2013 Jerez MotoGP Test Day 3 Round Up: Crutchlow Stuns, Lorenzo's Long Runs, And Injury Concerns

Three days of testing at Jerez is over, and the real star of the show is obvious for all to see: The Weather. Of the 18 hours of track time that the MotoGP riders had at their disposal, only about 4 were in consistent conditions, and that was in the pouring rain on Saturday. An afternoon of dry track time - well, dryish, with groundwater seeping through the track from the hills at Jerez which have been lashed by unusually heavy rain all winter long - on Sunday and a bright start to Monday morning left the riders hopeful, but it was not to be.

It took 15 minutes for the first rain to arrive. The track opened at 10am. At 10:15am, the rain started to fall, leaving most of the teams twiddling their thumbs in the garages and hoping for some dry track time. Dani Pedrosa gave up on the day altogether; he had only really been testing odds and ends, new rear shock settings and one or two other bits and pieces anyway, and suffering with neck pain from a strain he suffered at Austin, he decided to call it quits and go home. He missed a few dry hours at the end of the day, but given the stiffness with which he was turning his head to answer the questions of journalists on Sunday evening, choosing to rest his neck was probably a wise move.

While Pedrosa was on his way home, Jorge Lorenzo was doing yet another of his punishing race simulations, pounding out 22 laps of the Jerez track at the kind of pace that secured 2nd place for him at last year's race over 27 laps, a very strong performance given the conditions on the track. Lorenzo finished in a (for him) lowly 4th spot, but his best time was set on the third lap of his race simulation. This is the approach that helped bring him the title in 2012, and the comparison with Pedrosa's physical woes is a valid one. Pedrosa strained a neck muscle whilst riding; Lorenzo has been training both on and off the track to ensure he does not suffer such injuries. Lorenzo is ready to race, and by that, I mean the full race distance.

While Lorenzo's race run may have slipped under the radar of a casual glance at the timesheets, Cal Crutchlow's fast lap certainly did not. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man leaves the Jerez test not just as fastest on Day 3, but fastest over all three days, a matter of pride amongst riders as they head to the first race of the season. While Crutchlow's fast lap made the headlines, the way he set that time did not. Like Lorenzo, the Englishman set his fastest lap in a long run of laps (though only half the length of Lorenzo's monster run), setting a pace which was close to that of the Spaniard.

Crutchlow has proved not just to be fast, but also to be consistent. The Englishman looks smoother on the bike, more in control, and is promising to be a real problem for the expected favorites, mixing it with the podium regulars despite his complaints of having inferior equipment. But then again, he is turning that deficit into a positive. Crutchlow is a street brawler, a man who relishes the role of underdog, who feeds off the sense of perceived injustice to get the best out of himself. "I'll show them," he seems to be saying to himself, and on the basis of the Jerez test, you would have to suspect that he will do just that.

The fast times were possible because the track dried out completely in the late afternoon at Jerez, but even then, it is hard to draw hard conclusions from the test. The track surface has remained greasy and unpredictable throughout the test, even in the dry, with grip changing constantly as water comes and goes at some parts of the track. The conditions probably meant that the signal-to-noise ratio was too great to separate the fine differences between the very top riders, but the test produced enough evidence to conclude which group will be running at the front, if not to predict who will lead and who will follow.

One of the things that has become apparent is that Valentino Rossi is once again a contender. After topping the timesheets on Sunday, he was 2nd to Cal Crutchlow on Monday, and leaves as 2nd fastest overall. That will help convince himself that he is capable of running at the front with Pedrosa and Lorenzo, though he told Italian journalists he felt he still had to prove himself, but he took this as a motivation. Being fast in testing is one thing, though, the race is something else altogether. Historically, on a Yamaha, Rossi has been better in the races than in qualifying so his initial goal - battling with the two title favorites and aiming to get on the podium - looks eminently achievable.

Rossi had not done a long run today, focusing instead on shorter runs and testing a new chassis. It was not a big improvement, as far as he could tell, offering greater stability, but making corner entry slightly worse, and he has ruled out using it in the first two races. Conditions were not ideal for testing a new chassis properly, however. To give it a full workout requires pushing the bike to the limit, and that can only really be done on a dry track with good grip. Today was not a day to be taking risks for the sake of a minor improvement.

