Spanish sports fans were always going to be split down the middle this weekend, on the occasion of the latest edition of ‘El Clasico’ -the football derby between Barcelona and Real Madrid that customarily dominates the attentions of the national press.
The biggest all-Spanish clash on Sunday, however, is expected to take place at the front of the MotoGP race. Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa will line up alongside one another at the head of the grid and in front of the passionate Spanish fans, and are hot contenders for the victory at the track where they both placed on the podium in 2008.
The duo were famously coerced into a handshake by the Spanish King at last year’s event, but their rivalry remains. A chink of the cava bottles on the Motegi rostrum last weekend showed their mutual respect, but poleman Lorenzo appears convinced that he could not only leave Jerez with trophies and points -there is also the affections of the fans at stake.
Jorge Lozenzo Speaks…
"I’m absolutely happy with today’s result; starting a weekend with pole position is always a great way to begin but, as I always say, the most important thing is the victory," said the current MotoGP World Championship leader after snatching the qualifying top spot with a 1’38.933 lap.
"We hope to do the same as today, which is to have fun and do the best that we can. It’s definitely important for the fans, because in Spain there is a division (in fan preferences) between Pedrosa and me. If we are fighting for the win then the race will be very interesting," smiled the 21 year-old.
Dani Pedrosa Speaks…
Pedrosa was more coy in his own comments, not referring to his rival directly. "I’m happy with the front row, because we really didn’t have a good day in practice yesterday. There are still a few things to work on, but I am confident of a great race."