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All the action now turns to the most fanatical grand prix nation on the planet, Spain, as Australia's Casey Stoner eyes his first win of the year after arm pump problems in Qatar

The second round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship – and first European event of the season – takes place this weekend in Spain..

Provided with an excellent curtain raiser at Losail in Qatar, expectations will be high for another tight battle for points, pride and progress as Jerez – one of the championship's best-attended GPs year after year – celebrates its 26th successive year of hosting a GP.

A perfect start to the 2012 campaign was had by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing). Winner at Jerez for the past two seasons, the stage is set for another intense battle with Repsol Honda pair Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to Jerez again. We were very strong here in our test and I have always had good results,” said Lorenzo. “The competition will be tough; I expect Casey and especially Dani to be very fast. Qatar was a perfect start to our season; we worked very hard for that incredible victory.

“Now we get to race in front of our home fans, I will try to make sure we make a good show for them! Lets hope it doesnt rain this year!

Reigning world champion Stoner has not finished off the podium since last year's Jerez race, when he and Valentino Rossi famously clashed and which resulted in the Australian being unable to complete the distance, and the Spanish track is one of just two on the current calendar where he has not tasted victory in the premier class. Third in Qatar after an arm pump issue hampered him through the final laps, Stoner will be determined to get one over on Lorenzo on the Spaniard's home soil.

On the other side of the Honda factory team garage Pedrosa will be highly motivated for his home round, and he has never finished off the podium at Jerez in the MotoGP category. Confident after a strong ride to second in Qatar, he will also be making his 100th premier class start on Sunday.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed a close battle in Qatar, eventually finishing fourth and fifth respectively as the Brit equalled his best-ever MotoGP result after a first-ever front-row start while the Italian got his Yamaha career off to a solid start.

Nicky Hayden scored a podium in last year's Jerez race and was sixth in Qatar a few weeks ago, and the American fell foul of the weather at Mugello where he attended a private Ducati test in an attempt to make up for time lost during pre-season. His Ducati factory colleague Valentino Rossi will hope for much better than 10th which he recorded in Qatar after a frustrating weekend and race.

The Italian is the most successful rider at Jerez with eight GP wins to his name (six in the premier class), and on race day the nine-time world champion will become only the third rider in history to have made 200 premier class starts.

Álvaro Bautista's new partnership with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team began well in Qatar where he finished seventh, and after missing last year's Jerez GP due to injury the Spaniard is set to make his 150th Grand Prix start across all categories this weekend.

Aiming to continue what was a very impressive introduction to the MotoGP class in Qatar, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl will push on with his adaptation to the RC213V at a track where he finished fifth in last year's Moto2 race.
After a disappointing result in round one, Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will expect to be back to full capacity at Jerez as he seeks to challenge the frontrunners.

Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) was the highest-placing CRT last time out and his team undertook a private test on his BMW-Suter machine in Italy last week, with Moto2 rider Alex de Angelis working on electronics developments, some of which are expected to be used by the American at Jerez.

Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar Team) will not have been satisfied with finishing behind his rival in Qatar and will aim to engage in another fierce battle, with other CRT riders such as Yonny Hernández (Avintia Racing MotoGP) and Aleix Espargaró (Power Electronics Aspar Team) keen to challenge too.

Australia also has a triple assault in the smaller classes, with Anthony West in Moto2 and Jack Miller and Arthur Sissis on Moto3 duties.

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Published : Wednesday, 25 April 2012
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