Preparations in full swing for Moto2 and Moto3
Jerez will host the first official test for the Moto2 and Moto3 World Championship riders of 2016 as the MotoGP riders head to Qatar.
Although there have been a smattering of private tests already in 2016, the Jerez test from the second to fourth of March will be the first official outing for all teams. Not only will this allow the teams and riders to judge themselves against their closest rivals on the same track, at the same time and with the same conditions, but it will also ensure that all engines in the Moto2 class are of the same specification.
From the various private tests it appears as though Johann Zarco is once again the man to beat, the 2015 Moto2 World Champion showing well during private testing in Valencia. Sam Lowes and Takaaki Nakagami look set to challenge the Frenchman for his crown, both under the pole position record at a recent private test in Jerez. Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider Alex Rins is yet another title favourite but has had highly limited private testing time, eager to get on the 2016 Kalex and get to work.
While out testing in Jerez earlier, Alex Marquez suffered a broken left wrist but will ride at the test.
The Moto2 field will again be filled with Kalex machines as 26 line up on the grid, teams hoping to emulate the success of Stefan Bradl, Tito Rabat, Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco. There will again be three Speed Up bikes with Simone Corsi taking over for Lowes in the factory team. Corsi has also shown well in testing, topping the timing screens of the most recent private test in Jerez and already improving his pace compared to 2015. Meanwhile Tech 3 continue their adventure as a manufacturer, bringing two rookies into the fold in the form of Xavi Vierge and Isaac Viñales.
With both Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira having taken the step up to the Moto2 World Championship, a number of young riders are now out for glory in Moto3. Along with ten new riders in the class, Leopard Racing changes from Honda machinery to KTM as they aim for back-to-back championships. Going the other direction, Drive M7 SIC Racing Team move onto Honda bikes having previously run KTM machinery.
The Jerez test will also be the first official run out on track for the new Mahindra MGP30 machine, joined by the Peugeot bike of Peugeot SAXOPRINT RTG for the first time. The new Peugeot machine is based off the Mahindra, a similar relationship as to the one between KTM and Husqvarna in 2015. Mapfre Team Mahindra and Peugeot SAXOPRINT RTG have already run their new bikes on track in Jerez with all riders feeling positive about the improvements.
Pace setters during private testing for the lightweight class have included Brad Binder, Romano Fenati, both now veterans of the class, and Jorge Navarro. As 2015 proved, anything can happen once a group of ten young riders lock together. This Jerez test will be important for any riders wishing to emulate Danny Kent’s 2015 start; as the Brit proved a good bike setting can allow a rider to break away at the front and avoid incidents.
Maria Herrera will also be present at the test, her participation in the 2016 World Championship in doubt for several weeks but now officially confirmed.
Testing begins at 1000 local time today, March 2nd, with Moto2 and Moto3 each alternating hours on track.
After the test, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams will head to Qatar for their final three days of testing from the 11th to 13th of March before the first race of 2016 at the same circuit on the 20th of March.