The third and final preseason Official Test for Moto2™ and Moto3™ has been a mixed bag in terms of the weather, with rain affecting all three days of action and sessions mixed between wet, dry or…mixed. After Day 3 saw some of the heaviest rain – although useful for wet running – Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) remain fastest in Moto3™ and Moto2™ respectively, with both having topped their respective timesheets on Day 2.
In Moto3™, the combined timings lay incredible foundations for the year ahead. Spaniard Martin, who took nine poles in 2017 and finished the year off with a win, broke his own lap record on Wednesday ar the venue, with the new track surface making for some impressive laptimes. And behind the Del Conca Gresini Moto3 rider are two of his most hotly-tipped rivals for the title this season: Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), settling into his new team well, and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the 2017 race winner at the Andalusian venue.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was another one to watch in fourth, with the Italian beginning the year fully fit and raring to go. Can he get in the mix and challenge for the crown? After a number of podiums already, ‘Diggia’ will be gunning for glory. His compatriot Marco Bezzechi (Pruestel GP) rounded out the top five as he continues his good form going into his sophomore season, and the top KTM rider was only 0.007 off Di Giannantonio. Back to P7 was an even smaller gap, however, with rookie Alonso Lopez hitting the ground running at Estrella Galicia 0,0 at just 0.004 in arrears; an impressive debut.
Niccolo Antonelli and teammate Tatsuki Suzuki made it both SIC58 Squadra Corse riders in the top ten as they locked out P7 and P8, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) hot on the chase and 0.01 off the Japanese rider’s laptime. Livio Loi (Reale Avintia Academy) completed the top ten for KTM.
Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team), 2017 Rookie of the Year Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Kazakhstani rookie Makar Yurchenko (CIP – Green Power), Phillip Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider Team) locked out the fastest fifteen.
Meanwhile in Moto2™, KTM dominated the top spots after riders on Austrian machinery attacked in the dry conditions, with expected title contender Sam Lowes and an impressive sophomore display from teammate Iker Lecuona making it a 1-2 for Swiss Innovative Investors after their pace on Day 2. Fellow KTM rider Brad Binder completed the top three for Red Bull KTM Ajo, but had an identical fastest laptime to that of the Kalex-riding Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fourth. Binder took P3 by virtue of his second quickest effort, with 2019 premier class rider Bagnaia pushed down to fourth.
Xavi Vierge continued to settle in well to life on a Kalex and life at Intact Dynavolt GP as he completed the top five, with 2017 Jerez winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) hot on his tail and just 0.034 further back in P6. Marquez’ rookie teammate, reigning Moto3™ World Champion Joan Mir, is absent through injury – and his fellow rookie and old title adversary Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) was P7 overall in Jerez.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) made it four KTMs in the top ten as the three-in-a-row race winner in 2017 completed the outing in eighth, with two Italians for close company in the form of the experienced Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Sky Racing Team VR46 newcomer Luca Marini.
Behind the top ten, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40), Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Dutch rookie Bo Bendsneyder (Tech 3 Racing), returning 2015 Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent (Speed Up) and German Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completed the fastest fifteen.
NTS RW Racing GP’s American entrant Joe Roberts wasn’t far behind, with South African teammate Steven Odendaal only a tenth further back but in P20 as the timesheets tightened. Eric Granado bested teammate Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) at this test, with the two adapting to their Suter chassis.
Now it’s time to race, and it can’t come soon enough. So the two classes now pack up and head for Qatar, where the first two showdowns of the year are waiting on the 17th March.