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A lap of Jerez

A lap of Jerez

A lap of Jerez

The 4.423 km Jerez circuit may have lost the crown of the most popular testing venue on the calendar, but its location and regular slot on the MotoGP World Championship schedule still makes it a favourite in pre-season. Extensive ‘primary' safety work, in the form of improved run-off, has been a direct result of the increased power and speed of the current breed of MotoGP machines and is the latest in a string of revamps at the Spanish circuit.

The Jerez track features five left and eight right hand corners, a surprising degree of elevation and to some extent camber changes on what, to the casual observer is a largely flat track layout. Exactness of line makes precise and repeatable chassis set-up a must, and to make the most of the squirts between corners a clean and predictable throttle response is needed throughout the rev-range.

With only a 600m main straight, Jerez is not a long-legged track in the classic mould, but was in the vanguard of more safety-conscious arena-style tracks. Thus absolute horsepower comes into play relatively infrequently, the most important factor being set-up for predictable performance through frequent changes of direction.

Some heavy braking points around the track make that aspect of performance vital to a good race result, while the surface is neither the slickest nor most abrasive on the calendar, making correct tyre choice again a crucial affair.

"Jerez is quite demanding on both front and rear tyres," explains Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "The surface is quite aggressive and the bikes spend a lot of time on the edge of the tyres because there are so many corners. Riders always want more edge grip and traction at Jerez, so we need to work closely with them to choose tyres that will give them good consistency throughout the race.

"The surface is very different from how it used to be before they resurfaced it in 2002, though it is still temperature sensitive. And track temperature can change drastically from morning to afternoon – it can be 25 degrees for morning practice, then 50 degrees for afternoon qualifying. We have to be aware of that, and it certainly complicates tyre choice in the run up to the race."

With Jerez a well-known quantity for all the teams and tyre manufacturers, the bikes can be expected to be tuned in relatively quickly, with the fight for pole position sure to be close and Sunday's race another potential classic.


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