It was a masterclass ride from Marc Marquez at the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. The crowd was electric as he charged for the victory and never stopped pushing. Of course, Marquez was the favourite to win however the challenge by the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team was excellent. They pushed hard when it mattered the most and never gave up hope.
No doubt it was a heart-breaking experience for Fabio Quartararo. You can call it bad luck or just how the sport goes… with his bike succumbing to a mechanical failure which was led to tears of absolute devastation. The French rider was proving his ability to work through challenging issues even when the pace was dropping off. FB20: “We suffered a small mechanical problem with the gear shifter. It’s something very small but it affected us a lot, forcing us to abandon the race. Despite this, I’m happy with the work that we’ve done during the weekend and we will continue in the same way at the coming races. The whole team have done an exceptional job, but in this sport there are things that you can’t control. As we did in Qatar, we will take away the positives – there were many of those at this GP. Before the season began, none of us expected to be fighting for the podium and to get a pole position in the fourth race of the year, so we should be happy with the work that is being done. I’m looking forward to the next race, which is the only home GP I have – I hope to do my best.” With a performance like that, Quartararo is destined for great things and a podium in the near future.
Turning back towards Marquez, you have to admire his ability to push the limits no matter the conditions, Championship points and responsibility. It was a mental and physical battle for the Spaniard with expectations after Austin at an all-time high. MM93: “This race was a mental race, more than a physical one. After the mistake in Austin it wasn’t easy to lead the race like that from beginning to end, but I knew I had the pace to do it and the bike to do it. I wanted to do a race like in Argentina and at the start in Austin to prove it was a mistake there. I felt good all weekend, smooth, comfortable and able to ride how I want. Thanks to the Repsol Honda Team, they’ve done an amazing job over the last few weeks and here this weekend. It’s great to be leading the championship again.” With the one-point buffer, Marquez needs to be consistent whilst others keep chasing and forcing him to make an error. As we know in the past, the Repsol Honda rider can sway in mindset and focus so it will be interesting to see how he approaches the next batch of races.
In terms of those finishing second and third, it was a solid effort from Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins to step up on the podium even with poor qualifying results. In the later part of the race, Vinales came alive after being slightly depressed with a lack of performance and Rins is shaping up as a top-quality rider with many opportunities to succeed in a title race.
MV12: “To be on the podium feels like a victory to me. I saw that Dovi and Petrucci were behind me, together, so I thought “Woah, Dovi is going to push, so it‘s going to be difficult”, so I just tried to do my best laps and ride the best sectors I could. Honestly, it was difficult because I had just a little bit of tyre left at the end. I don‘t know if I could have done more laps like that last lap, but I‘m happy because the bike was good at the end. It was very important to demonstrate that we could be there. We recovered a lot of confidence, especially with the front tyre. We‘ve done something different on the bike, that gives me more consistency at the start so I can be much more precise. It‘s important that we weren‘t so far from the front in the end. The most important thing is to be on the podium consistently. If we give our best, I think I can arrive at the top, but honestly there‘s no time to relax. Especially tomorrow, we need to do a good test. It‘s very important tomorrow to get everything done and go to Le Mans with a good mindset.” In contrast, Rins also wants to stay upright, positive and consistent. The reward is incredible when you put in the hard work.
On the other side of the track, Australian rider Jack Miller struggled for pace as did Jorge Lorenzo. Unfortunately, Miller crashed when he and Aleix Espargaro collided and this sent the Australian in to the gravel trap and an early shower. Miller did not have the pace from the start of the race, and it was a difficult for both Alma Pramac MotoGP riders.
On the other hand, the expectation was high for Lorenzo who spoke of a recovery rider at Jerez. This was not meant to be with the multiple World Champion stuck in the middle of the pack. A combination of things has caused the Spartan to be slow. JL99: “It has been a difficult end to the weekend, we wanted to be stronger but I am still not comfortable on the bike. We are still lacking kilometers compared to the other Honda riders. Today especially I was not comfortable on the bike and it was a very difficult race. Tomorrow's test will be important for us to try and improve my feeling, especially on corner entry where I think I am losing the most. We have to keep working.” It goes without saying that Lorenzo has been in this position before and as soon as the bike clicks with his abilities, the rest of the paddock must be ready for him to challenge.
Finally, quiet achiever, Andrea Dovizioso recovered and managed to bag some key points. The Ducati team were hoping for more though could only achieve fourth and fifth positions respectively. The riders are satisfied with their performance based on previous race history. However, even with risks taken, DesmoDovi went in to Championship point mode and kept focused on staying within the top five. AD04:“In the final phases, I took quite a few risks to cut the gap from Viñales, but I was still losing too much ground in the faster corners to be able to attack him under braking. We knew that on fast-flowing tracks such as this one we would have struggled a bit more. We need to improve our corner speed, we have done that to some extent already and we're not far from our rivals, so tomorrow we'll keep working in this direction." With the French Grand Prix next up, the riders are eager to improve and be ready for anything at the circuit where weather can make or break a rider’s positive energy.