Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami completed a clean sweep of the final Moto2™ pre-season test as the action came to a close in Jerez on Thursday.
Nakagami, who has topped all three days, reduced his previous best lap time by three tenths of a second to 1’42.206. The Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider was just under two tenths quicker than the second Kalex of Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese, but was unable to complete a long run as he experienced problems under braking and ‘strange’ feelings with his new fuel tank.
It was Suters third and fourth courtesy of Tom Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) and Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), although the former decided against a race simulation as he continued to feel the effects of a crash on the second day. AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing ended the day inside the top five, with Johann Zarco trailing quickest man Nakagami by four tenths of a second.
The second half of the top ten consisted of Luis Salom (Pons HP 40), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Gresini Moto2), Alex de Angelis (Tasca Racing Moto2), Dominique Aegerter (Technomag CarXpert) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing), as Corsi and team-mate Mattia Pasini looked to put in reduced race simulation runs of 15 laps apiece. Possible title candidates Maverick Viñales and Jones Folger just missed out on the top ten for their respective Pons HP 40 and Argiñano & Gines Racing teams, while Sam Lowes ended his impressive week 14th quickest for Speed Up; incidentally, the Englishman was battling through the pain of a swollen tendon.
With reigning champion Pol Espargaro having stepped up to MotoGP™, the battle for the vacant Moto2™ crown will commence as the teams and riders head to Doha ahead of next weekend’s season-opening Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia
Jack Miller again set the pace as the curtain came down on Moto3™ pre-season testing in Jerez on Thursday. Although his lap time may not have been as quick as the one he posted on Wednesday, with Miller this time managing a best effort of 1’46.326, he topped the timesheets once again to end the pre-season in confident mood. The times were tight, however, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider only 33 thousandths of a second quicker than the new Honda of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Marquez. The Ajo form was confirmed by Miller’s team-mate Karel Hanika, who rounded out the top three.
Jakub Kornfeil concluded a strong week in fourth for Calvo Team, while Saxoprint-RTG pairing Efren Vazquez and John McPhee both rose up into the top six. However, of those in the top ten – which was finalised by Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team by VR46), Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) and Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) – all posted their quickest times of the day in either the first or second segments; in the afternoon, the majority decided to concentrate on race simulations and for that reason there were fewer fast laps.
Further down the timesheet, Isaac Viñales ended Day 3 in a slightly lower-key 11th for Calvo Team, while Niccolo Antonelli was 14th for Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3, having performed so well at the earlier pre-season gathering in Valencia. His team-mate Enea Bastianini was 25th, while the 33-rider field was completed by Hafiza Rofa who was standing in at SIC-Ajo for recovering Malaysian compatriot Hafiq Azmi.
Last year’s Moto3™ title battle went down to the final corner of the final race in Valencia. All contenders are now looking to start 2014 in the best possible fashion with a race victory in next weekend’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
With less than a fortnight to the opening Moto3 GP in Qatar, it was a good week of tests for the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory Team with newcomer Jack Miller of Australia topping the combined time sheets after nine sessions on the Jerez circuit in Spain.
Riding the KTM RC250GP bike, Miller clocked 1:46.259 in the third session on Wednesday, Day Two of the three-day tests.
Rookie teammate Karel Hanika was also in good form, finishing third overall in a highly competitive field with the fastest 18 riders were all within a second of the winning time, an indication that the 2014 season will be highly contested and very close. Hanika of the Czech Republic won his place in the team after winning the 2013 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, the competition that grooms young riders for a potential career in MotoGP
Other fast KTM riders in the Spanish circuit this week were Czech Jakub Kornfeil at fourth fastest, Isaac Vinales of Spain at eighth and Italy’s Romano Fenati at ninth.
Red Bull KTM team boss Aki Ajo said it had been a very busy but good test period and while there were some problems with the wind on Day One, the weather had also generally cooperated. “What is most important is that we feel we have made a big step with the development of the bike,” he said. “We are very thankful for the work that KTM did during the winter and together with us on the track. We feel we have improved a lot.”
The factory team now gets to translate what has been a busy period of testing into race action on March 23 in the night race in Qatar when their riders will open their account in the 2014 Moto3 World Championship.
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