Jack writes about finally overcoming his Jerez hoodoo, and offers his thoughts on the dramatic crash that took out three big names at the front of the field.
That one had been a long time coming. Like four years a long time coming. Jerez has pretty much sucked for me since I got to MotoGP, and I hadn’t even managed to score a point here until this year, not one. So to get 10 points, finish sixth and be right up there all weekend makes me feel, let’s say, content. Could have been better, but really happy anyway.
I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I’d qualified better, and definitely if I’d started better, I had a bit of a shocker. I fell down to 16th at one stage on the first lap, so to pass a heap of guys and work my way though, that was pretty satisfying.
In the end, I was three places off the podium, but just 1.5 seconds behind (Andrea) Iannone who finished third, so that’s a bit frustrating. What if I’d been able to qualify further up, probably where I should have been? I easily got through to Q2 on Saturday – I was sixth-fastest in the overall practice times – so 12th in qualifying was a fair bit less than I wanted. That 1.5 seconds to someone who started five places ahead of me … yeah, frustrating. But only a little bit. Nine seconds off the victory, that makes me happy because it shows we’re making improvements.
It was a pretty warm one by the time we raced on Sunday, and this wasn’t a race you could do well in on the early laps, you had to have tyres that would last. I’d barely done any laps on the hard Michelins all weekend, so I popped a rear one in to get a feeling for it in Sunday morning warm-up. The track was only 16 degrees then and it ended up being 40 in the race at 2 o’clock, so maybe not the best preparation. But there was no way, for me anyway, you would have been able to race the medium and push it all the way for 25 laps, and the soft tyre, forget it. It was a bit of a step in the darkness, but really happy with the decision.
Everyone saw the crash that took out ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso) and Jorge (Lorenzo) along with Dani (Pedrosa), and I was the third bike in a train with my teammate Danilo (Petrucci) and Valentino (Rossi) at the time, so it was crazy to see those guys all off their bikes and on the side of the track as we came through soon after – actually Dani’s bike was in the middle of the track, so we were a bit lucky there, especially as I was the last one of us to see it.
The whole thing was a bit odd. Dani, being a smaller guy like he is, was probably hanging off the side of the bike and didn’t see Lorenzo cutting back in, because Lorenzo does that sometimes. He should have been able to see Dani coming beneath him as he was cutting back, out of his peripheral vision he should have been able to spot that. ‘Dovi’ getting caught up in that, that sucks for him because he’s a championship contender, so to have points taken away like that is pretty harsh.
It was later that lap when I figured ‘hang on, we’re all top six now’ and that maybe a podium was on. Turn 6 where those guys went down is one the best passing spots and I was able to get Vale there to get up to fifth, but he got me back at the last corner with three laps left (my slowest lap of the race) and I didn’t get another shot at him the last two laps because I’d taken too much out of the front tyre coming back through early on. I was having a few moments, so it was time to mellow it down a little bit and bring it home. In the end, none of us got Iannone anyway – Danilo passed him for a lap, but Iannone came back. Fourth and sixth is a great result for the team though, for sure.
That’s four top 10s out of four for me now this season and I’m still top 10 in the championship, which was definitely the goal coming in this year after just missing last year, and being with a new team and all of that. Seems to me that it’s realistic to stay there, too. All weekend at Jerez I felt good, my injuries from before Austin didn’t bother me and I had really consistent pace at a track that probably doesn’t suit our bike and definitely hasn’t suited me in the past. That’s a really good sign.
I’ve got family over from home at the moment plus I’ve been spending some time with Billy Van Eerde as he did his first Red Bull Rookies races this weekend (give him a follow, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and I reckon he’s going to go really well), so there’s been a bit on. But we’re straight back into it tomorrow with a test at Jerez for Monday, and then it’s time to go back to Le Mans for the French GP. I feel closer to being a podium contender all the time now, and it’s all the small details where we’ll improve the most – the starts, first laps and that sort of thing. Tidy that up, and we can challenge for podiums in the future.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com
Photos courtesy of Alma Pramac Racing