Andrea Dovizioso set the pace at the Jerez MotoGP Test sessions this week despite finishing the final day early after completing his scheduled test program. New asphalt had been conducive to fast times and the Ducati man was quickly under the lap record. The 2017 Championship runner up was quickest with a 1:37.668 after 37 laps.
The Repsol Honda Team are not riding at the Jerez test, instead electing to use the test days next season, with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 also electing to use different dates, the Yamaha teams heading for Sepang International Circuit for a private test at the end of the month.
While Repsol HRC was absent Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was at Jerez and ended up second quickest, trailing Dovizioso by a tenth and a half as he continued test duties for HRC. With his 2017 bike and two 2018 prototypes. The Briton will receive official factory support from HRC in next year’s MotoGP World Championship and continued his preparations by putting Honda’s new RC213V prototype through its paces in southern Spain.
Cal Crutchlow – P2
“It was a tough and tiring day, but we managed to get a lot of positives and information for Honda on the new prototype bike. We now look forward to them assessing what they can bring forward for 2018, but we’re pleased to have completed the test here, I think it was very important to do it.“We had a lot of help from Honda and HRC here, the team did a great job and we worked hard over the two days. I was pleased with the pace on both bikes; my 2017 bike and the 2018 bike. Now we have to continue to work together in the off season – even though now is time for some rest – we will keep working to try and make the best bike possible to be competitive next season.”
Jorge Lorenzo was third fastest at the venue where he took his first podium in red, with the Borgo Panigale factory riders gathering the last of their on-track data ahead of the GP18’s expected debut at the Sepang test in January. Five-time World Champion Lorenzo did 50 laps.
After going quickest on Day 1, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone was P4 on the second day of action as the Hamamatsu factory focus on engine direction, with this test the final chance for the team to gather data ahead of their final decisions on direction for 2018.
Teammate Alex Rins, who sat out Day 1 in favour of test rider Sylvain Guintoli, was back out on Thursday, too – putting in one of the biggest lap counts of the day and taking P6 on the timesheets.
Pol Espargaro was the man who split the two Suzukis, taking Red Bull KTM Factory Racing into the top five once again. Espargaro did 59 laps, with teammate Bradley Smith putting in 47 to complete the top ten.
The Austrian factory are trying new chassis, swingarms and electronics settings, as well as focusing on set up and reconfirming data gathered throughout testing so far and their impressive 2017 season.
Tito Rabat, meanwhile, was the fastest of those who have changed machinery. The new Reale Avintia Racing rider was seventh quickest and the top Independent Team Ducati, settling in well.
Tito Rabat – P7
“I’m very happy because we have done a great test here in Jerez, I’m competitive and I have seen that I can be quick on one lap, but the most important thing is that I can do it many times and with constant pace. The bike it’s very competitive and I’m fit, so I’m super happy, but there are also some areas where we need to work on and that’s the last five laps of the race, but if I improve with the throttle, we can make a big step. I love the winglets and depending on the rider they are better or worse, but in my case they allow me to concentrate even more on the turns and I think that I will always use them. Now it’s time to work during the winter break to get strong and ready for Sepang. I’m going to do a cycling, gym, ride bikes and we also have some funny races ahead with ‘Julito’ (Simón), so I hope this two months pass fast to jump again in my Ducati. ”
Rabat was just ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), with the Pramac squad back out on track on Thursday.
Petrucci’s teammate Jack Miller was just one position behind the Italian as he adapts to the bike – using one of Petrucci’s GP17s – after also impressing on his Desmosedici debut at the Valencia test.
In the battle of the rookies, teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was just beaten by newly-crowned Moto2 Champion Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with the two taking P11 and P12 respectively – very close on times.
Franco Morbidelli – P11
“Today we saw an improvement in my lap time once I switched at the end of the day to the soft tyre, but we also saw a big improvement in my pace on the medium tyre, which I was happy about. Yesterday we were looking for more corner speed and today it seems we found it, which is where the improvement in the lap time came from mainly. It was a little bit from the bike and a little bit from me. That’s how it seems to be working; I make a step then we make a step with bike and that demands another step from me. There is still a lot for me to learn and this learning process will continue next year in Sepang, but for now I’m satisfied with the progress made here and in Valencia. Having said that, I’m looking forward to getting to a fast, wide track like Sepang and letting the bike loose on a flowing circuit where you can use all the power.”
Taka Nakagami – P12
“It was a really positive test for us over the two days. We are improving day by day and, like in Valencia, after each outing on the bike we improved on the bike and the lap times, especially on the second day when we were much more consistent. “We did a lot of 39s (laps of 1 minute 39 seconds), so that is good progress for us especially as we are still understanding each other, like my riding style and what we can improve on as a team. But overall it was a very nice test and now we are looking forward to the first test of the new season in Malaysia.”
Scott Redding and Eugene Laverty were next up on the timesheets, with the two men locking out P13 and P14 for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini on the RS-GP. Redding joins the team for 2018, with Laverty taking on MotoGP test duties for the Noale factory following his two days of WorldSBK testing on the Aprilia WorldSBK machine on Monday and Tuesday.
Alex Marquez, standing in for injured Tom Lüthi on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS MotoGP Honda, made big inroads on the second day to go P15 after 57 laps under the watchful eye of big brother Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), the reigning MotoGP Champion.
Álex Márquez – P16
“Yesterday was the first opportunity to try the bike and to get to know the team, whereas today was more like a proper test. I enjoyed riding the bike today and we made a big step with the wheelie issue I had yesterday. It was much better in the turns, but I still had the problem on the straights because I was riding them in a straight line like on the Moto2 bike. If you look at Marc and Dani, or in fact all the MotoGP riders, they ride on the straights in a different way. I enjoyed the two days here in Jerez and I’m happy to have had this experience. I hope I’ve helped the team and that Tom will have it a little bit easier now when he returns from injury in Sepang. Now my focus is back on Moto2 and making sure I prepare fully for the 2018 season during the winter break.”
The final Independent Team Ducati on track was the Reale Avintia Racing machine of rookie Xavier Simeon who put in 66 laps.
Xavier Siméon – P17
“Yesterday I started very well and had very good feelings with the bike, in fact I inmediately did some good lap times, but halfway through the day I suffered a crash in turn five and lost the rest of the day because the bike was quite damaged. But the team has done a great job to repair it and today I’ve taken things more calmly; It was important to do a much laps as possible. I matched yesterday lap times quite easy, but then it was difficult for me to improve in the afternoon. In the last 20 laps we have improve the pace quite a lot and overall I’m happy. I have something clear and it’s that I need to change my riding style a lot to get the best out of the bike. Now it’s time to rest and recover because with all the bones that I’ve broken in the last few month I struggled a little bit this afternoon. I must to prepare and recover to the maximum to arrive in full fitness to Malaysia.”
Some riders will continue today, Friday, but for most riders it is now job done until testing resumes at the end of January in Malaysia.
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