surinenglish

13 April 1986: Senna pips Mansell by a split second in first Jerez Grand Prix

The report from the  inaugural Spanish F1  Grand Prix in Jerez  in SUR in English,  18 April 1986.
The report from the inaugural Spanish F1 Grand Prix in Jerez in SUR in English, 18 April 1986.
  • The town of Jerez is now considered the 'Mecca of Motorcycle Racing' but its first race was a Formula 1 Grand Prix

The town of Jerez in the province of Cadiz has always had a long association with motorsport, in particular motorcycle racing. Some even go as far as calling it the 'Mecca of Motorcycle Racing' due to the passion inspired by the sport throughout the past six decades.

It all began in 1956 when the first organised racing began in the town. However, due to its rapidly increasing success locally, the trophy - by this stage known as the Trofeo de la Merced - started to earn a reputation internationally, attracting many of the foreign stars of the day such as Marco Lucchinelli, Barry Sheene, Jan de Vries and Borje Jansson to the sherry region.

Having witnessed the popularity of the races and the prestige they attracted, the town's mayor, Pedro Pacheco, pushed for a permanent track that would be a leader in Europe and would not only host motorcycle racing, but also Formula 1 (at a time when the sport was still relatively unknown in this country).

Construction on the Circuito de Jerez began in 1984 and was ready in time to host its first test race on 5 December 1985.

The track was officially inaugurated on 13 April 1986 for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix which produced a memorable battle between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, the former shading it by 0.014 seconds. Alain Prost completed the podium, coming in third, 21 seconds behind.

Jerez would host the Spanish GP for the next four years until it was moved to Catalonia in order to attract larger crowds, with Jerez's circuit's remote location counting against it.

That didn't stop the 1994 and 1997 editions of the European Grand Prix coming, although following the latter, Jerez was temporarily banned from hosting another after mayor Pedro Pacheco disrupted the podium celebrations by presenting a trophy that was supposed to be handed over by a dignitary. Jerez has not hosted an F1 Grand Prix since.

Despite, or perhaps because of this setback, the Circuito de Jerez has consolidated its place on the map for the sport which has stirred passions in the town for decades.

Ever since the first Spanish MotoGP was held in 1987, the date has become a must, a sort of yearly pilgrimage for fans of motorcycle racing.

As a nation, Spain has developed a great affinity with the sport and has produced some great riders over the years such as Ángel Nieto, Ricardo Tormo, Sito Pons and Álex Criville. The likes of Jorge Lorenzo (after whom the final corner is named), Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Viñales now continue the Spanish success story.

Márquez will be the favourite when the race returns on 4 May.