Round 4 Spanish MotoGP Jerez –Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto
Some unfamiliar faces hit Q1 but a return to form and some fast laps saw Vinales and Dovi go through to Q2. Tito Rabat was putting in some great laps but a crash during the final run saw him unable to keep his second place spot and progress to Q2.
Q2 was, like Q1 done under some beautiful clear conditions with riders pumping out some fast laps. Cal Crutchlow put in a few amazing ones breaking the circuit record not once but twice to take pole. Dani Pedrosa despite still feeling pain from his wrist injury sustained from a high side in Argentina after being pushed out by Zarco was able to take second place on the grid. Zarco will take the final spot on the front row.
With the dawning of race day the weather in Jerez was again putting on a great sunshine show with track temperatures around 24 degrees which would have delighted the 120,000 spectators who came out to watch the action.
Jerez marks the third track of the season that has had track work. Jerez underwent a resurfacing. Luckily, tyre company Michelin has been able to gain data from testing of the track during the preseason enabling them to provide the most appropriate compounds for the weekend. Michelin has available for the weekend soft, medium and hard Power Slicks for the front and rear. The front will be symmetrical but the rear will be asymmetrical with the right hand side being harder to assist with the hammering they get from the right hand corners that dominate the Jerez track. Wet weather tyres will also be available with the same properties as the slicks should the conditions call for it.
As the lights went out on the 25 lap race it was Lorenzo from fourth on the grid who took holeshot with Pedrosa second., followed by Zarco, Cal and Marquez. As they headed over the line after the first lap it was pretty messy with riders really bunched up and narrowly missing touching each other through the corners.
As they headed into the second lap Lorenzo managed to hold the lead with Pedrosa still in second. Heading into lap three Marquez put in the fastest lap and was able to pass Zarco to ride in third. Pedrosa had a look at Lorenzo and briefly came up alongside him but Lorenzo hung on. At turn 11 Marquez made a bold move on Pedrosa managing to take second from his Repsol Honda teammate. As lap four came to an end Crutchlow was able to pass Zarco to ride in fourth as he set his sights on the leading three of Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa. Zarco then ran wide and found himself down in seventh with Rins and Dovi capitalising on his mistake.
At turn 11 on the sixth lap Rins went in a bit too hot and crashed, tumbling in the gravel trap ending his race.
As the riders headed into the eighth lap Crutchlow crashed through turn 1. He later re-joined the race but was riding toward the back of the pack. Meanwhile Lorenzo appeared to be struggling with his back end sliding out. Moments later Marquez passed him to lead the race, with Pedrosa now right on Lorenzo’s back wheels.
With 16 laps to go Dovi picked up the pace passing Pedrosa to ride in third. Pedrosa however, was fighting hard to take it back but Dovi was able to hang in there.
A lap later Karel Abraham aboard his Angel Nieto Team Ducati crashed out of the race. The Yamaha riders Rossi and Vinales were in eighth and twelfth respectively at this time in the race with Rossi in particular looking to progress.
As lap 13 rolled around we heard again as we did in the in both the Moto2 and Moto3 race the cheers from the crowd as they honoured Angel Nieto and his famous 12 + 1 Championship titles.
Tom Luthi crashed during lap 13, it was a fast crash with the rider low siding off the track into the gravel causing a lot of the gravel to head onto the track. As Marquez rolled around in the next lap he hit the gravel and his rear was sliding out but in classic Marquez style he never skipped a beat and was able to stay on and maintain his lead. In his post-race interview he made mention of his near escape saying that “the track was full dirty with stones” …. But he managed to stay aboard “in Marquez style”.
With 11 laps to go Marquez had pulled a gap of about 1.3 seconds while Dovi still tried without success to pass his teammate Lorenzo. His eagerness to pass him allowed Pedrosa to briefly move passed him into third before returning to their previous positions. The final 10 laps looked to hot up as the three riders chasing the lead Lorenzo, Dovi and Pedrosa were so tight on each other anything was possible. Marquez however, looked to be pulling further away putting in the fastest lap in the 17th lap of the race.
Further down the pack the battle for sixth was on as Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone, Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller battled fiercely.
With 8 laps to go Dovi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa all went down and as the race continued Pedrosa’s bike laid on the track. The drama unfolded at turn 6 as Dovi passed Lorenzo then the two ran a bit wide opening a gap for Pedrosa to get through. He held the line and Lorenzo came back toward Pedrosa causing him to have a massive high side with Lorenzo and Dovi also going down. It was an awful highside for Pedrosa and he went so high in the air before landing heavily. Not what he needed after already nursing an injury. Thankfully on his way back to the pits he waved to the crowd giving a preliminary sign that he was unhurt. However on watching the replay Dani appeared to limp off the track.
This left Marquez in the lead with Zarco now in second after previously riding in a lonely fifth and Petrucci currently holding third.
The race for third was now all on with Petrucci, Iannone, Miller and Rossi all in contention.
It appeared that Marquez and Zarco were set to take the top positions on the podium if disaster didn’t befall them. And it was now a four man race for third.
Marquez crossed the line to take the win at Jerez over 5 secs ahead of Zarco who easily took second and it was Andrea Iannone who ultimately won the battle for third to take the final spot on the podium. Marquez gave the fans an extra thrill celebrating his victory with the SwishSwish move of Katy Perry’s.
Petrucci crossed in fourth with Rossi getting the better of Miller to finish in fifth. Miller took sixth with Maverick Vinales seventh, Alvaro Bautista eighth, rookie Franco Morbidelli ninth and Red Bull KTM factory racing rider Mika Kallio rounding out the top ten.
At the closing of the race we got some extra entertainment as the Michelin man made an appearance to mark Michelin’s 400th victory with the podium winners receiving a hat and a hug from the Michelin man.
Today’s race also marks another achievement for Valentino Rossi. He has during competition riding covered 40,075km which is the circumference of the planet at the Equator. That is a lot of riding for one man and I bet he has enjoyed it more than any other.
1st : Marc Marquez
“I’m happy to have taken my first win at Angel Nieto’s Circuit in front of these amazing fans, and to have an advantage in the Championship. We’ll have a test here tomorrow, and we’ll try to continue the good work. It will be a long season and we must keep our focus high”
2nd : Johann Zarco
“The start was quite ok, Lorenzo made an amazing start. I couldn’t overtake Dani; I was feeling good behind him but not good enough to overtake him. Marc overtook me, then overtook him (Pedrosa) pretty much immediately, and this is an advantage I did not have. So, it wasn’t easy, I lost some positions, did some mistakes, I was struggling a bit, but then having the 5th position and trying to catch the first group, I saw and believed it was possible. I tried to find the pace to catch them, but I got this chance and I’m happy that all this weekend I was quite competitive.”
3rd: Andrea Iannone
“I think today we were lucky for sure, but throughout the weekend I think we’ve shown really good potential. We were lucky, and it was unfortunate for Dani, Dovi and Jorge, but for sure I’m happy about this result and the second podium in a row for me with Suzuki. It’s a good moment for us.”
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