Next stop Jerez for MotoGP class
Europe welcomes the MotoGP battle
Jerez de la Frontera is the first European stop on the 2011 MotoGP World Championship calendar this weekend, as the famed Spanish circuit hosts the second round of the season. With crowds regularly in excess of 120,000 on GP race day at the Andalucian track, the Gran Premio bwin de España promises a weekend packed full of atmosphere and on-track entertainment.
After victory on his Repsol Honda debut in Qatar, Casey Stoner is the early 2011 pacesetter having become the first Honda rider to win the opening round of the season since 2003. Stoner has however only stepped onto the podium at Jerez on one previous occasion across all GP classes (in 2009), and will have to contest with the might of defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and his own Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, both of whom will be fully focused on delighting a partisan home crowd.
Lorenzo was the only non-Honda inside the top five across the finish line in Qatar, and the Factory Yamaha Racing rider will be determined to underline the message his second place at Losail sent out. Having achieved his first MotoGP win on Spanish soil at Jerez last year thanks to a last-lap pass on Pedrosa, the pair will both aim to improve on their podium finishing starts to 2011. Pedrosa will also hope that he does not experience as severe a reaction from his recovering collarbone as the one he did towards the end of the Qatar race, which prompted him to have a medical check-up last week following Round 1.
Italian duo Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) have both experienced success on the track in the lower categories and will fancy their respective chances of pushing for a first premier class podium at Jerez this weekend, whilst Ben Spies (Factory Yamaha Racing) aims to build on a season-opening sixth place finish.
Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider ever at the Jerez circuit having taken six premier class victories there, and the Italian kicked off his Ducati career with seventh in Qatar. Still undergoing a process of adaptation to the GP11 and contending with his recovering shoulder, Rossi and Ducati Team colleague Nicky Hayden will be concentrated on adding to Ducati’s sole podium finish in the 800cc era (Stoner, 2009) in the last season of the engine capacity limitation.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) has finished on the podium at Jerez (2007) whilst team-mate Cal Crutchlow enters his second MotoGP race confident following a solid introduction at Qatar. Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) comes in off the back of a top-ten start to the season and has won at Jerez in the 250 class, whilst Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) and rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) will seek progress.
Pramac Racing pair Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet will aim to put a disappointing opening round behind them, as will Toni Elías (LCR Honda) at a track on which he took Moto2 victory last year.
Álvaro Bautista remains sidelined following surgery on the left femur he fractured during practice in Qatar. The Spaniard’s place on the Rizla Suzuki team will be taken by American substitute John Hopkins, who makes his first MotoGP appearance since the 2008 Valencia GP.