The flight from Bratislava to Malaga went according to plan and without any problems, for 2 persons with one piece of luggage each this cost just over 100 Euro with Ryanair. The return flight was only on Tuesday evening, with Laudamotion (belonging to Ryanair), from Seville to Vienna. Shortly after arriving in Malaga we picked up a Sixt rental car, this time even an almost new vehicle. The hassle with insurance, however, often common with most rental car companies, somewhat clouded the arrival in southern Spain. Despite having selected zero deductible when booking online, we were still ripped off with additional insurance of around 23 euros/day (for 6 days) because otherwise tire and windshield damage would not have been included. Pure rip-off actually, especially zero deductible should really mean zero, but as a customer you're usually the sucker with rental car companies anyway. But what the heck, the anticipation for the Jerez GP was great, 2019 was the third visit in a row for us.
Inexpensive hotel on the Atlantic coast
The drive from Malaga was without any problems, the route on the Autopista 7 along the sea is very beautiful and the weather was dreamlike. At the height of Gibraltar, we headed up towards Jerez de la Frontera and just before that, left towards the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel booked for Friday through Monday was near Costa Ballena, about three quarters of an hour from the race track. We found the Hotel Alegria Costa Ballena on the first try, even one of the few parking spaces in front of the hotel was still free. However, there were an estimated 50 freshly arrived motorcycles right outside the entrance and upon entering we found our fears confirmed: The lobby was crowded with bikers waiting to check in, there were at least 20-30 of them waiting, most of them Spaniards. So let's get past it, straight to the hotel bar, sit down and relax. It took a full 2.5 (in words, two and a half) hours for the two receptionists to check in most of the guests and for us to get in line as well. It still took a full 30 minutes behind only 3 parties before we were finally checked in (waiting at the hotel for 3 hours)! In our case, unlike the Spanish before us, there were no long discussions and we had the room keys.
After check-in, however, there was the next disappointment: the restaurant in the hotel only offers buffet and we were definitely not in the mood for canteen food. Whether at breakfast buffets, for lunch or dinner, this type of catering is not our thing. With us it always comes down to the same thing, as rather modestly accessing guests we pay in such cases for other customers. Especially for those who really hit the buffet and fill their plates several times.
But there was still the bar and a bar menu, but with that far from it. The particularly clever (or maybe rather nasty) Spanish hoteliers offer snacks and smaller meals namely only until 8 p.m. This for the simple reason that the buffet restaurant opens then. Of course, by the time we emerged from the hotel room freshly showered, it was too late. So nothing like out and outside our luck sought, but with very modest success. By the way, most Spaniards also went out to eat at the hotel, there were hardly any bikes left in front of the hotel at shortly before 9 p.m. Many were then heard late into the night, at some point the last person got back to the hotel. By the way, we can only recommend this 4-star hotel to a limited extent, actually only because of the relatively low price, with just under 205 euros for 3 nights (without breakfast). From our point of view 3 stars would be more than enough for this house, also because of the generally rather modest condition with z.B. Novilon floors in the hallway. In Cadiz, however, we paid more than double during MotoGP 2018 and the hotel was even worse.
Approach on Saturday to the Circuito de Jerez
But now to the GP and the first day on the track. The drive from the hotel took about three quarters of an hour and was free of traffic jams, up to and including the parking lot northeast of the route. By car, you have to take one exit later, which is no problem so far. On Sunday, however, there is already a mega traffic jam from early in the morning because about 99% of the visitors arrive via the A382 from the west. But of course we know a trick, namely to drive south via La Barca de la Florida on the day of the race and from there to just before Jedula. There is an on-ramp to the A382 to get to the track from the east without traffic jams. From the parking lot to the circuit, walk (or ride a "choo-choo" train for wimps) the approximately 2 km distance.
Saturday training and qualifying in gloomy weather
Valentino Rossi fans (there are still significantly more than for all Spanish riders combined, whether in Spain, Qatar or Malaysia) were understandably disappointed because their idol didn't make it to Q2.
The veteran from Italy narrowly missed out on the final qualifying 2 and had to start from position 13 on Sunday. Valentino was less than a tenth of a second off "Pecco" Bagnaia at the end of Q1, who made it to Q2 along with Rossi's teammate Maverick Vinales. For more on qualifying and races, see "Race reports" on this page.
The circuit in Jerez – very attractive for spectators
The walkability of the track in Jerez is exemplary. At Losail in the desert state of Qatar, you can see practically only the home straight and, as a visitor on site, virtually nothing else, while the Circuito Angel Nieto in Andalusia is the pure opposite. If you buy tickets for the (so-called) VIP grandstand, you get into the infield of the track and can also take a seat on the grandstand at the starting lineup.
What is exemplary in Jerez are the many entrances at the track and that you can easily walk around the track. In this way, anyone who didn't want to buy a grandstand ticket (or simply couldn't afford it) could find a place they wanted to visit. We have no official figures, but the number of "pelouse tickets" in Jerez was probably similar to z.B. for the Circuit de Catalunya and Assen. In any case, these are probably important reasons why the attendance figures for Jerez are usually very good. In the hotel and along the route we saw and heard many French, English and some Germans and Swiss.
Visitor numbers in Jerez since 1999
If statistics are to be believed, Jerez holds the record for visitors, ahead of Brno with 248,434 in 2015 and Valencia in 2007 with 237,149 visitors. After a drastic drop in 2016, the number rose again slightly in 2018. The 2012 slump was likely attributable to the weather at the time, which included rainfall. We have been in Jerez every year from 2017, and probably again in 2020.
On the day of the race, the sun shone again for the most part, as it did on Monday during the MotoGP tests and on Tuesday on the Moto2 and Moto3 test day. Unfortunately no fans were allowed for the tests, a world of difference from WSBK. Fans were able to watch the test rides in January in Portugal for the World Superbike for only 10 euros entrance fee. Actually incomprehensible that the organizers miss this additional source of income. In any case, during our walk on Monday we saw numerous rejected and disappointed fans who had driven here for nothing.
Track presentation of Jerez coming soon under "RaceTracks" and race report of round 4 see "Race reports" on this page.
Return journey – from Seville
Before returning to Seville, we made a short detour into the city. Here are some snapshots of it.
By the way, the flight back from Seville to Vienna was a special experience. Booked via Ryanair then flew with Lauda Motion. Sitting on a plane just before takeoff, being instructed that smoking is prohibited on the plane during the refueling process. Hello, we have already arrived at the third millennium?! One hour before we landed, we were grumbled at by a stewardess while we were waiting for clearance in front of the toilet, which was still occupied. Simply standing in front of it and absolutely normal, as before on some flight. The coarse "lady" who sent us back into the aisle in a grim tone could certainly earn x times her modest flight attendant salary as a dominatrix. In any case, this will probably be our last flight with the Ryanair subsidiary. We are happy to go to the next race, WSBK in Imola on 10.-12. May (see preliminary report and schedule in separate report). Motoracers Zippy has organized for us a special treat, so we may in a Maserati Quattroporte with vintage 2006 to Imola. Definitely the much greater pleasure than in the Boeing box of Lauda-(E)motion(slos)!