Round four of the 2015 MotoGP season kicks off Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1! Here are five things to watch during the race:
Lorenzo will refresh his stalling title campaign after conceding a bunch of early season points if he wins the Spanish GP. He has been in superb form at Jerez and smashed the pole record in qualifying and – if he doesn’t win here – it will be a big surprise with both Rossi and Marquez conceding his advantage. Lorenzo rides by instinct and confidence and the Jerez circuit is an ideal playground for his silky smooth style. Lorenzo has not won a race since the Japanese GP last year – a six race losing streak – and has clearly reset his approach here and begin to shut down the 29 points deficit to series leader Rossi. On Monday, Lorenzo turns 28, but the celebrations are likely to start early with a win in Jerez.
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Can Valentino Rossi win his third race of the season and end a six losing streak at Jerez? That is the challenge that faces the seven-time MotoGP world champion who has been invigorated by his stunning early season from that has won him two out of three races. While he has not won at Jerez since 2009 (he has six career wins here) Rossi is in dynamic form and continues to show that he is a master race strategist. He will need all of that and more in Jerez after qualifying fourth on the second row having conceded that his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo is the race favorite.
The pain barrier will be Marquez’s biggest hurdle in Jerez. And not just from the week old fracture to the little finger of his left hand. Marquez has admitted he will need pain killers for his hand but finding solution to overcome the impressive pace of fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo will be more difficult. While Marquez concedes Lorenzo’s dynamic race pace here he should not be underestimated despite saying that this race is all about salvaging points in the championship. The Jerez will be a physically grueling race with predicted track tarmac temperatures nudging 120 degrees being a further test for Marquez.
The hugely talented Andrea Iannone is affectionately nicknamed "Mania Joe" in the MotoGP paddock, a tag born of his often breathtaking, no fear style that suggests glory and disaster in almost equal parts. Iannone is not shy and even in the face of Lorenzo’s superb qualifying pace he boldly predicts he is a chance to fight for the win. Iannone has qualified third on the front row for the second consecutive race, five places ahead of his Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso who faces a huge task to continue his three race streak of second place podium finishes. Iannone’s early race charge with lead group will be worthy watching.
Can this fast and fearless Spaniard deliver Suzuki’s first top five finish in their return season to MotoGP? The Jerez layout places a premium on precise handling, not necessarily horsepower, and Espargaro has consistently praised the chassis as Suzuki’s strong point. Seventh place in Argentina is Espargaro’s best result so far with the opening three races, including Qatar and Texas, all featuring power hungry long straights.