Risk was something which Ben Spies chose to avoid. The Texan did not ride on the final day of the test, choosing not to risk reinjuring the shoulder he has just had surgery to fix. Surgery on cartilage tissue in shoulder joints is notorious for taking a long time to heal - six to eight months is common - and Spies expects his shoulder not to be 100% for another couple of months. Until then, Spies will struggle a little, lacking the strength to control the Ducati fully, holding up his attempts to learn to ride the Ducati.

Fortunately for Spies, progress is being made. Andrea Dovizioso has taken up where Valentino Rossi left off, complaining about understeer, but the revised weight distribution is clearly an improvement. Both Spies and Andrea Iannone had been testing an electronics package to improve the first touch of the throttle, trying to smooth power delivery when the throttle is first opened, but this is a package that has already been rejected by Nicky Hayden and Dovizioso. Hayden said that though the electronics helped smooth power delivery, it lost throttle connection, the feeling of a direct response between the ride-by-wire throttle and the response of the engine. He had had it turned off for a while, Hayden said on Sunday.

If Spies has struggled, his (semi) teammate Andrea Iannone has shone. The Italian ended 9th on Sunday, ahead of Hayden and 1.6 off the time of Rossi, and came 6th on Monday, the gap down to eight tenths. How much of Iannone's time is down to the conditions is hard to say, but on any given day, Iannone appears to be capable of being as fast on the Ducati as he was on his Speed Up Moto2 bike.

So the MotoGP teams are now packed up and the bikes and equipment is ready to ship off to Qatar. There, at least, they should be safe from rain. In theory, anyway, although Alex Cudlin, the Australian rider racing in the QMMF-run Asian series, reported that the second race of the meeting he raced in last weekend was the sudden victim of a downpour. There are those who still remember the chaos of rebooked flights and panic reorganization in 2009, when the race had to be rescheduled from Sunday to Monday due to rain in the desert night. They don't want to go through that again, but it is the weather gods who will have the final say.

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that was like waking up and being told Christmas was cancelled... but we have last years Christmas video if you want to watch that!


It would've been nice to see Crutchlow on a factory bike this year....... even the improving Ducati. Because in my humble opinion, Cal is faster than Dovi. Or... at least Bautista's ride because Cal was certainly more deserving. Anyway.....

Let's keep our fingers crossed that Cal does well enough to prompt Yamaha in pumping a little more support to his team/bike. His style could bring some added sparks to the front. This season is starting to get more and more exciting everyday, and for many reasons.

Of course there's Valentino; like him or hate him, it's GOOD FOR EVERYONE that he's closer to the front. Because the races are when he's at his best..... he just needs to continue stay close in testing, practice and qualifying.

With Rossi, Marquez and Cal, this excitement is refreshing and has been missed. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Pointless attack on a rider who is no longer racing deleted. Unnecessary, and unwanted.] 

Bring in the floodlights in the desert!

Because of a single, pointless comment about a rider who is no longer in MotoGP. That single line in an otherwise good post is the sort of thing that gets comments deleted from the site. I have no interest in policing each and every comment and no time to do so.

So please, everyone, keep your comments on topic, and refrain from unnecessary attacks on other riders. They will be deleted. At Jerez, I received compliments from a MotoGP team boss on the quality of the comments on the site, and I don't intend to let that quality slip.

I applaud you for your effort, David. The comment section here has been a valuable pool of expert information for me. Most of the time, the quality of the comment section is just as high as the quality of the article's writing. So let's keep it that way.

DE, my apologies regarding the comments about a retired rider.

However, there was a point intended and it was this:

This season is shaping up to be an interesting/exciting because of all the new situations, new riders, new tracks, potential and promise. This season (compared to previous) already seems way more upbeat, positive and exudes a higher moral. The negativity from the recent previous seasons seems to be considerably less thus making things more palatable in these tough economic times.

