ROUND 4: JEREZ 2019
James Toseland’s Insider Insights: 8th May 2019
Spanish Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto
As MotoGP returned to one of its oldest amphitheatres, there was a plethora of Spanish riders all fighting for their home crowd’s adoration. By lunchtime though it was obvious that the Italians had no plans to make it easy for any Spanish rider to end the day as the home hero.
There were no Spanish riders on any of the podium positions in Moto3 at Jerez this year. In fact, you have to go back two years since a Spanish rider won at home in Jerez when Aron Canet took victory in the lightweight class in 2017. Having said all that though, you wouldn’t have known the victor in the Moto3 race wasn’t from the crowd’s homeland as the cheer for Niccolò Antonelli and Tatsuki Suzuki, who came in 1st and 2nd, was deafening! The reason for this was that it was 15 years ago that the late great Marco Simoncelli took his first Grand Prix victory and it was also the first victory for the Simoncelli Team in Moto3. One of the most amazing things about the sport of motorcycle racing are the fans.
Last Sunday the Spanish crowd showed the world just how strong the biking community is by overlooking nationality to respect one of racing’s greatest losses. It was a very emotional victory for the team and made very special by the Spanish crowd. Niccolò Antonelli’s victory moves him to just one point off the championship leader Aron Canet.
So, Italy One, Spain nil. But the home crowd deserve a Spanish rider to be leading the championship after that performance!
On to Le Mans!
There has been one outstanding rider so far in Moto2 this year – Lorenzo Baldassarri! He’s won three out of four races so far and he looks like he is absolutely loving his new Triumph-powered Moto2 machine.
There was a huge crash at the start of the race that saw Remy Gardner highsiding out of the first corner, taking Alex Marquez and a few others out. This caused a restart and it was very quickly the two Sito Pons riders battling it out at the front with a fast approaching Jorge Navarro closing in. Another lap or two and I think Jorge could have caught Lorenzo but the chequered flag came to his rescue and the young Italian took another fantastic victory.
With Thomas Luthi finishing 4th in Jerez, Lorenzo has a 17 point lead in the championship now. Records are being broken at every race meeting this year with Triumph power and Lorenzo seems to be breaking most of them so far. To be that consistent when so many riders are lapping within a second of each other is very impressive.
Will Lorenzo make it four out of five in Le Mans?
Well it wasn’t the epic last corner shenanigans we’ve become accustomed to at Jerez but it was another masterclass of skill, focus, consistency and opponent confidence-crushing pace from Marc Marquez. Most impressive for me was just how consistent Marc’s lap times were throughout the race on Sunday. Most were in the 1’38.3s and 1’38.4s, and over 16 racing laps he lapped within a half a second of each of those times, which is incredible riding. Jerez circuit is 2.751miles long with 13 corners. Marc was lapping at just over 1 minute 38 seconds. To cover that much distance on a machine with over 250bhp, at speeds of over 180mph, consistent to within half a second, for 40 minutes, is why he’s currently the world number one and now leader of this MotoGP championship again.
Alex Rins had another outstanding ride aboard the Suzuki and Maverick Vinales finally got his Yamaha off the line to take the final spot on what was an all-Spanish podium. Valentino Rossi rode an amazing race once again, battling his way through from 13th to 6th place, but his Yamaha still looks down on power compared to the Honda and Ducati. Ducati haven’t won in Jerez for 13 years so I’m sure Andrea Dovizioso won’t be too disappointed with his 4th place.
Other than Marc Marquez though, the star of the show was Fabio Quartararo for me. Taking the pole position record from Marquez as the youngest ever in MotoGP history, and looking so good to grab his first podium before his gear selector broke. Really bad luck for the young Frenchman but I’m sure he would have chosen to have it happen there rather than where we are going next!
Only nine points cover the top four riders after the first four rounds, but it looks like Marc’s to lose at the minute.
Loads to look forward to next time out in Le Mans!
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