Reigning champion Marc Marquez (Honda), who crashed out of the Argentina encounter after tangling with Rossi in a thrilling battle for the lead, had a further bad turn when he fractured the little finger in his left hand this past weekend while riding a dirt bike in training, and had to undergo an operation in Barcelona.
How much the injury will affect the young Spaniard’s performance in front of his home crowd this weekend remains to be seen, but with Rossi in peak form after having won two of the opening three races against a fully-fit Marquez, the Italian legend will leap at any small advantage he may have.
Rossi holds a six -point lead over Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in the world championship standings and a 30-point lead over the fifth-placed Marquez. Despite trailing by such a margin, the reigning champion has said he’s not panicking yet despite his injury, as he was 30 points behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa after six races in 2013, and still went on to win the title.
Last year at Jerez, Rossi and Marquez fought it out in the early part of the race, before the Marquez went on to take the win, with Rossi second and Pedrosa third. This year the 36 year-old Italian will be hoping to go one better, and add to his impressive tally of six MotoGP victories at the Spanish circuit. Rossi is the most successful rider in history at Jerez, having taken eight wins across all classes, and is one of only three non-Spanish riders to have stood on the top step in the MotoGP class, along with Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi.
Repsol Honda has not made an official decision on who will be Marquez’s team-mate this weekend, as they await news on how well Pedrosa’s recovery from arm-pump surgery has gone. Pedrosa will take part in a supermoto race this week to see if his rehabilitation is on course to allow him to return to action in Jerez. The man who has filled in for Pedrosa for the past two races, HRC test rider Hiroshi Aoyama, is on standby once more should the Spaniard not be fully recovered in time.
Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to get his season back on track, having failed to finish on a podium in the first three races of a MotoGP season for the first time in his career. Lorenzo will be boosted by support from his home crowd, and the fact that he took back-to-back victories at the Jerez circuit in 2010 and 2011.
Lorenzo currently sits fourth in the standings, 29 points behind Rossi, and one point ahead of Marquez, but he knows that he will need to start winning races if he is to have any chance of fighting for his third title.
Ducati will be hoping to continue its excellent start to the season, which has seen Dovizioso claim three consecutive seconds on the new Desmosedici GP15.
CMW LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow grabbed his first podium of the season in Argentina, and will be full of confidence heading to Spain after receiving some vital upgrades to his factory spec bike.
Original source: It’s Rossi versus the rest at Jerez