This sport is entertainment to us and provides us a chance to step out of our (sometimes tough) daily lives for a short time and enjoy ourselves.....and for this we are greatful. So when we hear riders, athletes or celebrities complain about how things are so bad for them or how they've been cheated or mistreated, or bash a sport/profession that has given them great opportunities and a great life......we'd ask them to walk a day in our shoes.

So I guess it's the negativity that's not missed, not a particular rider. I should've worded or phrased it better. My apologies!

not for racing fans as a whole. To me, and I bet many more, the more different characters the merrier. So keep all those clowns/grumpies/complainers/pleasers/smilers/head shakers coming.

Obviously you are speaking for yourself......and yourself only.

I'd never speak for you, I don't even know you.

There's a reason the likes of Crutchlow, Rossi, Simoncelli, Lorenzo, Schwantz, Hayden, Ianonne and Biaggi have a huge following. Their outgoing personalities are what sells.....;)

Dull, negative, reclusive personalities don't do as well....... These aren't my rules. I'm just stating the obvious, not an opinion.

Sick and tired of them. Ive only ever been interested in MotoGP to see the amazing riding talent and courage on display. And more often than not I tend to side with the 'villain' when personality contests happen, be it Biaggi or whoever, because of the bandwagon effect that seems to occur.. annoys the hell out of me. I like a good rivalry, I hate it when fans try to tell me who is nicer, funnier, zanier or whatever. Who cares.

You're not interested in personality contests only the on track racing, but you tend to side with the villain. Which is it, you love a villian or you're not interested? Why does a "favourite" bother you?

You know what, why not have both? Why settle for just bikes going around when you can have and get into the personalities that make up what we are watching? Why restrict yourself?

If you're only interested in the racing, fair enough, don't read comments about people discussing the personalities. Everyone's a winner.

I think most of us come here to discuss the sport. The sport is made up of a variety of machinery, talent, personality, nationalities, experience... I happen to love the whole thing and I see nothing wrong with that at all.

I know we're all thinking the same thing: this is shaping up to be the best season in quite a while, maybe since the start off the 800cc era. There should be no shortage of close racing near the front. Then again, I said the same thing last season, only to have Lorenzo & Pedrosa run away with most of the races. But with Rossi on competitive machinery, and the wunderkind that is Marquez in the big leagues, this year will be thrilling.

On another note, I hope Crutchlow really proves himself this year. He says he deserves full factory support, and I think he can really show them why this year. Last year, he had 5 DNFs, and finished the championship in 7th. Not the best result, considering his teammate finished 4th (and finished every race). I know Yamaha has stated it is not their intent to give the satellite riders full support; however, I think they’re wasting a great opportunity with Cal. Everyone knows the main reason they brought Rossi back was for his marketing appeal. And I am willing to bet that Crutchlow is a strong second for best personality in MotoGP. Always speaks his mind, is bluntly honest, and loves to joke around. Yamaha would do well to retain him and his personality.

Although Cal was the most improved rider last season he only finished 7th in a grid with 12 bikes with even a remote chance of winning a race,He was beaten cleanly by his Teamate Dovi who if anyone deserved the Factory M1.As for Cal having the second best personality in MotoGP...lol..I guess that depends on who you Ask,If he had of kept his mouth shut he may have got that factory Ducati seat that was Almost His,Although the bike sucks the Money would have been much better then the Tech 3 seat.

Now that I re-read my comment, I see I was unclear with how I worded it. Based on last years results, I don't personally think Crutchlow deserves full factory support. But he's stated that that is what he believes. I'm hoping this year he can actually prove it.

And maybe saying "best" personality wasn't the proper wording :P What I meant was that he seems to have a strong personality. When I see interviews with Pedrosa, Marquez, Bradl, Spies, Dovi, etc, none of them really seem to have much of a personality. Part of that may be to down to the fact that for the majority of the grid, English is a second language. But a lot of it seems that they're "toeing the line" in regards to PR, making sure they say the "right" thing, etc. I just appreciate Crutchlow's forthrightness, no matter what he's being asked about. It's refreshing.

Hard to put a case for cal getting rossis ride Rossi beat him on the duke. End of this year may be different if so he deserves a factory ride. Everything else has been testing only.

I don't want this to be an attack on anyone, because the comment that "Rossi doing well is good for everyone" has been said by many and I am not calling anyone an idiot for saying it, as it is true in many respects.

But, I am really sick of reading it :) . People say "Rossi sells tickets" or "Non-motorcycle people know who Rossi is..." but I would love to know what percentage really blindly follow and would be gone if Rossi left. I wonder if his personality and marketability brought them to the sport in a time era when the internet was starting to flourish, TV coverage became more prominant around the world and marketing in every respect became more aggressive. Don't get me wrong, I am not discounting his talent or any achievements he has managed, I am a fan of Rossi (and others). I just wonder how much of a hit the sport would really take is all.

I believe that two things make Rossi Rossi. It's a story. The results (someone recently asked what'd you get of Vale if he has not won all those WCs?). Of course the results are vital. This is true in every sport. Bolt wouldn't be Bolt if he did not qualify for the final. But people love stories (ask Hollywood in doubt) since the ancient times. And Rossi had many. From his famous rivalries (again quite common in many field the power of dual like Beatles/Rolling Stones) to the post-race celebrations. Leaving Honda for an allegedly inferior bike to prove that it's about the people it is again something that resonate with the crowd. And so on.

You can see it the other way around. I don't follow golf and don't care about it, but I know who is Tiger Woods. Before him I know Ballesteros as a name ... and before him .... well none. Today on the front page of my local newspaper I read "Woods back to #1". Normally golf is relegated in the back, but because of him made it to the front page.

Stenmark for ski, Jordan in basketball it's a neverending story.

Just dig out those clips of catlunya in 2010 (I think) against Jorge. That's why it's good for everyone, it means there's a fair chance that at some point in the season, even if it's only for one of the 18 races, we will all be perched on the edge of our chairs, hearts pumping, eyes on stalks, not even daring to breathe, praying that our man (whoever we favour) stays on the bike and wins. I can't remember any season between 2001 to 2010 that didn't have at least one absolute stonker of a race at the front, even though some were better than others. The fact that Valentino is either the darling of the moment for some or the perfect villian for others just adds to the flavour. What more could we ask for!

I am definitely not saying he hasn't changed the sport, as he has, or that he isn't good for it, cuz he is. I am asking if his rise combined with the evolution of marketing has brought people to the sport permanantly who might not have otherwise gotten into it, and maybe guys like Lorenzo are doing a good job continuing in that groove so that beyond Rossi could be possible. I am not stating that this is true by any means, just asking the question. I have no clue what it is like in Europe and elsewhere.

I live in Canada where people don't know what Motogp is, and if they do they think they are "hardcore" motorcycle guys when they know three guys on the grid ( no I am not implying that everyone here in Canada is like this, I just seem to remember the DBs)

Well, in my tiny little world here in the UK, MotoGP still seems about as popular to watch as womens cricket, despite having a relatively prime tv slot on a HD channel on sunday afternoons. I don't get the sense that Rossi has had that big an impact on the average tv grazer, seems more the case that those of us who probably would have watched anyway have enjoyed it more for his presence, whether a fan of his or not. And I imagine most will continue to watch when he's gone, because bike racing does it for us. In the best part of 20 years watching bikes I've only met two other people who were really into it (other than on the forums). And while I'm not the most social of creatures neither am I a complete hermit.

It's strange how it is - I talk to people I meet who drooled over F1 even before DRS made it less processional but clearly aren't that interested in bikes, which for me are the ultimate motorsport. The lack of British champions or plucky seconds (it's the brit psychology - we love the underdog more than the top dog) might have something to do with it. Lewis Hamilton & Jenson Button are household names. I doubt hardly anyone knows who Foggy is, let alone Toseland or Hodgson. The last household name in bikes remains Barry Sheene. Come to think of it, he was a bit like Rossi himself, wasn't he - a likeable rogue. I digress - enough said.

