2013 Jerez MotoGP Post-Race Round Up, Part 2: Of Forgotten Winners, Worried Yamahas And New-found Optimism

At the post-race press conference, as he fielded question after question of his last-corner clash with Marc Marquez, and refused to give an answer, Jorge Lorenzo eventually came out with the slightly exasperated quip: "Now a lot of questions to me, and when I won in Qatar, no questions for me. It's a little bit strange." It is a common occurrence in sporting journalism, and makes clear that while the athletes believe they are involved in a purely sporting endeavor, the media understands that what they are involved is actually show business. The big story of the weekend is not necessarily who stands on the top step of the podium.

Which is a shame, as Dani Pedrosa's victory at Jerez was both well-deserved and deeply impressive. The Hondas has come to the track with a disadvantage from testing, and were expected to struggle against the mighty Yamahas. It did not quite turn out that way, the Hondas - and especially Pedrosa and his crew chief Mike Leitner - found the grip they needed to beat Jorge Lorenzo and the rampaging Yamaha hordes, despite the horribly greasy conditions of the hot Jerez track.

Pedrosa made it look easy, losing out to a brilliant pass from Lorenzo at Turn 2, but getting his revenge six laps later at the Dry Sack hairpin. Once past, he was gone, and that was the end of it. If it hadn't been for the hard charging of Marquez on Lorenzo at the end of the race, (to which I devoted my previous round up) the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez would have gone into the history books as a snoozer. That will have concerned Pedrosa very little: he needed a win to get his season back on track, and he got one in deeply impressive style.

Pedrosa's victory will be a concern for Yamaha. The pundits had already penciled Jorge Lorenzo's name on to the trophy in the press - mea culpa, mea maxima culpa - as a result of the test here back in March, and the confident assertions of the Yamaha riders. Odds were being given for a Yamaha clean sweep, not least by the Yamaha men themselves. Jerez is precisely the kind of track that should suit the Yamaha: tight, technical, with lots of sweeping corners, with few places they would suffer against the strong point of the Hondas, the immense acceleration.

It turns out it doesn't work like that. Honda has nullified the perceived advantage the Yamahas had, and beat them where they thought they would dominate. This has completely disrupted Jorge Lorenzo's game plan, of building as much of a lead as possible in the early stages of the season, then defending it by riding conservatively towards the end. That strategy was good enough to win him the 2012 MotoGP title, and seemed like a solid basis for this year as well.

Yamaha may well have to rethink, and bring some upgrades perhaps faster than they were intending. In the press conference after the race, Jorge Lorenzo fired his first salvos across the bows of Yamaha management, emphasizing the need for new parts to help in acceleration. The first target will be a seamless gearbox, to allow the M1 to drive out of the corner more smoothly, but the first time that will see the track is likely to be at either the Barcelona test, or a private test for Yamaha reportedly scheduled for Aragon shortly afterwards. From there, a decision has to be made on with the gearbox is reliable enough to be used without risking a DNF.

The new gearbox may help Lorenzo challenge for the title, but you have to wonder whether it will be enough for Valentino Rossi. Jerez is a track which he previously owned, the Italian winning here six of the previous thirteen premier class races. Rossi finished his fourteenth nearly nine seconds behind the winner, and he would have been nearly seven seconds behind his teammate if it hadn't been for that last-corner incident. Jerez was the first track at which Rossi had hoped to show his true speed. If seven seconds down on Jorge Lorenzo is his true speed, then he will struggle to win another race.

One person who will not be getting the new gearbox is Cal Crutchlow. Which is a shame, because the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man rode another deeply impressive race. During morning warm up, reporters passing Tech 3 garage reported that Crutchlow was looking very pale. He had been in a lot of pain in the morning, after his big crash during qualifying which left him with internal bruising and blood on his kidneys. The blood spot had not got any larger, to his relief, and he had not passed any blood, and so was allowed to ride. Crutchlow felt markedly better in the afternoon, and by the time we spoke to him, he seemed almost chipper, though he was clearly still in some pain.

