Triumph engines have fired up Moto2 in Andalucia as the intermediate class test at Jerez. Early drama as reigning Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin crashes and breaks his leg.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) topped the first day of Moto2 testing for 2019 at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto. A 1m42.203 from Baldassarri in the final session of the day saw the Italian beat compatriot Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the top of the timesheets.
The test signals the beginning of a new era not only for the rookies like Martin, but also of Triumph power – as well as some updates in the technical regulations. It’s off to a good start, with Baldassarri getting within three-tenths of his 2018 pole lap at the track.
Behind Baldassarri and Marini, the man in third was another man with a good record at the track: Sam Lowes, as he returns to the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 squad for season 2019.
Moto2 riders completed four sessions throughout the day, with conditions improving in the afternoon after overnight rain had seen a damp start to proceedings. At the end of Day 1, Pons HP40’s Augusto Fernandez was fourth fastest, with Remy Gardner (SAG Team) rounding out the top five – 0.533 off the top.
Gardner had missed the Jerez race earlier this season after breaking both legs in a motocross training accident so we can’t compare his times at the circuit on the Tech3 machine he rode this season in comparison to the SAG machine he was on for this test and will race for season 2019. Tech3 used their own chassis in 2018 but is adopting a KTM chassis for their 2019 Moto2 assault while Gardner will be on the more dominant Kalex chassis in 2019.
Reigning Moto3 World Champion and Moto2 rookie Jorge Martin crashed and was left with a left humerus fracture and some broken bones in his foot. His first taste of the category cut short for now. Martin did make a solid impression however and was inside the top 15.
The fastest rookie was Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), the Italian setting the seventh quickest time of the day to finish 0.566 from P1 – a great debut for the number 11 rider.
Jorge Martin was next quickest rookie, in P15, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Speed Up Racing) P18 on the times. He was just ahead of fellow rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
Elsewhere, Jake Dixon’s (Angel Nieto Team) Moto2 debut ended with the British rider setting a quickest time of 1:44.401, 2.198-seconds off Baldassarri’s benchmark, the Briton finishing one place ahead of Moto3 graduate Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) – P25 and P26 respectively for the pair as they settle in.
Dixon was a close runner-up to Leon Haslam in the British Superbike Championship this season and the 22-year-old Briton is a big hope for the future amongst English fans.
Jake Dixon – P25
“It has been a good first day, which we spent learning the bike and how everything works, from the team to the tyres, which is all new to me. I had a good feeling from the first run and I was able to enjoy myself on the KTM. I am looking forward to the next two days of testing here at Jerez and to continuing to learn with the team before the first race.”
Marco Bezzecchi – P26
“This start has been quite good. We worked a lot on the bike because in the beginning the riding position and the balance of the machine were far from now. In the end, we went better and better. Unfortunately the track temperature dropped a lot when we just found our best condition of the day, but anyway, we discovered many important things for tomorrow. I know that I have to improve my riding style a lot, but overall it has been good.”
Moto2 riders will be back out on track on Saturday as they continue their adaptation to the Triumph engine.
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