I am a little surprised that Rossi found his mojo back on the M1 so quickly. Nevertheless he's clearly found it and in good time. The more up at the sharp end the better.
The editor and many others have alluded to the similarity of abilility/riding styles of Marquez and his predecessor at HRC. The Jerez test emphasises the point.
In all fairness,Marquez' performance in Jerez was hardly a picture perfect postcard in terms of lap times posted in the dry. Interesting parralel yet again. Stoner struggled year in and year out at this circuit.
Merely a moot point. I've adjusted a few things re-Marc being the 2nd comming.
Very fast,smooth,change of direction circuits will play into his hands. The tight and pointy circuits will test him on the 1000cc bike where the Moto2 machinery never had the capacity to.
The huge advantage he has is youth coupled to tallent. He'll probably get to grips with the situation rather quickly.
Hey ! Qatar does promise to be a corker of an opener.
Some quote it as a Sunday night race,other sources as a Monday night race.
7th/8th April. When is it exactly ? HA HA. Hope it don't rain.

Note that Rossi is a master at finding the line in greasy/wet or otherwise tricky conditions. He often did better on the Ducati in such conditions. It'll be interesting to see what happens back on fully dry tracks.

I thought he struggled (or not) as much as everyone else in the wet and it was more that the deficiencies in the ducati were less evident on wet days. Across the years I've often heard commentators say, on a wet race day, this will suit so-and-so down to the ground, he's a real wet weather specialist, only to see so-and-so either chuck it at the scenery after a few laps, or finish more or less where they usually do give or take a bit. Always looks to me like it's down to who's feeling super-confident on the day.

You can't argue about there being riders, who have an obvious talent for riding in the wet. I'm thinking of Anthony West, for instance. You wouldn't see him anywhere near the top ten on a moto2 race weekend, unless it rains. That's when you always had to count on him showing an extraordinary performance. Aussies don't call him "Rain Man" for nothing.

Never saw ant west finish a race in the wet. Sure he won a wss race. Or was it two? But most of the time he was closer to the front but always fell off certainly in motogp.

A few times in greasy conditions on the Ducati if memory serves. Jerez and Phillip island off the top of my head

...think it really matters what the conditions are for any rider to stack a Ducati. Tipping it into a corner is Russian Roulette whatever the weather.

You are to be congratulated for deleting crass, cruel and hateful comments. Comments he still seemed determined to get across then try defend and asserting that he was speaking for 'we' the racing fans- please only speak for yourself. To him and all whom may chose to so post, I have zero interest in playground name calling or petty hatred dressed as comments. Any rider has a right to say what he feels about how he is treated however difficult another's life may be perceived in comparison. If half of the issue Casey talked about suffering are correct (and I have no reason to doubt one of the least politic and most honest riders of recent times) it is appalling. I have heard first hand-2009 British GP- many really unpleasant jeering at Casey, who couldn't possibly have heard, ostensibly for choosing the wrong tyres and/or suffering illness that season, one of the worst being that they hoped it killed him. Having read a certain weekly paper's website posts there is an amazing viciousness towards some riders, particularly Casey. So perhaps he has every reason to be upset and so answer what will probably have been prompted questions anyhow regardless of how glamourous or appealing his life may appear to some. That and a person riding a bike are never acceptable reasons for vitriolic responses.

I am in the the uk as well and I agree with much of what you said in this post with one exception: Foggy. Carl Fogarty for those of a certain age WAS motorcycle racing and I can assure you he was well known- at the time- out side of motorcycling probably far more than Rossi ever has been in the UK.

As many have suggested Rossi seems to have done much for MotoGP but I dont personally believe he is known in the UK outside the motorcycle racing world.

As any good son does, I use my mum as a barometer. She has heard of Hailwood, Sheene and Fogarty- that is it. The rest is merely her grasping for a name!

Of course much of this is down to media coverage. Particularly 'red tops'/tabloids in the UK have yet to buy in to anyone in motocycle racing- even when the UK had a double world champion James Toseland! So we whom are interested gravitate to the specialist media (the excellent MM and others) leaving little to permeate the general public's consciousness.