MotoGP Jerez 2013 Preview

The Spaniards Return Home for Round Three


MotoGP correspondent Bruce Allen previews the third round of the 2013 season at the Jerez Circuit in Spain. Check back on Sunday for the full report of the Gran Premio bwin de España.

When it comes to grand prix motorcycle racing, Spain and her favorite sons own the sport. All but one of the top three riders in each of the three classes – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 – are Spanish. (The exception, Brit Scott Redding, who leads the Moto2 contingent, should actually be struggling for Tech 3 Yamaha this year, having been curiously passed over last season in favor of countryman Bradley Smith.) With the first of four Spanish rounds on tap this weekend, the fastest riders on Earth are hungry for some home cooking.

Repsol Honda rookie Marc Marquez turned the moto racing world on its ear in Austin with his first premier class win, barely breaking a sweat in the process. Defending world champion and Yamaha mogul Jorge Lorenzo sits tied with the Catalan cherub in this year’s championship battle, which must come as a bit of a downer after his dominating performance in the season opener in Qatar.

Marc Marquez

Pre-season favorite Dani Pedrosa, expected to be the alpha male in the Repsol garage this year, can’t be happy fighting with Valentino Rossi over third place. Rossi, on the other hand, must feel pretty good about being back in the Alien club after his self-imposed two year punishment detail with Ducati.

Don’t be surprised to see the standings get shuffled this weekend in Andalusia.

Recent History at Jerez

The Big Four appear to have vastly different expectations heading back to Europe for the first time this year:

  • Since joining the premier class in 2006, Dani Pedrosa has never finished off the podium at Jerez. He has a third, five seconds, and a win in 2008 to show for his efforts. He was on his way to a second win in 2010 until Lorenzo ate his lunch on the last lap. Jerez is one of Dani’s faves.
  • Jorge Lorenzo started his premier class work at Jerez in 2008 with a competitive third, trailing Rossi and Pedrosa, and crashed out late in 2009 trying to overtake Casey Stoner for third. Since then, he’s had two wins, and lost to Stoner last year by less than a second. Jerez is one of Jorge’s faves, too.
  • Valentino Rossi, in the four years prior to his defection from Yamaha to Ducati, had a third, a second and two wins here. Vale used to love Jerez, and is looking to rekindle the romance this year, especially after his struggles in Austin, where he was soundly beaten by Cal Crutchlow on his satellite M1.
  • For the wűnderkind Marquez, a visit to Jerez is about as welcome as a toothache on a Friday night. In three 125cc seasons, he had a DNS, a DNF, and a 3rd. He crashed out in his Moto2 debut in 2011, but narrowly missed a win last season, yielding to race winner Pol Espargaro by two tenths. No one would be too surprised to see him struggle this weekend. If, however, he manages a podium, he will be serving notice on the world that his time is, indeed, now.
Jorge Lorenzo

Kevin Schwantz vs. Alberto Puig

Crash.net and Superbike Planet.com reported extensively this week on a web-based exchange between Pedrosa’s Rasputin, Alberto Puig, and former world champion Kevin Schwantz. Schwantz, who has made a career out of his single world title in 1993 (notice we’re not saying a word here about Nicky Hayden), started it off, observing, among other things, that Pedrosa has enjoyed a Honda factory ride since 2006 without ever having won a premier class title, which is a good point. But then the Texan wandered off into the ether, talking about Dani’s mom – don’t be talking ‘bout my momma – and taking a few swipes at Puig, Pedrosa’s Apologist-in-Chief.

Puig, himself a former racer, and not one to shy away from a tussle, came back at Schwantz with both barrels blazing. Recall 2006, when Pedrosa took out eventual world champion Nicky Hayden at Estoril in a move criticized by pretty much everyone who saw it. In stepped Puig, denigrating Hayden and absolving his guy of a crash blame whatsoever.

Dani Pedrosa

This past week, Puig claimed that Schwantz won his only title due to a crash suffered by Wayne Rainey at Misano that season, and that otherwise Schwantz “was always in the shade” of Rainey and Eddie Lawson. (Kind of like Dani has been with Rossi, Stoner and Lorenzo. Just sayin’.)

The bottom line, from here: Schwantz is a world-class hanger-on. Pedrosa, despite what he says, needs to win a title this year or next, for any number of reasons. Puig is deeply in bed with the good folks at Dorna, while Schwantz is exchanging subpoenas with them over the fiasco in Austin. All of this is a tempest in a teapot. Schwantz needs to find a job, Puig needs to shut his piehole, and Pedrosa needs to win a title. And, as one of my old bosses used to tell me, right now would be fine.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Ben SpiesValentino Rossi went to the trouble of telling Crash.net he expects to be “very fast” this weekend. I believe the Italian master is trying to get inside Marc Marquez’s head.

Ben Spies is sitting out Round Three, still suffering the after-effects of his off-season shoulder surgery. This will allow his team to endure its customary disappointment prior to the race, rather than afterwards. Michele Pirro, former CRT slogger and current Ducati test rider, will take Spies’ place, though technically he is listed as a “wild card” instead of an injury replacement, due to some typically convoluted rule from the Wizards of Odd at Dorna.

To the relief of virtually no one, Karel Abraham is returning from his broken collarbone several weeks too early, despite what he refers to as “complications” from his injury. I’d say the prospect of scoring zero points all year would qualify as a “complication” for someone in the racing business.

Colin Edwards, who as recently as 2011 finished ninth in the world, has yet to score a point this season. Inasmuch as this trend seems likely to continue, Edwards has now joined that massive legion of athletes who clearly overstayed their welcome. Colin should go back to Texas, scare up some sponsors, rent a handful of Yamaha engines for next season, and put a competitive CRT team together.

How cool would it be to see Aleix Espargaro finish in the top nine this year? The new softer slicks Bridgestone has prepared for the CRT entries appear to be helping. The junior Ducati entries, Spies and Andrea Iannone, had better keep an eye on Aleix.

Aleix Espargaro

With unemployment in Spain hovering around 28% – 28%!!! – attendance is bound to be down this year. Which is a shame, as Jerez is one of the great racing venues on the planet. Given Spain’s now chronic employment woes, how much longer can we expect four MotoGP races on the Iberian Peninsula?

Your Weekend Forecast

The economy may suck, but the weather on the Spanish Riviera is still choice. Weather reports call for sunny skies and temps in the low to mid-70s. Now, if we could just arrange a little plate of jamón, some young Manchega, a bottle of red and a handful of those tasty Spanish olives …

Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez

Tune into SpeedTV Sunday at 8:00 EDT for live race coverage in HD. We’ll have the full story right here Sunday evening.

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