Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) set the fastest lap of the intermediate class runners with a 1:35.779 during Moto2 Testing at Jerez – but only just. The Italian finished up track action only 0.016 ahead of compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40), with Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) completing an Italian triple at the top, only a further tenth off despite a crash.
Behind the three Kalex machines at the top, the winner of the final three races of 2017 struck back for KTM. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) kept the Austrian factory high on the timesheets for the majority of the test, and put in a 1:36.146 as his best to end Day 3 just two tenths back on the top three.
Teammate Brad Binder, after struggling with injury during preseason last year as a Moto2 rookie, begins 2017 healthy and also had a solid best lap, putting in a 1:36.729 to complete the top ten on the timesheets.
Behind Oliveira, however, was an impressive first outing in 2018 for Isaac Viñales (SAG Team). The Spaniard was less than a tenth off the KTM ahead of him, but also had compatriot Hector Barbera for close company behind – with the second Pons HP 40 machine only 0.037 in arrears.
Barbera is a rookie in Moto2 but far from it in the intermediate class, having raced in the 250 World Championship before moving up to MotoGP. Now the Spaniard faces a new challenge and began 2018 on the back foot after suffering with illness on the first day of the Official Test, but once back out Barbera was quickly back up the timesheets.
Marcel Schrötter and new Dynavolt Intact GP teammate Xavi Vierge took P7 and P8 on combined times, with Vierge adapting well to life on a Kalex, ahead of another rider adapting well to a change of a different kind: Romano Fenati. Fenati moves up to Moto2 this year with the Marinelli Snipers Team, and the Italian was within a second of the best lap set by veteran compatriot Pasini at the top.
Behind Binder completing the top ten, Fabio Quartararo was the fastest Speed Up in P11; less than a tenth off the KTM ahead of him and half a tenth quicker than the Tech 3 of rookie Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder behind him.
“It has been two positive days, we tested quite a lot of things and I was finally back on the bike, which is the most important thing. We didn’t have the best weather and with it not ideal conditions, yet we were able to do quite some laps on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m happy about the first test this year and I’m looking forward to Jerez. I hope we can improve some points there and I can’t wait to be sitting on the bike very soon again.”
In an incredibly tight midfield on the timesheets, American rookie Joe Roberts (NTS RW Racing GP) was P13 as he prepares for his first full season, impressing as he completed the sessions as quickest NTS rider. Teammate Steven Odendaal, the 2016 European Moto2 Champion, was just over a tenth off his teammate, however, making for an impressive first showing for the new NTS chassis on the 2018 timesheets.
“We sat out the first session due to low temperatures, but the goal for the second one was to get back some confidence on the bike after yesterday’s crash: we set a few good lap-times and in the last outing we made some changes to improve the manoeuvrability of the bike. The changes brought more consistency of performance and I have to say I felt a lot better on the bike. The lap-time in the end was not that competitive but we did it on used tyres. Obviously we’re kind of far from the quickest riders at this track, but it wasn’t the right day to take any chances. We leave Valencia in a good mood and we’ll now focus on Jerez.”
Separating the two NTS machines, sophomore Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was P14 and Australian Remy Gardner (Tech 3) fifteenth.
“On day one we couldn’t get any riding in, because it was too wet and too cold. In the course of the following days, we had dry conditions and therefore the opportunity to get back the feeling with the bike. It was a good test, we found out some things that are really important, which hopefully leads us into the right direction for the future. We still need to work on the setting, as we struggle a bit with some chatter, but I’m sure we will get there.”
The final manufacturer represented in the Moto2 field this season is Suter, and Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) took P19 as the Forward Team adjust to the bike, making it all six Moto2 manufacturers in the top 20.
Moto2 Valencia Test – February 2018
Mattia Pasini – Kalex 1m35.779
Lorenzo Baldassari – Kalex 1m35.795
Simone Corsi – Kalex 1m35.915
Miguel Oliveira – KTM 1m36.146
Isaac Vinales – Kalex 1m36.212
Hector Barbera – Kalex 1m36.249
Marcel Schrotter – Kalex 1m36.383
Xavi Vierge – Kalex 1m36.417
Romano Fenati – Kalex 1m36.697
Brad Binder – KTM 1m36.729
Fabio Quartararo – Speed Up 1m36.801
Bo Bendsneyder – Tech 3 1m36.843
Joe Roberts – NTS 1m36.879
Jorge Navarro – Kalex 1m36.977
Remy Gardner – Tech 3 1m37.033
Steven Odendaal – NTS 1m37.065
Testuta Nagashima – Kalex 1m37.287
Danny Kent – Speed Up 1m37.307
Stefano Manzi – Suter 1m37.308
Andrea Locatelli – Kalex 1m37.399
Eric Granado – Suter 1m37.414
Khairul Idham Pawi – Kalex 1m37.428
Dominique Aegerter – KTM 1m37.445
Federico Fuligni – Kalex 1m37.926
Jules Danilo – Kalex 1m38.248
Zulfahmi Khairuddin – Kalex 1m38.593
Now it’s next stop Jerez for the lightweight and intermediate classes, with action beginning again on the 12th February.
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