomes, hospitality units and all those fans! The atmosphere at Jerez is always awesome. Nothing really springs to mind about the track itself… there are no huge straights – mainly sections that flow into one another. At this time of year the track can be a little cold in the morning and then it tends to get warm in the afternoon, so we will have to be ready for any kind of condition. Our target is to try to stay at the level we set ourselves in the first race and build on what we did out there. I know I have a good bike and a team that is fully behind me so I can’t wait to get back on track.”
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“We didn’t come home from Qatar with the rewards that we could have done but we certainly gained important knowledge – that the bike is running well, both Casey and Nicky are in good form and that both of them have the possibility to run at the front. I would have preferred to have gone to Japan for round two but force majeure intervened so we just have to prepare for Jerez, which is not an easy circuit for us – we have had some good results there in the past but also some problems. Either way we go there in the right spirit, determined to give Casey and Nicky the means to be competitive again. Qatar was the ‘official debut’ for a lot of us in the team and so far I am happy with the atmosphere and the work being done inside the garage.”
Built in 1986, Jerez hosted its first Grand Prix the following year and has stayed on the World Championship calendar ever since. It is a race that the majority of riders look forward too thanks to the special atmosphere created by the Spanish fans and the characteristics of the circuit layout, which reward good riding. Many of the 13 corners flow into each other, requiring a precise and smooth racing line and a well-balanced machine set-up. Jerez is an ‘old-style’ track, with a lot of second, third and fourth-gear corners that put rider skill to the test. More than outright horsepower, in general this circuit rewards a machine that handles well and is stable under braking.
— HRC Preview
This year’s Spanish Grand Prix was originally scheduled as round three of the 18-race MotoGP World Championship, the traditional curtain raiser for the main European sector of the season. But the chaos wreaked by Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano which shut down much of European airspace last week, forced the cancellation of the second race in Japan, so Jerez has moved up the order to become round two.
Apart from the rescheduling of the Japanese GP to October 3 and the logistics efforts required for the early return of 270 tonnes of MotoGP freight from Japan to Spain, the sport was otherwise unaffected by Eyjafjallajökull. And there is an upside from the postponement of the Japanese race – riders will have less jetlag to contend with at Jerez than if they had raced at Motegi on April 25.
Motorcycle Grand Prix events don’t often get cancelled due to natural causes. The last GP to fall victim to nature was the 1980 Austrian GP which was called off when three feet of snow hit the Salzburgring the night before practice was due to start. Severe weather conditions are certainly not expected at Jerez, where Honda’s six MotoGP riders will be aiming to build on what they learned at the opening race at Losail, Qatar, on April 11.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) was Honda’s star performer under the Losail floodlights, winning a thrilling battle for the final place on the podium with Nicky Hayden (Ducati). Dovizioso fully understood the significance of that fighting third-place finish. It suggests the Italian is destined for great things this season and he is 100 per cent focused on keeping the momentum going at Jerez and beyond.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) had a more difficult start to his 2010 campaign and will be aiming to bounce back from his seventh-place result at Losail. The Spaniard – who led the early stages of the Qatar GP – will be using the two days of practice and qualifying at Jerez to hone his machine setup to improve race-long stability. Pedrosa has a great record at Jerez scored two GP victories at Jerez – he won the 250 GP in 2005 and the MotoGP race in 2008.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) will be looking to go one better than he did at Jerez last year, when he finished just one place off the podium. And the Frenchman has every reason to believe he can challenge for a front-running result after an impressive start to the season at Losail where he qualified a superb fourth quickest and finished in sixth place, just seven seconds off the podium.
MotoGP rookie Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) was initially disappointed when he heard that the Japanese GP had been postponed. Obviously the reigning 250 World Champion was keen to ride a MotoGP bike in front of his home fans for the first time, but on reflection he realised that the race postponement should work in his favour, because when he returns to Motegi in October he will have much more experience of a MotoGP bike. Aoyama impressed in Qatar, qualifying and finishing in tenth place, just behind the hugely experienced Loris Capirossi (Suzuki), who was riding in his 189th premier-class Grand Prix!
