The 2015 MotoGP Championship heads to Europe for the first time of the season, the action taking place this weekend at Jerez for the Grand Prix of Spain. As Jerez prepares for its 29th-consecutive year of MotoGP, the riders were kept well before getting on the prototypes.
Wednesday was highlighted by a special ceremony for Jorge Lorenzo, the Movistar Yamaha pilot who became the first Spaniard to win the MotoGP World Championship (2010, 2012) since the modern age was introduced in 2002. To mark the occasion, the Mayor of Jerez, Maria José Garcia Pelayo, presented Jorge Lorenzo with a star on the Jerez Walk of Fame. Lorenzo also put his handprints in clay for a monument that will be featured at the Jerez Walk of Fame in the future.
“Jerez has always been very special to me as it was the first real track that I raced on when I was 10. It was also where I made my debut in the World Championship when I was 15. This is where it all started for me,” Lorenzo says.
This event was followed Thursday by the opening of a new exhibition in Jerez, titled “Motorsports Legends 1969-2015,” which celebrates Repsol’s involvement in Spanish motorsport from 1969 to the present day. Attending the event were Marc Marquez, Nicky Hayden, Johann Zarco, Julian Simon, Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera, as well legends from the world of Spanish motorcycling including Angel Nieto, Jorge Martinez Aspar, and Emilio Alzamora. Of course some motorcycle’s were on disply, including Nieto’s 50cc Debri and Marquez’s RC213V.
Next was the traditional press conference with the following riders in attendance – Marquez, his rival and current points leader Valentino Rossi, Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith.
Before Marquez headed to the conference, he underwent a fitness exam at the Circuito de Jerez Medical Centre to see if he’s fit for racing his weekend. Following his crash in Argentina two weeks ago, Marquez wrecked while dirt-track training, fracturing his left pinky.
Doctors inserted a titanium plate in his finger, and he will be assessed for fitness as the GP of Spain goes on. On Thursday, the Repsol Honda pilot was deemed fit to ride.
This and Marquez’s crash with Rossi at Termas de Rio Hondo highlighted the conference. The nine-time World Champion Rossi, who won the season opener in Qatar and in Argentina, was the first to respond when asked if his relationship with Marquez was affected by the incident.
In typical Rossi fashion, VR46 joked: “I will have to give Marc less kisses from now on!” The Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1 pilot also discussed his excitement for being back in Europe and at Jerez, where he won eight times across all classes.
“Jerez is always a special weekend, I think it is one of the best and I like it a lot. We return to Europe and I am very happy as it takes less flying time, and the atmosphere in Jerez is very special,” Rossi says.
Marquez then commented if a situation similar to Argentina could occur in Jerez: “If I am behind Rossi on the last lap, I will be lucky, as I am not 100 percent.”
Marquez, who is fifth in points, 30 points behind Rossi, has no clue how his injury will affect him at Jerez: “Tomorrow I will try and we will see, it will be painful as the operation was only on Saturday evening, but okay we will see, maybe we will suffer more than in other races, but here in Jerez in front of the fans I have extra motivation and that can help me.”
Ducati Team’s Dovizioso was next to talk, and announced that the Italian manufacturer will not have any major new upgrades at Jerez. Dovi has finished second at all three rounds this season, and is six points behind Rossi in the point standings.
Speaking of the Jerez challenges, Dovizioso says “We didn’t have a lot of time to really work on the bike at the last 3 races as the conditions were tricky. This race with the weather looking good, we have more time to work on the setup to see if we can improve a little bit of traction and braking stability.”
Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo discussed his troubles so far this season: “When you are at a very high level even small problems don’t stop you fighting for the race, but when you have problems and are slower you cannot fight for the race win. When I don’t have problems, I will be able to fight for the race win.”
As for CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit earned his first podium of 2015 MotoGP in Argentina.: “We can improve our package and our speed again as we need to improve and I need to ride a bit better especially in certain stages of the race.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Bradley Smith also commented, saying Jerez is one of his favorite tracks. “I was speaking to someone on the flight, and trying to work out how many laps I have done around here as it has been quite a few. I’ve had a good run of results here ever since my first GP win.”
MotoGP reports that the biggest laugh during the press conference came when a journalist asked the riders for their take on the Rossi-Marquez clash from Argentina, with Lorenzo stating, “I don’t know what happened, I was too far back,” while Cal Crutchlow’s response was “I don’t care…it gave me a podium!”
The riders will be on the Jerez circuit Friday for the first free practices. For more, visit 2015 Jerez MotoGP Preview.