KTM riders test the mettle of Jerez circuit and finish in high spirits

2008-02-21 06:01
KTM 250 riders wrapped up the official preseason testing session in Jerez on Thursday on the high note with Repsol-KTM rider Julian Simon in fifth, and the official factory riders Mika Kallio and Hiroshi Aoyama in a very close sixth and seventh position.

All three riders were consistently among the top performers in the three days of testing on the Spanish circuit and all agreed they could have gone even faster. Regrettably the final decisive run for good lap times was cut short when the last session was red-flagged after a crash ten minutes from the end.

Solid start Bartol says
KTM's Technical Director Harald Barton also expressed satisfaction after the tests. "Our good results at this and our previous test in Valencia confirm the progress we've made in the development of our bike. We addressed the reliability problems of the past, and the engines are working so well now that we have healthy base from which we can fine-tune the bike and be competitive at every race. Another significant step was the new chassis that we introduced back in November, and which seems to give the riders the feel and the handling they wanted. The fact that all three of our riders are within the top group speaks for itself and boosts the confidence of us all," he said.

Relaxed Kallio up with fastest
Red Bull factory rider Mika Kallio was very positive. "I feel good and relaxed. We won the final race of last year's season and I've been fastest or up with the top group in all the pre-season tests, like here in Jerez. Our bike is fast and competitive, even more so than last year where we've had difficulties to find enough rear grip and the right handling on some of the tracks." Kallio said there had been major improvements with the new generation of chassis that has been in use since last November and confirmed that the efficiency of the bike has greatly improved. "On tracks like Valencia and Jerez, which are not so fast, we look really good in comparison to our competitors, and it will be interesting to see what will happen on a fast track like Qatar with the first race of the season in two week's time. Luckily we all have the chance to test there one week prior to the race, which will be especially important for us. My goal for the season is clear - we are out to win races,and I am sure that we have a good chance to win the championship!"

Aoyama looks forward to a competitive season
Kallio's factory team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama was also upbeat. "We are still testing lots of settings. The new chassis gives me a different feeling for the bike, and even small adjustments have a big effect on the way it works. The new bike is better on hard braking, it's also easier to keep tight cornering lines and to find traction on the corner exits, but we are still trying and evaluating many things." Wet weather hampered the tests, Aoyama said and looking forward to the season he said there were at least 10 riders who would be fast and tough to beat. "One of them is my team-mate Mika - he has been lightning-fast in pre-season testing so far, and will be one of the top contenders for sure!"

Simon high on confidence
Julian Simon onboard a KTM 250 for Repsol KTM is also looking forward to a competitive season. "The weather conditions here in Jerez were really tricky on the opening two days, but we finally managed to confirm the base set-up that we've established in Valencia a few weeks ago. With three tests under my belt, I am now really getting used to the bike, and my confidence for the first race of the year in Qatar is building up. I am very happy with the support of KTM and the work of my team - a big thank you to all of them!"

De Rosa impressive in 125 cc class
In the 125 cc class, Raffaele de Rosa from Team Onde 2000 KTM was fastest of the seven rider strong KTM line-up in this category, with official Red Bull KTM factory rider Randy Krummenacher still shaking off the winter break and lagging behind in 22nd position. Young Spanish Repsol KTM rookie Marc Márquez ran into bad luck and fractured the radius and ulma of his right arm in a crash on the second day of testing.

Krummenacher still chasing rhythm
Krummenacher said he had been trying to find the right rhythm with his new bike. "The bike is new and feels even stronger than last year's version, with a noticeable gain in acceleration. I was busy with myself finding a fast rhythm again after our long winter break. The patchy weather on the first two days of testing here in Jerez didn't make things easier, so I'm glad that we have yet another opportunity to ride and work on our base set-up next week in Qatar. I'm sure we will be back up to speed when the races start!"

Day Three Times

GP 250
1. Tom Lüthi (CH) Aprilia 1.43,208
2. Marco Simoncelli (I) Gilera 1.43,209
3. Alvaro Bautista (E) Aprilia 1.43,529
4. Alex Debon (E) Aprilia 1.43,629
5. Julian Simón (E) Repsol KTM 1.43,802
6. Mika Kallio (SF) Red Bull KTM 1.43,859
7. Hiroshi Aoyama (J) Red Bull KTM 1.43,869

GP 125
1. Bradley Smith (Aprilia) 1.47,820
2. Sergio Gadea (Aprilia) 1.47,952
3. Stefan Bradl (D) Aprilia 1.48,118
4. Raffaele De Rosa (I) Onde 2000 KTM 1.48,183
5. Mike di Meglio (F) Derbi) 1.48,244
6. Nicolas Terol (E) Aprilia 1.48,332
10. Pablo Nieto (E) Onde 2000 KTM 1.48,641
16. Tomoyoshi Koyama (J) ISPA KTM Aran 1.49,007
19. Esteve Rabat (E) Repsol KTM 1.49,363
22. Randy Krummenacher (CH) Red Bull KTM 1.49,716
23. Lorenzo Zanetti (I) ISPA KTM Aran 1.49,831

Source: KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story