Fausto Gresini’s riders Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) are in positive mood following a challenging weekend in Qatar. Melandri is looking forward to trying some revised chassis parts designed to improve front-end feeling, which he lacked at Losail, while Simoncelli is certain he can continue the progress he made at the Qatar GP. Despite the Motegi postponement, Simoncelli travelled to Japan after Qatar to undertake wind tunnel testing with HRC.
Jerez also welcomes the Moto2 World Championship, MotoGP’s all-new intermediate class powered by Honda. The historic first race of the new series at Qatar was full of surprises, with Japanese teenager Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) winning an enthralling encounter from Alex Debon (Aeroport de Castello, FTR) and Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing, Suter).
The concept of Moto2 is to allow up-and-coming riders to compete in GP racing’s intermediate category without the requirement for a multi-million euro budget. Qatar certainly proved the efficacy of the new regulations – Tomizawa proved his huge talent by beating a grid full of riders using identical Honda engines and Dunlop tyres, not by having the richest team behind him.
Many Moto2 riders and teams tested at Jerez during the off-season, so round two of the series may well turn out a different result to the first race.
Series leader Tomizawa expects a fascinating weekend right from the start of practice on Friday. The 19-year-old from Chiba was on the pace during the final preseason tests at Jerez during March, so he should be able to run up front during the Spanish GP weekend. The former
125 and 250 All-Japan race winner insists he feels no pressure to stay at the top of the points table – his main aim this year is to be consistent, with good finishes at every GP.
Suggesting that Moto2 should continue to serve up thrillingly close racing, the fastest 16 riders at the Jerez test were separated by just one second, with Tomizawa only six tenths off the fastest man, but in 13th place! Claudio Corti (Forward Racing, Suter) was fastest during the tests at 1m 44.044s, three hundredths faster than Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki), who this coming weekend should be much stronger than he was in Qatar, where he suffered with a preseason injury. As well as confirming the competiveness of the new class, the Jerez testing times also prove its ability to serve up surprises. While Tomizawa was 13th quickest, fellow Qatar podium men Debon and Cluzel were 15th and eighth!
Qatar runner-up Debon, who broke a collarbone only weeks before the first race, is determined to do well at his home GP. And he has high hopes because he loves the Jerez track – he started last year’s Jerez 250 GP from pole position. Third-place finisher Cluzel is also convinced he can carry on from where he left off in the desert, having felt comfortably fast during the Jerez tests.
Constructed in 1986, Jerez hosted its first Grand Prix the following year and has remained on the World Championship calendar ever since. Through the 1990s the event grew to become the most popular GP of all.
Riders love the Andalucian venue because it’s a track that rewards rider talent over machine performance. Many of the circuit’s 13 corners flow into one another, placing the emphasis on smooth, neat riding and stable, all-round machine performance. Excellent machine balance is vital to allow riders to maintain high corner speed through the many long turns, the real secret to a quick Jerez lap. The track’s fastest corners – the Crivillé and Ferrari right-handers – lead into the slowest – the final hairpin, scene of many a thrilling last-lap duel.
Honda riders have won 16 of the 22 MotoGP races staged at the track on a variety of machinery, from the NSR500 500cc two-stroke to the RC211V 990cc four-stroke to the RC212V 800cc four-stroke.
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso said: “We were feeling very motivated for the race in Japan and we will definitely carry forward that determination for Jerez. To be honest the racetrack is not one of my favourites and it’s quite slow – but the crowd and the atmosphere are incredible because there are always so many spectators packed into the grandstands and the hillsides. In the past I’ve never had really good results at this track but now we are arriving in Jerez after an important result in Qatar and I’m looking forward to this race and to continuing in the positive direction we have been moving in recently. My target is that we maintain the momentum we have, and build on it over the next few races. I’m also looking forward to the test on Monday after the race. This year there are not so many opportunities to test, so Monday will be important and we’ll work hard to make the most of it.”
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa said: “Jerez is always a very special race for the Spanish riders and I’m really looking forward to this weekend.
We didn’t have the best start to the season in Qatar, and in Japan we couldn’t race due to the problems caused by the volcano, but I hope in Jerez, with the atmosphere, which is always fantastic, and the characteristics of the circuit, the situation can be different. I’m determined that we make improvements from the first practice onwards – unlike Qatar where we struggled a lot throughout the weekend – and that we’ll be able to go fast right from the start. I would really like to feel more comfortable with the bike and get a good result here. Our rivals are very strong and I’m sure they want to make the most of their advantage, so we have to work very hard to get to their level and be able to fight with them from the beginning to the end of the race. In Jerez we will try some changes to the chassis so that the bike is not so nervous and I’m hopeful that they can work”.
LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet said: “After the postponement of the Motegi GP I have increased my training programme to be at 100 per cent for Jerez race. After the good result we have obtained in Qatar our target remains the same: a top-ten finish. Last year’s Jerez GP was one of the best moments of my season as I finished fourth. I aim to be in the front this year again. The base setup we have developed during winter testing was very helpful in the first round and I think it will be the same in Spain. We will start from the same setup and, session by session, we will adjust the bike.”
Interwetten Honda MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama
said: “As I had no chance to compete at my home Grand Prix last week, the more I look forward to the race at Jerez. After the Japanese GP was postponed I had a lot of time in Japan to relax with my family and to recover some new energy. The Grand Prix at Jerez is only my second race in the MotoGP class, but in 250cc I always liked this track and I won the race here last year. I know I still have to learn a lot in MotoGP, but I hope and expect that we will have a good race here.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli
said: “Honestly, I was a little disappointed about the postponement of the Motegi round because I was keen to go racing again but to have an extra week to prepare for Jerez is also good. I actually went to Japan anyway because we had some wind tunnel tests that had been planned for a while. It was quite a ‘compact’ trip in the end because I was there and back in just three days but it was still very worthwhile. We were able to test a few modifications that should allow us to make some aerodynamic improvements for straight-line speed. It won’t make a dramatic difference but like everything it is a case of taking a small but useful step forward. I also had the opportunity to experience firsthand the strong desire on behalf of everybody at Honda to work hard and succeed. There is a lot of positivity about everything they do and I am sure that in time we will be able to achieve good results together. Jerez is a circuit I like, where I won my first race and where I have always been able to go fast, so I hope that remains the case this year. We go to Jerez with the target of improving on our performance in Qatar.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri
said: “Having done as badly as it was possible to do in Qatar we’re hoping for a positive reaction at Jerez. The postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan was definitely a good thing for us because it has given us more time to reflect and make important technical preparations. Over the past two weeks the team have been working hard alongside Honda and there will be some new things for me at Jerez that should help me find a better feeling with the front. In Qatar I was struggling to control the bike under braking and in corner entry, and when that happens it ruins everything else. If we can find a feeling for the front then we’ll have a base from which to work on the rest of the bike. Obviously we have to confirm everything when we get out on the track but I’m confident and to have the chance to work on everything in good conditions at a circuit I like is important. I had my best race of the season at Jerez in the dry last year. It is a track where you need to have a good feeling with the bike to ride well because you switch from fast corners to really slow ones so you need good feedback from the front to commit to them, especially the fast ones. My best memory of Jerez is my podium there in 2005, a season that was really important for my MotoGP career.”
— Suzuki Preview
Alvaro Bautista will make his home country MotoGP debut for the Rizla Suzuki team at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.
Bautista hails from Talavera de la Reina, near Madrid, which is over 500km/s away from the Andalucian circuit, but he will certainly be guaranteed plenty of home support from the huge partisan crowd. Bautista has a good record at the 4,423m Jerez circuit, with a victory in the 125cc class in 2006, as well as two second places and a pole position in the 250cc series in the last three seasons.
Loris Capirossi is eager to get racing again following the unfortunate postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend. The Italian is keen to add to his 300 Grand Prix starts as he goes in search of yet another milestone to add to his already impressive racing CV – that of 100 Grand Prix podiums.
The Jerez circuit is situated on the south coast of Spain in the Andalucian region. It is one of the most intense races of the season with over 250,000 people expected to turn up over the weekend, creating one of the most amazing atmospheres experienced at a Grand Prix track.
Rizla Suzuki takes to the track on Friday afternoon for a one hour practice session, followed by a further hour of free practice on Saturday morning. Qualifying for the 27-lap race takes place on Saturday afternoon, with the main event getting underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 2nd May.
