2016 Jerez MotoGP Commentary | The Race Tightens
The racing was good for a few laps for MotoGP at Circuito de Jerez, as the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo mixed it up with the Hondas of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa.
In the end, it wasn’t close, and it came down to how well the riders managed the spinning rear tire. In the final second half of the race, only Ducati’s Andrea Iannone made any passes, and that was because he started so poorly. Still, MotoGP is always filled with drama and intrigue. Let’s take a look at who finished on the Upside, and who had a Downside day in Spain.
1. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi
After a long drought without a dry win, Rossi put together one of the most dominate victories of his career, leading all 27 laps at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España. Taking the lead from pole, Rossi held off a brief charge by teammate Jorge Lorenzo before slowly clearing off at the front.
Rossi managed the rear tire issues that flummoxed his competition, and put himself back into the MotoGP championship race after falling in the previous race at the Circuit of the Americas. “When I start, I knew the conditions were difficult, but my bike was fantastic,” Rossi said. “I start well. I end well. I had a good pace and a good start and felt good with the bike from the beginning, so I could push. Sincerely, it was a special taste to have a win like this.”
2. Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Márquez
With maturity hard-earned from last year’s crash-fest, Márquez smartly solidified his 3rd place at Circuito de Jerez. With Rossi beating Lorenzo, Márquez minimized the losses to his lead. He is still 17 points ahead of Lorenzo, and is beating Rossi by 24 points. Márquez made a bit of a run at Lorenzo, but realized the futility due to tire issues and settled for 16 points in the MotoGP standings.
“Honestly, today Valentino was on another level, like I was in Austin,” Márquez said, “and the most important thing is that today we accepted finishing 3rd in the race. I learned a lot from last year and I didn’t want to make a mistake. I was very focused from the start and I tried to ride strongly and stay with Jorge, but I could tell that with the higher track temperatures…it was very difficult for me to manage the front tire well. I almost crashed several times, so in the end I made a difficult decision in front of our fans, as we preferred to secure 16 points that will be very positive at the end of the season, which is very long.”
3. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo
The good news for Lorenzo was finishing ahead of Márquez, but the bad news was that he only picked up four points instead of five had he won the race, or nine if he had been competitive and passed Rossi. But, with a spinning rear tire, it was not to be for Lorenzo, who didn’t find the magic that Rossi possessed.
The defending MotoGP Champion has shrugged off the Argentina crash and has regained sight of series leader Márquez, closing to within the points of a race win. “The positive thing is that the Yamaha went better in the race. We could have won the race without the problem on the straights. Because of the spinning…I couldn’t be full throttle on the straights. Just when I started recovering meters on Rossi, this problem started. So, I had to slow down a lot and I didn’t have the chance to fight with him for the victory, but sometimes this happens.”
4. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaró.
After two 11ths to start the year, Espargaró has come to grips with his Suzuki GSX-RR. He now has two top 5 finishes in a row, and both of them came after improving his position on the starting grid. Espargaró is now part of a five rider battle for 4th in the MotoGP championship standings, with just nine points separating 4th place Dani Pedrosa of the Repsol Honda Team, and 8th place Hector Barbera of Avinta Racing. Espargaró’s enthusiasm is undeniable.
“I was waiting for this GP because, since FP1 in Argentina, we have been making continuous steps forward,” Espargaró said. “In every session in Argentina and Austin we registered improvements, and I knew we were getting closer. Here, we really focused on the preparation for the race. I suffered a little bit in qualifying because I wasn’t able to run fast with the softer tire, but doing such a fast lap in qualifying with the harder tire meant that we were ready and competitive for the race.”
5. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales. Another rider who had rear grip problems, Viñales attained his pre-season goal of top 6 finishes for the third time this year (he crashed out of podium position in Argentina). Viñales is 6th in the standings, sandwiched between the Espargaró brothers, both of whom have finished all four races in the points.
After the race, Viñales said, “Finally the result of the race is not bad, but it was very difficult, as I struggled for the whole race with the rear grip and I regret we could have achieved an even better result. We are not exploiting the bike 100-percent. We still miss something in the set-up or in the tire performance, and this forced me to push very hard in race.”
1. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso
Bad luck continues to hound Dovizioso, who has not had a clean race since the opener in Qatar. Dovi was taken out by an over-optimistic teammate at the last chicane in Argentina, and then knocked down by Pedrosa’s bike after it was tossed away in Texas. This time, it was a technical problem that made Dovizioso a non-finisher. Just four rounds in, any title hopes are gone, as Dovi is in 11th place in the standings, and 59 points behind the leader.
“It was a pity because another no-points score in the championship was the last thing I needed,” Dovizioso allowed. “We had a problem with the water pump. Some water came out and finished on the rear wheel and I almost crashed three times so had to retire. On a personal level, it’s important for me to be sure that I haven’t made any errors in the last three races, and this gives me the confidence to try and be competitive again immediately, starting from Le Mans.”
2. OCTO Prama Yakhnich Ducati’s Scott Redding
Without a doubt, Redding is the least predictable rider on the grid, bouncing all over the finishing charts each week. He has gone 10-DNF-6-19 in the first four weeks. Redding simply never got traction in Jerez, and finished over a minute behind Rossi and over 17 seconds out of the points.
