The new maestro heads home

MotoGP preview Jerez
Monday, 29 April 2013

In Texas, Marc Marquez became the youngest man to achieve both a pole position and race victory in the history of the MotoGP™ World Championship. His next task is a mighty important one: impressing a home crowd for the first time.

Jerez first hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix in 1987, won by that year’s champion Wayne Gardner. It would be another six years before Marquez was born in Cervera, Catalonia and he has now proceeded to eclipse two of the ‘youngest ever’ records previously held by Freddie Spencer; if he were to claim the world title before the end of next season, he’d become the most junior rider to do that as well.

Unless Valentino Rossi clinches his first win since returning to Yamaha Factory Racing, the likelihood is that a Spaniard will celebrate victory in Spain this weekend as Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marquez should all be challengers. What are the chances of a second consecutive career victory for the 20-year-old, though? We will begin to find out over the course of practice and qualifying, but facts are facts: of the last ten races at Jerez, five have been won by Yamaha and four by Honda.

One man who certainly won’t be winning is Ben Spies. The Ignite Pramac Racing rider is resting at home due to a trapped nerve which caused immense pain during the Warm-Up session last time out in Austin. The agony came as a by-product of the ongoing shoulder injury, sustained in last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. He hopes to be fit enough to contest the next event at Le Mans in mid-May. Another man out of action is Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who sustained a broken right collarbone due to a collision in Texas with GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bryan Staring.

In the CRT ranks, Aleix Espargaro has been unbeatable so far this year. Not only has number 41 enjoyed two relatively easy rides to the top spot at both Losail and Circuit of the Americas, but he’s also pushing unbelievably hard to challenge prototype bikes. The Power Electronics Aspar rider’s qualifying pace has been excellent too, having been only nine thousandths of a second slower than Rossi last time out.

Ironically, a wet race may turn out to be less challenging for engineers than a dry one. During pre-season testing in Andalucia, plenty of rain allowed for much fine-tuning of wet weather setups, whereas Ducati Team may be fancying its chances for one of its more positive outings of 2013; at the test, the Italian outfit was running bikes for regular riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso plus three machines in the garage of test rider Michele Pirro. Incidentally, Pirro makes an early return to the championship this weekend as a Ducati Team wildcard.

Cal Crutchlow arguably has even more of a reason to feel optimistic. 12 months ago, he finished the race fourth - just metres behind Pedrosa and only 2.4 seconds behind winner Casey Stoner. This time around, the Coventry rider heads back to Spain on even better form, but will be looking to avoid the first-lap contact he sustained with Hayden in 2012. Should he make the rostrum, the result would mark the third of the Englishman’s career after the Czech and Australian Grands Prix of last season.

Friday’s first practice session for the Gran Premio bwin de España begins at 9am local time (GMT +2). Live timing and video can be found on motogp.com.

TAGS Spain

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