Author: Myanna Wedes

Marc Marquez won an incredible and memorable Jerez MotoGP race with high energy, endless amounts of adrenaline, drama and one incredible high side from Dani Pedrosa which had him hitting the eject button from his Repsol Honda MotoGP bike without warning! The Championship has shifted once again with Marquez leading by a healthy twelve points. The race was a choo choo line of bikes from start to finish with exceptional battles as the fans of Jerez went bonkers for Marquez lap after lap. The Spanish fans are incredibly passionate, memorable and leave a stamp of support for their idols: anyone who rides two wheels in the sport of MotoGP with a Spanish flag!

Marquez knew he had the race pace, comfort and confidence to win. The key difference at Jerez was that he kept quiet about his chances and remained focused with minimal errors. He was not arrogant or aggressive. Rather, the Spanish Ant was calculated and controlled which allowed him to win in a fashionable style. He was pushed, challenged and at risk of dropping his bike when Thomas Luthi crashed leaving stones on the surface of the circuit. Marquez literally slid at in excess of 230km/h whilst keeping the bike from going underneath him. What a freak of nature he is on a motorcycle. Marquez: “This win in front of these amazing fans is great! I’m very happy with the result, which is especially important at this track, because winning here is usually difficult for me.” It is true that Jerez is usually a circuit where the Repsol Honda rider has to take the positives with the negatives. However, in 2018, the Jerez MotoGP Grand Prix was a weekend of perfect 10’s. Marquez: “The key was the rear-tyre choice; we made the decision after the warm-up to go with the medium, and that was the right move. Then I was able to take the lead at the right moment and push when I had the chance. I also had a big moment when I hit some dirt on the track. When I realized that the asphalt was covered in gravel, it was already too late. I closed the gas, but I had a huge slide! Let’s say it was a bit of a ‘Marquez style’ show! I’m happy to have taken my first win at Angel Nieto’s Circuit, and to have an advantage in the Championship.” Regardless of what happened over the past couple of races, the MM93 World Title mindset is back in business.

The disaster for the weekend trophy goes to Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. It was a race to remember for the Ducati squad as they were about to bring home second and third when DesmoDovi lunged for Lorenzo in a clean pass though running wide, which caused Lorenzo to run wide and crank the throttle upon re-entering the corner to attack again and Pedrosa sweeping through not realising what was about to take place. Due to Pedrosa not being seen by Lorenzo, the two collided, sending Pedrosa to the moon and back, Lorenzo in to Dovi and the two crashing out destroying their bikes. The Championship leader went from hero to zero in a matter of seconds and unfortunately picked up the wrong bike to attempt a restart, soon realising he had Lorenzo’s bike and not his own. It was a spectacle and the way Pedrosa flew through the air was unbelievable. We are glad to hear that Pedrosa is back up and walking although with some immense hip pain. The Baby Samurai does not need another injury to add to his list for 2018. Pedrosa is a man of not so many words usually, however, he had plenty to say about the crash which we see as just a racing incident. Pedrosa: “I’m very sad and disappointed for all of us, as we were having a great race but ended with zero points, and also because all of us are used to a nice style of riding and didn’t deserve this result. However, what makes me sadder and more disappointed is that I could see that the Race Direction don’t seem to understand very well how to manage these situations, and how to make decisions about things that happen on the track. I went to speak with them, just because I wanted to understand how they make decisions. In the end, there are many people who watch us, and many other riders who look at us as examples. I asked them how they judge: Was I on the correct inside line? Yes. Were the other guys on the outside coming back from a mistake, re-joining the right line? Yes. So who has the preference in this case, the guy who is inside or those who are outside? The one on the inside. So, who was at fault? But I didn’t get an answer, only that they had already made their decision and that if I didn’t agree with it, which I don’t, to appeal against Jorge if I wanted. But I didn’t want that, as I don’t want Jorge to be penalized, only for them to understand correctly what is happening on track.”

