Race Reports: Jerez

MotoGP

Valentino Rossi, the Italian Stallion, crushed his championship rivals to get his campaign back on track in style!

Perhaps it was a combination of a perfect setup, and the relief that he won’t have to share the garage with his arch nemesis, Jorge Lorenzo, next season. Whatever, Rossi produced a ride of the highest calibre. It was a truly dominant display from lights to flag, holding a relentless pace which nobody could contend with. However, perhaps more impressively, was his ability to nurse the fragile Michelin tyres for the full duration of the grand-prix, without a drop off in lap time. A faultless ride, and a timely reminder that he is still very much a championship contender. Lorenzo and, championship leader, Marc Marquez were reduced to riding in very distant minor podium places behind.

Behind the ‘aliens’, the stand out performance undoubtedly came from Eugene Laverty. The Irishman, riding aboard the privateer Aspar bike, had a tremendous start, moving up eight places on the opening lap from his starting position in 16th. With momentum and new-found confidence in the bike firmly in his favour, Laverty fought off almost all of the satellite opposition – only Pol Espargaro on the Yamaha Tech3 finished ahead of him – to finish in 9th position, and a hero’s welcome on his return to pit-lane.

It was a difficult weekend for Ducati, as the bikes struggled for pace throughout all sessions. Andrea Dovizioso suffered his third non-finish in a row this season, as he was forced to retire after half-distance with what appeared to be problems with the rear tyre. With a bike that was performing considerably below its potential, Andrea Iannone did his chances of retention no harm at all, with a mature ride to finish 7th, having passed Pol Espargaro during the final laps.

With Rossi’s victory, the gap between the three ‘aliens’ is now 24 points at the top of the standings. Roll on Round 5 in Le Mans!

Result: 1) Valentino Rossi – 45:28.834, 2) Jorge Lorenzo – +2.386, 3) Marc Marquez – +7.087

Moto2

There is something about Jerez, which makes for highly attritional support races. Today was no different. No fewer than twelve riders crashed out, whether at the back, middle or towards the front.

However, no such misfortune could prevent Britain’s Sam Lowes from taking victory. Despite not getting the best start off the line and being briefly demoted to second behind Jonas Folger, the Lincolnshire bolter found a way past at turn 6 and never looked back. A stunning consistency of lap times ensured that no rider could threaten him. A feat made to look more impressive, by his remarkable ability to slide the bike through corners at such an angle, which would cause many others to take a tumble. In claiming victory, Lowes inherits the championship lead from Alex Rins, who could only settle for second today.

Further down the field, it was a case of damage limitation for reigning champion, Johann Zarco. The Frenchman struggled across the weekend, but final setup changes from warm up enabled him to run in the chasing group and claim fifth place when Miguel Oliveira crashed out late on. The Portugese rider was cruelly unlucky, suffering the dreaded engine kick-back on the exit of turn 2, sending him flying into the gravel.

As the circus heads to Le Mans in a fortnight, and with 5 riders at the top of the championship separated by only 20 points, the Moto2 season is already hotting up.

Result: 1) Sam Lowes – 44:58.624, 2) Jonas Folger – +2.480, 3) Alex Rins – +8.113

Moto3

The action started before the red lights went out as championship leader, Brad Binder was relegated to the back of the grid for the suspected use of illegal engine mapping  during yesterday’s Qualifying. Not to be deterred, he produced perhaps one of the most incredible rides in grand-prix history, making up an astonishing 14 places on the opening lap, as he stormed to his first victory of the season.

Behind him, there was action aplenty, as the trio of Nicolo Bulega, Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Navarro broke away from the main field early in the race, and jockeyed and diced with each other for the podium positions. The latter rider should be given a degree of sympathy as, having led for the majority of laps, the Spaniard was cruelly mugged on the final lap by the two Italians for the minor podium places.

As ever, the Moto3 race was fraught with attrition, as over one third of the field failed to make it to the chequered flag. For Nicolo Antonelli in particular, it was truly a nightmare day. Suffering the embarrassment of stalling his bike on the grid, he spent the opening laps desperately trying to catch on to the main group, before engine kick-back at turn 2, sent him and the bike into the gravel.

But the day indisputably belonged to Binder. From the back of the grid, making up 34 places to take the victory. In doing so, he cements his position at the top of the championship. However, more importantly to him, became the first South African to win a grand-prix for 35 years.

Result: 1) Brad Binder – 41:29.882, 2) Nicolo Bulega – +3.336, 3) Frencesco Bagnaia – +3.441

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