Jerez GP: pre-weekend MotoGP press conference & event round-up
The Gran Premio bwin de España began with a number of special events to celebrate the arrival of the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship in Europe.
On Wednesday, the Mayor of Jerez, Maria José Garcia Pelayo, presented Jorge Lorenzo with a star on the Jerez Walk of Fame. The star is to recognise the achievements of Lorenzo, who became the first Spaniard to win the MotoGP™ World Championship (2010 & 2012) since the class was introduced in 2002. The double MotoGP™ World Champion also left his handprints in clay for a monument that will be erected in the near future, that will feature all of the riders who appear on the Walk of Fame.
Lorenzo was clearly moved by the tribute: “Jerez has always been very special to me as it was the first real track that I raced on when I was 10. It was also where I made my debut in the World Championship when I was 15. This is where it all started for me.”
Today a number of MotoGP™ stars, along with some famous faces from the world of Spanish racing, attended the opening of a new exhibition in Jerez. Entitled “Motorsports Legends 1969-2015” it celebrates the history of Repsol’s involvement in Spanish motorsport from 1969 to the present day.
The event was attended by current World Championship stars Marc Marquez, Nicky Hayden, Johann Zarco, Julian Simon, Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera, as well legends from the world of Spanish motorcycling including Angel Nieto, Jorge Martinez Aspar, and Emilio Alzamora. The riders arrived in style at the event in a selection of classic racing cars and the exhibition itself is free to visit until the 17th of May and consists of 50 specially selected photographs along with some iconic motorbikes on display, such as Nieto’s 50cc Derbi and Marquez’s Honda RC213V.
Marc Marquez then had to attend the Circuito de Jerez Medical Centre for a fitness test to decide whether he could race this weekend after fracturing the little finger in his left hand on Saturday. The good news for Marquez fans was that the Medical Director Dr. Michele Macchiagodena and the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Salvador Leiva deemed the Spaniard to be fit, and therefore he will be allowed to take part in the on track action in Jerez.
Later in the afternoon the world’s media gathered at the Circuito de Jerez at the official press conference for the Gran Premio bwin de España, where most of the emphasis was placed on whether or not Rossi and Marquez still enjoyed a good relationship after their clash in Argentina.
Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith were all on hand to give their thoughts on the weekend’s action, but the main talking point was actually the last lap incident in Argentina.
It was “The Doctor” who responded first when asked how his relationship with the reigning World Champion had been affected, jokingly saying: “I will have to give Marc less kisses from now on!”
Rossi and Marquez confirmed they still get on well and that the incident in Argentina had not affected this one bit. The Movistar Yamaha rider also mentioned how much he enjoyed coming back to Europe: “Jerez is always a special weekend, I think it is one of the best and I like it a lot. We return to Europe and I am very happy as it takes less flying time, and the atmosphere in Jerez is very special”
Repsol Honda’s Marquez was also asked if something similar were to happen during the race in Spain, would he prefer to be first or second heading into the infamous turn 13 (Lorenzo’s corner), to which he replied: “If I am behind Rossi on the last lap, I will be lucky, as I am not 100%.”
Marquez, referring to his fractured finger, admitted that he had no idea how his injury would effect him during the race: “Tomorrow I will try and we will see, it will be painful as the operation was only on Saturday evening, but okay we will see, maybe we will suffer more than in other races, but here in Jerez in front of the fans I have extra motivation and that can help me.”
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso surprised a few people by announcing that Ducati do not have any major new upgrades to try out in Jerez. The Italian, who is second in the Championship standings and just six points behind Rossi, admitted that he was looking forward to some dry track time: “We didn’t have a lot of time to really work on the bike at the last 3 races as the conditions were tricky. This race with the weather looking good, we have more time to work on the setup to see if we can improve a little bit of traction and braking stability.”
Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo addressed the helmet and tyre issues that have affected him in each race this season, admitting that while they may have been minor, they have played their part in his poor start to the season: “When you are at a very high level even small problems don’t stop you fighting for the race, but when you have problems and are slower you cannot fight for the race win. When I don’t have problems, I will be able to fight for the race win.”
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who secured his first podium of the season in Argentina, said that his focus was to try and improve in the middle part of the race, and that he enjoyed being in Europe, and not just for the shorter flight time: “We can improve our package and our speed again as we need to improve and I need to ride a bit better especially in certain stages of the race.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Bradley Smith admitted his issue so far this season has been his poor qualifying, but he is hoping that practice makes perfect around a track he enjoys: “I was speaking to someone on the flight, and trying to work out how many laps I have done around here as it has been quite a few. I’ve had a good run of results here ever since my first GP win.”
The biggest laugh during the press conference came when a journalist asked the riders for their take on the Rossi-Marquez clash from Argentina, with Lorenzo stating, “I don’t know what happened, I was too far back,” while Cal Crutchlow’s response was “I don’t care…it gave me a podium!”
The on-track action kicks off in Jerez on Friday at 9:00am local time with Moto3™ Free Practice 1.