On the other side of the garage, the two Ducati riders admitted that they went wide though Pedrosa saw an opportunity and probably went in too quick to try and overtake two for one. Andrea Dovizioso: “What a pity! On the one hand I’m happy with the feeling that I had with the bike, my speed and how I managed the race: to start from behind and make up places here at Jerez, lapping almost at the same pace as Marquez who then won the race, is truly a great satisfaction. But in the end I go home with no points, and this is a very negative result at this moment, because we are fighting against a very strong rider and bike and as a result we can’t afford to lose 20 points when it was a foregone conclusion. About the incident, I braked right on the limit because I had been trying to pass Jorge for a few laps: I went wide and made Jorge go wide a bit as well, Dani saw an opening and jumped in too quickly and in the end bad luck would have it that when they came together they also took me down with them.”

Jorge Lorenzo: “I’m really disappointed about the crash, especially because it involved three of the fairest riders in the world championship, and for this reason I don’t want to go into detail about what happened. We were for sure very unlucky and it was a racing incident: Pedrosa went in very hard but I don’t think we can blame anyone except for bad luck and I’m really sorry for Andrea and for Ducati. Satisfaction remains for the great race we were doing, for my explosive start and for our determination, but I’m also happy with the way we worked the entire weekend. This race was a step ahead in our development and, even though we are still two or three tenths of a second off the pace, we are on the right path.” So, after hearing the thoughts of the riders, what do you think about the incident?

In amongst the chaotic accident, the Alma Pramac Ducati team went head to head with Andrea Iannone and Valentino Rossi. Both Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller tried everything they could in their playbook to beat Iannone and Rossi, though the Team Suzuki Ecstar rider was on form even when the team changed the set-up of the bike on the grid at the last minute which actually caused him to be slower. The Italian rider actually looked to be enjoying his time on board the Suzuki for once! Iannone beat Petrucci, Rossi and Miller and the more experienced VR46 beat Miller. We must say that those last-minute gambles for Iannone and Cal Crutchlow definitely impacted their overall performance. Both riders had the potential to be at the front.

In reflecting upon the race, it was a weekend of ups and downs for many riders. There were no doubts that Johann Zarco was going to be the top performing Yamaha bike after Rossi and Maverick Vinales struggled from Friday right through to race day. The only reason they obtained some points of decent value was because of the accident taking place with Lorenzo, Dovi and Pedrosa. Rossi: “I was also lucky because three guys in front of me crashed.” Right now, the development of the Yamaha is lagging behind and it is frustrating for both riders who have the potential to be on the podium. If something does not change soon, the factory Yamaha riders may be left behind. Sometimes in racing you are lucky and at other times you are unlucky. It was a day of good fortune for Johann Zarco who at one stage looked as if he was going to crash. The French rider remained calm after witnessing the clash ahead of him, decided to take the precious twenty points and truly believe anything is possible when you put the hard work in. Zarco is right and he sits high up on the title leader board with a smile on his face. Until the chequered flag is down, you never know what is going to happen. Overall, it was the first time Michelin had visited the Jerez circuit since it was resurfaced, and they did an impeccable job. The valuable testing data allowed the company to plan accordingly and bring tyres to suit the conditions. Michelin should be congratulated on their attention to detail and allowing riders to challenge even when the temperatures soared, and grip diminished over race distance. On Monday, Michelin will remain at Jerez for an official IRTA test before heading home to Le Mans for the official French Grand Prix on Sunday 20th May. As with any competitive sport, the chapters are written as they occur and with Le Mans up next, anything is possible. Harsh weather, tyre challenges, bike performance and rider mentality are just a few of the issues to come in to play when the teams and riders arrive on French soil. 

Credit: CormacGP and LCR Honda MotoGP Team

Credit: CormacGP and LCR Honda MotoGP Team

Credit: Michelin

Credit: Ducati Corse Press

Credit: Ducati Corse Press

About The Author

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.