“I am still disappointed from Qatar, it was not the best way to start in MotoGP, but this is another race and I must learn from what happened last time. I like the Jerez circuit and got on the podium there last year so that is a good sign. It will be a big weekend for me because it will be the first time I have raced in Spain for Suzuki, so I hope to put on a good show for all the Spanish fans.”
“It was unfortunate that we didn’t go to Motegi, it is one of my best tracks and I was really looking forward to the race. We made a lot of steps through the winter and during the first race of 2010 in Qatar and although the result was not what we wanted we are still in a good position for this time of the year, so it would have been nice to see how well we could have gone in Japan. I can’t wait to get to Jerez to start working again; we have gone quite well there in the last couple of years so hopefully things will be good. I have used the free weekend well and I have made sure I have kept fit, rather than rest and sit on the beach, so I am ready for the weekend ahead!”
— Bridgestone Preview
The Spanish Grand Prix, held at the immensely popular Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Andalucia, marks the first European MotoGP race of the season and after a thrilling opener in Qatar three weeks ago, anticipation is high.
This year the Spanish race has become the second round of the season after the postponement of last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Bridgestone’s home event. There have been no changes to the circuit since last year and the Bridgestone slick tyres chosen in 2009 worked well so they remain the same this year: medium and hard compound fronts, and soft and medium rears. The only difference is that the rubber compound of the rear slicks has been improved since last season to offer a wider temperature operating range. The medium rear slick tyre was used in Qatar, but with Motegi being rescheduled this is the first time that the new soft rear slick will have been used in competition.
Jerez has eight right-hand corners and five lefts but has a balanced nature that uses each shoulder of the tyres equally. The track temperature can be expected to be higher than that seen in Qatar, as last year it reached 45 degrees Celsius during the race. This makes warm-up performance less of a concern as the tyres will naturally warm faster but it does test the overall temperature operating range as the tyres can reach a higher peak temperature. This is the area in which the improved soft and medium rear slick compounds will be most beneficial.
Last year the Spanish Grand Prix delivered the third different winner from the first three races of the 2009 season. Valentino Rossi won his first of the year followed by 2008 winner Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner in third. On his way to victory, Rossi set a new lap record and a new total race time record, demonstrating the sustained pace he was able to achieve using hard compound front and medium compound rear Bridgestone slicks.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“It is strange going straight to Europe after the Qatar Grand Prix, and for us it is a shame that our home race in Japan was postponed. We had prepared various events for riders and fans alike during the weekend so it is a shame. I have never heard of a GP being cancelled so close to its scheduled date, but of course we understand the situation and fully support the decisions and swift action taken by Dorna, IRTA and the FIM.
“It is always exciting to start the European season, and I hope that after the thrilling race in Qatar we will see more exciting competition in Jerez. The Spanish Grand Prix is always popular with many fans coming from all over Europe, and it is also a valuable event for us as the Spanish market is important to Bridgestone’s European activities. I hope that we will have no delays to our travel schedule from Japan and that we will see a good race!”
Tohru Ubukata – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“Jerez is a good test circuit because of the diversity of the corner layout and this means that we require a tyre with a very balanced character to provide good handling from low speed to high speed and from flat corners through changes in elevation. The layout doesn’t generate particularly high loads for the tyre’s centre section, and the left and right shoulders are used equally so asymmetric rear slicks are not required here. The circuit is fairly abrasive and the track temperature during the race weekend is historically high which adds to the challenge of durability and wear but Jerez is not the most severe from a tyre point of view.
“This year we will supply rear slick tyres that each feature an updated compound with a wider temperature operating range, providing better warm up performance in cold conditions and better consistency in hot conditions. The riders gave positive feedback when the improved medium compound was used in Qatar so hopefully the wider operating range is better for riders and we will see another exciting race in Jerez.”
— Red Bull Rookies Cup Preview
The 10 race Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup kicks off its 2010 season in Jerez this weekend as part of the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez. With practice on Friday and a race both on Saturday May 1st and on Sunday May 2nd it is a crucial double header for all 25 of the sport’s fastest racing teenagers.
It is certainly a baptism of fire for those who are first timers as with more than 100,000 spectators packing the Jerez grandstands the atmosphere created is that of a soccer cup final. It is a huge leap for those first time Rookies who previously may have been watched mainly by family and friends.
