The first European round has arrived and the riders are itching to get on board their machines and go head to head with each other. Jorge Lorenzo celebrated his 30th birthday, entering that dirty thirties era. It is wonderful to see Lorenzo smiling after 15 years in the paddock as a rider. He originally started as a young 15-year-old boy and is strong, fit and wanting to be successful more than ever. The Ducati rider feels as though the expectations on him to begin with were too high and that it will take time to master the Ducati in order to win a title. The feeling with the bike is improving race-by-race and Lorenzo is aiming for a strong conclusion to every opportunity that arises. On the other side of the coin, Jerez is celebrating, as it becomes the lucky number 3000 race across all classes. This is major milestone for the sport and the riders who take part in the two wheel races. The very first race took place in 1949 at the Isle of Man TT with 350cc bikes as the feature. Although the Isle of Man had the first race, Spain has had the most events with 373 prior to the finish of the 2017 race in Jerez.
Jerez is a race that delivers excitement and controversy. The press conference on Thursday took place with historic riders including Giacomo Agostini and Angel Nieto rocking up to speak with the media. What a privilege to be in the presence of so many World Champions including Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. The Italian Doctor never thought he would come in to Jerez with the title lead. Not only does Rossi have to stay ahead of Maverick Vinales, Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Crutchlow, he also has the pressure on his shoulders of trying to win a 500th Grand Prix for Yamaha. On the other side of the garage is Maverick Vinales who is only focusing on riding for redemption and thinks his rear grip with the Yamaha will be advantageous. He is cocky and confident!
Reigning Champion Marquez wants to win at home in Spain. The goal is to work hard and make sure that the bike is at its peak performance and Marquez knows that he has to keep at the highest riding ability if he wants to chase down the points to get in to first. European tracks are different so the Repsol Honda rider is looking to work in with his teammate Dani Pedrosa and take on fellow manufacturers Yamaha and Ducati. Winning in Austin has propelled Marquez in a way that he needed so desperately after a disastrous start to the 2017 race campaign. Fellow Honda rider Cal Crutchlow is happy to be back and wants to find a momentum to allow him to be more consistent. Crutchlow is also on the same page as Marquez as to what is required to do well and is looking forward to maximising his results in Europe. This phase of the season is crucial because it demands 100% focus, commitment and discipline. One mistake can be costly.
We guarantee that the fights this weekend are going to be epic because the weather has already thrown a spanner in to the works with rain. Dani Pedrosa was the fastest in FP1 after a run out on a wet circuit and Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso followed him. Mother Nature has a wonderful way of working her magic and now we are definitely in for a show. KTM will be looking to gather new data as they possibly debut a new engine in Spain after testing in Le Mans. The team wants to improve as fast as possible; however, it will not be overnight success.
On another topic of discussion, Valentino Rossi’s opportunity to create his own team will be guaranteed a place on the MotoGP grid in the future. It appears that both he and Carmelo Ezpeleta have agreed to allow Rossi that spot regardless of grid size limits, rules and regulations. This is very intriguing because it is almost like Rossi wants to win his 10th World Championship and retire or keep racing and go against his own riders. What a dynamic position he has in the sport! Rossi’s current contract with Yamaha expires in 2018 so who knows what the Italian rider is up to.
Finally, in a funny topic of conversation, Pedrosa was asked what some of his fellow rivals would be doing if they were not racing. His synopsis although probably not accurate in some parts includes: Rossi would be a doctor, Marquez doing something wild and sport related, Crutchlow a commentator, Vinales a gymnast and Lorenzo a golfer. Where Pedrosa got golfing from who knows as Lorenzo was puzzled with all of them laughing at his choices. On to the race we go!