Yamaha Factory Racing Riders Prepare for Jerez
This weekend will see the first European round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship as the paddock sets up at Jerez for the second race of the season. Huge crowds are expected to fill the natural amphitheatre to witness the premier class riders do battle on a 4.423km circuit whose signature includes numerous quick direction changes and few hard braking points. So far all MotoGP testing and action in 2011 has been overseas; winter testing in Malaysia was followed by a test and subsequent season opening race under the floodlights of the Losail International circuit in Qatar two weeks ago. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo kick started his title challenge with a stunning performance, taking both himself and his M1 to the limit to score a hard won second place finish on the podium and slot into second place in the championship standings ahead of the first of his home races this weekend.
The Mallorcan’s relationship with the Andalucian track in Jerez is a special one, providing him with race wins in both 2006 and 2007 on his way to two successive 250cc GP titles. His last visit in 2010 was no less spectacular; having caught and dispatched then teammate Valentino Rossi after a less than perfect start Lorenzo closed a 1.5 second gap to Dani Pedrosa in the last five laps to take the race lead and victory from the last corner.
Yamaha Factory Racing newcomer Ben Spies arrives in Jerez looking to take his first MotoGP points from the Spanish track. In 2010 the Texan performed well in qualifying at his first visit, learning the circuit quickly to qualify in eighth position for his second race in the championship. Unfortunately he was forced to retire after 20 laps so will be keen to build on his sixth position finish in Qatar two weeks ago with further points here.
"I am ready to come back to Jerez. We started the Championship so well in Qatar and I believe it is a great moment to ride for my people and my Fan Club here in Spain. Last year the situation was quite similar and perhaps I got the best victory of my career, closing a big gap in the last few laps. We can't make predictions for Sunday, but my crew and I will work as much as possible to be in front. Jerez is a special place for me, maybe the best track in the world. When I was only 15, the day right after my birthday, I raced for the first time in front of 100.000 people here."
“I have unfinished business here at Jerez. I really enjoyed riding here last year and was disappointed not to be able to take some points from the race. Now I’m back with a full factory machine so I believe the outcome should be a little different! We have track knowledge from last year so we can focus straight away on getting the 2011 M1 set up and we’ll see what we can do. It’s my team mate’s home race so I’m expecting a great atmosphere.”
I believe it is a great moment to ride for my people and my Fan Club here in Spain.
Wilco Zeelenberg\ Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“After a great first race we are actually quite keen to get to Jerez because we know Jorge has good speed here, especially compared to Casey. He won his first ever Spanish MotoGP race here last year so we can’t wait to see if we can fight like we did in Qatar, maybe even a little better! The results from the first race give us extra confidence, we know we can be fast and Jorge has the talent to fight with the best for the podium.”
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“I think Jerez can be a good circuit for Yamaha, after seeing what we achieved in Qatar we are going there with good optimism. It’s the home race for Jorge and a great victory for him here last year, when you ride in front of your fans it can give you an additional boost. Last year was unfortunate for Ben during the race but during the practice and qualifying the times weren’t so bad. For sure he knows the circuit so he can be immediately focused on finding the right set up and concentrating on a decent tyre choice. The fast corners of Jerez are good for us, our bike works well and we have always had good results here with the M1.”