MotoGP is finally returning to action this weekend for the second round of season at Jerez de la Frontera (contract now renewed for 2013) and all eyes will be on reigning World Champion Casey Stoner to see if his arm pump problem that made him fade to third in Qatar has been solved and if he can finally win at the Spanish circuit which is his bete noir. Jorge Lorenzo has won at Jerez for the last two season and he’ll be looking for the hat trick after in win at Losail.
Valentino Rossi will try to show MotoGP fans that he’s put all his Qatar frustrations behind him and see if his 200th MotoGP start will give him a little more satisfaction. Dani Pedrosa will also be reaching a personal milestone this weekend, his 100th premier start, while fellow Spaniard, 27-year old Alvaro Bautista will getting his 150th GP start.
Nicky Hayden will see if he can better his 6th place performance after his two-day private test in Mugello that was curtailed due to rain storms. The Ducati rider also spent time in Italy for some promo events and he even cycled to Tavullia to take a look at his team mate’s new Moto Ranch. Ben Spies also spent time in Italy recharging his batteries after a disappointing opening round and he too spent time cycling in the same region, stopping off at Coriano to pay his respects to the late Marco Simoncelli and taking part in the 154 km Gran Fondo bicycle race in San Marino.
During pre-season MotoGP/CRT tests last February at Jerez, the CRT bikes were much closer to the prototypes due to the track configuration so we can expect to see these CRT riders a little closer in lap times. Colin Edwards BMW-Suter machine got a electronics tweek last week, with Moto2 rider Alex de Angelis carrying out the development work and Avintia Racing’s Ivan Silva will be debuting the new Inmotec chassis on his Kawasaki production based bike.
Some rider quotes :
“I’m very excited to be coming back to Jerez again. We were very strong here in our test and I have always had good results. The competition will be tough; I expect Casey and especially Dani to be very fast. Qatar was a perfect start to our season; we worked very hard for that incredible victory. Now we get to race in front of our home fans, I will try to make sure we make a good show for them! Let’s hope it doesn’t rain this year!”
“The pre-season test at Jerez was positive for us, we had good feelings on the bike and finished happy, so I’m really looking forward to going there for the Grand Prix this weekend. We need to be very focused and have a good qualifying session in order to start the race in a good position. I love the Jerez circuit and the passionate support of the Spanish fans, I hope the grandstands are full again as it adds to the unique atmosphere there. We had a great race in Qatar and to start the season on the podium is important, but we cannot relax, we will be aiming for another strong race this weekend”.
“After a difficult race in Qatar, I’m looking forward to Jerez.We had a very good pre-season test there, it’s a track that hasn’t been so good for me in the past so the fact we were able to hold a good pace there in testing has given us a lot of confidence. We still have some issues that we really need to resolve with the bike especially the chattering in the entrance and exit of the corner, when we solve these we believe we will have a very competitive package. Since Qatar I’ve been working on the arm pump issue I experienced in the race and it’s definitely feeling better, we’ve treated it the same way as when I had it in 2010 at Silverstone so I’m hoping it won’t be a problem for us this weekend.”
“I really enjoy the Jerez GP. In some ways it’s like the first race all over again, because it’s a little bit different than Qatar. We’re back in Europe, with our trucks and all the crowds. It’s also a special track. It’s really tough, with very few straightaways, so you have to ‘connect the dots’ and do some hard braking. If you want to do a good lap time, it’s important to be fast in those last two right-handers. I’m looking forward to it. We tested there last month, but since then we have a race under our belt and a bit more data to consider. We know the general setup of the bike now. Last year the weather definitely mixed things up a bit, so we’ll see what it does this time.”
“It was a tough weekend for us in Qatar because I struggled to find the confidence with the bike that I had enjoyed during preseason testing. We tried a lot of things without ever establishing a good feeling and I had to work very hard in the race to get 100% out of what we had. It was important for us to finish the race and to finish it in seventh was a positive way to finish a difficult weekend. During this short break I have been training hard every day and enjoying some time relaxing with my family, without ever taking my mind off the job. We have some extra PR work to do this weekend but I always look forward to Jerez because it is a very special race to me. I missed out last year through injury but we gathered some good data during preseason that should help us have a good race on Sunday. Our objective is to run with the guys at the front, which would be great because it is always such a pleasure to race at Jerez in front of the fans.”
“I’ve always liked the Jerez track a lot, and we certainly must try to do better than in Qatar. By the end of the three-day test in March, we had found a decent setup for the GP12, so we have a base to start from for this track as we prepare the bike for the race. It will be very important to work well during the Friday and Saturday practice sessions, focusing particularly on maintaining a good direction and on taking advantage of what we currently have to work with.”
“I’m feeling good, I haven’t had great results at Jerez yet but we had a really positive test there so I’m confident. The Yamaha M1 is working well at all circuits we’ve been to so far. After a tough start at Qatar my goal at Jerez is starting the season again, I’m going to do the best I can to deliver. We had a good Qatar weekend except for the race, we know our pace is strong, the bike is competitive and I’m riding well so we should have a successful weekend.”
“It was exciting for me to make my MotoGP debut in Qatar, racing alongside so many great champions. Unfortunately it wasn’t an easy debut from a technical point of view because our bike still has some teething problems, which is to be expected, so I wasn’t able to find my limit despite a lot of hard work from the team. They are putting in a huge effort and I hope that is rewarded in a positive fashion in Jerez.”
“It was a tough weekend mentally in Qatar as I didn’t gel with the bike as much as I was hoping until the race and I made two big mistakes which cost us 10 seconds in total. Without those mistakes the result would have been far more promising so I have taken the positives out of it and will work really hard again at Jerez to try to carry on with the improvements we made in Qatar. I made the trip to Jerez a little early so I could get out on my bicycle in the Spanish hills around Madrid and also catch up with my wife’s Spanish side of the family. It’s been really good to see them and also great to get out on my bike without being soaked to the bone.”