Grand Prix Jerez de la Fontera.
The grand Prix of Jerez is the first race of four held in Spain for the Motogp 2017. The race takes place in Jerez de la Frontera, in the Province of Cadiz, at the beginning of May. Find more info in the official website.
The track was built in 1985 adjacent to the A-382 motorway near the residential area of Monte Castillo. The first race held at the track was a formula 1 race in 1986; MotoGP (in that time known as Motorbike World championship) had to wait till 1987 for its first race at the track, but has been taking place in Jerez yearly ever since.
The track has 8 right hand corners and 5 left hand corners spread over 4423m. It has 4 different public access routes and several options for parking for both bikes and cars.
How to get there
If you are coming by plane, you can fly to Jerez although the airport is very small and doesn’t have many flights, so a better option would be to fly to Sevilla which is bigger airport with far more flights. From Sevilla it is only one hour by car via the toll and one hour and a half avoiding the toll.
If going by car, the best options are using A4 (E05) and A5 E90). Although there is a toll less than 100km from Jerez, avoiding the toll doesn’t add much time to the journey, and the road is in good condition. Save some euros!!
Many years ago, before I came to Jerez for the first time, (around 2005), free camping in the car park was allowed. Over the years, things have been changing and the free camping was prohibited, I guess this was to give more business to the official campsite. Every year we have come, we’ve done it by van or car, sleeping inside or outside the car due to camping being prohibited anywhere but the official campsite and we didn’t want to go there, firstly because it’s very expensive, and secondly because it is the furthest point away from the track in the car park. Last time we were in Jerez, we made a big discovery, the campsites next to the track which look like private land, well, one of them at least is not, it is an unofficial campsite owned by the association Proyecto Hombre, which is the building next door to the land, where during day and night they sell food, drinks and ice at very cheap prices. Brilliant! This would be where we ended up staying.
Other interesting options for accommodation are:
- The official campsite which is 40€ per person plus 40€ per car if you don’t book it in advance.
- A house or an apartment in Jerez or surroundings areas like Puerto de Santa Maria.
On the way to our campsite we spotted some other unofficial campsites, but we didn’t stop to ask prices or anything.
Has 0 facilities, but you have space enough to put up your tent and it also has access via a back road that you can use at any time to go in and out of the campsite without the hassle of parking at the other end of the car park, which is the problem we always had. The price is 20€ per person, something ridiculous compared with the official campsite. Let’s make this clear, it is the races, if you need more than a piece of land and beer, this is not your place, but if you like the bikes and the rest doesn’t matter, with this campsite and some other tips, you won’t need anything else!
You can find chemical toilets around the track and outside where all the merchandising and shops are which except on race day, are relatively clean, (although nothing compared with other countries). I must say and sadly recognise that in this area we are miles behind other counties regarding civility and hygiene.
Regarding showers, if you use the campsite I mentioned before, it has no showers and you’ll have to find another way to have a shower! The way we do it, it’s going to the beach and pouring fresh water over us from a big drum to have a quick wash! As I said before, if you need your hot shower every day, obviously this is not for you.
The grand stands at W3 are the ones after Nieto and Peluqui, they are very big and they are positioned very close to the track with a big screen where races are seen perfectly. From that grand stand, you can see the exit of Aspar, Nieto and Peluqui completely and the access to Criville (turn). It is the mythical place where the public jumped to the track in the legendary race Crivi vs Dohan (1996) or where Jorge Lorenzo jumped into the lake to celebrate his victory. I love this grand stand, the views, the atmosphere and how close to the exit it is. I haven’t been in any other ones, but this for me is superb. The other experience we have had is to be in pelousse (general admission). Pelousse has some charm and before we started getting old it was great fun going to the track with no sleep straight from party! However nowadays we are not that young and having to go in at 6-7 in the morning to get a good seat is too much for us. It’s worth mentioning that there are different areas of Pelousse, but definitely one of the best is the one between Nieto and Peluqui, it is like a natural grand stand using the slope and logs as seats where you will find the best atmosphere and even maybe catch a glove from a celebration (or maybe a sock hahahah).
Access to the track
Jerez is a track where although there are access controls, thank god they are not as strict as other places. Access with glass, knives, weapons, sticks etc … is not allowed, but it is ok to access with cans of beer which is the main sustenance of every good biker. We use a cool box and a trolley to put all the cans and food in. A good tip is to bring with you an empty plastic bottle just in case they don’t let you access with the cans, as in theory it is forbidden. I don’t understand the majority of tracks where it is prohibited to enter with cans of alcohol, It’s all about money making! I will also mention that despite it not being allowed, we always manage to get in with a small knife to spread the pate, another of our classics!
Past and present
Jerez has changed a lot over the years due to an increase in road safety. Loss of life used to be a common occurrence during the MotoGP due to illegal stunts being performed by people attending the races on their bikes… This doesn’t happen anymore!
Sadly, Jerez has lost almost all the life it used to have on the streets. It was a place where you could go inside a bar to burn tyres on your bike and be given a drink for doing so. Its street as well as the streets in Puerto de Santa Maria were rammed full of bikes doing wheelies, rolling endo, burning tyres, and even some illegal racing took place. However, the police massively increased the controls and safety in the town up to the point that one year, bikes were no longer allowed within the town. The only area where there was still a good atmosphere was the track’s car park, where from Thursday to Sunday it was a non-stop bike oriented party! Bikes making deafening noise, music in different marquees, people with homemade bikes making noise, beers and generally a really great atmosphere.
