Grand Prix of Spain 2016 Preview

Written by Matthew Molver for @Hollywoodbets.

Grand Prix of Spain | Sunday 24 April | Circuito de Jerez | 13:45

This time of year is always my favourite. No Sunday is without some kind of high octane, intense vehicle action with both the Formula One and the Moto GP circuits running concurrently.

This weekend will see those beautiful two wheeled machines and their riders leave the 'red white and blue' of the United States behind and make the journey to sunny Spain, where the next leg of the SBK circuit is taking place.

Motorsports enthusiasts will be on the edge of their seats, toes twitching along to the gear changes when those daring men and their two-wheeled beasts take to the Circuito de Jerez this Sunday.

Previous Race
All eyes were on Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the MotoGP World Championship lined up for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. The Spaniard went into the race with a perfect record on America soil; winning every MotoGP race he had started in the United States.

While Marquez was quietly confident, there were a number of riders raring to knock him off his pedestal and push their way to the front of the pack.

Amongst them was Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), the 2015 MotoGP world champion who suffered an uncharacteristic crash during warm-up. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was another ready to make an impact, having qualified fourth; he started in seventh, however, due to his penalty from the Argentina GP.

All of the factory Yamaha and Ducati riders opted for medium tires - front and rear - while pole-sitter Marquez chose the soft front with medium rear.

 COTA has always been a challenging circuit for tires and all who lined up knew that their choice on the grid would make a significant difference.

This race held many thrills, mostly because of all the incidents that happened. Valentino Rossi was the first to go, crashing out at the beginning of the third lap, which meant that, for the first time in 25 races, Rossi did not finish in the top 5.

The first five laps saw Marquez cinch his win in America, leading by a second in front of second place rider, Dovizioso. Dovizioso did not hold his spot long though with Lorenzo passing him, and then calamity struck on the seventh lap when Pedrosa while going into turn 1, lost control of his Honda and crashed hard into Dovizioso.

This was the second time in a row that Dovizioso has been taken out of the race by another rider. Pedrosa was able to re-join though.

Another crash at turn 11 on lap eight bought both Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) off their bikes as the accidents mounted up. Both of them were able to remount but had lost their positions with the leading four having at least three seconds on them. All these falls bumped Lannone up to a provisional third place.

The Team Suzuki Ecstar duo meanwhile continued to dice it out for fourth, Viñales also running the softer rear but had opted for the medium front, which gave him increased braking stability. Chaos unfolded behind, but Marquez remained cool as he upped his pace to the 2’04s; almost half a second faster than Lorenzo’s laps.

Each lap saw Marquez set a new fastest lap of the race. None of the top three were able to make major progress on the rider ahead, unlike the Suzuki pair who continued to slug it out. Viñales would dive up the inside, only to have Espargaro come back past him soon after.

With 10 laps to go, Dani Pedrosa pulled into the pits as his bike was too damaged to continue. In a true sign of sportsmanship, Pedrosa went straight to the box of Dovizioso to apologize for the incident and explain that it was not intentional.

The rhythm of the race continued, Viñales now a second clear of his teammate as all of the top seven riders were spread out on track. Even though he was now over six seconds ahead of Lorenzo, Marquez’s pace remained over half a second faster as he asserted his dominance at the Circuit of the Americas with each lap.

As many had predicated, Marquez walked to victory and crossed the line 6.107s ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. For just the second time in his career, Lorenzo took to the podium at COTA as he ended the race second. Iannone rounded out the podium with a safe ride to third place.

Maverick Viñales secured his best-ever premier class finish in fourth ahead of his teammate Aleix Espargaro, a great day for Suzuki with a double top five.

Scott Redding, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Michele Pirro (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).

As the Championship returns to Europe, Marquez leads with 66 points a solid 21 points clear of Lorenzo in second. After failing to finish the Americas GP, Rossi slips to third with 33 championship points as clear gaps are already emerging.

The riders will be racing on the Circuito de Jerez track in Spain this weekend. Built in 1986 the circuit is a focal point for a city that loves motor sports. Set in a slight valley in the south of Spain, Jerez is blessed with consistently good weather and beautiful scenery, its numerous grandstands providing the perfect viewing facilities for up to 250,000 spectators.

The track is 4.4km long with a width of 11m, it holds both sharp and gentle corners, with 13 in total 5 going left and 8 going right. The track also affords riders a wonderful long straight of 608 meters in which they can open up their throttles and really gain some ground.

This pleasant track is used through out the year for testing, its recently updated corporate and media facilities have proven to be a popular addition to the complex. Other facilities such as the control tower and pit boxes have also been vastly improved.

The weather this weekend will be a balmy 22 degrees on Friday with a little bit of cloud cover, with temperatures increasing to 24 on Saturday with no cloud cover and carrying on into Sunday it will again be 24 with a small bit of cloud cover. All in all a very good weather forecast for this weekend.

To Win Outright
Marc Marquez: 16/25 | Jorge Lorenzo:  5/4 | Valentino Rossi: 11/2 | Andrea Dovizioso: 32/1

Value Bets
Fastest Qualifier: Jorge Lorenzo
Lorenzo swept the floor during the Spanish Moto Gp in 2015, pulling the hat-trick of fastest lap, circuit record, and best pole of 2015. Playing second fiddle to Marquez for the whole season so far, I think the Spaniard Lorenzo will try to close that gap on his home turf this weekend. Giving himself a good starting position is the best way to start the gap closing process.

To Win Outright: Marc Marquez
Although I have high hopes for Lorenzo, the numbers for this year are pointing to Marquez. He is making it look too easy, and if his last performance in America is anything to judge on, I think that he has this one in the bag.

Podium Finish: Valentino Rossi
After his last race in America where he crashed out during the third lap, Valentino Rossi is going to be even more charged to do his best in Spain this weekend. Given his past history of podium finishes, barring any unfortunate accidents I think Rossi will knock Iannone out of his third-place pole position this weekend, at the least.

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