He was pleased, though. He had finished the race in fifth, and had not crashed when he got held up by Alvaro Bautista. His only mistake, if you can call it that, is in taking too long to get past Bautista, struggling again with the superior acceleration of the Honda. The Yamahas need to maintain corner speed, whereas the Hondas brake later, dive in deeper, and get on the gas earlier. Theoretically, both are equally fast ways of going around the track, but in a scrap, the point-and-shoot method is tough to beat.

There were more performances worthy of mention: Nicky Hayden handling the pain of his swollen wrist to post his best race of the year so far, though the gap to the front remains large. Aleix Espargaro once again stunning the crowds on the Aprilia ART machine. Andrea Dovizioso and Bradley Smith were both very impressed, both by Espargaro and by the ART. Their judgement was that it looked like a machine that was easy to take to the limit and stay there. Ironically, quite the opposite of the Ducati.

Most pleasing of all, however, were the crowds. For the first time in many years, crowd numbers jumped instead of falling. Attendance was 111,000 on race day, up over 8,000 on the year before, despite the economic situation in Spain. It feels like MotoGP has reached its nadir in terms of spectator interest, and that from here on in, crowd numbers will start to grow. That is in no small part due to Valentino Rossi's return on a more competitive machine, but also due to the arrival of Marc Marquez. There is a real sense of excitement about the sport again, something which has been sorely missing.

Even the economic atmosphere felt somehow less grim. Despite the terrible numbers on the economy - over 25% unemployment, and the country struggling to meet its commitments on budget deficits - it felt more optimistic, as if the Spanish had decided that this was as bad as it was going to get, and it was time to just get on with their lives and cope. Things are clearly very bad in Spain, but it feels like they are being met with optimism, rather than despair. That has to be a good thing: better to go down singing your heart out than head bowed and mumbling.

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This is the biggest story from the race that hasn't been really addressed so far:

"Jerez was the first track at which Rossi had hoped to show his true speed. If seven seconds down on Jorge Lorenzo is his true speed, then he will struggle to win another race. ..."

That question David posed after Qatar about mirages is starting to take on increasing significance ...

Nice try. But....

You hilariously read too much into things.

Rossi's problem was set up.

The heat of the greasy track and selection of tires brought by Bridgestone is the biggest significance.

Better track and better tires, and Yamaha runs away with a victory....like always at Jerez.

You do find a way to prove yourself a huge VR fan with each story! I am not passing judgement as you don't come across as a blinded partisan , but it is noticeable!

The M1 has been built around George. Burgess and crew have been playing with weight distribution and balance trying to find a solution so Rossi can ride like he wants, hard on the brakes. They haven't found it yet. It usually takes them 4-5 races before they nail it but the clock is indeed ticking. Cal said if he or Rossi tries to do what Lorenzo is doing they crash. Neither one of them ride like Lorenzo, they have their own styles.

If Rossi hasn't challenged for a win by Catalunya then it's definitely Pete Tong. There won't be any acceptable excuses especially if Lorenzo bags another win by then. Rossi is still good enough to come up to speed on the M1 quickly. They have setup issues but time is running out. If you watch his interview post qualifying, post race, or especially after the test today Valentino is visibly irritated, annoyed, what have you. Another couple of results like this and the press is gonna start the doubt, old man, the younger guys have moved on, etc, business and with a decent bike there will be no where to turn.

rather than getting hot just in time for the race, Jorge would have been a lot more competitive. And I didn't notice the Honda having much, if any of an acceleration advantage coming onto Jerez's straight when Jorge was racing Marquez. When the grip is good the Yamaha is at least as quick as Honda, when grip is poor like the last two races it looks like the Honda works better.

To Desh,

quite the opposite really, the Yamaha is better than the Honda when the grip is poor, like for example pre-season test at Jerez or the first round of the season at Qatar. When the grip is good and when is hot, like it was on sunday, Honda has the edge.

