Sunday pm - Capirossi Lights up Rizla Suzuki

One of the greatest sights among many at this epic race was to see Loris Capirossi bounce into a top six placing so rapidly after his arrival at Rizla Suzuki.

The team seemed to falter at times during winter testing and in the first round at Qatar, but the 34-year-old Italian - the most experienced rider on the grid with 268 grand prix starts under his wheels - showed all his legendary fire when he shoved James Toseland aside to claim fifth place.

What's the secret to the progress he has made from his eighth-place finish at Qatar?

"We were not in the best shape at Qatar," he admitted. "The week before the race we tested four or five different bikes, with different chassis and engines - everything - and we found the best solution.

"We used that setting in the race at Qatar, but it was not right. Now we are happy with it. The balance of the bike is really good now. It's very good on braking, and the engine is strong."

Capirossi's rear tyre deteriorated after seven or eight laps at Jerez after he had made the third fastest lap of the race. But he was still able to get stuck into that fierce battle with Toseland, John Hopkins and Andrea Dovizioso, and duff up the younger riders.

Sunday pm - Toseland Rips it Up

You could never accuse James Toseland of making a dainty start to his new career in MotoGP racing.

In his debut outing at Qatar he had a fairing-barging incident with double 250cc world champion Jorge Lorenzo, and at Jerez he and Chris Vermeulen came together so hard that it tore the Australian's leathers on the upper arm, knocked one of the handlebar-ends off the Suzuki, and bent its brake lever up.

"He could have come past a lot smoother than he did," Vermeulen reflected later. "He used me to turn. If you treat people with respect, they will give respect back to you. It's all going to come back to him at some point."

Or is Toseland's style just pure hard racing? You have to remember that he was riding with the twin burdens of a bronchitis attack - the guy was as hoarse as a 60-a-day septuagenarian on Saturday - and a bike that's down on power compared to most of his rivals. If you can't pass 'em down the straight, you've got to muscle it through the corners.

Toseland and his Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards will receive Yamaha's more powerful pneumatic-valve engine for the next round at Estoril next month. It's unlikely that this man-in-a-hurry will modify his forthright riding manners, though.

Sunday pm - I'm Da Boss, Says Rossi

'Who is Yamaha's No 1?' Spain's daily sports newspaper La Marca asked yesterday after flavour-of-the-season Jorge Lorenzo had headed Valentino Rossi on the opening day of practice at Jerez.

Today Rossi provided an unequivocal answer. 'It's ME!' his fighting second place in the MotoGP race ahead of his 20-year-old team-mate screamed to the world. This was great for MotoGP, the spectacle of the 29-year-old legend finally getting on terms with his new Bridgestone tyres, after he had suffered a lacklustre fifth place in the opening round at Qatar.

It means that the championship has become a four-way battle - for a few races at least - after the Casey Stoner/Ducati ritual bludgeoning of everyone else last year. But if Rossi has wrestled a workable package from the Bridgestones and his new pneumatic-valve Yamaha, so has the unobtrusive, almost-invisible Dani Pedrosa on the Michelin-shod Repsol Honda.

Never did a man utter a more prescient phrase than Alberto Puig, who told yesterday, "You don't need a pneumatic-valve engine to win this championship." Pedrosa, aided by his impeccable style, has now emerged as the biggest threat this season to Stoner.

It never looked like Stoner was going to make the podium at Jerez, but an 11th place after two excursions into the gravel - and did you note that Australian dirt-track pedigree helping him to keep the Ducati upright? - was totally unexpected.

"I don't understand why I ran off the first time because I used the same braking point," Stoner admitted candidly in his post-race debrief. The second off-piste he blamed on untidy riding by Shinya Nakano.

The question is: was this debacle - Stoner's previous lowest placing on a Ducati was sixth at Motegi last year - the start of more serious problems with the Ducati/Bridgestone alliance? Michelin's rebound this year has clearly narrowed the clear air that existed between the Ducati and its pursuers last season.

