No time for rest and little for reflection at Jerez. Just five days after that breathless, energy-sapping opening encounter of the season it’s back to work for aching bodies and high revving power units on the same piece of tarmac. It was a day of history making on Sunday, especially surrounding a mighty impressive 21-year-old Frenchman.
For the first time in the 72-year history of Grand Prix racing, there will be back-to-back Grands Prix at the same circuit in the same season. There have only been back-to-back races at the same circuit on one other occasion and then the riders had time for Christmas dinner and New Year’s Eve celebrations before returning to the saddle for the second time.
The 500cc race at the legendary Montjüic Park circuit in Barcelona was the last round of the 1954 season. Dickie Dale won the 53-lap race for MV Augusta and was probably happy for the near seven months rest before returning for the opening round of the 1955 season at the 3.79km parkland circuit. His race time was an incredible one hour 51.55 minutes. Dale returned in May the following year where the race of similar distance was won by Reg Armstrong on the Gilera.
Since then there have been back-to-back Grands Prix in the same country but not at the same circuit. In 1988, Australian Kevin Magee secured his only Grand Prix victory at Jarama and seven days later Eddie Lawson was victorious at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Jerez. Valentino Rossi won the final race of the 2004 season in Valencia and then took the chequered flag at the opening round of the 2005 season in Jerez. Marco Melandri won the final round again at Valencia that year with Loris Capirossi victorious at the opening round of 2006 in Jerez. On two occasions there have been back-to-back Grands Prix in America. In 2012, Casey Stoner won in Laguna Seca and Dani Pedrosa at Indianapolis. A year later Marc Marquez won them both en route to that first MotoGP™ World title.
In 1966, the TT races were postponed because of a Seamans strike that prevented anybody from getting to the Isle of Man. The re-scheduled TT was held two weeks after the Ulster Grand Prix and Mike Hailwood won them both for Honda with Giacomo Agostini second on both occasions.
The only other time I have encountered back-to-back Grands Prix in the same country just a week apart was back on my Formula One adventures. In 1995, it was the Pacific Grand Prix at the isolated Aida Mimasaka circuit followed by the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka seven days later. I spent the gap between races making an emotional trip to Hiroshima and watching Sumo wrestling with Eddie Irvine and his team.
I don’t think Fabio Quartararo will have time for any such journeys as he strives to continue to re-write the history books at Jerez. On Sunday he was just the fourth French rider to win a premier class race, the first French premier class winner since 1999, the first satellite Yamaha rider to win a MotoGP™ race and the eighth youngest premier class winner. Next Sunday he returns to the scene of that first triumph with the prospect of becoming the first rider to win back-to-back Grands Prix at the same circuit and just the second youngest rider to win back-to-back premier class races.
For the second week in succession, it promises to be another breathless encounter with those history books ready and waiting.