All roads lead south to Jerez this weekend for the opening European round of the MotoGP™ World Championship, the Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain. Hundreds of British fans will join the 200,000 plus weekend crowd in their annual pilgrimage to the legendary 2.748 mile circuit near Cadiz after three superb opening races in Qatar, Argentina and Texas.
Heading the British MotoGP challenge will be Isle of Man based Midlander Cal Crutchlow riding the LCR Honda. The 31-year-old hit great form in the last two rounds with third and fourth places and will be pushing hard for his second podium finish of the season in the 27 lap race. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding made a good start to the year and was fourth in the Championship after the opening two rounds on the Octo Pramac Ducati. He struggled in Austin on the GP16 Ducati to finish 12th but is still only nine points adrift of Andrea Dovizioso in fourth place.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith made his grand prix debut in the 125 cc race at Jerez in 2006 and won his first grand prix there in the 125 cc race three years later. The 26-year-old is working hard with the new Red Bull KTM team to develop the RC 16 machine and picked up a point in Argentina. They have tested at Jerez last year and any points gained would be very welcome.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes had endured a tough start to his MotoGP career on the Gresini Aprilia but he returns to the scene of one his greatest triumphs last year. He qualified on pole and won the Moto2™ race at Jerez. Gearbox problems and a crash have kept him out of the points this year and he looks to a change of fortune on Sunday when the 18 round World Championship reaches Europe.
Twenty-two-year-old Oban-based Scotsman John McPhee has made a brilliant start to the Moto3™season. Two second places and then a solid seventh place in Austin last time out puts the British Talent team Honda rider third in the Championship, just nine points behind Championship leader Joan Mir.
Former Moto3 World Champion and Jerez winner Danny Kent has quit the Kiefer racing Moto2 team
Valentino Rossi races into Jerez leading the MotoGP™ World Championship, after three breath-taking rounds, to start the European season at the Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain on Sunday. The 38-year-old nine times World Champion’s three podium finishes on the Movistar Yamaha has produced a precious six point lead when the Italian returns to the legendary 2.748 mile circuit in Southern Spain. Consistency has been the key for Rossi, who won the race last year, while his great rivals the Spanish duo of team-mate Maverick Vinales and World Champion Marc Marques have both won and crashed. Vinales won the opening two rounds but fell two weeks ago in Austin, while Marquez Marquez crashed out of the lead in Argentina. It promises to be another epic encounter in the 27 lap race on Sunday between the three stand out championship contenders. It’s a particularly big race for Austin winner Marquez who still trails Rossi by 18 points.
Dani Pedrosa, Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate, took his first podium finish of the season with a third place in Austin and has a great record at Jerez with nine podium finishes in ten MotoGP appearances including two wins. Cal Crutchlow has also hit some consistency on the LCR Honda after a difficult first race and will be pushing for his second podium finish of the season. It’s been a tough start to the year for the factory Ducati team but Andrea Dovizioso is still fourth in the championship while former Jerez winner Jorge Lorenzo is slowly getting to grips with the very different Italian machine and finished ninth in Austin.
MotoGP™ rookies and Monster Tech3 Yamaha team-mates Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger have made a sensational start to their step up from Moto2™. Zarco has finishes fifth in the last two races after crashing in Qatar while leading, while Folger has been the model of consistency including a sixth place in Argentina. Riders looking to start their European campaign with a bang after a tough opening three races include the Spanish trio of Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro and Hector Barbara, while Alex Rins is missing after breaking his left wrist in Austin. He will be replaced in the Ecstar Suzuki team by Takuya Tsuda who joins Jerez Moto2™ winner Andrea Iannone.
There is a clear message in the Moto2™ World Championship – who can stop Italian Franco Mordbidelli. The EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider has dominated the opening three races to build up an impressive 19 point lead over the consistent Tom Luthi who’s been on the podium in all three. Portuguese rider Miguel Oliviera has given the new KTM team an impressive debut especially with the second place in Argentina while Takaaki Nakagami’s two third places have pushed him into fourth place just in front of the impressive young Spaniard Xavi Vierge. The one rider who has pushed Mordbidelli in those three races has been his team-mate Alex Marquez who has made mistakes at vital times. Perhaps his time will come on Sunday?
Romano Fenati’s win in Austin has blown the Moto3™ World Championship wide open. Joan Mir had won the opening two rounds in brilliant style but Fenati’s impressive win on the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda and Mir’s eighth place means the young Spaniard’s lead has been slashed to just six points over countryman Jorge Martin who has finished on the podium every time. John McPhee, riding the British Talent Team Honda, slipped to third after a seventh place in Austin, just four points in front of the flying Fenati.
BT SPORT 2
Friday 5 May: 8.00 – 15.00
Saturday 6 May: 8.00 – 15.15
Sunday 7 May: 7.30 – 15.00
Highlights Monday May 8 19.00
talkSport2 will also have live commentary of the race on Sunday