In the Moto2 class at Jerez, battle was rejoined once again by the two strongest men of the season so far, with Marc VDS Racing's Tito Rabat coming out on top this time. Like Jack Miller in Moto3, Rabat was on record pace, just a few hundredths off the pole record set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. Tom Luthi was forced to settle for 2nd, despite having led for a good part of the day, ending a quarter of a second behind the Spaniard, and a third of a second ahead of Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio.
Sam Lowes continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day as 4th fastest, just ahead of the other impressive rookie Maverick Viñales, while Takaaki Nakagami was 6th, just behind Viñales. The two Mapfre Aspar riders Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, so fast at Valencia, were well down the order at Jerez, Terol 17th and 1.6 seconds down, Torres all the way back in 30th.
Following reports of financial problems and unpaid bills between Forward Racing and FTR, FTR today issued a press statement clarifying the situation. In the press release, FTR praise the progress of the Yamaha FTR project at Sepang, and restate their support for Forward's Moto2 program as well. FTR's Managing Director Jon Jones states that 'there is [sic] no technical or financial issues between FTR and Forward Racing.' The statement goes on to clarify that the Forward Moto2 program has been temporarily put on hold to allow FTR to focus on the MotoGP project, and that the Moto2 project will be resumed at an unspecified later date.
The full text of the press release issued by FTR appears below:
FTR go Forward in 2014 for the 2014 season.
FTR are continuing with the strong partnership established with Forward Racing in Moto GP for the 2014 season.. The season brings with it some exciting developments with a 3 way collaboration between FTR, Forward Racing and Yamaha.
The results of initial testing at Sepang have given strong evidence that this is a winning combination. All parties are excited and pleased and will concentrate on refining the new bikes performance in the up coming tests
In order to maximise the potential shown by the 2014 GP bike, Forward and FTR will concentrate on this project.
In what was one of the less well kept secrets in the motorcycling world, BT Sport today unveiled its presentation and commentary team for its MotoGP coverage of the 2014 season. As had been widely rumored, main commentators will be Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder, reunited after a spell commentating on the World Superbike series back in the 1990s. Former MotoGP.com commentator Gavin Emmett will be the series' MotoGP reporter, and the threesome will be joined by Motorcycle News GP correspondent Matt Birt for the Moto2 and Moto3 sessions.
TV presenter Melanie Sykes will front the coverage, together with former World Superbike champions and MotoGP riders Neil Hodgson and James Toseland. The presentation team will be present at all of the races around the world, with coverage coming from each circuit.
BT Sport will also be hosting an hour-long show each Tuesday evening, called MotoGP Tonight. That show will be presented from BT Sport's London studios, and hosted by Craig Doyle and Iwan Thomas. The show will be a mixture of review, talk show and feature guests from the world of motorcycling. BT Sport's coverage will kick off on 18th March with a special preview show, covering preseason testing and looking ahead to 2014.
Riders For Health today announced that they will be running their Day of Stars program at the Austin, Texas round of MotoGP in April. The press release with details appears below:
DAY OF STARS COMES TO AUSTIN TO SUPPORT RIDERS FOR HEALTH
14 February 2014
MotoGP™ returns to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in April, and Riders for Health is giving fans the exclusive chance to get behind the scenes of MotoGP at Day of Stars.
They say that everything is bigger in Texas. Now fans of MotoGP can have a bigger and better MotoGP experience than ever before as Riders for Health’s Day of Stars comes to the Lone Star State on April 10, 2014.
To find out more about Day of Stars, visit www.riders.org/day-of-stars.
Day of Stars offers a small group of fans the opportunity to peer behind the curtain of the world’s premier motorcycle racing series while helping to raise money for Riders for Health - the official charity of MotoGP – to transform access to health care in Africa.
Day of Stars guests will receive a guided tour of the MotoGP paddock led by one of the stars of the MotoGP. The lucky fans will then have a chance to chat with some of the current stars of MotoGP and their crews at their pit boxes.
Rising temperatures may have dispelled the arctic chill that held sway at Valencia for the beginning of the Moto2 and Moto3 test, conditions were still far from ideal on the final day. High winds set in, causing problems for riders in both classes, though especially for the bantamweight Moto3 class, and causing a spate of crashes. Niccolo Antonelli, fastest man over all three days, was one of many to go down, the list also including Dutchman Scott Deroue, Danny Kent and Enea Bastianini. Unlike previous days, nobody was injured, and all continued to ride, though Bastianini complained of headaches and Deroue suffered back pain. They weren't the only people riding with injury: Gino Rea soldiered bravely on despite having broken a foot on Wednesday, relieving the pain by sticking his ankle in a bucket of ice water between stints.
The winds meant that very few riders improved their times in the Moto3 class, Niccolo Antonelli remaining the fastest over all three days, though Jack Miller took the honors for the fastest man on the last day. Antonelli has been impressive throughout all three days of testing, having adapted to the KTM very quickly. Miller, likewise, was still getting used to the KTM, enjoying the added power, while adjusting to the handling of the Austrian Moto3 bike, which does not corner as well as his old FTR Honda. The excess power more than compensated, but Miller spent the day working through various linkages and set up options in an attempt to get the bike to turn a little bit better.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after testing at Valencia:
Times at the end of the final day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia:
Times at lunchtime for the Moto2 class on the last day of 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 second day of testing at Valencia:
Combined times from all three sessions of Moto2 at the end of the second day of testing at Valencia:
Times at lunchtime after the first session of practice for the Moto2 class at Valencia:
After a private test at Almeria last week, the full Moto2 and Moto3 fields assembled at Valencia for the first full official test of the year for the Grand Prix support classes. Conditions were far from ideal: though it remained dry all day, it was cold, with asphalt temperatures barely cracking 10°C at midday. The cold track caught an awful lot of riders out, with many people crashing, though nobody suffered any serious harm. Mostly, it was just riders' pride and their bikes which ended up dented.
In the Moto2 class, Mika Kallio ended the day as fastest, somehow fitting that the icy Finn should top the timesheets in the freezing conditions. The Marc VDS Racing rider ended the day just ahead of Aspar's Jordi Torres, and Interwetten's Tom Luthi. Spaniards Nico Terol and Tito Rabat took 4th and 5th respectively. So far, the names at the top of the timesheets are familiar ones, having been fast in Moto2 last year.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Valencia:
Final times after the first day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia: