The biggest story heading into the March 30 race will be the homecoming of Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard established himself as a top contender in Qatar by capturing the pole and finishing second in his first MotoGP race.
“Qatar was unbelievable and something I will remember forever. I’ve felt great since and now I’m really excited about the next one; I never expected to be going into only my second MotoGP race in such a great position in the classification,” says Lorenzo.
The Spaniard will likely be a favorite of the quarter million fans expected to attend the weekend festivities at the Jerez track.
“Jerez is undoubtedly a special track for me; it’s my home, I know it very well and it’s the track where I rode in my very first GP in 2002. It's also the first place I ever planted my ‘Lorenzo’s Land’ flag. It will always be in my heart,” says Lorenzo.
Hoping to spoil Lorenzo’s homecoming is 2007 MotoGP champion Casey Stoner of Ducati. Stoner fought off Lorenzo to win the opener at Qatar and will look to record another win at Jerez. The Australian hasn’t had much success at the Spanish track; Jerez is only one of four venues where Stoner did not win a spot on the podium in 2007.
“You could say that Jerez last year wasn’t one of our best races, but winter testing went well there and with the general improvements we’ve made since last year I think we can be competitive next weekend,” says Stoner.
Another Spaniard hoping to leave his mark in Jerez is Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Though he hadn’t had much personal success on this track either, Honda has a strong record on the 4.4 km Jerez circuit, winning 15 of the 21 Spanish Grand Prix races.
“Top speed doesn’t matter too much at Jerez, what you need is an engine that looks after the tires,” says Pedrosa. “But above all you need a very well balanced chassis that allows you to brake hard and tackle both fast and slow corners. It’s a circuit that requires quite an aggressive riding style.”
Both Pedrosa and teammate Nicky Hayden say that the biggest highlight at Jerez is the atmosphere.
“The atmosphere is pretty cool—you come into the stadium section on Sunday morning and it’s wild,” says Hayden. “Nowadays, you can design a racetrack on the computer, you can do whatever you want—make that, generate this, design that—you can use every trick in the book, but if the place don’t have that atmosphere, money can’t buy that.”