"The Yamaha is better in tricky conditions," Crutchlow explained, pointing also to the results at Jerez. He did not expect it to last, and once the track improved, the Hondas would be back with a vengeance, he predicted. "When the track conditions come cleaner, the Honda has maybe half a second advantage," Crutchlow told reporters. He also had a good explanation for why the Hondas struggle in the trickier conditions. The way the Hondas turn, Crutchlow explained, is by sliding the rear. They slide and use the slide to get drive. Under less than ideal conditions, the bike continues to slide, but the drive is no longer there, making the bike much slower.


Im Just looking at the time sheets, where Lorenzo was in front for virtually every session except the race, and Yamahas filled 3 of the top 4 spots in FP1, FP2 and FP3. During the race all of a sudden Jorge was running wide and going a lot slower. The track was hotter and greasier than it had been, the grip went away and Yamaha suffered. I don't know if the Hondas were better in the conditions or the Honda riders were just better with less grip, but it seems clear that Yamahas and Jorge's form took a sharp turn for the worse with the hotter track temps. Maybe it was just an anomaly caused by inadequate tyres?

In Crutchlow's post-race interview at Jerez with Roberts he said the Yamaha struggled compared to the Honda in the no grip conditions because they want to "roll through the corners". He also said at normal grip levels Jorge would been "away with it."

The grip was not good on Sunday, and the Yamaha had bigger issues than the Honda.

Obviously there are a myriad of variables, but I hope someone can shed light as to why Yamaha handled low grip better at Qatar, and the Honda handled low grip better at COTA and Jerez.

Tire composition and temps. Qatar was a dirty track with the sand and rain. Temps were also not as varying. In Jerez, the track became greasy in the hot afternoon sunshine. It was a cleaner surface though with only light rain falling the night before the race. . From what I gather, everyone had front tire issues. Pedrosa said the same in post-race. And Even though everyone was having the same issues, it seems the M1 is much more sensitive to the issue than the RCV. Like Cal said, if the Hondas use the rear more to corner. The front tire problems everyone was having, isn't as much of an issue as it was for the M1.

That's just my take.

Even if the Hondas' performance stayed constant, the drop off of Yamaha was significant. While i think it's crazy to have tipped Cal to win after his strong test, falling to 5th without at least one major mistake is surprising. Jorge tested well and Vale even led the time sheets for a quick spell. But that Yamaha was all over the track and it started early.

You can't overlook Dani's training methodology to become a better wet rider that David reported on last yesr - think it was said he rode on teack with sand. That training had to have paid huge dividends given poor traction available. A well deserved win.

Seem to remember Stoner winning last year so I don't think Jerez is a purely Yamaha track.
Rossi has the same bike and tyres as Lorenzo, the bike was never 'developed' around Lorenzo. In 2010 Lorenzo's team found a setting for the rear that allowed better drive with no worse tyre wear.
Positive note the attendence figures are up and that would be safe to say TV figures up also

Yeap, the voices which last year were complaining that JL was winning on the bike Rossi developed are now crying that poor Rossi is having to put up with the bike that has been developed for #99! VR is my hero, but please get real, people!

Yamaha expected to dominate. Honda take the win.

Wonder how much the effect of finally a dry weekend at Jerez played into a surprise result. 2011 and 2012 both married by rain, and 2013 pre season the same.

data is all important. No one had any...

David, no mention of progress or news regarding the new frame/updates to the Ducati. The times didn't seem to be much improved. What happened during the tests in the Ducati camp? Or can we expect to see them dicing with the ART for the rest of the season ? Keep up the good work!

From what I have heard on commentaries etc., the tyres were a big problem for everyone - as also mentioned by David.
The observations made above also make me wonder if perhaps Rossi's approach is right. He knows how to win races when you cannot just breeze past on power. His front-end focus (edge grip/braking) makes a bike easier to turn and adapt to available options during a race, not short/long-run testing.

The 'smoother is faster' approach more closely adopted (or found) by Yamaha is great in outright pace/long runs, but for overtaking awkward, slightly slower, objects you need either more grip, more acceleration, or more deceleration.
With everyone's concerns about understeer and the need for 'perfect' set-up, and riding, the obvious answer seems to be to bring back Michelin/Dunlop/Pirelli and allow 'factory' tyres (as in brand not just 6 bikes).

