Honda’s two MotoGP teams travel to Jerez, Spain, this week, following a triumphant Grand Prix of the Americas a fortnight ago.
Honda’s two MotoGP teams and its MotoGP test team travel to Jerez, Spain, this week, following a triumphant Grand Prix of the Americas a fortnight ago.
At the US round of the World Championship outside Austin, Texas, Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) scored a superb victory in only his third MotoGP weekend with Honda.
The success continued the 27-year-old Spaniard’s impressive start to his 2023 season, which puts him in third place in the title chase, with hopes of more wins and podiums ahead.
Rins was in superb form all weekend at the Circuit of Americas, qualifying on the front row, finishing second in Saturday’s sprint race and winning Sunday’s Grand Prix. His performance came thanks to hard work by Rins, his LCR Honda CASTROL crew and Honda engineers, especially in tailoring the electronics strategies of his TRC213V to suit his riding technique.
Rins can be assured of a huge welcome at Jerez, which is an event of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of Spanish motorcycle fans, who travel from all over Spain to attend this wonderful weekend. Rins has never won a Grand Prix at Jerez, but he finished a close second to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) in the 2019 MotoGP race, third in the 2016 Moto2 race and third in the 2014 Moto3 race, so he has high hopes of fighting for the podium again this weekend.
Honda will once again be without Marquez at the fourth round of the 21-round 2023 campaign. The six-times MotoGP World Champion crashed out of the season-opening Portuguese GP, sustaining a hand injury that forced him to miss the subsequent Argentine and Americas rounds. This Tuesday he underwent another medical check on the intra-articular fracture of the first metacarpal on his right hand. His medical team decided that the 30-year-old Spaniard should continue with his recovery programme and aim to return at the French GP over the weekend of 13th/14th May.
This weekend Marquez will be replaced by Team HRC World Superbike rider Iker Lecuona, who will swap his CBR1000RR-R Fireblade for an RC213V MotoGP bike. The super-talented 23-year-old Spaniard switched to superbike racing last year after two promising seasons in MotoGP, which followed three years in the Moto2 World Championship. He was formerly Spanish Supermoto Champion.
While Rins has had a brilliant start to his first MotoGP season with Honda, Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) has had a more challenging time at the first three races with the marque. The 25-year-old Spaniard made a steady start in Portugal, with an 11th-place finish in the Grand Prix but was unable to contest the race in Argentina following a collision with another rider that left him injured.
Mir returned to action in the US where he finished 12th in the sprint race but crashed out of the Grand Prix after making an impressive climb from 13th on the grid to ninth place. The 2017 Moto3 World Champion and 2020 MotoGP World Champion has only stood on the podium once at Jerez, when he took third in the 2017 Moto3 race.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) scored points in the first two Grands Prix of the year but slid out of the Americas GP while racing towards the first top-ten finish of 2023. The 31-year-old from Chiba will be anxious to get back into the podium battle this weekend.
There will be a total of five RC213V machines at Jerez, with Stefan Bradl (Team HRC Honda RC213V) competing as part of his testing programme. This will be the 33-year-old German’s second MotoGP event of the year, after he replaced Marquez in the USA.
Jerez is one of Nakagami’s favourite circuits, so he is confident he can have a good weekend and compete inside the top ten. In both 2020 and 2021 he scored two of his best results in MotoGP, taking fourth in the 2020 Andalusian GP and in the 2021 Spanish GP at the track. On both occasions he was less than a second away from a first MotoGP podium result. Last year he finished seventh.
Jerez’s layout suits some riders better than others. The track offers a great challenge for riders and engineers with an interesting variety of corners. Excellent machine balance is vital to allow riders to maintain high corner speed through the many long turns, the real secret to a quick Jerez lap. The track’s fastest corners – the Crivillé and Ferrari right-handers – lead into the slowest – the Lorenzo hairpin, scene of many a thrilling last-lap duel. Constructed in 1986, Jerez hosted its first GP the following year and quickly became popular with riders, teams and fans.
Honda has an amazing premier-class record at Jerez, with 22 victories since the first GP at the track in 1987. Those victories were achieved by the NSR500 two-stroke with Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Puig, Alex Crivillé and Rossi; the RC211V four-stroke with Rossi and Sete Gibernau, the RC212V with Pedrosa; and the RC213V with Casey Stoner, Pedrosa and Marquez.
After Sunday’s racing the MotoGP paddock heads north to the iconic racing venue of Le Mans.