Ten years on and Sito Pons returns to Jerez seeking just his second victory in the Spanish Grand Prix as a Team Principle to compliment his riding victories on the 250cc Honda at Jarama in 1984 and 1988. Carlos Checa later brought him victories in the Catalunya and Madrid
Grands Prix, but Pons looks to his current Camel Honda riders Alex Barros and Troy Bayliss to turn the clock back ten long years at Jerez on Sunday.
A decade ago when Puich was taking the chequered flag at Jerez, Brazilian Barros was not that far behind. Just four places to be precise. Riding the Kanemoto Honda, he was fifth in already his ninth season of grand prix racing. He returns to start his 19th consecutive season in first MotoGP practice session on Friday morning. An amazing record in the toughest and most demanding of all sporting environments.
His new team-mate Australian Bayliss was still at home a decade ago learning his trade in the Australian 600 cc Championship, riding a Kawasaki. Grand Prix racing was still a dream for the rider from Taree in New South Wales. Ten years on, he's proved himself as a World
Champion and a tough and skilled MotoGP rider.
Only his former Honda Pons team-mate Loris Capirossi comes anywhere near making the same number of grand prix appearances as 34 year old Barros. Ironically, the Brazilian's career started in the 80 cc race in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama in 1986, later in the day his team boss Sito Pons finished third in the 250cc race. The 27 lap race on Sunday will be his 242nd grand prix race. He's won six premier class races, five of them for Honda Pons and it will come as no great surprise to learn that his first win also came in Spain, the FIM Grand Prix at Jarama in 1993, riding a Suzuki.
Barros is delighted to return to the Pons's team that brought him so much success in the past. He also knows that time is running out to call on all that experience to win the MotoGP title.
" Experience is vital in any sport and it teaches you to think and be aggressive at the right time," explained the Brazilian, who has competed in over one third of all the premier class grands prix staged since the World Championship started in 1949." This year is going to be a very aggressive Championship and it's vital to make as few mistakes as possible."
Bayliss may be a year older than his new team-mate but he has competed in 206 grands prix less than Barros. The Australian only arrived on the MotoGP scene two years ago after achieving many wins and plenty of respect in the World Superbike Championship. He won the title for Ducati in 2001 and was runner-up to Colin Edwards a year later. He then switched to MotoGP to spearhead Ducati's considerable efforts with Capirossi in the ultimate challenge. His aggressive style and never give up attitude was a breath of fresh air and he was rewarded with an impressive sixth place overall in his first year. The success story for Ducati did not continue in 2004. Problems with the new machine kept both Bayliss and Capirossi off the rostrum until the final two races of the season. After just 32 grands prix appearances, Ducati told Bayliss his services were no longer required.
The loud applause that greeted Bayliss from the often critical MotoGP press core, after finishing third on his last appearance for Ducati in the final round of the season at the Valencia Grand Prix, said it all. Not only had he finished on the podium for the first time last season
but both Bayliss and the press knew his MotoGP career had been save by Sito Pons and Honda.in 2005. The press realised that a MotoGP Championship without Bayliss would have been a lessor place.
Adjusting to riding the RCV Honda has not been easy after so many successful years with Ducati. However, Bayliss is determined to make the most of the chance given to him and points to the experience of his new team-mate.
"I look at Alex and Loris Capirossi and they always appear very settled and nothing seems to worry them. They've had their ups and downs over the years but they just get on and cope with it,"revealed the Monaco-based Australian. " I'm not used to a bad year like I had last season but I've come out of the hole and I'm enjoying working with the team. They are good guys and it's so important that we all get on well. We've done a great deal of testing and I now I just want to get out there and start racing."
It's a big year for Barros and Bayliss.
The Brazilian veteran chasing that elusive World title to crown a long and memorable career. The Australian out to resurrect his grand prix career that looked destined for greatness just 12 months ago.A repeat of Alberto Puich's famous victory at Jerez ten years ago would be the perfect start to a 17 round season that promises so much for the Camel Honda pair.