ROUND 4: SPAIN (Jerez)
It was finally time for the MotoGP circus to comeback to Europe and back to Spain at Jerez de la Frontera. It feels like a whole new start of the season each year once the paddock is back in Europe. Jerez is the first stop of 4 grand prix which usually end up being absolutely crucial for the whole championship. On this point, the spanish GP delivered as the first real game changer in the title fight happened just a few laps before the checkered flag.
1. The Marquez Machine is ON
There’s no denying that reigning World Champion Marc Marquez is a brilliant rider but lately he just proves to be more and more astonishing than last years.
Jerez was an important venue for the spaniard as it was not always easy for him there in the past, and neither was it for the Hondas judging by Lorenzo’s incredible records on the spanish tarmac.
Beaten during FP’s and by Crutchlow for the pole position, Marquez’ race on sunday was a masterclass and exceptionally well calculated win giving him the championship lead and the first opportunity to create a gap on his title rivals.
Even though Le Mans should be open for a win from any of the Yamahas, the Honda being so dominant at Jerez (Crutchlow’s pole, Marquez and Pedrosa’s race pace) is well enough of a reason for people at Honda to be happy as it means the bike should beautifully work at most tracks for the rest of the season. That’s a prospect that should be a reason of worries for every other team boss in the paddock.
2. Iannone’s revival and Zarco’s title fight
Another race weekend and another podium for Andrea Iannone who seems to be resurected from his own ashes. Having his seat being linked to other riders might have helped a little but it also proves the Suzuki bike is definately on the good path to become a winning machine. The question that remains at Suzuki though is: in which rider’s hands ? Even with Iannone’s last two podium finishes, talks about Lorenzo taking on the Suzuki challenge keeps on going especially now that Monster and/or Movistar seems interested in sponsoring the team, was it to be with Lorenzo instead of Iannone.
It was a huge weekend for Johann Zarco has the announcement of his future move to KTM was finally made official. There, the frenchman will team up with Pol Espargaro aboard a factory team that, he hopes, will turn all around him. It’s a huge challenge that’s waiting for Zarco as KTM’s results proves that a whole lot of work has to be done before the bike would challenge for podium finishes and even more for a win against Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and possibly Suzuki. If he was to succeed though, Johann Zarco would, for sure, write his name in history.
3. Yamaha: still far from where it should be
If things are looking well for the non-Yamaha factory rider Johann Zarco, it’s a complete different story for Vinales and Rossi. Last time out, Vinales looked amazing on the bike and was clearly having fun on it which was not the case at all at Jerez. And neither was it for Valentino Rossi. In fact the italian’s frustration was so clear that he found himself being very vocal against Yamaha during the post-race media debrief. Rossi talking about a lack of support and reactivity from the japanese brand sounds a lot like what he did back in his Ducati days. Was it really frustration or something else ? Perhaps what the italian hope is that the M1 problems won’t go un-noticed after Le Mans, a track that suits them and where they have very good chances of winning.
4. Blame on You, Blame on Me, Blame on Him
What can we say about the Pedrosa/Lorenzo/Dovizioso incident ? Well just that: it was a racing incident.
You could blame Dovizioso for making the first move that led to the crash but, even though it seemed a little bit forced as Lorenzo was not letting any open door for his teammate to pass, isn’t the whole point of racing just to try and pass the rider in front of you ?
You could blame Lorenzo for repassing Dovizioso and colliding into Pedrosa but again, there’s no racing if you never try to save your position against the other guys on track. His defensive move though led him to be in the middle of a 3 riders line up. There was simply no way the spaniard was getting out of this corner without crashing into either Pedrosa ou Dovizioso as they were all aiming for the very same racing line and corner exit from various positions on the track.
You could blame Pedrosa for passing both Ducati at once instead of being more careful but again what else was he supposed to do ? Wait for both Lorenzo and Dovizioso to get their sh$t together and pass them one at a time ? Rubbish…
The truth, at least to me, is that the crash was a very rare but yet perfect example of a multiple riders racing incident. None is really at fault, none is really all clean.
5. Honorable mentions
Cal Crutchlow’s might always complain about not being on a factory honda yet he still know how to make his LCR bike work as proven by his pole position at Jerez.
Dani Pedrosa might have not being able to finish the race, yet it still was very impressive to see him fight for a podium just 4 weeks after his hand injury.
There was still some positive for Andrea Dovizioso as he was able to fight for the 2nd place when, on friday, he was struggling to even get into the top 10. His post race interviews though, acusing Lorenzo of “blocking him” and not letting him pass… Nope, Dovi, just NO. Racing was never about “letting another rider get past you so that he doesn’t need to make a move on you”.
As Jorge Lorenzo’s future is still totally uncertain, it was a delight to see him on such a great form again. From race winner’s own words, it was like “old Lorenzo”. Could this race help Jorge’s will to stay at Ducati ?