Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi put in a stunning effort today to take the second step on the podium for the Gran Premio de España at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain. A record crowd of 117,000 people were present to witness the Doctor’s fight for his second podium honors of the season in extremely hot conditions with track temperatures reaching 50 degrees.
Starting from fourth on the grid the nine-time world champion had jumped to third by the first corner and second swiftly after as he chased down race leader Marc Marquez. Two laps of tense drama then followed with the two rivals swapping leads as they pushed each other to the limits. Marquez emerged the front-runner as the race settled with Rossi following close behind. The Italian was unable to match the race leader’s pace but was able to stay ahead of the chasing riders. As the last laps ran down Dani Pedrosa closed in to challenge for second but with the gap dropping to just two tenths of a second Rossi held on for a well deserved second place.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s 200th Grand Prix race had a less than perfect start as he dropped from second to fifth off the line. The local hero was quick to recover, taking two positions to slot into third behind Rossi and join the drama filled opening laps. With 16 laps to go Lorenzo was still able to maintain a half second gap to his teammate in front however the distance began to slowly increase as his grip levels began to drop dramatically. With six laps remaining he could no longer hold off following rider Pedrosa, dropping to a lonely fourth place that was his to the line, nearly 20 seconds ahead of Andrea Dovizioso in fifth.
Rossi remains in third position with his podium finish, now on 61 points and 11 behind Pedrosa in second. Lorenzo’s fourth place finish moves him up two places in the standings to fifth with a total of 35 points, ten behind Dovizioso in fourth.
The team now enjoy a well-earned two-week break before heading to France for the Le Mans race on the 18th May.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team completed their third consistent double top ten finish in the MotoGP World Championship today in the scorching heat at Jerez, with Bradley Smith finishing in 8th and Pol Espargaro in 9th.
The 27 lap race proved to be an arduous affair, with the track temperatures reaching an extreme of 50°again. Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith displayed complete determination to chase the battle for 5th and attempt to equal his best ever result from round 2 at Texas. The 23-year-old British rider undertook a brilliant start from 9th on the grid, to aggressively claim five positions by the first corner. As the laps progressed, Smith was shuffled back to 8th, yet he remained composed, and proceeded to recover the lost ground to the riders in front during the latter half of the race before closing to within a second in the final leg of the race. During the last lap it looked likely for the British rider to mount an attack, having caught the rear of the pack, but he narrowly missed out by 0.453 of a second to the leader of the four rider tussle, in what was another firm display by the young English.
Rookie Pol Espargaro gathered countless experience in tire management to record another successful points scoring finish today at Jerez. Having chosen the harder rear tire option, the decision allowed him to progress up the MotoGP field after completing the first lap in 11th. The reigning Moto2 champion then set into a superb race pace, and consistently lapped at 1. 41. He ruthlessly hunted down the riders in front and closed the deficit to catch Honda rider Stefan Bradl before surging past on lap 18. Espargaro then aimed to gain ground on his teammate, but the gap was too large to close before the finish flag dropped.
It was a GP of mixed fortunes for the NGM Forward Racing Team with Aleix Espargaro first open and 7th overall after a great battle for the 5th position, while team mate Colin Edwards retired due to a fuel problem.
Starting from the second row, Espargaro recovered from the 8th to 6th position and than he was protagonist of a great battle with Andrea Dovizioso on a factory Ducati for the 5th place. Aleix had a better rhythm than the Italian and he overtook him several times on the hard brakings but every time Dovizioso passed him again on the straight. Espargaro fought hard for the 5th position till the end with Andrea and Bautista and he finally finished 7th. With this result, Aleix Espargaro is 7th in the Championship with 30 points.
It was a difficult race for Colin Edwards, who after the strong performance from yesterday was starting from the 4th row. He made a great start but another rider bumped into him in turn 1 and he lost some positions. He tried to recover but went wide. Despite he was struggling a lot with his machine, he was maintaining the 15th position, when with one lap to go he was obliged to retire due to a fuel issue.
“I’m very happy because Jerez is one of my favourite circuits and race weekends, also for the people around the track and the atmosphere. We worked very well during the weekend and improved the bike, also this morning and it looked like I could be quite competitive for the race. I chose the extra hard tire on the front, it was a risk but I was worried about the medium at the end of the race. The condition of the track today was very bad, the bike slid everywhere and the front kept closing, I think I did a great job, I did a good start and I tried to stay with Marc but it was impossible. After that I tried to keep my pace and push where I could and where my bike was well balanced and I kept quite constant. At the end Dani arrived but I had just a little bit of desperation in the last lap to stay in front. I’m very proud and happy to arrive in second position here as it was 2010 the last time I stood on the Jerez podium.”
“I did a bad start today, this weekend we didn’t have a good practice start in any session. The race was worse than I expected and my physical condition was worse than I expected also so we need to work more on that and wait for our moment.”
Massimo Meregalli, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It’s great to see Vale riding on form and back on the podium here in Jerez. It was a tough race and he really earned the podium. tires were always going to be critical here with the temperatures this weekend, he chose the hard front and that paid off. Unfortunately for Jorge his 200th Grand Prix didn't end as we had hoped for him. The conditions were very challenging and he was unable to keep his pace to the end of the race. We will take our learnings from today and use them for our testing here tomorrow. We will work to prepare for the Le Mans race as best as possible and be ready to go to France in two weeks.”
“We’ve had a few issues over this weekend, so 8th position is not a bad result at all. The plan was always to be in the fight for 5th, and it would have been great to finish at the front of that group, but I am still pleased with what we achieved. To be competitive until the final lap, obviously makes me happy and we made the right decision on the tire choice. Every rider was struggling somewhat, so it was a case of trying to stays smooths as possible and not making any errors. Another big positive was that I was much stronger at the beginning of the race with the full fuel load. This means that the work we have done so far this weekend has been positive, but there’s still some more we need to do at the test tomorrow. I am sure we’ll be strong again in Le Mans for the team’s home event.”
“Today has been another learning experience. To be honest I came to Jerez with higher expectations, but the weekend has been a really tough one. I struggled more than I expected, so to end up in the group fighting for 5th place is actually nothing I should be too upset about. Unfortunately, I lost some positions at the beginning of the race and when I found my rhythm, I was able to push back to Bradley and the guys in front of me. I was already tired and couldn’t push any harder with my tires so I wasn’t able to pass any of them. But it is still very positive that we were able to stay close to the other factory bikes. I’m really happy to have a test day tomorrow because I’ve still so many things to learn and I want to be as prepared as possible for the team’s home race in Le Mans during the next week.”
“It was a good race and we did the maximum. We did a hard battle with Dovizioso for the 5th positions. I had a better rhythm but every time I passed him in the braking, he passed me again in the straight. We lacked of acceleration in the straight, but I tried to stay calm. We finally finished 7th behind the factory bikes. I have to be satisfied because we did a great job with the team and we will keep on working”.
“I had a good start but in T1 somebody bumped me and then I went wide losing important positions. I pushed but with my style I cannot make this bike turn. I tried to force and push but I was losing the front a lot. Then in the end I had a problem with the fuel that got too hot and the bike stopped. I’m very disappointed and I look forward to race in Le Mans, where I have got good results”.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.