First Race Of 2020 - Jerez
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First Race Of 2020 - Jerez

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 17 July 2020

Author: Myanna Wedes

The first race of 2020 is about to get underway. Most superheros wear masks and capes, in this case, the riders are masked up and ready to go. The Gran Premio Red Bull de España will be a challenge for every rider as a result of the time away from the motorcycle. As we know, the more they ride, the more the reflexes, comfort and focus are in check. The one rider who has certainly gained an advantage for 2020 is Marc Marquez after recovering from another shoulder operation. The extended break has done him a world of good and will make a difference to how he rides. Regardless of the riding taking place this weekend, MotoGP is trying to do their thing as well with helping the globe during this pandemic/epidemic of COVID-19. Patience is key and remaining safe at all times is an alert on everyone’s minds as a mental reminder because one slip up can lead to the sport going into lockdown.

A few words from the reigning World Champion:

Marc Marquez: “I’m happy today. We had a hard pre-season but it looks like at the end of the Qatar Test we found something, so it was good to be able to confirm it here because Qatar is always a unique situation. From the start of today it was my bike, the bike I had in 2019 but with an evolution. My shoulder was also feeling good and I could see the speed was there. We had to work on consistency, which was the real focus in the afternoon. Honestly, I’m just really happy to be back on the bike!”

If you analyse Marquez, you will notice that as he arrived at the circuit he was in business mode. No longer was it about gardening, sitting around playing PlayStation or outdoor fitness, the mindset is to win even with his brother as a teammate. The Marquez due will be interesting to watch as younger Marquez has signed with LCR Honda from 2021 onwards. The move is important because under normal circumstances a rookie would not be able to jump straight on to the mean machine of the factory Repsol Honda unless they showcased superior qualities like older Marquez did when the original rookie rule was relaxed. Marquez is sad to see Cal Crutchlow leave the Honda brand because he has always put in the hard work, technical talk and helped develop the bike. With that said, it is another rival moving away from his dream of achieving more titles so it becomes a bonus if anything. No doubt, the pressure will be on for younger Marquez to do well at LCR Honda whilst Pol Espargaro becomes the new Repsol Honda rider for 2021.

Credit - Honda MotoGP Team (Alex Marquez)

Alex Marquez: “I am happy with the rhythm that we found today, as a rookie it’s important to improve lap by lap. Looking ahead to the weekend as a whole, the main objective will be to keep our rhythm in what looks to be a very hot weekend. Unlike in Qatar or Malaysia with the longer straights, you hardly get a chance to rest here. I have a good feeling with the bike and I am ready for my first weekend in MotoGP."

One of the hottest signings for next year is Australian rider Jack Miller who is going to be on a factory Ducati alongside either Andrea Dovizioso or rumour has it, Jorge Lorenzo. The contract appears to be about money and performance so we will see what happens across the next few events. DesmoDovi did fracture his collarbone in a training accident and Miller is hungry for Ducati success so it will be game on in Jerez this weekend.

Credit - Pramac Ducati MotoGP Team (Jack Miller)

Jack Miller: “First of all I am very happy to be back on my bike today after a long break.
The initial feeling was immediately very positive even though it was my first time riding the new Ducati 2020 here at Jerez. We still have some small adjustments to make but we are definitely on the right way. A very positive first day.”

Miller has grown as a rider and this weekend will be an important test to familiarise himself once again with the machine he loves to ride. With no Phillip Island this year, the Australian rider is looking forward to working the European circuit to his advantage with the support of home across social media. In contrast, Fabio Quartararo has started the season off with a smile and some anger after being sanctioned and told to sit out the first twenty minutes of FP1 due to breaking the rules regarding training and modifying production bikes during his recent outing at Paul Ricard. “The FIM MotoGP Stewards of July 15th, 2020, notified to the team, of rider Mr. Fabio Quartararo on July 15th, 2020 at 11h55, according to which, the rider Mr. Fabio Quartararo was found to be training at Paul Ricard circuit with a motorcycle specification that did not comply with Art. 1.15.1 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix regulations.” This will be an important learning curve for the French rider and will be a reason to propel forward in order to secure a top spot in the title for 2020.

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo: “It feels really good to be back after such a long time and I think that today was positive. We started the day struggling a little bit because I didn’t have that good feeling with the bike. It was to be expected as it’s the first time I’ve ridden the M1 at Jerez this year, plus it’s the first time I’ve been on the race bike since Qatar. Jerez is a completely different track to Sepang and Qatar too. I didn’t expect to improve that much in the afternoon because the pace was quite consistent. Tomorrow we will have time to think about the settings, tyres and electronics, so that we can improve further. We didn’t do a time attack so it’s going to be strange when we do, but I’m really happy ahead of Friday and can’t wait for the race weekend to start properly.”

On the other side, the Monster Energy Yamaha Team is excited to see Rossi and Vinales debut on track. In amongst this, we wait news on whether Rossi retires or signs with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. As it looks, Rossi will join the Sepang run team to boost his results and feeling on board that particular Yamaha set up. It has become known that the current factory Yamaha has not been working to Rossi’s favour and is pushing his frustration levels through the roof. It is only a matter of time before “The Doctor” cracks the chassis, engine power and corner speed to ensure the tyres last the duration of the race. We do feel that teammate Vinales is strong and a contender for this year. When he has laser focus and has his head in the game, he is unstoppable. The moment his frustration creeps in and things do not go his way, the entire Vinales warrior crumbles.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Valentino Rossi)

Valentino Rossi: “It was very important to have yesterday's day of testing because we hadn't been riding our MotoGP bikes in a long time. It was a fantastic feeling to get back on the M1. It was a pretty good day. I did a good job in the morning. I used the soft tyre and had a good time. In the afternoon, the temperature was high and I struggled more. The pace was not fantastic, so tomorrow we have to work on the set-up and improve the bike. But I'm very happy to be back on track with my M1!”

Maverick Vinales: “After the great result in the test yesterday I can’t wait to get back on my bike. I’m very optimistic going into the race. I had a good feeling with the tyres in hot conditions, with a 60 degrees track temperature the bike worked very well, and I think this is something that we have improved a lot on for this season. The problems with the heat and tyres seem to be history. For sure, FP1 and FP3 will be crucial for us to assure our direct pass into the Q2 session. We have to keep working because there is always room for improvement, and we have to keep pushing to fight for the victory on Sunday. We have to pick up in speed, that’s crucial. But for sure the Yamaha is working very well and very fast, and that’s something that gives me confidence.”

We look forward to seeing how this weekend in Jerez unfolds. It will be interesting to see a minimal paddock and riders with masks on social distancing. With that said, it is the best method to ensure safety and that the show goes on.

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