2014 Moto2 And Moto3 Valencia Test, Day 2 Notes
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.
Of course, the main reason for the lack of Spaniards at the top is the ongoing development work on the Honda. The factory bike - now christened the NSF250RW - still needs a lot of work, though both Alex Rins and Alex Marquez improved their times markedly. They remain, however, over three quarters of a second off the pace of Antonelli and Miller, and clearly out of contention. The three factory bikes - alongside Rins and Marquez, Efren Vazquez of Racing Team Germany also has one of the new bikes - were loaned out to the other Honda riders late in the afternoon, complicating the process of development. Honda's 'KTM Killer' Moto3 machine is not yet packing the punch it threatened. Emilio Alzamora and the Estrella Galicia team will be pushing for a lot more performance from that package.
Tuesday's crashes also took their toll on Wednesday. Red Bull Rookie Cup winner and hotly tipped talent Karel Hanika did not do much riding on Wednesday, after injuring his wrist in a fall the day before. Examination at a local hospital revealed no broken bones, but the right wrist was too painful to ride on.
If the Spaniards are missing in Moto3, they still field a strong delegation in Moto2. Tito Rabat consolidated his candidacy for this year's Moto2 title by topping the timesheets, leading Tom Luthi by over a third of a second. Mika Kallio put the second Marc VDS Racing bike in the top 3, ahead of the Mapfre Aspar Suters of Jordi Torres and Nico Terol. Maverick Viñales continues to impress, the 2013 Moto3 champion ending the day in 6th, two thirds of a second off the time of Rabat. Where others improved, Sam Lowes could not improve his time much, dropping down the field to end the day in 17th.