“Nothing worked throughout the weekend,” Redding complained, “and I must admit that it is not possible to ride in these conditions. During the last few laps, I also had to slow down a bit to get to the finish line without running the risk of falling. Even in the straight, the spinning was impressive. You can always learn something from the bad days, but it’s really hard to figure out what we should have done to improve this weekend. We spent three days trying to find grip and we never succeeded. I do not think it was only our fault.”
3. Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone
After crashing out of the first two rounds, Iannone looked to be back on form when he grabbed an Austin podium. While he didn’t go down in Jerez, he was never competitive. Running in 14th place early on (for five laps), he did work his way up to 7th, but that is a far cry from fighting for the win or podium as he did in the first three races.
“I didn’t expect such a difficult weekend, and right from the start of practice I did my best to do a quick fix on the situation,” Iannone said. “In the race I started some way down the grid and this penalized me, especially because I didn’t make a good start and the feeling with the bike in the early laps was not at its best. It’s a pity, because then I managed to improve lap after lap, making up a lot of positions, and in the end my pace wasn’t bad. A 7th place is for sure not our target, but we took home some important points for the championship.” Iannone is 10th in the standing, ahead of teammate Dovizioso (11th) and behind Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati’s Eugene Laverty and Ducati-mounted Barbera. Who would have thought that after four rounds that Barbera would be top Ducati in the standings?
4. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow
After Jerez, Crutchlow sarcastically tweeted, “Massive party tonight ! Massive ! All welcome to party also. I finished the race …” Well, yes, he finished a race without crashing for the first time in 2016, and scored his first points. Unfortunately, it was a lowly 11th place, putting him 18th in the MotoGP standings. Crutchlow’s expectations have been for podium finishes, and he still thought he could finish 4th at Jerez. Is he realistic or delusional? His results indicate the latter. “There are no excuses, we have what we have. I finished 11th, but finished the race.
Obviously, that doesn’t make me happy at all. Before the race I felt I could have been battling with Dani Pedrosa,” Crutchlow revealed, “if I’m truly honest. I have no doubt in my mind I could battle up there today, but for some reason the Honda pace dropped a lot across the board with ten laps to go. Honda are working so hard though, and we will at least give them some information on full race distance which can hopefully help things.” I’m not really sure what Crutchlow is talking about. He was in 11th for most of the opening nine laps, then moved up one spot for Laps 10 to 15, and then back to 11th when Iannone went by him. That’s where he finished, more than 28 seconds behind Pedrosa.
5. Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda’s Tito Rabat
After three seasons finishing in the top 3 of the Moto2 standings, including a 2014 Moto2 World Championship, Rabat has had a difficult time in MotoGP. He snuck up into the top 10 in the unusual conditions in Argentina, but slipped back to 13th in Austin and now 18th, and out of the points, in Spain. He is 17th in the MotoGP Standings, with just 11 points in four rounds. I don’t have to remind you of how Moto2 Champion Marc Márquez did his rookie season.
“I can’t be too happy with today’s result,” said a disappointed Rabat, “but I am happy that we made important progress in solving some of our wheelie issues under acceleration. I’ve struggled a lot in that area, and we found a good direction this weekend. I finished the race again, which is important to get data and experience for the future, and I am happy with my rhythm at the beginning of the race. I struggled in the final laps when the grip went down, but I think I made another positive step this weekend.”
Photography by Luciano Bianchetto
Results: Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Circuito de Jerez
|1||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||45:28.834|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+2.386|
|3||Marc Márquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+7.087|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+10.351|
|5||Aleix Espargaró||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+14.143|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+16.772|
|7||Andrea Iannone||Ducati Team||Ducati||+26.277|
|8||Pol Espargaró||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+30.750|
|9||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||+32.325|
|10||Hector Barbera||Avintia Racing||Ducati||+32.624|
|11||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||Honda||+38.497|
|12||Bradley Smith||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+39.669|
|13||Loris Baz||Avintia Racing||Ducati||+45.227|
|14||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+47.886|
|15||Yonny Hernandez||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||+47.988|
|16||Michele Pirro||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||+49.414|
|17||Jack Miller||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+49.513|
|18||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+53.334|
|19||Scott Redding||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||+1:05.555|
2016 MotoGP Standings (after 4 of 18 rounds)
1. Marc Márquez, 82 points (2 wins)
2. Jorge Lorenzo, 65 (1 win)
3. Valentino Rossi, 58 (1 win)
4. Dani Pedrosa, 40
5. Pol Espargaró, 36
6. Maverick Viñales, 33
7. Aleix Espargaró, 33
8. Hector Barbera, 31
9. Eugene Laverty, 28
10. Andrea Iannone, 25
11. Andrea Dovizioso, 23
12. Bradley Smith, 20
13. Stefan Bradl, 17
14. Scott Redding, 16
15. Alvaro Bautista, 14
16. Michele Pirro, 12
17. Tito Rabat, 11
18. Cal Crutchlow, 5
19. Loris Baz, 4
20. Yonny Hernandez, 3
21. Jack Miller, 2