Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain 2016

Posted on Apr 18, 2016 by Nick Harris


200,000 MotoGP™ fans make pilgrimage south
All roads lead south for the biggest European sporting event of the weekend, the Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain at the legendary Jerez venue on Sunday. A weekend crowd of over 200,000 is expected to pack the 2.748 miles circuit in Southern Spain for the first European grand prix of the season and we have a British rider leading the Moto2™ World Championship.

Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes leads the Moto2 Championship by a single point after the opening three rounds of what promises to be a closely fought 18 round battle. The 25 year old Federal Oil Gresini Kalex rider has finished second in the last two of the opening three races to lead Spaniard Alex Rins, who won the previous round, by a single point with World Champion Johann Zarco just one point behind. It’s the start of a hectic and crucial period for Lowes with four grands prix in the next six weeks.

Last year Wiltshire’s Danny Kent won the Moto3™ race at Jerez and returns after a testing start on his return to Moto2. The Moto3 World Champion is 13th in the Championship and will be seeking some consistent points scoring finishes in those next four races.

Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding got his MotoGP™ season on track after an excellent sixth place in the incident packed race in Austin Texas a couple of weeks ago. Redding has adjusted well to riding the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati machine and will be looking to continue the progress in the 27 lap race, the fourth round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Irishman Eugene Laverty has made a dream start after a winter of injuries. The Aspar Ducati rider followed up his brilliant fourth in Argentina with a 12th in Austin and is a morale boosting ninth in the Championship, three places above Redding and Bradley Smith, who crashed in Austin. That brought to an end to the Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider’s 26 grand prix points scoring run although Smith is confident of a good result on Sunday after making major changes to his bike during Austin practice. Smith won his first grand prix at Jerez, the 2009 125cc race.

Last year Cal Crutchlow finished an impressive fourth at Jerez riding the LCR Honda. The Isle of Man – based midlander returns this year desperate to score his first points of the season after crashes have ruled him out of the first three races.

Last year Scotsman John McPhee finished tenth in the Moto3 race and he’d be happy for a top ten finish on Sunday after a difficult start to the season. The Racing Steps Foundation supported rider finished an impressive seventh in Argentina but failed to score in Qatar and Austin to find himself 17th in the World Championship.

Lorenzo signs for Ducati
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has signed a two year deal to ride for the factory Ducati team in 2017/18. The Italian factory announced their new signing on Monday afternoon after Yamaha had revealed that Lorenzo would be leaving them at the end of the season. The Spanish rider has won three world titles for Yamaha and lies second in this year’s World Championship after winning the opening round in Qatar.

There is now speculation about who will replace Lorenzo at Yamaha and also who will be his team-mate at Ducati. Former Moto3 World Champion Maverick Vinales is the favourite to join the nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi at Yamaha. Andrea Iannone was expected to remain at Ducati next year to partner Lorenzo, but after his collision with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in Argentina the situation has changed.

Did you know?
•This is the 30h successive year that a motorcycle grand prix event has been held at the Jerez circuit since it was first used in 1987.

•Assen is the only current venue that has been used consecutively for a longer period than Jerez.

•A total of 89 grand prix races for solo motorcycles have been held at the Jerez circuit as follows: MotoGP – 14, 500cc – 15, Moto2 – 6, 250cc – 23, Moto3 – 4, 125cc – 24, 80cc – 3.

•Spain has been the most successful nation at the Jerez circuit, having taken a total of thirty grand prix victories across all classes: 7 x MotoGP, 4 x 500cc, 3 x Moto2, 6 x 250cc, 1 x Moto3, 6 x 125cc, 3 x 80cc.

•Since the introduction of the MotoGP class in 2002, Honda have had seven victories at Jerez, Yamaha six and Ducati have had one win, with Loris Capirossi in 2006.

•Only three non-Spanish riders have won in the MotoGP class at Jerez – Valentino Rossi (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 & 2009), Loris Capirossi (2006) & Casey Stoner (2012).

•Jerez has been the most successful circuit for the Spanish riders as regards premier-class victories, with a total of eleven wins; Alberto Puig in 1995, Alex Criville in 1997, 98, 99, Sete Gibernau in 2004, Dani Pedrosa in 2008 & 2013, Jorge Lorenzo in 2010, 2011 & 2015, and Marc Marquez in 2014.

