Champion Marquez bidding to bounce back as MotoGP marks 300th race

Madrid (AFP) –


Reigning world champion Marc Marquez will be hoping to get his title defence back on track when MotoGP's 300th race takes place this weekend.

Marquez's crash and retirement at the Circuit of Americas last month meant the Honda rider left empty-handed and now trails Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, the leader in the standings, by nine points after three rounds.

"Jerez is always a special race because it is the first in Europe and there's a lot of support from the Spanish fans," Marquez said ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

"Of course we approach it the same as any weekend, with how tight the championship is we must make the most of every moment on track.

"The time between America and here has seemed longer than ever and I'm looking forward to getting back out on my bike."

Fellow Spaniard and Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is also looking to make up for lost time at the Circuito de Jerez, where he is a five-time winner and hoping for a successful return after recovering from injury.

"I have been focusing on this race since the start of the season," Lorenzo said.

"Jerez is one of my favourite circuits. The surface normally has a lot of grip and this suits my style very well unlike a couple of tracks we have already visited."

Between Dovizioso and Marquez are Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Suzuki's Alex Rins, with the latter winning the Grand Prix of the Americas after Marquez slid out.

"I'm happy to go to Jerez and finally start the European rounds, which are very different from all the previous races in Qatar, Argentina and Texas," Rins said.

"Those are unique circuits but from now on, it will be very important to be consistent.

"This circuit is very narrow, so the fight will be very fierce in the race. I'm excited to get into race mode in front of the home fans."

Rossi has claimed seven wins in Jerez, as well as twice coming second, but the Italian finshed 10th in 2017 and fifth in 2018.

?I love racing in Europe because the tracks are fantastic, and I know them very well," said Rossi.

"Jerez has been a difficult track for Yamaha in the last two years, but we did well at the last two races, so it will be very interesting to see if we can be strong there as well."

Practice in Jerez begins on Friday.