The pressure of the situation gives the advantage to the ‘old hands’ like Daniel Ruiz who has just turned 18. As the senior Rookie in his 3rd season he is determined to claim his first race win. From Pamplona in north eastern Spain Ruiz was a very good performer last season and crossed the line 2nd in the British round in Donington in 2009 but just could not claim the top podium step or the consistency that would see him a threat for the Cup overall.
Ruiz will doubtless make the best of this season, he is intelligent enough to have learnt well from the last two years and was thrilled to find himself truly comfortable in the wet at the pre-season Valencia test, something that has been a problem in the past. Overall he was 3rd fastest at the end of the 3 days.
Fastest man in Valencia was Japanese 15 year old Daijiro Hiura. He goes into his 3rd Rookie season as one of the strong favourites, he was 3rd in the Cup last year thanks to finishing on the podium in half of the 8 races but he failed to match the win he recorded in Portugal back in 2008. To take this year’s Cup he will need to regain that winning secret and avoid the first race crash he suffered in Jerez last year after setting off from pole.
Second fastest at the test and the winner of race 2 at Jerez last year was Danny Kent. The 16 year old Briton was 4th in last year’s Cup and another very strong favourite for success this season. He knows that to take the Cup he will need more than that single race victory and having shown the ability to score pole times in practice last year will now have to convert them into wins.
Hiura, Kent and Ruiz are the experienced trio that headed the Valencia test and must be favourites for Jerez success but there is another name that should be put with them and that is Jake Gagne. The 16 year old Californian crashed on day one of the test, not a dramatic accident but when his ankle got caught between the swing arm and rear wheel it got wrenched so badly that the swelling prevented any further riding for the week.
With nothing broken he will be fit enough for Jerez and in a great position to step up from the string of podium finishes he scored in the 2nd half of last season; gaining him 6th in the 2009 Cup. His learning curve through ’09 was certainly impressive and a direct continuation of his 2008 progress in the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup. There he went from motocrosser and complete road race novice to race winner in a single season.
So Gagne makes it 4 obvious favourites to watch out for. There are another 21 Rookies that are determined to upset that form book. The best of those at the Valencia test was 4th placed Brad Binder. The 14 year old South African goes into his 2nd Rookies season fired up; not least because he has grown enough to be racing without the weight ballast that he so hated last year.
Fellow countryman, 17 year old Mathew Scholtz is starting his 3rd Rookies year and after winning a race in his debut season was a little frustrated with 2009. Two 2nd places were his best results and he just could not turn his very obvious speed into consistent results. Last year’s opening race in Jerez saw the Springbok charge away from the start at a pace that made it look as though he was in a race of his own. An off track excursion put him back in the pack, he ended the weekend with a 2nd and a 7th, a variation that became the theme of his year.
Scholtz was not thrilled to be only 8th fastest at the Valencia test and should in no way be counted out for this year’s Cup. Less than a tenth faster at the test was 1st year Rookie Alan Techer. The 15 year old Frenchman could well get amongst the established Rookies right from the start this year even though he has never raced at Jerez before.
Techer is unfazed by the situation but will have to contend with the likes of 14 year old Spaniard Xavier Figueras and 16 year old Briton Harry Stafford who were 5th and 6th fastest in Valencia, Xavier heads into his 2nd Rookies season and Harry his 3rd.
|MotoGP Round 1 – Qatar
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha
- Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha +1.022
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda +1.865
- Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Marlboro Team Ducati +1.876
- Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +3.903
- Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +9.322
- Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda +16.508
- Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +19.867
- Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki +20.893
- Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP Honda +21.100
- Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +31.638
- Hector BARBERA SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati +32.573
- Marco MELANDRI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +40.780
Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 1 Lap
Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 15 Laps
Casey STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team Ducati 17 Laps
Mika KALLIO FIN Pramac Racing Team Ducati 20 Laps
- Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 25
- Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 20
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO Honda ITA 16
- Nicky HAYDEN Ducati USA 13
- Ben SPIES Yamaha USA 11
- Randy DE PUNIET Honda FRA 10
- Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 9
- Colin EDWARDS Yamaha USA 8
- Loris CAPIROSSI Suzuki ITA 7
- Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda JPN 6
- Marco SIMONCELLI Honda ITA 5
- Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 4
- Marco MELANDRI Honda ITA 3