For San Carlo Honda Gresini team
The San Carlo Honda Gresini Team will be looking to get their MotoGP World Championship bid firmly on the right track this weekend as the series heads to Spain for the third round of the season and the first in a run of nine consecutive races
Less than a month since holding the official preseason test, the Jerez circuit again plays host to the Grand Prix of Spain, having built a reputation as one of the most atmospheric and revered venues in world motorcycle racing since it was first used back in 1987.
The return to the ‘old continent' is a welcome one for Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis, who are relieved to be heading to a circuit they have previous set-up data for following a difficult weekend in Japan.
The Spaniard has an impressive record at Jerez, a circuit he regards as his ‘home' despite being born and living much closer to the Circuit de Catalunya. Elias just missed out on the podium here on his debut with Honda and Team Gresini in 2006 and will long be remembered for his 250cc victory in 2003, when he battled through from the third row despite nursing a broken thumb.
"We improved at Motegi but not as much as I would have liked and we're not in the ideal situation going into my home Grand Prix at Jerez. However, the important thing is that I believe we are on the right path and by continuing to work hard in the way we are doing, along with a bit of help from Honda, we should be there soon”, he said. “I've had some great races at Jerez in the past, the crowd there definitely give the Spanish riders a big lift and with the data we have from preseason testing there is no reason not to go into this Grand Prix feeling excited and optimistic. Jerez is a special event for any rider in the championship but especially for a Spaniard. It is a unique Grand Prix because of the passion you can feel from the fans – there are so many of them and they are so close that when I was riding in 125 and 250 I could hear them cheering through my helmet! I've always felt something really special riding at this track.
De Angelis, meanwhile, has three podiums here in the smaller classes.
"After Motegi it would be silly to try and predict what could happen at Jerez but we definitely won't struggle as much as we did in Japan. We really need to work hard on finding some traction because this is the only area we are missing - other than that my feeling with the bike is great”, he said. “We didn't have a great preseason test at Jerez but hopefully it can be a similar situation to Qatar, where we had a poor test but the higher temperature and extra base setting data helped us to improve the situation for the race. After two very strange races in Qatar and Japan it will be nice to be back in Europe, where hopefully things will be a little more back to normal!"
Jerez is a well-balanced track that offers a bit of everything but nothing too extreme, requesting an equally balanced set-up from the machine. Several hard braking areas make front tyre wear crucial, whilst finding rear traction is also important as the riders look to use as much of the bike's power as possible on the exits of a diverse mixture of corners.