Jerez Circuit, Spain

Let's have a look at the Jerez circuit.

The Circuito de Jerez near Cadiz, has long been a MotoGP favourite and there are good reasons why! The Spanish Grand Prix is always a very colourful event which draws massive crowds from all over to watch the world's best riders do battle in the sunshine of Andalusia.

Oddly enough, it was called the Portuguese GP as the Spanish GP was held in Jarama. The Jerez race circuit opened on 8 December 1985. The first International Motorcycle Grand Prix was in 1987. It has been on the MotoGP calendar ever since. It boasts many state-of-the-art facilities and hosts the Spanish MotoGP every year; usually last weekend in April or first in May.

As a nation, Spain has produced some great riders over the years such as Angel Nieto, Ricardo Tormo, Sito Pons, Alex Criville and Jorge Martinez "Aspar". The likes of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Maverick Vinales and Jorge Lorenzo continue the Spanish success story in the premier class.

The Jerez circuit it is 4428 meters long, 11 metres wide, with 13 turns: five left hand and eight right hand. The track alternate between slow, fast and very fast corners and has numerous places for passing.

The way Circuito de Jerez track is laid out demands that a bike handles good, well balanced and stable under hard braking.

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It is the most demanding track on brakes in the first part of the season,

Circuit History

If ever there was proof needed that Span loves motorbike racing but is lukewarm to four-wheeled competition, the Jerez circuit must surely be it. When it burst onto the scene as the host of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix, the circuit could only attract small crowds, yet it has become the must-attend race on the MotoGP schedule, with capacity crowds of up to 200,000 turning out year-on-year.

In 1992, the circuit made its first significant changes, when the old chicane was removed, creating a parabolic corner that links with a new, longer, back straight. At 600 metres, this is now the same length as the start/finish straight. Jerez also became the first circuit to install air-fences in place of the traditional straw bales for motorcycle races.

In 2002, the pit and paddock facilities underwent substantial changes. New pit garages, medical and media facilities were complimented by a new VIP viewing area which extended out across the circuit in a design which can only really be described as UFO like. Small changes have continued year-on-year to run off areas, while a new pit lane exit was installed in 2004.

Besides the MotoGP event, it also hosts the World Superbike race. Jerez remains a popular winter test venue thanks to its mild climate.

Fancy an on board lap of the circuit?

Or with commentary from the likeable Neil Hodgson

A track guide video has been produced by motogp.com at www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXsk3HuhULo.

Let's take a look around Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez is known worldwide for its wine and horses, which, paired together with its fairs, wine cellars, flamenco festivals and bullfighting, complete the attractions of this gorgeous city.

So what has Jerez and surrounding areas have to offer?

A culturally and historically rich city, Jerez de la Frontera is known around the world for the large production of Spanish sherry. It is known as the "Sherry Capital of the World".

Jerez de la Frontera is a Spanish city and municipality in the province of Cadiz in the autonomous community of Andalusia, in south western region of Spain. It has a population of 212,915 in 2017

Jerez de la Frontera is in Costa de la Luz. The charming old town, dating back to Moorish times, offers tranquil, palm tree-lined streets, picturesque plazas, and dozens of historical landmarks. Its strong equestrian community boasts the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, but the depth of its cultural heritage is clear in the longstanding tradition of flamenco dance and music; Jerez de la Frontera hosts one of the most important flamenco celebrations in the world.

Not far away is the Old City, Ronda, Spain

As you wander through Old City. Ronda's historical neighbourhood boasts dramatic scenery, spectacular views over the nearby valley and a host of well-preserved historical architecture. Saunter across the high-arched bridge, admire churches dating as far back as the 9th century, and enjoy a coffee at a buzzing plaza

La Caleta Beach, Cadiz, is nestled between the castles of San Sebastian and Santa Catalina. La Caleta Beach is a natural harbour where the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans historically docked to enter southern Spain.

Local Residents of Cadiz are proud of their iconic beach, and you'll hear about it in many of the songs they sing during Carnival. It's perched in front of Barrio la Vina, a neighbourhood full of brightly coloured houses that bear a striking resemblance to those in Cuba. You may have recognized it as the setting for the beach scenes in the James Bond movie "Die Another Day."

Here you can enjoy a refreshing swim, the warm Spanish sun, and snacks from the chiringuitos, or snack bars, scattered about under the palm trees.

