We’re only four races in but you wouldn’t really expect anything else but an EG 0,0 Marc VDS bike into top position in any one session of your choice, would you? And so it was, Alex Marquez hogging another headline in Jerez. It could have been an even better headline if he had another three thousandths of a second in hand to beat the lap record. Maybe in qualifying practice.
There was plenty to talk about after the first day of practice in Jerez, though none of the real talking points came from the action on the track. Rain in the morning proved that the track has great grip in the wet. On the other hand, a drying track in the afternoon proved that you don't really learn anything at all in sketchy conditions. Some riders pushed with a soft tire, some didn't. Some riders took risks to set a time, some didn't. The session was pretty meaningless, most riders agreed. Nobody had fun out there, with the possible exception of Pol Espargaro on the KTM. But more of that later.
Off track we learned a lot more. It looks like next year, LCR Honda will expand to a two-bike team, with Takaaki Nakagami moving up to ride alongside Cal Crutchlow, with backing from Moto2 sponsor Idemitsu. Rumors persist that the Sky VR46 team is to move up to MotoGP with two Yamahas, though Valentino Rossi denies it. The contract to supply Moto2 engines has been signed, though a few details remain to be wrapped up, meaning the actual engine manufacturer will not be announced until Le Mans. And all of these have various knock-on effects, which will effect the entire series in one way or another.
First, to the on-track action. For a circuit which is not supposed to suit the Honda, there sure were an awful lot of RC213Vs crowding the top of the timesheets, both in the wet and in the dry. The reason the Honda is good in the wet is simple, according to Marc Márquez: a wet track takes Honda's biggest weakness out of the equation, leaving its strongest points intact.
Results from the first practice session might have made for odd reading without a little context but FP2 appeared to be a more familiar sight – up until the end, that is. One thing was the same though: FP1 leader Alex Marquez took this time to find his way back to the top but a late lap earned him another headline in Jerez.
It’s a pretty safe bet that Alex Marquez loves Jerez right now. Who would have thought this time last year that today we’d be talking about the younger Marquez dominating a session - and not for the first time this season?
However, the rain in Spain seems to suit him particularly well, the Marc VDS rider taking it one step further by grabbing the top seat right out the garage and building a gap of over one and a half seconds to the challengers, if you can still call them that considering the advantage. Marquez was the only one able to go into the 1:58s, everyone else failing to even drop under the 2-minute barrier for much of the session.
Previews of the Jerez round from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
NAVARRO CHARGED UP FOR HOME RACE AT JEREZ
The long European leg of the Moto2 World Championship is about to start at ‘Circuito de Jerez’, the venue hosting the fourth Grand Prix of the 2017 season. Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Team) hopes to well impress in front of his home crowd, after the good signs of improvement shown in Texas two weekends ago.
"Danny is probably the most talented rider I have ever worked with," Peter Bom, Danny Kent's former crew chief at Kiefer told me several times last year. Bom has seen plenty of talent in his time: he also worked with Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, Chris Vermeulen in World Supersport and World Superbikes, Cal Crutchlow in World Supersport. World champions all, and to this tally he added Danny Kent.
Less than a year after helping him win the Moto3 world championship, Danny Kent asked the Kiefer team for a new crew chief, abandoning his collaboration with Peter Bom. Kent felt that Bom had been slow to pick up on the changes in the Moto2 class during Bom's three years in Moto3. Stefan Kiefer obliged, and Kent started the season with a new crew chief and a Suter Moto2 chassis.
Three races into the new season, Kent has left the team. He competed in two races for them, scoring three points in the first, crashing out of the second. At Austin, after a miserable few practice sessions, Kent refused to race. The team could have seen the decision coming, perhaps: Kent had finished 29th in morning warm up, 2.5 seconds off the pace of fastest man Taka Nakagami.
Later that afternoon, in a series of tweets, Kent explained his decision was because of "irreconcilable differences", which had prevented him from reaching his potential. He said he was still hungry, and believed he could be competitive in Moto2. Team boss Stefan Kiefer told Dutch Eurosport, "personally, I do not think this is correct, but that's what he decided." In a press release later that day, Kiefer stated that the decision was "difficult to understand from the team's point of view."
Press releases from the Moto3 and Moto2 teams after Sunday's race at the Circuit of The Americas:
BRILLIANT DOUBLE PODIUM FOR TEAM DEL CONCA GRESINI MOTO3 IN TEXAS
Moto2 standings after the third race of the year in Austin, Texas: