If anyone thought MotoGP was getting boring, they missed Jerez!

What a weekend!  What racing!  What fun!

We started with our traditional ‘Happy Hours’ at two of our hotels, the lovely 4* Sherry Park in Jerez itself; and the fun Antiqua Estacion in rural Andalucia. Our ‘Special’ package at the Estacion (literally an old station house, the Spanish never managed to get the train to!) features free-flowing (and indeed self-pouring!) beer and wine, and in the beautiful surroundings of olive groves and perfect evening temperatures, this is always a great place to unwind!

Friday many of us went to the track, for most to get the first sight of all the new bikes and riders.  For some odd reason, a great interest in a certain Italian on a strangely decorated-yet-compelling red & yellow Ducati!

Friday evening we had our traditional opening party at the spectacular Hacienda El Rosalejo. The setting in the 15th century estate is simply breathtaking; a fantastic place to enjoy a local wine or beer watching the sun set over the endless olive groves.

As special guests for the evening we welcomed British 125cc star Danny Webb, and MotoGP technical journalist Neil Spalding. Danny gave us insights into his career and the new challenges of his new team Mahindra.  (We have to thank Danny for coming along - he is actually our ‘official’ speaker at Estoril - he joined us at Jerez just to support our team and customers!)  Neil as ever was sharp as an arrow as we explored issues such as ‘what’s holding back the Ducati’ and ‘why are Hondas so awesome this year’ and much much more... Neil is fascinating, and a regular guest of ours, commentating for us at the MotoGP Tests (Estoril, Brno and Valencia) and our featured speaker at Le Mans this year.

Special thanks to Danny Webb co-sponsor Simon Booth of Kiddie Moto - makers of the coolest push motos for kids ever (my 3 yr old is a fan!).  He brought along a unique moto in the Mahindra livery; which we auctioned for Riders for Health.

We were delighted the the rain threatened for Saturday never materialised, and the day was about as ideal as you could ask for. Inside the paddock, we had 8 customers on our special ‘Team Experience’ packages - as guests of MotoGP team San Carlo Honda Gresini, LCR Honda, 125c Team Ongetta (and our sponsored rider Jakub Kornfiel) and even some guests of our sponsored Red Bull Rookie rider from South Africa, Brad Binder (41).

A word about Brad:  Friday we were overjoyed when he took Pole Position in the qualifiers. Saturday featured the first of TWO Red Bull Rookies races; and this was a thriller. Brad took the lead throughout most of the race, with the usual ‘indestructible’ kids bouncing off each other throughou the pack. German Phillip Ottl closed the gap in the last lap, and in a thrilling inside bump pass got past Brad to take the victory. While Brad disappointed about not winning we weren’t complaining about a second place! (Have a peek at Brad in action in one of our YouTube videos from a recent race in South Africa)

The qualifiers threw up some interesting results.... In 125cc we were shocked to see Danny Webb crash on about his second lap out. He was in real danger of not qualifying - remember there are no backup bikes in 125cc. He had to get the bike back to the pit (he got no help from marshals and ended up pushing it himself from turn 5! Pic is him just back to the pit!), then they had to get it roadworthy again and out in time for some serious fast laps! That they managed to do it, with Danny getting in about 5 real laps and ultimately qualifying 19th is a credit to the team. Also of note we were delighted to see Brit Danny Kent just make the 3rd row at 9th...  Jakub pulled in at 15th, his English teammate rookie Harry Stafford wasn’t having a good day, sitting 27th. He’s one to look out for next year we think...

In Moto2 there was little surprise to see Bradl on top.  He is looking like the one to beat this year. I had a chat over lunch with Yuki Takahashi, and delighted to say I left him saying ‘I predict you for the front row’. Gresini needless to say were delighted with his 2nd place; and teammate Pirro took 7th!  But the man who has performed well above expectations is Brit Bradley Smith. His 5th was a brilliant result, and he was to prove it was no accident!  Our sponsored Moto2 rider, Kev Coghlan is still trying to find the right settings, and was a bit disappointed at 24th.  He will make up for this...

On MotoGP no one was shocked to see Casey at pole. What WAS surprising is that Rossi managed only 12th, just behind team mate Hayden. Later that evening I bump into Jeremy Burgess. “So what’s your strategy for tomorrow Jerry?” “A little rain might help level things!” he joked. Turns out he was (as usual) right!

Saturday night several of us enjoyed a great evening in the company of the MotoGP paddock - entertainment from LCR Honda; dinner with San Carlo Gresini.  Marco Simoncelli as always was more than generous with his time; saying hi to all the guests, and we had a chance to encourage our old friend Toni Elias at LCR!

Sunday dawned wet, and we never fully escaped the rain all day. Well, this just made the races even more interesting!

9 crashes made the 125cc race a bit of an endurance test. Sadly one of the victims was Danny Webb. Didn’t look good - they had to stretcher him off. Later he texts me while we are all out for dinner to assure us he was ‘bruised and sore’ but ready for Portugal! Mahindra still did ok - his teammate Marcel Schrotter bagged 3 for Mahindra’s first ever points!

No one was going to touch Terol on this one (and perhaps not all year) but fantastic results from Danny Kent at 4th and Scotland’s Taylor MacKenzie at 5th cheered us up! Our favourite result though was Jakub Kornfeil pulling in 7th...

The Moto2 race was more of the same... Six crashes including the unfortunate Takahashi.  Bradley Smith pulled a brilliant 4th, proving he is one of the contenders. We went wild over Kev Coghlan however - taking 8th after starting 24th! Some of our Scots VIPs were first in the pit to congratulate him on an awesome ride...

What can we say about the MotoGP race that hasn’t already been said? I watched the race from Gresini. When Simoncelli took the lead after a pair of spectacular passes, the atmosphere was frenzied! When his closest rival Stoner was taken out by Rossi, leaving Marco with a clear gap, we were all looking at each other wondering ‘could this be it?’. I leave it to your imagination the deflation when he crashed several seconds in the lead on turn 1... Still an awesome show of force and his win is coming...! Gresini’s fortunes were redeemed by a great showing by Aoyama taking 4th. And privately we were dead chuffed to see supported rider Cal Crutchlow take a well deserved 8th; and our friend Czech Karel Abraham pick up 7th!

Sadly the final race of the day was a bit of a disaster for Brad Binder; as he crashed in the final corner of the last lap of the Rookies Cup. All credit though to Aussie Arthur Sissis who had an altogether better day than his countryman! Several years ago Jeremy Burgess told me Arthur was an Aussie to watch - and true to his word, Jeremy was one of the first to congratulate him on park ferme!

We closed the weekend with our traditional wander into the village for a great Andalusian meal washed down by the usual gallons of wine, beer and good cheer! Despite his poor race, Brad was all smiles as he joined us with his staunchest support, dad Trevor...

I can’t wait to come back!  We are already taking bookings for next year...

(We would like to thank Andrew Wheeler for the two great bike photos above. See more of his work)


Jerez MotoGP 1-3 April 2011