•There has been at least one Spanish rider on the podium in the MotoGP race at Jerez for the last twelve years, a sequence that started in 2004.

•Alberto Puig’s victory at Jerez on 7th May 1995 was the first win for a Spanish rider in the premier-class on home soil.

•Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider at the Jerez circuit with eight grand prix victories to his name; a single victory in both the 125cc and 250cc classes to add to his six in the premier-class.

•Suzuki’s last victory at Jerez was in 2000, when Kenny Roberts won the 500cc race on his way to taking the world title.

•Spain has had at least one winner across the three classes at the Jerez GP for the last six years.

•Last year at Jerez Jorge Lorenzo qualified on pole and led every lap of the race.

•With his third place finish at Jerez last year, Valentino Rossi became the first rider in the 67 years of motorcycle grand prix racing to reach the milestone of 200 GP podium finishes.

Lorenzo returns home to hunt down Marquez
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo returns home to the Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain at the legendary Jerez circuit on Sunday focused on closing the gap on championship leader Marc Marquez. Last year Lorenzo led the race from start to finish beginning a sequence of four successive grands prix wins after a disastrous start to the season. The Movistar Yamaha rider is focused on blanking out all the speculation about his future as he attempts to close the 21 point gap established by the very impressive Marquez who has won two of the opening three rounds riding the Repsol Honda.

Last year Marquez was second, after winning the 27 lap race round the 2.748 miles Jerez circuit the previous year. The double MotoGP™ World Champion has adapted brilliantly to the new Michelin tyres and unified electronics and it should be a classic battle on Sunday. Jerez record breaker Valentino Rossi returns to Europe desperate to close the 12 point gap behind team-mate Lorenzo after he crashed out of the previous round in America. The Italian has won eight times In Jerez, including six premier class victories.

Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa was another faller in America and has found the going tough in the opening three flyaway rounds while Andrea Dovizioso seeks just a change of luck to kick-start his season. After finishing second at the opening round in Qatar the Ducati rider was knocked out of second place by team-mare Andrea Iannone in Argentina and a week later from third place by Pedrosa. Ironically it was team-mate Iannone who picked up the third place in Austin for his first points of the season.

The early season crashes have given plenty of opportunity to others and they have grasped the chance before returning to start the European season. Spanish riders Pol Espargaro and Hector Barbara are fourth and sixth respectively while Irishman Eugene Laverty is ninth on the Aspar Ducati. The Ecstar Suzuki pair of Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro had good rides in Austin finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Australian Jack Miller is expected to return after missing Austin after damaging his ankle in a crash during practice and his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda team-mate, the former Moto2™ World Champion Tito Rabat, makes his first home appearance on a MotoGP Machine.

Just four points separate the leading four riders in the Moto2 World Championship and the battle will continue in the 26 lap race on Sunday. Britain’s Sam Lowes, riding the Federal Oil Gresini Kalex, leads by a single point from Austin winner Alex Rins. Another single point behind is World Champion and Argentine Grand Prix winner Johann Zarco while opening round Qatar winner Tom Luthi is a further two points adrift. Throw in the likes of last year’s winner Jonas Folger and the returning to form Dominique Aegerter and it should be another cracker.

It’s not quite so close in Moto3™ where South African Brad Binder holds a slender three point lead over Spaniard Jorge Navarro. Both these two are still chasing their first grand prix win which could easily come in the 23 lap encounter on Sunday. Binder, riding the Red Bull Ajo KTM, was third last year and has finished on the podium in the opening three rounds while Navarro has finished second in the last two races.

Austin and previous Jerez winner Romano Fenati is 11 points down on Navarro with Qatar winner Niccolo Antonelli a further seven points adrift. Seventeen year old Khairul Idham Pawi who secured that historic win in Argentina is fifth after finishing out of the points in Austin.

Television Times
BT Sport 2
Friday 22nd April 08.00am – 15.00pm (practise)
Saturday 23rd April 08.00am – 15.15pm (practise & qualifying)
Sunday 24th April 07.30am – 09.15pm (warm-ups)
Sunday 24h April 09.30am – 15.00pm (races)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 25th April 20.00pm – 21.00pm

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