Over Easter weekend, while most people were doing DIY or running around the garden looking for hidden chocolate eggs (probably), SBF went to the south of Spain for a 3-day trackday at the legendary Circuito de Jerez.
What is it then?
Jerez is a 4.4km clockwise track in south west Spain, near Seville, which opened in 1985. It used to be host to the Spanish F1 but lost this to Barcelona due to its remote location. Despite this, it’s still a popular F1 test track and is loved by drivers and riders alike. Because of its mixture of low, medium and high speed bends, it’s known (along with Assen) as a reference track, i.e. really good for benchmarking.
Jerez is famous for dramatic, last corner overtakes because it’s a slow, tight left-hand bend (which is now named after Jorge Lorenzo) and therefore a very popular place for a racer to stick it up the inside of someone. Notable examples include Valentino Rossi on Sete Gibernau in 2005, when Valentino lunged up the inside and punted Sete off the track, and Marc Marquez on Jorge Lorenzo in 2013, where Marquez basically did the same thing. Jorge was really unimpressed about the whole situation and it didn’t help that, within hours, someone found the footage of him doing exactly the same thing (only way more out of control) to Joan Olivé in 1997.
There are quite a few options for getting to Jerez; I live fairly near Heathrow (& hate Luton & Stansted airports passionately so try to avoid them at all costs!) so the easiest for me was to fly from there into Jerez airport. This meant flying into Madrid and then catching a connecting flight to Jerez.
Departing from Heathrow, I went BA & was absolutely appalled to discover since I last flew with them that they now have a policy of charging for drinks & snacks onboard. Seriously… what the fuck? I mean, if I wanted that sort of service, I’d have flown with some god-awful budget airline & saved £100 on my ticket, but there you go. So I didn’t have a coffee during my flight. Or an in-flight snack. That’ll show ’em.
Other ways to get there include flying into Malaga, Gibralter or Seville and driving to Jerez (up to couple of hours depending on which you choose).
How can you do it?
Loads of TDOs run events at Jerez. I went with No Limits (as usual) at a cost of about £650 including bike transport and hotel. I usually stay an extra night rather than flying home straight after the last session so there was a little extra charge for an additional night in the hotel.
The whole process is very straight-forward: once booked, you’ll receive your confirmation email and then a month before you go, you’ll be sent details of the drop-off and pick-up schedule. You simply turn up and load your bike and gear onto a stillage and the nice trucker people drive them all down to the circuit ready to be unloaded on the first morning.
Drop-offs are usually in Swindon with No Limits and there is the option to do it at a few other locations dotted around the country (such as Donington Park) for an additional fee if it’s more convenient for you.
Where to stay
The hotel was included in the package as it normally is when booking a Euro event. We stayed at the Hotel Jerez & Spa which was decent and claimed to be a 4-star but I suspect they’re slightly more generous with the star allocation thing over there then they are over here. I couldn’t get the aircon to work in my room – it only came on when I set the temperature to above 25° to check it was working but I may have been doing something wrong. It has a massive pool and a decent bar and was close enough to a range of cafés and restaurants to walk to if you didn’t fancy the hotel menu (which was fairly limited for a 4* hotel).
Not many elevation changes and not as epic as Spa but it’s still a fantastic circuit which flows really well the faster you go. There is a really good mix of bends, varying speeds and radius, making it quite technical in parts. And of course, it also has the iconic UFO on the start/finish straight which is worth a trip all on its own.
My favourite parts of the track are definitely turn 4 (I love a fast left-hander) and the final stadium section from turn 7 through to turn 13. The two lefts (7 & 8) are really quick, followed by two fairly slow rights and then two really quick rights, before braking hard for the final turn.
By the end of the 3rd day, I was taking turn 11 way better than on day 1, but it’s a bit like the first corner at Cadwell whereby you know you can take it a little bit faster every time.
My track sessions
I didn’t immediately love Jerez as I always have done with other Euro tracks such as Portimao or Brno and I think it’s because I didn’t properly get to grips with it until the third day.
It’s not a particularly difficult track to learn but there are a couple of slow rights that I wasn’t getting right, trying to carry a little too much corner speed and drifting wide, which screwed up the next couple of corners. Consequently, I was fighting the bike to keep it turning, working really hard and getting exhausted after every session only to not go round particularly quickly.
It wasn’t until I had a day with Simon Crafar on the last day that I made a few small changes which made a huge difference to how I was riding that it all started to flow as it should – mainly, going slower round the bends and turning on a closed throttle.
In the first session with Simon, he immediately identified what I was doing that I needed to work on and I was able to make improvements straight away. Little by little every session got better and better until I was lapping quicker, safer and working much less hard to do so. It really was revelationary (to me!) & made the biggest fundamental difference to my riding than anything else in all the time I’ve been on bikes and my times dropped from around the 2:08 mark to 2:01 in just 5 sessions. It really was awesome and it’s the best investment in my riding I’ve ever made.
You’ll be able to read about the MotoVudu day in detail soon as it’ll be published within a week.
It was a really fantastic 3-days which just got better and better. The weather was incredible – really sunny, really hot (once the fog dissipated on the first morning!) with the last day being above 30° so lots of water was required to stay hydrated – and the organisation by No Limits was brilliant. It’s not my favourite Euro track so I won’t be back every year but I’d definitely go again.
I had something come up shortly before the trackday which resulted in me not being able to get a hire car so I ended up being the guy who was cadging lifts like a right weirdo. So, massive thanks to the various groups of lads who happily let me jump in with them to and from the hotel, I really appreciate it!
Thanks also go to:
- Alex, who I shared a garage with, for the use of his tools and for doing a petrol run for me (there was no petrol on site);
- the lads in garage 9 who lent us a blue 3-phase plug thingy;
- Simon Crafar for completely transforming my riding;
- the whole No Limits team for a great event; and
- Alex James and Andy for working non-stop over 3 days including late into the nights for the pitlane shots to get some fantastic photos for everyone