2013 MotoGP ChampionshipFor the first time in the 2013 MotoGP Championship, the series heads to Europe for the first of four rounds held on Spanish soil – the Gran Premio de Espana a Jerez.The competition is fierce heading into the 2.748-mile circuit that will host round three of 18, especially amid the Spanish riders.Tied up top are two of Spain’s favorites – the reigning MotoGP Champion, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. Both riders have 41 points, and lead yet another Spaniard by eight points, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.These three, along with Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi, are the top riders so far in the opening two rounds. At the season opener in Qatar, Lorenzo took a dominate win ahead of Rossi and Marquez.But it was Marquez who truly impressed two weeks ago at the debut of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The 20-year-old rider became the youngest rider to ever achieve a premier-class pole, and then the youngest rider to ever win a premier-class race. Marquez ousted Freddie Spencer’s previous record set in 1982 (21-years old).Joining Marquez on the CoTA podium was Pedrosa and Lorenzo, respectively. Lorenzo had issues adapting his YZR-M1 to CoTA, but has not had many issues at Jerez. Lorenzo has two wins in the former 250cc class (2006, 2007), and finished just under a second behind last year’s winner, the now-retired Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V).But Lorenzo still holds the fastest lap and best pole at Jerez, both from his debut year in MotoGP in 2008. The 2013 Championship challenger also made his MotoGP debut in the 125cc class at Jerez, although he was forced to miss the first qualifying session because he was too young. Lorenzo turned 15 before the second session, going out to ride in front of his home crowd for his first Grand Prix experience.As for Marquez, he has never won at Jerez, though took second there last year en route to winning the Moto2 title. But the RC213V is a top performer there, considering Stoner’s win last season, and Pedrosa’s consistent podium finishes there since 2006. Since that year, Pedrosa finished on the podium seven times, including a win (2008) and five second-place finishes.In the points race behind the three Spaniards is nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. The 34-year-old rider, who is the oldest pilot in the modern age of MotoGP (since 2002) has six premier-class wins at Jerez, including three with Yamaha. Rossi had some issues at CoTA, including a chipped from brake rotor, but finished in sixth place, keeping him fourth in the points with 30, 11 behind Marquez and Lorenzo.But only six behind Rossi is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who took fifth at Qatar and fourth at CoTA. Next in points is GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista with 18 points, who is tied with the top Ducati rider so far this season, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.Three points behind these two is Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, who is followed a further two points back by another Ducati rider – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone.Rounding out the top 10 in points is LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, who continues to post quick lap times aboard the RC213V, yet can’t quite catch the top riders.Tech 3’s rookie Bradley Smith, like many others, is much more familiar with the Jerez track, which should see him climb up the rankings as he squeezes the most out of his M1.Ducati will be looking for something extra at Jerez, also, considering Michele Pirro will be lining up for the team as a wild card entry. Pirro ran a full test schedule with Ducati at Jerez, testing three separate Desmosedicis.As for Ignite Pramac’s Ben Spies, the Texan will miss the Jerez round due to a reoccurring nerve issue in his shoulder. The original injury occurred following a crash at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix.The CRT field has a big task on its hands as it challenges the current dominance of Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who has also been beating some of the prototypes so far. His teammate Randy de Puniet is edging ever closer, whilst NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will hope to overcome his disappointment from retiring in his home race in Texas, MotoGP reports.His teammate Claudio Corti will aim to do battle with the impressive looking Yonny Hernandez on his PBM ART, his teammate Michael Laverty on the PBM machine, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera, as well as Gresini’s Bryan Staring. Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek and Danilo Petrucci will hope for a turnaround in fortunes after a crash and retirement respectively in Austin. Cardion AB Motorracing’s Karel Abraham will not take part, as he sustained a broken collarbone after a crash in Texas, which an estimated healing time of three to four weeks. He should be fit for the following race in Le Mans, MotoGP reports.2013 Jerez MotoGP TV ScheduleSPEED TV will broadcast Jerez MotoGP at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday, May 5.Photos by Ara Ashjian2013 MotoGP Point Standings (after two of 18 rounds):
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.