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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2017 Jerez MotoGP FP2 Result: Pedrosa In The Wet, Pedrosa In The Dry

After the rainy adventures of FP1, team members in shorts probably felt much more comfortable in the 21 degrees of FP2. Timing screens were lighting up like Christmas trees as well, with a lot of red and orange to be found in dry conditions.

The weather might have changed but the Honda bikes seemed to enjoy just as much time at the top, with Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow and then Dani Pedrosa all holding the lead, Jack Miller close behind them – a familiar combination for most of the session.

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2017 Jerez Moto3 FP2 Result: Mir Back On Track

Something resembling sun welcomed us back from the lunch break but still not enough to tempt all the riders out on track. With many teams waiting for the surface to dry, that left the top spot to be disputed by Jakub Kornfeil, Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Albert Arenas or Darryn Binder.

Predictably, times started tumbling as the session progressed and the conditions improved, Philipp Oettl and the Leopard Racing duo exchanging first place, Joan Mir the first lasting leader of FP2. While others have challenged his position, he recovered it once more on his final lap.

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2017 Jerez Moto2 FP1 Result: Monsoon Marquez Reaches Jerez

It’s a pretty safe bet that Alex Marquez loves Jerez right now. Who would have thought this time last year that today we’d be talking about the younger Marquez dominating a session - and not for the first time this season?

However, the rain in Spain seems to suit him particularly well, the Marc VDS rider taking it one step further by grabbing the top seat right out the garage and building a gap of over one and a half seconds to the challengers, if you can still call them that considering the advantage. Marquez was the only one able to go into the 1:58s, everyone else failing to even drop under the 2-minute barrier for much of the session.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP FP1 Result: Pedrosa Heads Honda Hegemony

The dark but very photogenic clouds of Moto3 turned lighter for MotoGP, the riders cautiously taking to a damp track. The rain did make an appearance mid-session, the Honda riders making good use of it by staying out and posting orange and even red sector times, while switching places at the top. Jerez-loving Dani Pedrosa had the final laugh, although there were several fast challengers.

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2017 Jerez Moto3 FP1 Result: Rain Brings Kornfeil To The Top

Show of hands: who was eager for the “real” racing season to start in Europe? Well, judging by the first practice session of the lightweight class, it looked like Jerez didn’t miss us quite as much. Rain started as the light turned green, there but not quite enough of it for rain tyres.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP Thursday Notes: Aprilia's New Chassis, New Tires, Ducati, KTM's Big Bang

A full paddock marks the return to some semblance of normality for the MotoGP circus. This is why the riders and teams regard the first European round as the "real" start of the season: the riders sleep in their motorhomes rather than hotels, the teams eat in hospitality units instead of makeshift tents, those hospitality units adding a touch of vibrant color which is missing from overseas rounds. At the rounds outside Europe, the paddock is so obviously a workplace, a temporary spot which is only filled during the day. Inside Europe, the paddock becomes a village again, noise, music, and chatter filling the daytime and the night.

The return to Europe also saw an immediate return to work. Aprilia headed to Mugello, to a wasted private test where cold temperatures and the threat of rain kept Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes huddled inside their garages. "Every time we headed out of pit lane, it started spotting with rain," Lowes joked. He was frustrated at not being able to get many laps, but especially because Aprilia had spent money to hire the whole track for two days, and that money had basically been wasted.

Espargaro was exasperated by the sheer amount of testing Aprilia are doing. "We have many days of tests," the Spaniard told us. "Too much, actually. For example after America, I landed on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I jumped on the bike, and it was a disaster because I couldn't sleep, I was super tired." Aprilia are testing almost on a weekly basis until Valencia. "I go two days home and then on Monday I fly to Le Mans, we test here in Jerez, then we have a test in Barcelona... We have many tests."

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2017 Jerez MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Previews from the MotoGP teams and Michelin ahead of this weekend's race at Jerez:


MOVISTAR YAMAHA EAGER TO SCORE UPON RETURN TO EUROPE

After a week of rest the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team has arrived at the Circuito de Jerez for the Gran Premio de España on Sunday, May 7th.

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 3rd May 2017

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2017 Jerez Moto2 and Moto3 Press Release Previews

Previews of the Jerez round from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:


NAVARRO CHARGED UP FOR HOME RACE AT JEREZ

The long European leg of the Moto2 World Championship is about to start at ‘Circuito de Jerez’, the venue hosting the fourth Grand Prix of the 2017 season. Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Team) hopes to well impress in front of his home crowd, after the good signs of improvement shown in Texas two weekends ago.

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Danny Kent To Test KTM Moto3 Bike, Wildcard At Le Mans

Danny Kent is to test KTM's Moto3 bike at Jerez on Tuesday, and is to race as a wildcard at Le Mans. Aki Ajo, team manager of the Red Bull KTM team, who knows the 23-year-old Englishman well from his previous stints in the Ajo team, has seized the opportunity to use Kent's experience in Moto3 to help develop the bike, which is struggling against the Honda at the moment.

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2017 Jerez MotoGP Preview: Getting Down To Business In Andalusia

And so to Europe. Though the three opening races are at remarkable locations, and often throw up fantastic racing and real surprises, it is hard to shake the feeling that Qatar, Argentina, and Austin are appetizers. MotoGP serves up its main course once the circus returns to Europe, and enters the long hard grind through to the summer break.

That is not to denigrate Qatar, Argentina, or Austin. Qatar is a great track which always manages to provide exciting racing, despite its location. Termas de Rio Hondo is an outstanding circuit, fast and flowing, challenging the riders and rewarding courage and skill. Austin is one of the best events of the year, though with an entirely predictable winner each year. But Jerez is where MotoGP gets serious.

Think of it like Texas hold 'em poker. At Qatar, the riders are dealt their hands, but the two cards they have may give them a false sense of how strong their hands really is. Argentina is the flop, the first chance to put a full hand together. Austin is the turn, an extra card which may not change much, but gives a better sense of the balance of power in the game. But at Jerez comes the river: with all the cards out in the open, it is down to the rider to make the difference, to bluff, gamble, and play the hand they have been dealt to the best of their ability.

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