Niki Tuuli fastest in final test session
23-year-old Brazilian Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama) took initial honours in the first ever FIM Enel MotoE World Cup “race” in Valencia, with riders lining up for a race simulation at the start of final day of the pre-season test.
Granado had missed out on pole by just 0.025 to Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing) on Tuesday, but he fought back once the lights went out to overtake the Spaniard on the final lap and in the process scored himself a new Energica Eva as his prize.
Garzo took second, with Niki Tuuli (Ajo MotoE) – another who has shown consistent pace in practice so far – completing the podium a few tenths further back.
“We started with normal settings and found our pace quite early. We tried different shocks and tyres for the bike and found the way, that we wanted. The E-Pole was a really good test for that moment and finally, for the race, I think we have all the settings we want on our way. We have a decent base for Germany and for the start of the season with this bike. Everything is good and I’m really confident.”
Nico Terol (Openbank Angel Nieto Team) took fourth, with Matteo Ferrari (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) completing the top five.
“I am very happy. I got off the bike with a smile on my face today because I am really enjoying riding the MotoE and we are at a high level. This test was a huge weight off my shoulders. After such a long time without racing, it has given me a lot of strength to see myself up at the front – I have talent and I am a World Champion. The bike went really well and I got a great start to take the lead. It reminded me of my first Moto2 podium here at Valencia. My only mistake was to lose touch with the front three in the early laps because it took me too long to close the gap back down. I would like to have been challenging for the win but I fought hard to the end for third place and never gave up. This fourth place feels good, the progress from the first test to now has been fantastic. I am really looking forward to the race in Germany. This championship is going to be exciting and will be a nice surprise for the fans.”
“It’s been an important test and we improved a lot lap after lap. There’s a nice atmosphere within the team and this can only help. We had a little bit of bad luck as well due to a faulty tyre during practice, but still things went smooth and I had a lot of fun on this bike. We also did an E-Pole and a race simulation. I must say that I really like the qualifying format – like the old Superpole. We were quite quick even though we’re still one second away from the leaders, but I’m sure there’ll be a chance to close the gap.”
One man expected to be in that tight fight at the front wasn’t on track, however – Tuesday’s fastest Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) was absent as he undertook testing duties in MotoGP.
Josh Hook, the defending World Endurance Champion with F.C.C TSR Honda, also could not capitalise on the full three days of testing as a bout of gastro sidelined the young Australian from most of the test.
“It was an important test as in the first two days of testing I managed to do very few laps, and I was forced to missing the qualifying session. They have been 7 laps useful to get familiar with the circuit and especially to do some kilometres on the bike in view of the debut in Germany.”
After the race simulation riders got a chance to have a final 30-minute session from 1700, although it ended prematurely in a Red Flag due to crashes for Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Maria Herrera (Openbank Angel Nieto Team), riders both ok.
“The race simulation was very positive. We know we can make overtakes, we are fast, and we showed that. We could have been fighting for the top five because we had the pace for it and that gives us a lot of motivation. We are doing a good job, improving our pace from practice to practice and the team are giving me a lot of confidence. I think I can be fighting at the front and I’m sure this year will be a lot of fun.”
The late session was their last chance to test before heading out on track at the Sachsenring for the first round of the season and it was Tuuli who went fastest with the quickest time of the test, a 1:40.127 and 0.486 quicker than second place Casadei.
To put that 1m40.127s time into perspective for the fledgling new MotoE category, the MotoGP fastest lap record at Valencia is 1m29.401, the Moto2 record is 1m34.879, and the Moto3 tiddlers becnhmark is 1m38.428.
Garzo was third on the timesheets at the end of Day 3, and race simulation winner Granado was 0.533 off Tuuli’s benchmark in fourth. 2008 125 World Champion Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completed the top five.
As is so often the case, Tech3 manager Hervé Poncharal offered the most informative feedback following the test and race simulation.
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 Team Manager
“With the end of the three days test for the MotoE in Valencia, we as Tech3 E-Racing are very, very happy about it. For sure, at first, I would like to thank Energica and Enel for their hard work by having everything ready for a full and strong test. It was great, to be back on track, but also amazing to see the bikes riding a complete race distance with the simulation. I believe it was also very interesting to try the E-Pole and all together it went well. The life of the batteries seems to be good enough without any dropping for a proper sprint race and for sure, I would also like to thank our whole crew and especially Hector for his fantastic job during these three days. He was fastest on day one and topping almost each session, he won the E-Pole and showed a very great fight with Eric Granado in the race simulation, in total he delivered a very good feeling for the entire team. Kenny, who is a rider with a bit more experience, I believe, has learned a lot from his young team-mate and it is fantastic have such a great relationship in between our two riders. We’ve got a good team, we are happy and I believe MotoE will soon be a real part of the MotoGP championship and after what we saw in Valencia, I’m quite sure that the people at the Sachsenring will enjoy the very first MotoE race a lot. We still have a few things to prepare, but I think all of the MotoE field can’t wait to be in Germany for the first official MotoE practice session.”
Now the E-Paddock gears up for the Sachsenring, which plays host to the opening round of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup from the 5th to 7th July.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta provided his viewpoint on the direction of the new MotoE category.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta
“It was very good, from the beginning the way we wanted to do it was makes races and I think today we showed it was a real race, with all the riders competing. I was talking to them and they were very happy. And we’re happy because I think it’s a way to enter into this new energy and show we can do with it the same we’ve been doing since 1992. As with everything we do, it’s very important, MotoE™ just as any other category. Everything we do is important for us, and we’re trying to share with spectators how good motor racing is.”