Jerez, Spain

2017 Jerez MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Fast Hondas, Deceptive Yamahas, Losing Winglets, and Orange Elation

Coming into the weekend of Jerez, we knew several things to be absolute certainties. 1. Jerez is a Yamaha track. 2. Ducati always does terribly at Jerez. And 3. The Hondas will struggle against the might of the Yamaha. After qualifying, a swift dose of reality has flushed those preconceptions out of our systems, showing them up for the fallacies that they are.

After qualifying at Jerez, we have an all Honda front row. Two Yamahas start from the second row, but their performance during both qualifying and free practice was far from convincing. The first Ducati sits on the third row, but during practice, Jorge Lorenzo made the Desmosedici GP17 fly, finishing second in FP3 and fourth in FP4.

Where did this shake up come from? The issue is mainly one of grip. After the rain on Friday, there is very little rubber on the track, and the warmer track temperatures has made Jerez its normal, greasy self. The Yamahas perform well when grip is high, whether that be in warmer or cooler temperatures. Extra grip merely helps the RC213V want to wheelie, something for which it needs little encouragement anyway. Robbed of its winglets, the Ducati needs extra rear grip to get good drive out of corners, and exploit its strongest point.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP FP4 Result: Marquez Puts Another Honda Top

In the high temperatures under the Andalusian sun, most of the grid was keen to try out the harder front tyre. Marc Marquez was the one to make the most of it, with a hard-hard combination that proved much less successful for Valentino Rossi. The reigning world champion used the hard rubber to post the fastest time of the session, as well as a good pace with high 1:39s and low 1:40s.

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2017 Jerez Moto2 FP3 Result: Who Else But Marquez and Morbidelli

We’re only four races in but you wouldn’t really expect anything else but an EG 0,0 Marc VDS bike into top position in any one session of your choice, would you? And so it was, Alex Marquez hogging another headline in Jerez. It could have been an even better headline if he had another three thousandths of a second in hand to beat the lap record. Maybe in qualifying practice.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP FP3 Result: No Way Past Pedrosa

Fluffy white clouds on a light blue background made for a much improved picture on Saturday morning and it wasn’t just photographers who were grateful. Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi were on a mission to get back into the top ten, while Dani Pedrosa aimed to make it three out of three. Challenge accepted.

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2017 Jerez Moto3 FP3 Result: Martin Leads Spanish Top 4

The sunnier predictions for Saturday turned out to be true, although temperature was still a little low when the lightweight class hit the track. Still, the first laps already managed to improve Friday’s pace by two seconds, with the softer option rear tyre making an appearance in the final minutes to challenge those times further.

The last minute saw red sectors flashing everywhere, but it was podium regular Jorge Martin who proved to be yet again a contender by leading the third practice session with a time that was four tenths off the lap record.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP Friday Round Up: Quick Hondas, Back Brake Bonanza, And Off-Track Rumors

There was plenty to talk about after the first day of practice in Jerez, though none of the real talking points came from the action on the track. Rain in the morning proved that the track has great grip in the wet. On the other hand, a drying track in the afternoon proved that you don't really learn anything at all in sketchy conditions. Some riders pushed with a soft tire, some didn't. Some riders took risks to set a time, some didn't. The session was pretty meaningless, most riders agreed. Nobody had fun out there, with the possible exception of Pol Espargaro on the KTM. But more of that later.

Off track we learned a lot more. It looks like next year, LCR Honda will expand to a two-bike team, with Takaaki Nakagami moving up to ride alongside Cal Crutchlow, with backing from Moto2 sponsor Idemitsu. Rumors persist that the Sky VR46 team is to move up to MotoGP with two Yamahas, though Valentino Rossi denies it. The contract to supply Moto2 engines has been signed, though a few details remain to be wrapped up, meaning the actual engine manufacturer will not be announced until Le Mans. And all of these have various knock-on effects, which will effect the entire series in one way or another.

First, to the on-track action. For a circuit which is not supposed to suit the Honda, there sure were an awful lot of RC213Vs crowding the top of the timesheets, both in the wet and in the dry. The reason the Honda is good in the wet is simple, according to Marc Márquez: a wet track takes Honda's biggest weakness out of the equation, leaving its strongest points intact.

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2017 Jerez Moto2 FP2 Result: Marquez Top, Morbidelli In The Gravel

Results from the first practice session might have made for odd reading without a little context but FP2 appeared to be a more familiar sight – up until the end, that is. One thing was the same though: FP1 leader Alex Marquez took this time to find his way back to the top but a late lap earned him another headline in Jerez.

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