After the excitement of an opening night in Losail the MotoGP "circus" heads straight to Europe this week following the postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.
It means round two of the 2010 season takes place at the Jerez circuit in the south of Spain, a race of major significance for Team San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli as they look to bounce back from a largely disappointing weekend in Doha.
For Melandri in particular Jerez represents an opportunity to put his Qatar disappointment behind him as he gets the opportunity to try a variety of technical solutions aimed at improving his feeling with the RC212V. The Italian, who finished on the podium at this race in 2005 behind race winner Rossi and then team-mate Sete Gibernau, has belief in the potential of his bike and his crew and is sure that together with the team and Honda they can overcome the problems encountered at Losail.
Simoncelli returns to the circuit where he took his first ever victory in the 125cc class in 2004 as he looks to build his confidence and feeling with the RC212V. The postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan did not stop the youngster taking the trip east from his hometown of Coriano, however, with a series of wind tunnel tests at Honda designed to help deal with his extra height. It was a useful and important experience that reaffirms Honda´s commitment to achieving significant results together.
Marco Simoncelli says: "Honestly, I was a little disappointed about the postponement of the Motegi round because I was keen to go racing again but to have an extra week to prepare for Jerez is also good. I actually went to Japan anyway because we had some wind tunnel tests that had been planned for a while. It was quite a `compact´ trip in the end because I was there and back in just three days but it was still very worthwhile. We were able to test a few modifications that should allow us to make some aerodynamic improvements for straight-line speed. It won´t make a dramatic difference but like everything it is a case of taking a small but useful step forward. I also had the opportunity to experience first hand the strong desire on behalf of everybody at Honda to work hard and succeed. There is a lot of positivity about everything they do and I am sure that in time we will be able to achieve good results together. Jerez is a circuit I like, where I won my first race and where I have always been able to go fast so I hope that remains the case this year. We go to Jerez with the set target of improving on our performance in Qatar. "
Marco Melandri says: "Having done as badly as it was possible to do in Qatar we´re hoping for a positive reaction at Jerez. The postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan was definitely a good thing for us because it has given us more time to reflect and make important technical preparations. Over the past two weeks the team have been working hard alongside Honda and there will be some new things for me at Jerez that should help me find a better feeling with the front. In Qatar I was struggling to control the bike under braking and in corner entry, and when that happens it ruins everything else. If we can find a feeling for the front then we´ll have a base from which to work on the rest of the bike. Obviously we have to confirm everything when we get out on the track but I´m confident and to have the chance to work on everything in good conditions at a circuit I like is important. I had my best race of the season at Jerez in the dry last year. It is a track where you need to have a good feeling with the bike to ride well because you switch from fast corners to really slow ones so you need good feedback from the front to commit to them, especially the fast ones. My best memory of Jerez is my podium there in 2005, a season that was really important for my MotoGP career."
Fausto Gresini says:"Obviously the first Grand Prix of the season was a difficult one for us but we are highly motivated to improve and do much better at Jerez. We were happy with Simoncelli´s race debut in Qatar – we know that he has a lot to learn and we will give him all the time and space he needs to continue to grow. Considering the positive trend he has been on there is every reason to think he will take another step forward this weekend. We´re working hard and even the postponement of the Motegi race couldn´t stop us! Simoncelli still went over to Japan to try out some aerodynamic solutions in the Honda wind tunnel. I think that just shows you how keen Marco is to work, to improve and to achieve the results we all know he is capable of. We have also been working with Melandri and we think the return to Europe will be good for him. During the time since the last race we have all reflected a lot, together with Honda, and at Jerez we´ll be trying a few new things to see if we can give him the best possible feeling with the RC212V. We´re convinced we have the answers and we´re very hopeful they will work because Marco has great potential and we believe that he has what it takes to do well this season. We have not just given up over the last couple of weeks, or as they say we haven´t `sat on our hands´ – we have reacted in a way that is typical of the character of this team. It is always a fantastic occasion at Jerez because of the atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the Spanish fans. Spain is something of a second home for our team because we have celebrated victory at Jerez with Spanish riders and we have enjoyed unforgettable moments with Spanish sponsors. Viva Jerez and Viva España! "
CIRCUIT: Length: 4,423m Width: 11m Right corners: 8 Left corners: 5 Longest straight: 600m Circuit record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha, 2009), 1’39"818 Best pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha, 2008), 1’38"189 MotoGP Schedule: Sunday 2nd May @ 14:00 local time (GMT +2)
TEAM GRESINI AT JEREZ : The Jerez circuit has traditionally been one of the most fruitful for Team Gresini, who have celebrated nine podium finishes there over the past decade. Loris Capirossi scored the first team´s first success at the Andalusian track with third place in the 250cc race in 1999.
Daijiro Kato went one better to take second in the same event one year later before taking a sensational victory on his way to the quarter-litre title in 2001. The Japanese legend celebrated his first MotoGP podium at Jerez with second place on a memorable day for the team in 2002, when Roberto Rolfo and Emilio Alzamora made it a trio of podiums with second and third place respectively in the 250 race.
However, the highlight for the team at the famous Spanish circuit came in 2004, when Sete Gibernau clinched an unforgettable home victory in the MotoGP race. The Spaniard followed up with second place in 2005, when he was joined on the podium by his team-mate Marco Melandri as the Italian built towards runner-up spot in the championship. Toni Elias was the team´s standout rider in 2006 and 2007, finishing fourth on both occasions.