MotoGP emerges from the ash cloud to land in Spain
Jerez MotoGP finally resumes action this weekend, after the recent Icelandic Volcano forced the postponement of the Japanese GP. It has been a frustrating time for the paddock as the ash cloud has billowed over Europe and it
will be an excited Fiat Yamaha Team that lands in Spain this week, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo itching to get back to action after their brilliant one-two in the opening round.
Rossi has an impressive record at Jerez, with seven wins in all classes there including three for Yamaha in 2005, 2006 and last year, when he overhauled Dani Pedrosa to take his first win of the season. Despite being on a high from his brilliant win in Qatar, Rossi was perhaps more grateful than most for the volcano's eruptions as he slightly damaged his shoulder muscles in a motocross training accident ten days ago. The cancelled race has given him unexpected extra time to recover and he hopes to be in good enough shape to put up a fight in Jerez.
Lorenzo is now hopefully back to full fitness after breaking his hand in the pre-season and the 22-year-old has a score to settle with the first Spanish track of the year, after he crashed out when challenging for the podium last year. It was at this track where he made history as the youngest ever rider to compete in a Grand Prix and he has won there twice since, on the way to his two 250cc titles in 2006 and 2007.
The Andalucian city of Jerez is a shrine for Spanish motorcycle racing and draws one of the biggest crowds of the year. More than 120,000 fans make the pilgrimage south and pack into the natural amphitheatre to create a three-day carnival. The track itself has few hard braking points and little opportunity to fully open the throttle, but often throws up some spectacular racing. The 4.423 km layout features regular and quick changes in direction, meaning the rider requires a responsive overall set-up and good grip at maximum lean angles.
Valentino Rossi - "Amazing atmosphere and fantastic fans"
"Of course it was a pity not to go to Japan, Yamaha's home race, but we will go in October now and for me it was quite lucky to have this extra week. I didn't hurt myself badly in the motocross fall but my shoulder was quite sore so it was good to give it more time to recover. I don't know yet how much it will affect me this weekend, I hope not too much. The win in Qatar was fantastic but we saw there that we are lacking in some areas compared to our rivals so we have work to do. I love to race at Jerez, the atmosphere is amazing and I have fantastic fans in Spain. Last year I had a great win and I hope we can challenge again this time."
Jorge Lorenzo - "You can hear the crowd!"
"I was sad not to go to Japan because I love the country and the race and last season I won, so I was looking forward to going back. Anyway, we can't change it and at least we will still go, in October. Now we go to Jerez, an amazing track where you can actually hear the crowd as you race! At Nieto and Peluquil corners especially you can feel the people, it's like nowhere else in the World Championship. Last year I crashed when I was trying to pass Stoner and get the podium but until then the weekend had been good, I was fast and took pole position. This year I'm confident that I can finish the race and get as close as possible to the front."
Davide Brivio - "A good track for Yamaha and Valentino"
"We are going straight to Jerez after a longer rest than we expected. Unfortunately Valentino won't be in the best shape due to his recent injury sustained while training with a motocross bike. We will have to see to what extent it affects him but we hope he will be okay. Jerez has always been a good track for Yamaha and Valentino likes it very much. It will be an interesting race because several riders will be competitive there and we hope to see another close race like Qatar. It will be nice to be back in Europe and to meet all the European fans again after such a long time."
Wilco Zeelenberg - "Back to full strength"
"It was a shame not to race in Japan but it seems like the best decision was made; it would have been bad if only half the teams could get there! Jorge was looking forward to racing there but he will get another chance and the good thing is that it's given him more time to regain full strength in his hand. He showed in Qatar how determined he is, when we weren't expecting him to be that strong so soon, and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do in Jerez at his first home race."