Italian rider Niccolo Antonelli was one of the revelations of Moto3 testing at Valencia and Jerez. Teammate Enea Bastianini was also notably quick. So the press release issued by the Go&Fun Gresini team featuring crew chiefs talking about the progress made so far with the KTM machines in preseason testing makes for interesting backround. The press release appears below:
MOTO3 PRE-SEASON TEST DEBRIEF WITH STEFANO RIMINUCCI AND FABRIZIO CECCHINI
Nine days of testing, divided equally between the circuits of Almeria, Valencia and Jerez have provided a first, interesting indication of the performance values ahead of the 2014 Moto3 World Championship campaign. During this trip across Spain, the Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3 has became soon a protagonist, being costantly at the top of the timesheets: during all the testing sessions, Niccolò Antonelli has been always in the top three positions, resulting the fastest over the three days spent at Valencia.
Press releases after the second day of testing at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after testing at Valencia:
Conditions improved a little for the second day of testing at Valencia, with warmer temperatures seeing times drop. The Moto2 riders were an average of a second faster than Tuesday, the Moto3 riders even faster, a second-and-a-half quicker than yesterday.
Improvement was pretty even across the field, in both classes. In the Moto3 class, the chasing hordes closed the gap on Niccolo Antonelli, though the young Italian continued to top the timesheets. He has Jack Miller breathing down his neck, however, the Australian ending the day just eight thousandths of a second behind the Italian.
With an Italian leading, an Australian in 2nd and young Brit Danny Kent in 3rd, the top of the Moto3 class has a decidedly international feel. The contrast with last year, where Spaniards took all but 5 of the 51 available podium positions, is huge. There is only one Spaniard - Isaac Viñales - in the top 5 at Valencia, and a total of 3 in the top 10. Italians feature heavily - the investment made by the Italian Federation over the past few years is very slowly starting to pay off - but there is also a Brit, an Australian and a Portuguese rider. The increased variety looks promising for 2014.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Valencia:
The penultimate piece of the 2014 Moto3 puzzle has fallen into place today, with the announcement that Scott Deroue will be joining Ana Carrasco at RW Racing GP. The Dutch youngster has signed a two-year contract to race for the Dutch team, and will contest the 2014 season on a Kalex KTM Moto3 machine.
Deroue has spent the last three season racing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, where he has posted some impressive results, taking a total of four victories. He has also raced in both the Dutch ONK and German IDM Moto3 championships, winning in both those series, as well as competing in selected rounds of the Spanish CEV championship. That Deroue should step up to Moto3 with the RW Racing GP team comes as no surprise, as the young Dutchman has been riding for the RW Racing junior team in the Dutch and German championships. RW Racing had been expected to announce the move much earlier, but Deroue had suffered a slump in form last season, the team attributing his problems to puberty. Deroue has since started to display a little more maturity, and this could be the catalyst for RW Racing's decision to promote Deroue to the Grand Prix team.
Just hours after the announcement that Ana Carrasco had signed with the RW Racing GP team for 2014 comes confirmation that Isaac Viñales is to take the place she leaves at Team Calvo. The 20-year-old Spaniard will join Jakub Kornfeil at Team Calvo, where both men will be racing KTMs. In a wry coincidence, Viñales will be joining the team vacated by his cousin Maverick, who became 2013 Moto3 world champion with the squad.
Isaac Viñales had earlier signed a contract to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team in Moto3, alongside Niccolo Antonelli. However, as part of that deal, Viñales had been required to bring in a given quantity of financial backing. After he had failed to muster the necessary cash, Viñales had been left without a ride. In the end, the Spaniard found shelter with Team Calvo, giving him another chance in Moto3. Viñales had a solid season in 2013 riding the underpowered FTR Honda bike with Ongetta. He ended the year in 17th place in the championship, scoring a total of 47 points. His best finish in 2013 came at Valencia, where he took 7th ahead of Ana Carrasco.
Ana Carrasco will have a second season in Moto3. The 16-year-old Spaniard has signed a one-year deal with Dutch Moto3 team RW Racing GP to race their Kalex KTM in 2014.
Carrasco had a positive rookie season in Moto3, ending the year with points in two races, as well as scoring the best result for a female rider in 18 years when she finished 8th at Valencia. But her performance was overshadowed by her teammate at Team Calvo, where Maverick Viñales became world champion. Despite being teammates, the two were on very different bikes, Viñales racing on a fully-factory supported KTM, where Carrasco competed on the basic KTM Moto3 bike.
Team Calvo had expressed an interest in retaining the services of Carrasco for 2014, but to do that, she would have to being money to fund the ride. Carrasco had been raising sponsorship through a Spanish website, but it was not enough to get her seat.
At its final meeting of 2013, the Grand Prix Commission has agreed changes to the regulations for the three Grand Prix classes, mostly minor, but a couple with much wider implications. Changes were agreed to the penalty points system, to the procedure for restarting interrupted races, for protests and wild cards. But the biggest changes made were to the Moto3 class. The loophole which allowed manufacturers to charge what they wanted for chassis has been closed, capping prices in Moto3 even further.
The biggest change to the sporting regulations is the extension of the penalty points system, to allow penalty points to be carried across between seasons. In 2013, the first year the system was used, penalty points accumulated during the season were only valid until after the final race of 2013 at Valencia was over. This posed a problem for Race Direction, as Mike Webb explained to MotoMatters.com in an interview at Valencia. It meant that any points awarded at the final races of the season had less effect on rider behavior than those early on in the season, and points awarded in the final race were completely meaningless. In his interview with this website, Mike Webb had already suggested giving points a limited lifetime, allowing them to be carried over from one season to the next.
The 2014 Moto3 rider line up (still provisional)
A day after the provisional entry lists for the Grand Prix classes were released by the FIM, and there's one change already. Today, Husqvarna announced that they would be joining the Moto3 world championship, and fielding a factory team.
The Red Bull Husqvarna Factory Racing team will be run by Aki Ajo, and have Danny Kent as rider. Furthermore, Husqvarna will also be providing support for Niklas Ajo in the Avant Tecno team.
The announcement that Husqvarna is racing in Moto3 does not mean a brand new bike will be entered. The Husqvarna will be a rebadged KTM, run under a similar arrangement as Gilera and Derbi in the 250cc and 125cc classes, which were really just rebadged Aprilias. Danny Kent's Moto3 bike will be a factory KTM with a Husqvarna badge on the tank. That KTM would use such an arrangement is not unusual: Pierer Industries, the majority stakeholder in KTM, is also 100% owner of Husqvarna, having acquired the brand earlier this year. Husqvarna off-road bikes are currently being produced in KTM's factory in Mattighofen, Austria.
The FIM today announced the provisional entry lists for the 2014 season in all three classes. Despite the loss of Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom, who are moving up to Moto2, the Moto3 class looks like being another thrilling and close race to the end of the year. Alex Rins and Jack Miller are currently the hot favorites for the title, with Rins' Estrella Galicia teammate Alex Marquez likely to be a candidate too, after his outstanding rookie year in the series. Miller's Red Bull KTM teammate Danny Kent will also be aiming to battle for the championship, the British youngster having stepped back to the Moto3 class with the express purpose of winning the championship.
Among the riders currently viewed as outsiders, Miguel Oliveira features strongly as a contender after a very strong year on the Mahindra. Jakub Kornfeil moves up to take the bike vacated by 2013 Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales, while much is expected of the new Team Sky VR46 squad of Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, the team set up by Valentino Rossi and with former Ducati man Vitto Guareschi as team manager. There will also be a lot of attention for Karel Hanika, the Czech youngster making the move up from the Red Bull Rookies. Hanika is rated very highly in the Moto3 paddock, and his testing times have already shown promise.
2013 Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Pressure, Mistakes, Engines, And How To Win A Championship
After all the drama, the talk stops tomorrow. Two titles on the line, and five men to fight over them. On Sunday, there will be no talk of crew chiefs being sacked, of team bosses appealing for penalty points, of teams concocting dubious plans, of teammates, team strategies or team orders. When the red lights go out, and the thunderous roar of four-stroke racing motorcycles fills the natural bowl which cradles the tightly wound ribbon of tarmac that is the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, it is every man and woman for themselves, and the devil take the hindmost. Nearly a hundred young men and one young woman will take to the track on Sunday. Most have already had their dreams of glory shattered; three more will share that disappointment; only two will etch their names permanently into the history books.
Both the Moto3 and the MotoGP titles are still undecided, the winner of each race likely to be crowned champion. The Moto2 title is already decided, and going on the evidence of practice and qualifying, the race could be over within a couple of laps, Pol Espargaro hoping to top off his championship with a win in the final race in front of his home crowd. The HP Tuenti Pons rider has been fastest in every session so far, usually by a comfortable margin, so his objective looks well within his grasp. Others may try to prevent an Espargaro victory march, but it doesn't look like either Tito Rabat, Jordi Torres or Nico Terol will be able to do much about it. Espargaro has deserved his title, repaying the faith Yamaha put in him when they signed him to the Tech 3 MotoGP team at Qatar, before the very first race of the year.