Marquez on top in Moto2™ as Arbolino reigns Moto3™

2018-02-14 14:47
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended the second test of the Moto2™ season on top of the timesheets, fastest on Day 3 and quickest overall with a 1:40.926. The Spaniard staked an immediate claim on the class on his first outing in 2018 – with EG 0,0 Marc VDS having sat out the first test at Valencia – at the venue at which he took his first Moto2™ win in 2017.

The closest challenger to Marquez’ best was Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who was quickest on Day 1 and 2. The Italian was three tenths in arrears by the end of the test, but only conceded the top spot towards the end of Day 3 and was the only man within half a second of Marquez. In addition, Sky Racing Team VR46 were another team who sat out Valencia, equally blasting out the blocks quickly once back on track at Jerez.

Behind the two Kalex machines on top, it was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who led the way for KTM in third. The 2016 Moto3™ World Champion was 0.799 off the top but the quickest Austrian machine as they enter their sophomore season in the intermediate class, with teammate Miguel Oliveira – who won the final three races of 2017 – in sixth after having been the top KTM on Day 1 and Day 2.

Between the two Red Bull KTM Ajos were Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) – another name often in the higher echelons of the timesheets this preseason – as he settles into his new team, with Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) rounding out the top five. Vierge, like Baldassarri, moves teams this season – and also changes manufacturer, seemingly getting to grips with his new Kalex quickly. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) likewise showed good pace as another who is changing team, slotting into P7 and just edging compatriot Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) by 0.039 as the gaps closed up in the latter half of the top ten.

Hector Barbera (Pons HP 40) was 0.030 further back in P9 as he gets into the Moto2™ groove, with fellow former premier class racer Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) just behind him to complete the top ten. Kalex-riding Barbera is a former runner up in the intermediate class but back when it was the 250 World Championship – therefore never having previously raced in Moto2™. Lowes, meanwhile, was a Moto2™ title challenger when last in the class, but returns on a KTM.

Isaac Viñales (SAG Team) ended the Jerez test in P11 overall – but by virtue of his second quickest lap. The Spaniard’s fastest effort was exactly the same as the lap of Sam Lowes ahead of him, and was another good showing as Viñales starts 2018 on a good roll.

The fastest Moto3™ graduate was the next quickest overall and it was Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The reigning Moto3™ Champion was less than a tenth off the two much more experienced campaigners ahead of him, impressing once more after equally showing pace at the end of 2017. Bo Bendsneyder (Tech 3 Racing) was the second fastest graduate in P2, ahead of Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team) another couple of places back – but both riders had good pace on the incredibly tight timesheets.

Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) was P13 and just behind Mir, with Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) making it three manufacturers in the top fifteen just behind German Schrötter. Veteran Italian Simone Corsi, switching to a Kalex chassis with Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 this season, completed that fastest fifteen.

Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing) was the quickest Speed Up and only a tenth and a half off the top 15, with teammate and 2015 Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent just half a tenth in further arrears. 2016 European Moto2™ Champion Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) was the quickest NTS overall after the close of action on Day 3, taking back that honour after American rookie teammate Joe Roberts had held it. Eric Granado (Forward Racing Team), reigning European Moto2™ Champion, was fastest Suter as Forward adjust to the machine in preseason.

Meanwhile, in Moto3™, Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) shot to the top of combined timesheets on Day 3, 0.132 ahead of compatriot veteran Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) by the end of play. There was a further tenth and a half back to Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), the fastest man on Days 1 and 2, as the three Honda riders locked out the top. Arbolino set his laptime on Wednesday afternoon; his key rivals on Tuesday.

The fastest KTM was a superstar performance from rookie Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fourth, with the reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion showing his previous pace at Valencia – a venue he dominated at junior level – was far from a flash in the pan. Compatriot Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was another who impressed as he completed the top five, settling in at his new team.

Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) was the next quickest KTM in P6, ahead of another man on Austrian machinery in the form of sophomore Marco Bezzecchi (PruestelGP), who had good pace once again – a consistent top runner during testing. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was close behind, however, just 0.002 off the Italian ahead of him.

Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) leapt up the timesheets on the final day to take ninth overall, as the Italian recovers from an injury sustained late last year. He was only 0.014 off Canet, with times incredibly tight in the mid-field. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini), also in close company, completed the top ten.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) ended the three days P11 overall, ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider Team), Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). Czech veteran Jakub Kornfeill (PruestelGP) completed the fastest fifteen, just ahead of Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai). Masia, who, like Bulega, is recovering from injury, likewise made a big step up on the final day. Fellow rookies Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Kazakhstani rider Makar Yurchenko (CIP – Green Power), and reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) were P19, P20 and P25 respectively as they gear up for their first season in the World Championship.

The next test for Moto2™ and Moto3™ sees them return to Jerez once more, with action underway from the 6th to 8th of March.

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