Tyre issues among the Spaniards in Jerez

Valentino Rossi won without any issues, however the six Spaniards who finished behind him all struggled with tyres. Interviews from Pedrosa, Vinales and the Espargaro brothers.

Tyre issues among the Spaniards in Jerez
Tyre issues for Marc Marquez | Photo: Getty Sport

An Italian won the fourth round of the 2016 MotoGP season ahead of six Spanish riders. Two of them managed to claim a podium; Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) finished in second and third place - who were both disappointed with their results.

Pedrosa knew it would be a difficult race

In fourth was Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa who seemed less than impressed with how his race went saying, “We knew it would be a difficult race.” The Repsol Honda rider only managed to qualifying seventh meaning he started the race from the front of the first row, however he went on to finish in fourth, what he said was “The position we knew was possible”; at one point he overtook his teammate to gain third but Marquez retaliated and Pedrosa dropped off the lead pack.

Pedrosa agrees that he “started well” and said he was “riding hard in the early laps,” but then like a lot of the riders mentioned he appeared to experience trouble with rear grip saying, “I rode at a safe pace so as not to make the rear tyre go off too much as well.

Dani Pedrosa finished fourth | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Dani Pedrosa finished fourth | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

The Repsol Honda rider struggled for grip on both tyres

Pedrosa also spoke of also struggling with the front Michelin tyre, and chose to play it safe as he noticed “Aleix [Espargaro] was recovering ground.” Pedrosa felt that he “had him under control” and instead decided to focus on “preserving the tyre.

When this pressure from the Team Suzuki Ecstar rider was alleviated towards the end of the race Pedrosa decided to “pick up the pace again.” He found that he was able to gain on Marquez in doing so and assumed “pushing so hard at the start cost him in the end,” however Pedrosa still finished over three seconds behind his teammate.

Espargaro claimed his best result so far

Something seemed to click into place for Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), as his fortune appears to have changed; he finally began to look comfortable on the GSX-RR after a difficult winter and season start. Maybe it was the familiarity of being on home turf?

Espargaro, who qualified on sixth on the grid (after struggling on the soft tyre but completed a fast lap on the hard tyre) looked forward to this GP as he felt the team “have been making continuous steps forward” at the previous rounds.

Aleix Espargaro getting closer | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Aleix Espargaro getting closer | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Aleix gained two places after a few corners and then “almost succeeded” when he chased the Repsol Honda in front but “unfortunately towards the end of the race the rider in front of me could keep a faster pace” and the Suzuki rider “settled for fifth.” 

Despite settling he felt it was “a good result after a slow beginning to the season,” still he remains positive saying, “I’m getting closer to the top with good results but, most-importantly, improving my feeling on the bike.

Testing in Jerez to take place after the race

Many riders will remain in Jerez after the race to complete testing, Aleix spoke highly of his team saying, “Suzuki is doing a great job to support us and deliver some solutions” and spoke of how they already had some ideas to test as he said they still “have issues with the rear grip - especially in slow corners.” Continuing with his positivity Aleix said, “We are not so far from the fastest, we can improve a lot yet; and this leaves me confident for further improvements.”

Vinales struggled throughout the race

Despite appearing to struggle throughout the race, Aleix’s teammate Maverick Vinales (Suzuki Team Ecstar) finished behind him in sixth position; both Suzuki riders finished ahead of the factory Ducatis. Vinales described his result as “not so bad” as but said it was “difficult” as throughout the race he also had an issue with the rear grip and said “I regret we could have achieved an even better result.

Maverick Vinales struggled | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Maverick Vinales struggled | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Vinales stated, “We are not exploiting the bike 100%” and claims that they “still miss something in the set-up or in the tyre performance,” issues that he feels “forced” him to “push very hard in the race”; despite this he said they are “making a lot of progress.

Vinales remains positive about his current team

Also speaking highly of his team he said, “The Suzuki Factory is giving full support to us, but now that we can see we can be closer it’s a pit we cannot get even closer.” Remaining positive about the test session at Jerez his aim was to, “work on the set-up to find better grip on the rear,” also he aimed to “try and be more effective.

More reason to celebrate for the Espargaro family

It was not just Aleix Espargaro who was triumphant at his home GP at the Circuito de Jerez, his brother Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) finished as the top independent rider in the race where he crossed the line in eighth overall; he is currently fifth in the riders championship with 38 points (he is also leading the independents in the championship). Pol said he was “pleased to walk away from Jerez with another strong set of points” but admitted it was not easy saying, “It certainly was a challenging race.

Blaming the increase in temperature over the weekend ahead of the race, Pol said it was “tough to choose the tyres and then ride a decent race” saying he “did what he could.” Towards the beginning of the race Pol said he was “adjusting to the conditions,” after this he said he “upped the pace in the middle and then went quick at the end.

The independent riders are hoping to bridge the gap

Pol finished 30 seconds behind race winner Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha), but only four seconds behind the factory Ducati rider Andrea Iannone (Andrea Dovizioso was forced to retire as his bad luck continues). Pol however is still not confident claiming “the gap to the factory guys is still considerable”. He said, “Iannone had a bit more traction than me when exiting the corners.

Instead of pursuing the top riders he felt it was best to “think about the end of the race.” Pol spoke of how he is also concerned with the Michelin tyres saying, “It’s a pity you cannot extract all of the potential from your bike because the tyre is limited.” Pol claimed that his “rear tyre was worn” and so he “didn’t want to push too hard and risk it all.

Pol is optimistic about the future

Also remaining positive about the future, Pol said that the French run Yamaha team are “in a development stage” and feels that “this will improve in the future.” Pol hopes to be able to “fight a bit higher in the opening laps” which is what he said was his main objective was ahead of the test, following the race.

The next round of the MotoGP is set to take place on May 8th at Le Mans, France. This is a track that Pol likes, but he is concerned about the weather here as it “changes a lot.” The event at Le Mans is sponsored by Monster Energy and is classed as the home race of the Tech 3 Yamaha team. Pol said, “We are all motivated and in a good position in the championship so I know we can have a positive time there.”