I don't know enough to understand the difference between different series'/bikes and what that means for tyres, but whilst single-make tyres may well be OK for superbike type series' (based upon subjective evidence of close racing), they do not seem well-suited to allowing good racing in MGP.

The money being spent in re-engineering bikes to suit these tyres make the cost of 'factory' tyres look relatively cheap (I recall that cost was Dorna's stated reason for adopting them). The sponsorship being lost to the despair of tail-end Charlies is a hidden cost to the series too, perhaps.

Just watched the race from "on board cameras" and it was obvious Lorenzo had issues with his bike, even in the first half of the race. Unstable in corner entry, missing apexes etc, things that you don't usually see from Jorge. And it was proven that in those conditions, Rossi's and Crutchlow's chances at a podium were nullified. Lorenzo seemed quite worried in the post-race interview, calling for improvements in an almost desperate manner. But are they that bad? Or was the result of this race down to "special conditions" that suited the Hondas better?

I, as well as others from what I've gathered, are a bit confused in how interpretations of race results are given in terms of track grip. Indeed, after Qatar I read in MotoMatters (put in my own words) that low grip didn't suit the Hondas, couldn't put the power down and shoot out of the corners as they usually do. But then again, grip conditions in both Austin and Jerez were poor, for different reasons. And the Hondas were faster. The availability of tyre compounds has also been discussed as an extra factor, hurting especially Yamaha in the most recent race. It's obvious that grip alone does not make for the winner. As should be obvious by now that track style and conditions are the decisive factors for tyre choice, more so than characteristics of bikes. With the exception of Marquez in Austin, all factory bikes have used the same tyres in all three races so far. There was talk about Hondas not needing the soft rear in Jerez since they pick the bike up and shoot etc. It proved not to be the case. And in hindsight it's always easy to see why. In Jerez you are forced to keep the bike leaned for a long time, no matter what bike you're riding, so even Hondas (and Ducatis for that matter) went for the soft rear that guarantees more grip. The track was expected to suit Yamahas but they couldn't get decent traction and stopping power due to the combination of available tyres (front) and hot conditions (rear), or at least this is my understanding of the matter.

What was highlighted also in this race after Austin, was the relative improvement of Hondas under braking. They seem to make up time on the Yamahas. Corner entry is another story and Marquez' wobbles down at Dry Sack meant he was at the limit, but still. Do we know if Honda has worked on this by placing the (increased this year) ballast somewhere that improves stability under braking? Or is this more a case of Yamaha not having a hard enough front tyre to push while braking? If someone (David?) has some ideas on this, please share. In any case, Le Mans race should be in cooler temperatures, so that should give an answer as to whether track conditions are to be blamed for Yamaha's shortcoming, or whether the Hondas have really found something (apart from another amazing rider, that is).

You could see Jorge tipping it in slowly on the front, very different from his usual ultra smooth but forceful entries. The chink in the armour was that the tires this weekend let down one of Yamaha's main strengths, the great front end.

All this talk about the bike being built around Jorge, but I'm not so sure. I think Jorge has learned to make the most of the Yamaha package, altering his style to suit the strengths of the bike, and his team has perfected a setup that is softer than most and allows for more grip, but would upset the bike too much for more aggressive approach.

Yamaha has to be cautious about following Ducati's mistake, when Stoner was winning Ducati naturally assumed the bike was fine, even though he was telling them it was not. Yamaha is at risk of doing the same (to a lesser degree of course)- Jorge can win on it so it must be fine. meanwhile the Honda is improving in every area...

With Ducati 3 out of 4 bikes were sometimes out of the top ten. With Yamaha the other bikes are still very competitive. Ducati used to do next to no development throughout the season, where Yamaha would constantly improve the bike, as they are this season with new chassis for all their riders to try. Yamaha have been very savvy in developing their bike, I doubt they're about to emulate the monumental fuck up Ducati allowed to happen.

Honda were big winners on the day. Moto3,I'm talking about. That Brad Binder youngster. Honda splitting the KTM hordes.
Lest ye all forgot. Marquez also got into premier league by way of junior classes.
Race of the day in my book was Moto3.
Moto 2 has settled into a predictable norm.
MGP and Yamaha. Looks like they got what they wished for. 31 and 33 tyres and Rossi. Carefull what you wish for,you just may get it.

