Four Americans Jerez MotoGP Insider Report

April 4, 2011
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

John Hopkins  #21  fulfilled his goal of finishing inside the top-10 at Jerez.
John Hopkins (#21) proved in his return to Suzuki that he deserves to be in the paddock after claiming 10th at Jerez.

Factory Suzuki boss, Paul Denning, reckons John Hopkins has already proved that he is worthy of another chance to race in the MotoGP world championship. Replacing the injured Alvaro Bautista, who broke his left femur in a practice crash for the opening race in Qatar last month, Hopkins was 10th in his first MotoGP race since the end of 2008. And Denning said his performance proved Hopkins, who is back to full fitness after an injury-ravaged three years, should be back as a permanent fixture on the MotoGP grid in the future.

“This race has demonstrated two things,” said Denning. “The first is that John Hopkins still deserves to be riding at the top level of the sport, and secondly, that Suzuki has done a great job to develop the GSV-R into a package that – without any adjustments at all – has allowed John to ride the bike so competitively. Over two years away from riding a MotoGP machine – and the amount of braking force and mechanical grip that they have compared to production bikes – means that John’s timing is inevitably a bit off and also that while he’s very fit, there is a difference between normal fitness and MotoGP racing fitness. John has done a fantastic job so far and we couldn’t have wished for a better stand-in for Alvaro.” 

Yamahas Ben Spies finished Fridays practice at Jerez in seventh and wasnt pleased with his progress.
Yamaha’s Ben Spies put a pass on Honda’s Dani Pedrosa for second late in the race, but worn tires and a slick circuit had the American on the ground shortly after.Ben Spies: I put it all out there and caught Dani. As soon as I passed him I knew that we had second place under control  he wouldnt be able to get back by but I needed to not make any mistakes. Every corner after I passed him I slowed down  taking it easy then all of a sudden I was on the floor. Obviously it was my mistake  but looking at the data I was going slower than I had all race. It was one of those things; I think the tyres were the limiting factor today.

Ben Spies blew a golden chance to claim a Yamaha 1-2 in yesterday’s rain-lashed Jerez MotoGP race. The American had just moved into second place by Dani Pedrosa on Lap 25 when he lost control of his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine at the fifth corner.

“With how the warm-up went and my speed in the rain, we made a massive change to the bike for the race and I was quite comfortable with it,” said Spies. “I didn’t quite understand how it would be for the first few laps so I was a little bit cautious, but I think I still rode really well at the start and stayed close. Once we moved into fourth I was behind Nicky and I knew I could get by him, I just waited for the right moment. Once I got by, Dani was a few seconds ahead of me and I was looking at how far I was pulling away from Nicky and I felt for sure I could get on the podium. I slowly started reeling in Dani and I knew I could catch him. We were all having problems with the tires. Not to blame the tires, but it is a very demanding track and the middle of the rear tire had basically gone and the right side of the front tire was slick. I could see Dani’s problem was bigger than mine, so I just followed him for a lap and once I got to him I took him and as soon as I did I knew we had second place under control. Every corner after I passed him I slowed down, taking it easy. Then all of the sudden I was on the floor.” 

Colin Edwards suffered last lap heartache in Jerez when a technical failure cost him third place in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix. The Texan had easily pulled away from fellow American, Nicky Hayden, in the closing stages and looked to be a certainty to claim his first premier class rostrum since the 2009 British Grand Prix at Donington Park. But his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine broke down at the first turn on the final lap.

“It’s pretty tough to take because getting a podium in MotoGP is not something you get a chance at every week. The race was unbelievable because it was all about who could keep it on two wheels the longest. You could try and say that was a race, but it was more of a battle of survival. I was quite a way back at one stage, but I just didn’t want to do anything stupid and crash and I felt more and more confident to push. Nicky came back to me really quickly and I knew I’d have no problem passing him because he was in trouble with his tires. I didn’t have a lot more grip but I pulled away from him and the podium was right in front of me. I thought we might actually get on the podium and when I passed I just wanted to put some clean laps in. I knew there was no way he could come back at me but I went down the straight and I could feel it wasn’t right. The bike didn’t feel great coming out of the last corner to start the last lap, and by the time I got to the first corner it just stopped. Obviously, I’m disappointed but I can’t change what happened. That’s motorcycle racing and sometimes it can be a very unkind business.”

American Colin Edwards recorded a DNF at Jerez after crashing in the gravel pit.
Colin Edwards (above) suffered a technical glitch on the last lap that pushed him off the podium while Nicky Hayden (below) moved up to third to claim his first podium since September of 2010.Nicky Hayden scored his second podium finish for Ducati after earning third.

Nicky Hayden rode his luck to claim his first MotoGP podium since last September in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. The factory Ducati rider would have finished way down the order but Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies all crashed out in front of him during an incident-packed 27-lap race. And the 2006 world champion looked destined for fourth when compatriot Colin Edwards’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 broke down at the start of the final lap to give Hayden his first podium since the Motorland Aragon race last season.

Hayden, who only just managed to fend off a late challenge from San Carlo Gresini Honda rider, Hiroshi Aoyama, said: “Obviously at the end the tires were finished. At the start our bike was working really good and it made me use the tires more than some of the other bikes. But at the beginning Valentino and I had a lot of traction. But it was just about concentrating. The track was changing in every corner. Part of the track you had some rain while other parts no rain and the tires were changing and so were the lines. I was trying to find grip, shifting in different places and using a gear higher in some corners. It wasn’t necessarily pretty because my last laps were so slow, but we held on and I’m on the podium and I’m pretty happy about it. It has not been an easy start to the season and I’ll take a podium any way I can get it. Hopefully it will be the shot in the arm we need.”

Asked what he made of the incident involving teammate Rossi and Stoner at the first corner on Lap 8, Hayden said: “I saw he was pushing hard and I knew he was going to the front, you could see he was happy in the rain before the race. Our bike was really good at the start and sometimes we chew up the tires more. That’s not new so I think he wanted to get to the front and go and get a gap and see how long his tires would last.”