Another fine city nearby is Torre Tavira in Cadiz

At Torre Tavira, you can take in views of the city and the bay from the highest point in Cadiz. As you ascend the stairs to the terrace, view paintings and photos inspired by the city's numerous watchtowers. In the first hall of the old castle, you can learn about the history and evolution of the camera obscura, which is located below the terrace. Don't miss its projection room, where a special pinhole camera displays panoramic views of the city outside. In the second exhibition hall, informational panels describe Cadiz's 18th and 19th century trading history with the Americas.

Another grand landmark is the Catedral de Cadiz.

It took five architects and a 116 years to finish Catedral de Cadiz. The results are impressive. Starting in the Baroque style, picking up Rococo elements, and finally finishing as a Neoclassical structure, the cathedral features paintings and relics from other cathedrals and monasteries around Spain. Here you can take a tour using one of the provided audio guides, and climb one of the towers of the cathedral for views of the city and the bay. The Composer Manuel de Falla and poet and playwright Jose Maria Peman rest in the crypt.

The exciting Plaza de Toros in Ronda is worth a visit.

In atmospheric Plaza de Toros, it's easy to imagine a raucous crowd letting out a collective "Ole!" as a costumed bullfighter deftly averts a steaming-mad bull. At one time, this was one of Spain's most important bullrings. It features 136 pillars and 68 arches lining two rows of seating and a stone passageway leading to the large dirt circle in the middle.

Its rural location means bullfights take place infrequently these days, but tours of the arena and bullpens are available. While you're here do take a look at the small chapel where bullfighters pray before taking to the ring.

You can see collections of royal harnesses and antique firearms, in the museum.

If you have been on a package beach holiday you will already know how easy it is to fall in love with this magical and diverse southern European country.

However, if you've not ventured further than your resort then there are lots to discover in this province of Spain and you'll certainly have some good times.

From the vibrancy of the Mediterranean gem that is Barcelona, to the art galleries, monuments and museums of the elegant capital city Madrid, and not forgetting the stunning vistas, mountains and sweeping vineyards of Asturias, Galicia, and the Basque country in the north - any visitor will have a packed agenda.

With a great year round warm climate and close to 5,000 kilometres of coastline, it is little wonder that amazing seafood, sunshine and chiringuitos, that is outdoor bars, are never hard to find. Some offer chilled out coves and all night parties, if you're that way inclined!

In Jerez, Andalucia, you can experience the world famous flamenco dancing, visit whitewashed villages, see the great mosques and Moorish palaces of Granada, Seville and Cordoba, and take in sunkissed landscapes. There is yet more beautiful coastline to enjoy, along with fantastic cured ham and crispy fried fish with a cool beer or a fine sherry.

The nearest major airport to Jerez is Seville, and this is a wonderful part of Spain to spend a few days exploring.

Elsewhere in Andalusia, the Punta de Tarifa is the southern most point in continental Europe, whilst the Moorish legacy of the three major cities, Granada with its stunning Alhambra palace, Seville with its ornate Alcazar and Cordoba with its grand Mezquita, are worthwhile to behold.

When it comes to food in Andalusia you will not be disappointed. Dishes like "gambas al ajillo", prawns in garlic chilli oil, their famous "jamon Serrano" locally produced tasty cured ham, "arroz con marisco" local speciality - seafood paella, "salmorejo" smooth tomato soup originating from Cordoba and "pescadito frito" fried locally caught white fish in batter are all popular dishes.

Lunch is typically served between 2pm and 4pm, and many people do not eat evening meals until 10pm onwards, after an aperitif or two. In the big cities restaurants often open a bit earlier for both meals. Tipping is not always expected but it is courteous to leave a few euros in a bar and tip around five percent in restaurants.

When visiting churches, cathedrals or mezquitas it is respectful to cover up. You have to wear long trousers or skirts, and make sure your shoulders are covered otherwise you will not be admitted.

The Smooth, quiet roads guide you through contrasting terrain from the bustling metropolis of Barcelona, to the MotoGP's race weekend at the Circuito de Jerez.

If you are riding your motorbike here then you must ride the west road to Tarragona, 1,232 kilometres best ridden at your own pace over two or three days. Ride inland on the beautiful and newly-surfaced N-420. You'll have your ride of your life on the stunning A-226, which goes for some 130 kilometres, with cracking corners and "double-take" viewpoints. Make sure you start with a full tank!

You'll ride through Jaen, the "world capital of olive oil", then on to Ronda. Here Roads start to widen, and before you know it, you'll be following signs for the Circuito de Jerez and back to your camp site, 'pension' or hotel.

Interesting to know -

In 2013, Jerez was designated the "European Capital of Wine", celebrating the fine sherry and wine-making traditions of the area. With protected designation of origin status, all wine labelled as 'Sherry' must come from the Sherry Triangle, between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

- Roland Potter