And the first European round of 2014 MotoGP got underway Thursday with the traditional pre-race press conference. In attendance were Spain’s top riders – Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo – along with Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, and the current Moto2 points leader, Tito Rabat.Repsol Honda’s Marquez, the reigning MotoGP Champion, has won the opening three rounds of 2013 MotoGP. And this weekend’s race at Jerez will be extra special for the 21-year-old RC213V pilot, considering it will be his 100th Grand Prix start.“It will be a special weekend to race in my 100th Grand Prix in front of the home fans at a circuit where I’ve never won. I know that Dani, Jorge and Valentino all ride well here and I think they will all be strong,” Marquez says.Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa has finished on the podium at every race so far this season, and will be looking to carry the momentum into Jerez – one of his favorite circuits.“It will be very warm here and the atmosphere is always great on race day,” Pedrosa says. “I have a good record here and I hope to keep that going. I’ve made a good start to the season and I want to maintain the form in front of the home crowd.”Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo took his first podium finish last weekend at Argentina, and has much incentive at his home race in Spain. Lorenzo celebrates his 27th birthday Sunday, and will also start his 200th Grand Prix race.“The 200 Grands Prix have come fast, with good moments and bad. Now we are here fighting in MotoGP at the top level. I felt happier and more positive in Argentina, but we still want to do better and we hope to do that here,” Lorenzo says.Lorenzo’s teammate Rossi will be looking to improve once again. He is the most successful rider at Jerez, having won there six times in the premier class. The nine-time World Champion will be looking to return to the podium following his fourth-place finish at Argentina.“I had a good potential in Austin and Argentina and should have been on the podium but because of bad luck and some other factors we did not do it, so we have to put it right this weekend. We have been flying a lot already this year so now we have a run of European races to enjoy,” Rossi says.Ducati Team’s Cal Crutchlow returns following his absence at Argentina due to a finger injury sustained in a crash at Circuit of the Americas three weeks ago.“It’s great to be back. It was strange to sit back and watch it on television. I was sure I could have won it when I was watching! The injury was one of the most painful of my career and we have to see how my fitness is after FP2. I think I have enough strength to brake properly but I don’t want to be a danger to myself or the other riders,” Crutchlow says.Also present at the press conference was Rabat, who has 70 points out of a maximum 75 so far this season.“It’s still so early in the championship and there is a lot of racing still to come this year. There are some strong rivals in Moto2 so we can’t relax. We know there will be a great atmosphere this weekend as there is always a big crowd so we want to enjoy it,” Rabat says.The riders also gave comment on the announcement that Bridgestone will withdraw as official tire supplier at the conclusion of 2015 MotoGP.“I’m surprised about it as they have been really successful and the tires have been getting better and better over the years. It has taken time for Bridgestone to reach the level they are at,” Marquez says.“I’m sad about this because I think Bridgestone’s tires are at a great level,” Rossi says. “If the tires change the sport changes. The bikes and the riding styles will also have to adapt. It’s difficult to have one tyre which works well for every bike.”“The reality is for whoever comes in that the riders will always ask for more. One thing I would ask for is to have intermediate tires for mixed conditions,’ Crutchlow says. “I think Bridgestone have done a great job. The tyre is the only thing which holds you to the ground and all the bikes react differently.”Earlier in the day MotoGP riders Hiroshi Aoyama and Danilo Petrucci were joined by Moto2 trio Xavier Simeon, Luis Salom and Jordi Torres and Moto3 regular Ana Carrasco, along with Moto3 wildcard Maria Herrera, in a visit to the Jose Estevez Bodegas in Jerez – where they learned how to serve wine from a barrel in the typical Spanish style. One of the wines poured was the well-renowned La Guita, which will feature prominently at the forthcoming Feria de Sevilla, MotoGP reports.