Is there even a way another tire manufacturer could step in and compete with Bridgestone at this point? With all the data that they have collected over the last couple years, and all the money poured into these bikes to be able to extract the maximum grip from these particular tires, could anyone come in and challenge them? Is it too late? What are the chances this happens? Surely multiple tire manufacturers wouldn’t raise costs that much. Would it?

Why is this not discussed by MSMA or Dorna as another option anymore? Clearly removing this variable hasn't improved the racing as much as its complicated it.

You're certainly right that Bridgestone has a LOT of data and the
current crop of bikes seem to be developed around the tires -- as has
been mentioned on this site multiple times. So what is the solution?

Easy: dump Bridgestone or "disable" them in some way so that
you can bring in Michelin and Dunlop again for the old tire war days.
Although even in those old tire war days Dunlop was rarely competitive in MotoGP in 2000s from what I recall and of course Valentino moved over to Bridgestone from
Michelin because the latter was not considered competitive by him and his team...

What a difference a year (and a consistent spec tire) makes.
Last season with Bridgestone's change of tire construction and compounds after the season had started Honda was in deep trouble. With stable tire specs, a year later Honda is looking in good shape. Last year the concerns were about chatter and I have not read anything about this problem this year. Have the motorcycles evolved past this problem David? I'd appreciate your sharing any mention of this type of problem from the teams.

I can't believe some people here are calling for spec tires...I would hate to see Honda and Pedrosa/Marquez (for example) beaten because Ducati's heap and second tier riders are on a different tire. It introduces a variable that is outside the bike's and rider's control and is something that at the end of the day, none of us care about.

Who cheers for Michelin vs Dunlop? Nobody! But we all cheer for Dovi vs Crutchlow or Ducati vs Yamaha.

I love the fact that everybody is on the same tire (with a choice of spec), both in MotoGP and in F1.

I think you may be mistaken. Nobody that I've ever met roots for one tire over another. Its not about cheering for a tire manufacturer. Its about allowing the teams to pick the tire that best suits their bike. Just as each team gets to pick (to a degree), displacement, engine configuration, chassis, electronics, gas, oil, etc. Obviously Ducati is having issues getting the bike and tire to work together like Yamaha and Honda have. Let them try something else. Why restrict, restrict, restrict? Are more restrictions the answer because its worked out so well over the last couple years?

I for one was excited of the prospect of the spec tire when it was proposed, thinking it would make the racing better. It seems however that the law of unintended consequences looms large in this sport.

Lorenzo has the race record at Jerez, set in 2010 in the second last year of the 800cc bike formula. The track temperature that day was 44°C. In 2011 it rained, and Lorenzo won again. Last year Casey Stoner won the race in the first year of the 1000cc bike formula, on a Honda. The track temperature was a mere 15°C, and his race time over the 27 laps was significantly slower than Lorenzo's 2010 record (0.6 second/lap slower). This year the track temperature was 47°C and a Honda won again. But this time Pedrosa's race time almost matched Lorenzo's 2010 record.
What can we draw from this?
That the 800cc bikes were better than the 1000cc bikes?
That higher track temperatures at Jerez result in faster race times than cold track temperatures?
One thing that is known is that the current Bridgestone tyres are somewhat different to the Bridgestones that Jorge used on his 800cc Yamaha to set the race record.
And the Yamaha's front-end problems last Sunday may be due to the Yamaha riders pushing harder into the corners on the brakes to help overcome the Hondas' acceleration advantage. Over the season, this may even out. There are still 15 races to go.
And to the Ducatis: This year Nicky Hayden took 19.5 seconds less to cover the 27 laps than last year and was three seconds closer to the winner at the end. He was also just 16.5 seconds adrift of Valentino Rossi.
And finally, last year Valentino Rossi's race time on the Ducati was the slowest a Ducati had covered 27 laps on a dry track at Jerez since Carlos Checa rode a 990cc Ducati to 10th place - in 2005!