Sunday, May 2


ALTHOUGH the front-running pace for the MotoGP bikes at Jerez is no faster than in previous years, one rider who may rue his current circumstances is Loris Capirossi. In 2006, the Italian was on pole at Jerez with a 1m 39.064s lap on the 990cc Ducati GP06. Four years later, he's 11th fastest on a Suzuki, with a 1m 40.206s effort. Curiously, although Capirossi was without question the lead rider at Ducati in 2006 when the Italian company was developing the 800cc V4 for the new regulations that came into effect in 2007, and carried out substantial pre-season testing on the 800cc bike, he was unable to match the pace of Casey Stoner, who came into the team late but got on the pace immediately on the 800cc Ducati.

WHILE the fastest riders were getting down to the low 1m 39s in qualifying for this year's race, expect the race pace to be in the mid 1:40s, as tyres will not last at anything faster than that for 27 laps of the 4.423 km Jerez circuit.

PREDICTIONS for the race? Dani Pedrosa to holeshot. That's a given. Jorge Lorenzo to go with him at the front and the two may well break away from the pack, likely to be led by Stoner, Rossi and Hayden, with Ben Spies in there too.

TALKING about Spies, it is vital to consider this. Until the first free practice session, the 2009 Superbike World Champion had never turned a wheel on the Jerez circuit, while the other MotoGP rookies - 2008 World 250 Champion Marco Simoncelli, 2006 World 125 Champion Alvaro Bautista, eight year GP veteran Hector Barbera, Aleix Espargaro and 2009 World 250 Champion Hiroshi Aoyama - have logged hundreds of laps at the Spanish facility. But Spies was faster than all of them, and was also faster than riders with two or more seasons of MotoGP experience behind them. So much for the baloney that only 250cc class riders can adapt to the modern MotoGP bikes. As Kenny Roberts says: "talent is talent, no matter which class you are racing in. And there will always be riders who stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Guys like that will always be able to race at the top level."

STILL talkling about Spies, the Texan rued his poor qualifying effort at Qatar, that saw him boxed in for the first two laps while the front-runners got away. He said he did not want to make that mistake (qualifying poorly) again. So at Jerez he is on the third row of the grid, but still thinks he can get more out of the Bridgestone qualifying tyres. “I'm happy and it's good to be in the middle of the third row because I can try and get a good start and see what's going on in the first couple of laps and try and get up there. I was happier with my race set-up than what I had for the quick lap on the soft tyres. I didn't mess anything up real big but I just couldn't get into that qualifying mode and put that fast lap in. From not knowing where I was going yesterday, I'm happy to be in the top ten and hopefully I can get closer to the front and see what is going on up there. I'd like to think I can get in the battle for the top six but it's going to be hard. Towards the end of the race is where I'll be more comfortable because I'll get in that rhythm and when the tyres go off I'll feel a little better with the bike. I've got a pretty good feeling where I'm going on the track and I just need to change a few things for tomorrow and hopefully ride a little better. But I'm looking forward to my first race in Jerez.” Watch him!