Lorenzo's defeat by Rossi at Jerez implies no shame on the Spaniard, who has now racked up two pole positions and two podiums in only two races in his fledgling MotoGP career. Lorenzo will win races as the season progresses.

We wait for round three of the drama at Estoril on April 13 to see whether Stoner has suffered a one-race blip. That's probably all it was.

Sunday pm - Hopkins Out on Screamer Kawasaki Tomorrow

Whoops - sorry, Kawasaki. The team will test its screamer engine at Jerez here tomorrow, and not at Estoril after the Portuguese grand prix, as we said earlier this weekend. Fresh from his strong seventh place in today's race, John Hopkins will assess the new motor, along with the team's test rider Olivier Jacque.

Kawasaki's screamer first appeared at Sepang in January, and the engine has since been undergoing dyno testing at the factory in Japan. "That's gone as far as it can go for now," Ian Wheeler, Kawasaki's communications manager, said. "We now need to put the bike back on the track to see how that will go."

The factory has so far relied on a 'big-bang' firing order for the 800cc MotoGP formula. "We used the big-bang engine for our 990cc bike to get more traction, but now we're going to the screamer to get maximum power from the 800cc motor," Wheeler said. No decision has yet been made about when the screamer - which apparently produces an incredible sound - will get its first race.

During the tests at Jerez Jacque will also work with Anthony West to resolve the problems that the Australian has been having in finding consistent traction on the exit from medium-speed corners. So far he has been unable to repeat the two seventh places that he recorded in his debut rides with the team in 2007.

Aksland: US Economy Will Not Block Our Return

Will the sagging American economy and housing market threaten the hoped-for return to MotoGP of Kenny Roberts Senior's Team KR? No way, says team manager Chuck Aksland, who is here in the paddock at Jerez.

The KR guys hope to get backing from the American F1 MAX-X corporation and MGM's Treasure Island hotel in Las Vegas in a deal that would be 'cost effective and personable,' and therefore even more attractive to sponsors during a recession, according to Aksland. Let's hope they can get back in 2009, because MotoGP needs more than its current 18 bikes on the grid.

Meanwhile Roberts and Aksland maintain a link with MotoGP through their management of the 18-year-old Californian Steve Bonsey, who rides a 125cc DeGraaf Aprilia. And they continue to employ half a dozen technicians at their Banbury race shop in England manufacturing swinging-arms, linkages and other components for Honda Fireblades in Superbike racing.

Sunday am - Frenzy time in the Zoo at Jerez

The little three-car trains are ferrying the pedrosistas and the lorenzistas along the roads from the car parks to the circuit, under the stars and a half-moon hanging in the Andalusian sky.

More of the faithful are trudging through the village of La Cueva, humping their cool-boxes of beer and vino to fuel their passion during the long day to come. Out in 'the zoo' - the grassy hillsides where 100,000 frenzied punters will erupt if Jorge Lorenzo or Dani Pedrosa win the big race - the car horns are already blazing, even though dawn is still an hour away.

It's 7am on Sunday at the Spanish grand prix here at Jerez, and the hardcore punters know that they have to be inside this circuit by 7.30am, or suffer in a two-hour jam on the roads outside.

Everybody should come to a MotoGP race in a Latin country to experience what Valentino Rossi calls la emoci?n. We're staying in a casa de hu?spedes - (guest house) - for just EUR50 a night for a twin-bedded room overlooking a vast Andalucian landscape, our rental car costs just EUR19 a day, a flight around EUR100.

What can we expect to see on this 2.75-mile track? Looking at the string of 11 consecutive laps in the 1 minute 40 second bracket reeled off by Lorenzo on race Michelins yesterday, before he set that stunning 1-38.189 pole effort, you'd have to say that he starts as clear favourite - if he can make a fast getaway.

But Pedrosa and Rossi will want to tangle the 20-year-old in a three-way scrap, where his inexperience on a 200-horsepower MotoGP bike could lead him to commit errors.