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MotoGP 2016: Round 4 - Jerez preview

Don't even come at me with "Jerez sucks", we have the last corner to look forward to.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

Ok, so Austin wasn't the best of weekends race wise. We had a few processions, with most of the action happening in the midfield. That's fine, you get some weekends like that (and hello to the F1 audience on that one).

But with a sixth of the season already down (yep, seriously), we head to Europe. The North American audience has to adjust to our times. Shame it's Jerez...

The Circuit

It's not as bad as I'm making out. As with most of the other circuits, it's not the track that makes the race, it's the people who ride on it. Boy, do we need a good set of races though. The opening rounds haven't been incredible, and we could do with an actual battle to make things interesting. Whether we'll get that here, I don't know.

In the news

Where else to start than with the news that Jorge Lorenzo has announced he is joining Ducati. Signing a two year deal from the start of 2017, it signals the end of a relationship that goes back to 2008, bringing Lorenzo three world championships. Will he bring greatness back to the red beasts, or will he struggle a-la Valentino Rossi? Only time will tell.

Regardless, Lorenzo said he needed a new challenge.

"As you all know next season I won't be with Yamaha. I felt I needed a change, a new challenge in my career, set new goals for me to try to achieve and keep my level of ambition at the maximum,"

"I have only words of gratitude to the Yamaha family because of all the moments we lived through together. I achieved much more than I'd ever dreamt.

"What will happen in the future is unpredictable but from here on I just want to enjoy these 15 races that I have left with Yamaha to try to ratify the World Championship. This is right now my only target."

Who will partner Lorenzo is still to be decided, but Ducati say that they won't be getting a second new rider, as one of the Andreas will be staying put.

Sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told Sky Italia:

"We have not decided yet. First we wanted to ensure the signing of Lorenzo. Now we will wait to decide whether Iannone or Dovizioso stays.

"The two are exceptional and it will not be an easy choice. We have spoken to both of them and I don't think the uncertainty over their future will affect them. We spoke with Jorge and [he] does not care which one is his team-mate."

As for who might replace Lorenzo at Yamaha, Suzuki are hoping that the front-runner, Maverick Viñales, will stay with them. Team principle Davide Brivio said the following in Austin.

Asked whether he knew when the Catalan starlet's future would be decided, he replied, "This you have to ask Maverick.

"We're waiting for him to decide to tell us what he wants to do. Of course our priority is to keep him. The whole Suzuki factory is working, wishing and hoping that he stays."

Maverick has spoken this week how he wants to be a world champion - and soon. He has to weigh up whether he can turn this Suzuki into a race - and championship - winning machine, or if his cause can be better served on one of the traditional powerhouses.

Personally, I'd like to see him stay at Suzuki. If he went to Yamaha or Honda, there's every chance he'd win a title, but he'd become the latest in a long line of world champions to be on very good machines. If he could turn the Suzuki into a contender, not only would it be a self-built project he could be proud of, he'd join a very exclusive list of Suzuki world champions, headlined by the great Kevin Schwantz.

Talks with his team mate Aleix Espargaro don't seem to be as big a concern though.

On Espargaro's future, Brivio added the Spaniard had "briefly" spoken to the factory, "because everyone is talking.

"As we said, we are working on Maverick's side. Once he has decided – good or bad – we will also make a strategy for other riders."

Suzuki are also looking at expanding their operations for 2017, potentially adding a third bike in the form of a customer outfit. Slot 24 maybe?

Aprilia come into the European season with an big upgrade of their chassis, electronics and aerodynamics. An Aprilia with wings?

Other than that, there's just the usual soundbites about feeling good on the bikes, needing more luck (hi Yonny Hernandez) and going home - it's Alvaro Bautista's home race.

Away from the racing, Dorna is championing some sort of revolution in the on-screen presentation. We've already seen new graphics, but these apparently go above and beyond that. It's probably something that those of you who get the world feed will see, rather than us in the UK who have the brilliant coverage from BT.

Speaking of which, longtime motorsports presenter Suzi Perry joins the BT team this weekend. Last seen presenting F1 for the BBC, Suzi has been involved with MotoGP for a long time, dating back to 1997. When she used to present MotoGP for the BBC, her obvious natural chemistry with Valentino Rossi made for great pre-race build up. I'm excited.

Last time out

Have a read of Burnt Rubber from Austin. As I said before, it wasn't the greatest of weekends, but there were a few takeaways from it.

Race times

We're on a European schedule now. Expect these times for the next few races.

BST Session MotoGP Moto2 Moto3
Fri FP1 08:55-09:40 09:55-10:40 08:00-08:40
FP2 13:05-13:50 14:05-14:50 12:10-12:50
Sat FP3 08:55-09:40 09:55-10:40 08:00-08:40
FP4 12:30-13:00 N/A N/A
Q1 13:10-13:25 14:05-14:50 11:35-12:15
Q2 13:35-13:50 N/A N/A
Sun WUP 08:40-09:00 08:10-08:30 07:40-08:00
Race 13:00 11:20 10:00

There'll be no race recap on Sunday due to this writer being busy, but Burnt Rubber will give you the full run down on Monday.