After the season-opening spectacle in Qatar MotoGP™ lands in Europe this weekend for the Gran Premio bwin de España at Jerez, the second round of the 2012 season. Provided with an excellent curtain raiser at Losail expectations will be high for another tight battle for points, pride and progress in the south of Spain as Jerez – one of the Championship's best-attended GPs year after year – celebrates its 26th successive year of hosting a Grand Prix event just a week after its place on the 2013 calendar was confirmed.
A perfect start to the 2012 campaign was had by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) in Qatar, where the Spaniard kicked off his season with victory thanks to a first win in the premier class at Losail. Winner at Jerez for the past two seasons, the stage is set for another intense battle with Repsol Honda pair Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
Reigning World Champion Stoner has not finished off the podium since last year's Jerez race, when he and Valentino Rossi famously clashed and which resulted in the Australian being unable to complete the distance, and the Spanish track is one of just two on the current calendar where he has not tasted victory in the premier class. Third in Qatar after an arm pump issue hampered him through the final laps, Stoner will be determined to get one over on Lorenzo on the Spaniard's home soil.
On the other side of the Honda factory team garage Pedrosa will be highly motivated for his home round, and he has never finished off the podium at Jerez in the MotoGP category. Confident after a strong ride to second in Qatar, he will also be making his 100th premier class start on Sunday.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed a close battle in Qatar, eventually finishing fourth and fifth respectively as the Brit equalled his best-ever MotoGP result after a first-ever front-row start while the Italian got his Yamaha career off to a solid start.
Nicky Hayden scored a podium in last year's Jerez race and was sixth in Qatar a few weeks ago, and the American fell foul of the weather at Mugello where he attended a private Ducati test in an attempt to make up for time lost during pre-season. His Ducati Team colleague Valentino Rossi will hope for much better than tenth which he recorded in Qatar after a frustrating weekend and race. The Italian is the most successful rider at Jerez with eight GP wins to his name (six in the premier class), and on race day the nine-times World Champion will become only the third rider in history to have made 200 premier class starts.
Álvaro Bautista's new partnership with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team began well in Qatar where he finished seventh, and after missing last year's Jerez GP due to injury the Spaniard is set to make his 150th Grand Prix start across all categories this weekend.
Aiming to continue what was a very impressive introduction to the MotoGP class in Qatar, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl will push on with his adaptation to the RC213V at a track where he finished fifth in last year's Moto2 race. After a disappointing result in round one, Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will expect to be back to full capacity at Jerez as he seeks to challenge the frontrunners.
Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) was the highest-placing CRT last time out and his team undertook a private test on his BMW-Suter machine in Italy last week, with Moto2 rider Alex de Angelis working on electronics developments, some of which are expected to be used by the American at Jerez. Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar Team) will not have been satisfied with finishing behind his rival in Qatar and will aim to engage in another fierce battle, with other CRT riders such as Yonny Hernández (Avintia Racing MotoGP) and Aleix Espargaró (Power Electronics Aspar Team) keen to challenge too.
World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1- Jorge Lorenzo - SPA - Yamaha Factory Racing - 25
2- Dani Pedrosa - SPA - Repsol Honda Team - 20
3- Casey Stoner - AUS - Repsol Honda Team - 16
4- Cal Crutchlow - GBR - Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 13
5- Andrea Dovizioso - ITA - Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 11