Zarco and Quartararo set the pace in rain-affected Valencia Moto2 Moto3 tests
The three scheduled Moto2 practice sessions were reduced to two at the Spanish track on the final day as overnight rain, more showers during the day and oil deposited on the track between turns one and four hindered the riders’ progress. The red flags were brought out while the oil was cleaned away.
Only seven riders took part in the final session of the test, with Malaysian rider Syahrin putting in the fastest Thursday lap with a 1’46.971 in that outing, marginally quicker than his Wednesday best of 1’47.666.
The quickest rider over the three days, therefore, was Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) who registered a superb 1’34.754 lap in the dry on Tuesday. He was eighth fastest on Thursday, 1.893s behind Syahrin.
Octo Ioda Racing Team’s German rider Florian Alt (+0.513s) and Finn Mika Kallio (+0.916s), who now rides for Italtrans Racing Team, were second and third fastest respectively on Thursday.
Belgium’s Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was fourth best as he lapped +0.964s down on Syahrin, with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) in fifth place by a 0.159s margin. Those two recorded their best times in session one on Thursday, with a larger group of 16 riders taking part in that run.
However, the likes of Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and his new colleague and Moto3 World Champion Alex Marquez did not ride on Thursday, with their compatriots Luis Salom and Moto2 rookie Alex Rins of the Paginas Amarillas HP team taking the same decision to play it safe.
Anthony West ended the test 12th quickest.
Many of the riders will head to Jerez next week for three more days of testing (17th-19th February) and they will be hoping for better weather in Andalusia.
Tito Rabat: 3rd – 1’35.145 – “The first day was very positive for me, despite the cold conditions, because I was so fast and consistent from the start and, on the hard tyre, I was able to match the pole time from last year in only the second session. The second day was half dry, half wet and very cold, so there was no sense to take a big risk and ride. Today we had full wet conditions and we were ready to test, but then one of the Moto3 riders dropped oil on the track so, once again, we were left sitting in the pit box. Now I want to get back into my routine before heading next week to Jerez, where I hope we have better weather.”
Alex Marquez: 26th – 1’37.773 – “At the beginning of my first year in Moto2 I need as much track time as possible, especially as my feeling with the bike wasn’t so good after crashing during a shakedown test in Almeria last week. I need to start enjoying myself on the bike again, because this is when the lap times come, and I need to recover again the good feeling. Unfortunately the weather here at Valencia meant I didn’t get a chance to do that, as I only really had one day on the bike. Now we head for three more days of testing at Jerez where, with better weather forecast, we should be able to make up for the lost track time here.”
Mapfre Mahindra Team’s rookie Spaniard Jorge Martin was the quickest Moto3™ rider on track at a wet Valencia circuit on the final day of the test.
The reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion coped best with the tricky conditions to finish as Thursday’s fastest rider with a 1’50.386s lap, but the fastest rider of the week in Moto3 at the Spanish venue was Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0.0) with his 1’39.392 effort in the dry on Tuesday.
The scheduled Moto3 practice sessions were also reorganised due to the rain and oil on track, which interrupted the activity.
Behind Martin on the combined Thursday timesheet was John McPhee of the Saxoprint-RTG team, the Scotsman lapping 1.465s off P1 pace on the Honda.
Martin’s teammates Francesco Bagnaia and Juanfran Guevara were third and fourth, respectively +2.207s and +2.610s behind their new colleague.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder rounded out the Thursday top five +3.7s behind Martin, with only 14 riders registering a timed lap over three sessions on the final day.
Australia’s Moto3 debutante Remy Gardner was 30th in the standings.
Many of the Moto3 riders will also reconvene in Jerez for three more days of testing next week.
1st Jorge Martín 1.50.386 (34 laps): “Today was a pretty productive day and we got a lot of work done. You could say that we found a perfect setting for the wet in the final session and we are very happy with the result. We feel ready now in case we get a wet race during the season so I am happy with that. Even though we hadn’t ridden before the start of the test we were only seven tenths off the fastest time on the first day and since then we have done some great work in the wet. I am looking forward to riding in the dry at Jerez and confirming exactly where we are compared to the other riders.”
3rd Pecco Bagnaia 1.52.593 (37 laps): “Today was even more positive than yesterday because we have covered a lot of laps and I have improved my time a lot. I am really happy with the work we have done with the team, we have found a fantastic setting for the wet, which is good news in case we have a wet race during the season. I usually tend to struggle in this kind of conditions but with the Mahindra I feel comfortable and really confident.”
4th Juanfran Guevara 1.52.996 (29 laps): “Just like yesterday we completed a lot of laps today and found our way forward in the wet. The track was a bit better this morning than it was yesterday but it started to rain again later on and then we had a break of an hour when another rider spilt oil all over the track. We continued to work on the suspension today and I improved both my feel with the bike and the lap time so that gives me confidence. We also did some durability tests with the wet tyres and the results were good.”