Jerez has always been a very important track for Motogp both nationally and internationally, especially for Europeans. Lots of bikes from other countries make the pilgrimage for the race, especially from France and England. An example of this is that nowadays, on the Thursday of the gran prix, the car park is pretty much empty apart from some English and French bikers with caravans and some other freak locals like us that don’t want to miss a thing! But you won’t find parties like those of the past until Friday, or even Saturday for the big one! It really is a pity seeing this big change. Although to be honest, our bodies aren’t as happy as they used to be! We are almost 35 now and we couldn’t cope with a long weekend partying like we used to, long gone are the years of going by van and sleeping outside or even under the van…I’ll share those stories another day.
Well, now that I’ve done a small introduction to what Jerez was and what it is now, let’s crack on with how it was last time we were there and some info and tips that can be useful.
I must mention that in these journeys it is not my Pata (Daisy) who normally comes with me, but my very good friend Willy (Hector for the rest of the world), who is the author of the pictures and also a very important person in my life. He contributes with all the technical bits when watching the bikes, if you have any doubt he is the person to ask.
The last time we were in Jerez was two or three years ago. We set off on Thursday as usual, in the early afternoon so we could attend the the pre-events on Thursday. Unfortunately, the traffic coming out Madrid didn’t let us arrive on time and the only thing we could see upon arriving was the Repsol truck as all the other events were already finished. After this small disappointment, we decided to have a look in the town for some bikes and to hunt out the atmosphere we so love, but it took us just 5 min to realise it was dead. After eating some tempura fish (very typical of the area) on a terrace, we had a few drinks in what seemed to be the busiest bar in the area, but the tiredness and the lack of people made us finish early. We still needed to get to the track and fit the tent so off we went to do that.
The year before we took the tent and in fact we slept in it for the three days without a problem, so this time we took the tent and tried our luck. I must say that it didn’t last long as the first morning when I got up to go to the loo, the police patrol was just driving passed and in a very friendly manner they invited us to dismantle it.
On Friday after the guardia civil (Spanish police) made us dismantle the tent, it was time for the first day of races and after a long winter without any races, we were more than itching for it! It is hard to spend the whole winter without races and despite Jerez being the 4th race of the season, for us it’s like the first one. We had our biofrutas and croissants for breakfast as we always have at the races and after loading the cool box and setting the backpacks up we were ready for action. It was a lovely, hot, sunny day. We chose grand stand W3 as we usually do where we bumped into some guys we had met last time we were there.
As it has become customary for us, we came away from the track a bit toasted and tipsy. After the experience the previous year when at this point we had nowhere to go, we decided we had to find somewhere to set up camp so as not to have a repeat. On our way to the car we stopped to ask at what we have always seen as a piece of private land and to our surprise they said that there was room for us, the price was 20€per person and we can access the track at any time by the back path. WOW!!! Exactly what we needed, no worries for finding parking for the car and a piece of land to fit the tent!! Perfect!
We got out the car park, found the back path to the campsite and although it was in roasting sun (the few shaded places were full) we fitted our tent. After eating something we headed to Puerto de Santamaria, in the area of Valdelagrana, which if you ask the locals, they will tell you is not the prettiest place, but for us it was just perfect, a beach, plenty of car parking spaces and lots and lots of bikes. Thankfully here there is still a good atmosphere although it is quite ‘light’.
What a nice feeling after a scorching day to have a dip in the sea and a cold beer, brings you back to life literally! After spending some time with friends we bumped into, we went back to our campsite stopping in McDonalds on our way.
Saturday passed quite unnoticed, bike routine in the morning, beach in the afternoon and back to the campsite afterwards. That night we did find parties, nothing in comparison to back in the day, but a lot better than Friday. Many cars with big stereos blasting music, lots of bikes revving their engines, a bunch of nutters pushing a shopping trolley with an engine inside making noise and the official marquee. Back in the day, there used to be a few big marquees, this year there was only one and it wasn’t very big, but big enough for us to have a party that night. That was the best area to be. The night flew by and it was late when we went to bed, but as this year we slept in our tent, with a mattress and no worries about anything because we were in the campsite, we had a good rest.
Finally, Sunday arrived, race day!! It doesn’t matter how tired you are, the eagerness for the day ahead makes you feel like you have slept 8h and somehow, we managed to turn up at the track at 8:30am, hahahaha, we are still a bit sick in the head!! Amazing race day, great atmosphere, very sunny, and an amazing victory of Lorenzo after a very bad beginning to the season, this would be the first of four consecutive wins for Lorenzo. We stayed till the end of the race and the bastard was so ahead that he spent his final lap of the race waving to the public.
If there is something positive about less people coming to the races (although Sunday was almost as full as usual) it is that the traffic jam is a lot smaller. We hardly had any delay coming out of the track, and from the campsite it was very smooth. I remember years ago when we could easily spend 2h just coming out of the car park. The road we normally use had some bad traffic but nothing major and like every year, one of the most exciting parts of the weekend (even going by car), is many many people on every bridge along the way with Spanish flags cheering up all the riders going back home.