Can anyone stop freight train Franco Morbidelli ?
It’s three out of three for Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) as the paddock heads back onto European soil, and the man of the moment has seemed the same unfazed whirlwind of speed at every venue. With only his recent exploits to make him the favourite going into Argentina and the Americas, the
Spanish GP arrives, however, with already proven speed – and the Jaws theme tune to go with it.
In some ways, the race in Texas threw the previous formbook out the window for the top four. Like Morbidelli, neither second placed Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) nor fellow podium finisher Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) had a great record at the track, but that makes for an exciting prospect ahead of Jerez. As ominous as Morbidelli may seem, both Lüthi and Nakagami have form at the venue. Lüthi, who is bucking his trend of being a rider who gains strength throughout the year, will surely take some heart from his record in Andalusia – with three previous podiums and only one finish outside the top ten. Surprised by his ability to stay with Morbidelli in Texas, maybe Jerez will help close that gap and open up the battle.
Nakagami also has some good finishes in Jerez, with two top fives to his name already. The Japanese rider may not have been on the podium at every round like his Swiss and Italian rivals, but a blip in Argentina doesn’t diminish the Japanese rider’s speed. Then there’s Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – already getting the new KTM intermediate class chassis onto the podium in its debut season – who is sure to put up another challenge as he settles into life as a frontrunner in Moto2™. And Jerez was the first test venue of the year for the Moto2™ grid, meaning the Austrian factory have data.
Last year’s Spanish GP saw home hero Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) crash out, but the 2014 Moto3™ World Champion has shown some serious pace this season. Especially strong at the start of races in Qatar and COTA, the rider from Cervera also had some real speed for his teammate in Argentina until his last lap bad luck. Despite that incident, Marquez is the only man who has been within striking distance of Morbidelli on a final lap so far in 2017.
Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) was a strong performer in Texas on the Suter, a track where he was one o the few to have a great record, and will be looking to try and keep that solid form in Jerez – as will Tech 3 Racing’s Xavi Vierge. Vierge, an impressive and consistent performer on the Mistral 610, is even in the top five in the standings as we head to his home race – and will be looking to keep his incredible roll going in Andalusia.
FP1 sees the gloves off for the first time on Friday at 10:55 local time (GMT +2), with the race firing up on Sunday at 12:20.
Moto2 World Championship Classification
1 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) 75 points
2 – Thomas Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) 56 points
3 – Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) 43 points
4 – Takaaki Nakagami (JPN – Kalex) 32 points
5 – Xavi Vierge (SPA – Tech3) 25 points