The Marc VDS Moto2 riders dominated the second day of testing, Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez taking turns at the top of the timesheets. Morbidelli ended up with top honors, setting a fast time in the cool of the morning, when the track offers the most grip. Taka Nakagami ended the day in third, four tenths behind fastest man Morbidelli, while Fabio Quartararo impressed on his switch to Moto2.
Franco Morbidelli was the quickest man in the morning session for the Moto2 class at Jerez. The Marc VDS rider was a fraction quicker than Miguel Oliveira's best time from Wednesday, and half a second quicker than his teammate Alex Marquez. Fabio Quartararo was up to speed with the third quickest time, just behind Marquez, and just nine thousandths quicker than Luca Marini. Danny Kent was the first Suter in seventh spot, just under seven tenths off the time of Morbidelli
Times in the first session of Thursday:
Miguel Oliveira ended the first day of the IRTA test on top of the timesheets, setting a time in the second session of the day which nobody could match. Oliveira's time is nearly a tenth quicker than the Moto2 pole record at Jerez, currently held by Sam Lowes.
As the start of the MotoGP season draws near, this is a big week for motorcycle racing. On Wednesday, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams meet for the first official test of the season at Jerez, lasting until Friday. Early Friday morning, European time, the second round of the WorldSBK championship kicks off at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. Then on Friday afternoon, the MotoGP teams start the final test of preseason at the Losail circuit in Qatar.
But the first place to see action is Jerez. After several private tests scattered around Spanish tracks, it is the first chance to see the entire Moto2 and Moto3 grid on track together. Or most of the grid: injury leaves at least one rider sidelined, Stefano Manzi being out with a knee injury. The three-day test is split into sessions, with the Moto2 and Moto3 classes each going out separately.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the test at Jerez:
Baldassarri and Marini complete successful second test in 2017
Following a first prosperous shakedown in Valencia the Forward Racing Team continued its testing program ahead of the 2017 Moto2 World Championship season with a two-day private test at Circuito de Jerez. Bright sunshine provided perfect circumstances on Wednesday, while both riders were forced to stay inside the pit box on day two due to mixed weather conditions.
The Moto2 and Moto3 teams were back to work over the past two days, a large contingent gathered to prepare for the 2017 season. Fine weather greeted the riders on the first day of the test, but the second day, Thursday, started with the track covered with sand after strong winds blew sand across from North Africa, then rain hit the track and washed out the rest of the test. A few riders went out on Thursday, but they were nearly 20 seconds off the pace.
Team launches are always a little combative. They are, after all, the places where factory bosses, team managers, and riders stake out their intentions for the coming season. They loudly proclaim that they are in it to win it, that their goal is to be champions sooner rather than later, and that they are plainly superior to their competition, both in talent and in engineering prowess and ingenuity. Team launches are a place for hyperbole.
Even by normal standards, though, the words spoken at KTM's team launch were more than ordinarily abrasive. In an interview with Austrian broadcaster Servus TV, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer took plenty of potshots at his rivals. He boasted of KTM passing BMW in terms of sales, adding that beating them in racing would be hard, "because they don't race any more". He spoke of competing against the Japanese manufacturers. "We love racing, and we love beating the Japanese manufacturers."
But Pierer reserved his sharpest ire for Honda. Speaking of the surprise decision to compete in Moto2, he joked that the spec Moto2 engine was supplied by "our most hated rival Honda". He also noted that KTM's entry into MotoGP brought balance to the MSMA, the manufacturers' group which has a vote in the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule making body. With three European manufacturers against three Japanese manufacturers, they were in a position to prevent Honda from bulldozing through proposals.
Press releases from KTM's team launch, for the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing starts new era in MotoGP 2017
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing on Monday began a new era with the presentation of the Austrian brand’s 2017 MotoGP team at the new KTM Motorsports building in Munderfing (Austria). The entry into the premier class of MotoGP racing makes KTM the first manufacturer to have a factory team contesting all three categories of the world championship.
With four of the top seven from last year's Moto2 championship moving up to MotoGP, the intermediate class is wide open for 2017. There are riders like Lorenzo Baldassarri, Tom Luthi, Franco Morbidelli, and Taka Nakagami who start the season hotly tipped for success. There are dark horses like Miguel Oliveira on the KTM, Domi Aegerter and Danny Kent on the Suters, Alex Márquez on the Kalex. And to top it all, there is an exciting crop of rookies entering the class, headed by reigning Moto3 champion Brad Binder, with Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia to watch as well.
What surprises is the depth of Italian talent in the class, a product of leading Italian teams in Moto2, and the conveyor belt of talent emanating from the VR46 Academy backed by Valentino Rossi's mighty commercial empire. The combination of those two forces was present at the launch of Forward Racing's Moto2 campaign for 2017 in Milan. The team, owned by Giovanni Cuzari and now run by Milena Koerner, sees their two riders from last year return, with Lorenzo Baldassarri expected to challenge for the title, and Luca Marini aiming to regularly challenge the top five, and start knocking on the door of the podium.
But Lorenzo Baldassarri is clearly the main focus for Forward in 2017. During the presentation, both team owner Cuzari and VR46 principal Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci anointed the 20-year-old Italian as the favorite for the title. A small group of journalists attending the launch gave Baldassarri a grilling on how he felt about the upcoming season. Starting with whether he felt any pressure after hearing Cuzari and Uccio tell the crowd they expected him to win the title this year.