The final day of testing at Jerez confirmed the results from the first two days, with the Kalexes firmly on top in Moto2 - this time in the hands of Italtrans duo Claudio Corti and Takaaki Nakagami - and Danny Kent leading the KTM domination in Moto3, with only the Honda of Maverick Viñales disturbing the Austrian order.
The weather helped the teams make real progress over the three days of the test, with the last day warm and sunny, temperatures rising to a balmy 19°C, with no recurrence of yesterday's rain. Three full days of testing left many riders exhausted, and as the Jerez tarmac became more slippery as it got warmer, fatigue and weather saw a spate of crashes during the day, with Claudio Corti, Alex de Angelis, Max Neukirchner, Damian Cudlin, Xavier Simeon and Angel Rodriguez among the victims in Moto2, while Luis Salom, Kenta Fuji, Jakub Kornfeil, Niccolo Antonelli, Giulian Pedone and Alessandro Tonucci all falling in Moto3. Most of the riders walked away uninjured - though the same could not be said for their machinery - despite the crashes by Corti and De Angelis causing the session to be red-flagged. Pedone and Tonucci were less lucky, however, Pedone fracturing his wrist while Tonucci fractured his calf bone.
The weather smiled a little less kindly on the second day of testing at Jerez, the day starting late and under overcast skies, with rain sending the teams scuttling back to the pits towards the end of the day. Despite the weather, the names at the top of the testing timesheets are familiar, with the Kalexes crowding the top of the Moto2 timesheets, and the KTMs overrunning Moto3.
In Moto2, it was Scott Redding setting a positively scorching pace on his Marc VDS Racing Kalex, diving half a second under the Moto2 outright lap record set by Stefan Bradl during qualifying last year. Italtrans rider Claudio Corti set the 2nd fastest time, two tenths behind Redding, while Interwetten's Thomas Luthi took the 3rd spot and was fastest Suter rider, three tenths off the pace of Redding. The Kalexes of Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro followed, with Julian Simon the first FTR rider, eight tenths behind Redding, and Bradley Smith the quickest Tech 3 rider, a second off his compatriot Redding in 8th spot, after a day spent struggling with setup forcing the team to consider reverting to settings used back in November.
Press releases from Repsol and Gresini after the first day of the Moto2 and Moto3 test at Jerez:
After a brief few days of rest, the Moto2 and Moto3 riders returned to action, this time heading further south to Jerez after last week's test at Valencia. At the end of the first day, unofficial timing saw Thomas Luthi fastest in the Moto2 class, while Danny Kent took the unofficial honors in Moto3.
The trek south helped with the track conditions, with the temperatures climbing a good deal above those at Valencia, despite a chilly start to the day which left most of the riders confined to their garages until well after 10:30am. Once testing got underway, the order established at Valencia was once again reaffirmed, with the Kalexes proving to be the bike to beat in Moto2, with a smattering of other fast riders on Suters and FTRs joining the fray. The day saw Thom Luthi officially on top, ahead of the Italtrans bikes of Claudio Corti and Takaaki Nakagami, while the Marc VDS riders Mika Kallio and Scott Redding were on the pace of Nakagami. Andrea Iannone was just a fraction off Redding's pace on the FTR Speed Up, while former Spanish champion Angel Rodriquez set the joint 7th fastest time, along with Alex de Angelis and Bradley Smith. Marc Marquez was once again absent, the Catalunya CX rider still not 100% recovered from his eye injury sustained at Sepang last year.
Work to improve safety at the Sachsenring circuit has received FIM approval today, allowing construction to start to extend runoff at the track. The gravel traps at Turn 1 - at the end of the front straight - and Turn 10 - the fast left kink before cresting the hill at the top of the Waterfall - are to be extended to make the track safer, in response to requests from the MotoGP riders made in the Safety Commission.
Turn 1 was particularly notorious. It was at Turn 1 that Dani Pedrosa's 2008 title challenge came to a premature end, when the Spaniard crashed in the soaking rain, sliding along the track and hitting the air fence at the back of the gravel trap, fracturing his wrist in the process. Despite the shortness of the Sachenring's front straight, speeds reached on the approach to Turn 1 are high, and the gravel trap, at the end of a slight downhill section, is fractionally too short for the speeds which modern MotoGP machinery can reach along the front straight. Turn 1 was one of the main points raised in the Safety Commission when they met at the 2011 race in July last year.
The Portuguese MotoGP Grand Prix is to go ahead on May 6th as scheduled. After a long delay, the FIM today confirmed that the Estoril round of MotoGP is to go ahead, and the 2012 calendar will remain the full 18 races.
There had been intense speculation that the Portuguese race would be dropped from the MotoGP calendar. The round had struggled with finances, being usually surprisingly poorly attended, given the outstanding location of the track close to major tourist attractions such as the city of Lisbon, the coastal resorts of Cascais and Estoril and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Sintra, overlooking the Estoril circuit. Where normally the Portuguese government would step in to support the race, the Euro crisis and the Portugal's debt problems have forced the state to make massive spending cuts, and for a long time, it looked like the MotoGP race would fall victim to cuts.
Below is a press release from Repsol and a video blog (in Spanish) produced by the Catalunya CX team, in which Marc Marquez speaks of his recovery from his eye injury, and displays his motocross riding skills:
Two more press releases after the Valencia Moto2 test, this time from the Marc VDS Racing team of Scott Redding and Mika Kallio, and from chassis manufacturer Suter:
Press releases from a selection of the teams after the Moto2 and Moto3 test at Valencia:
The final day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes saw warmer temperatures and a fuller track, the riders taking advantage of the warmer track to make up for time lost to the chilly mornings on the previous two days of the test. After two days of domination, Scott Redding finally had to cede top spot at the test to Pol Espargaro, the Pons Racing rider lapping four tenths faster than Redding, and two tenths quicker than Redding's fastest lap on Thursday. Redding still ended the test in a very strong position, setting the second fastest time, matching the time set by Speed Master's Andrea Iannone, and just ahead of two more Italians, Ioda Racing's Simone Corsi and Italtrans man Claudio Corti. Redding did have consistency on his side, however: during the race simulation Redding carried out in the afternoon, he lapped better than record pace for all but two laps, an a standard Moto2-spec engine.
Press releases from the Gresini and Repsol media services after the second day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at Valencia:
2012 Valencia Moto2 And Moto3 Test Day 2 Times: Redding Smashes Moto2 Lap Record, Cortese Fastest Moto3
Testing continued today for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at Valencia, with the temperatures proving a little more cooperative than Wednesday, helped along by the watery February sun. The morning chill remained, though, leaving the teams stuck inside the garages for much of the morning, the action only really getting underway around 11am.
A little more temperature and an extra day of testing saw Scott Redding step the pace up even further: the Marc VDS rider was already under the official Moto2 race lap record on Wednsday, and on Thursday, he took another nine tenths of a second off his best time, smashing Toni Elias' pole record from back in 2010. Redding had company from Andrea Iannone on the second day of testing, with the Speed Master rider lapping the Valencia track just two tenths slower on his FTR Speed Up, and three tenths quicker than Claudio Corti on the Italtrans Kalex.
Where Kalex had dominated the show on Wednesday, the top of the timesheets was much more of a mixture: while Kalex had 5 bikes in the top 10, FTR had their Speed Up machine in 2nd, with Andrea Iannone aboard, while Corsi and Angel Rodriguez took 5th and 8th respectively for the British chassis build. Bradley Smith put his Tech 3 bike into 6th, nine tenths behind the Kalex of Redding.
Press releases from the Repsol Media Service after the first day of testing at Valencia:
A week after their MotoGP counterparts packed up the garages in Sepang, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams rolled out at Valencia for the first test of 2012. The day started very cold, leaving a lot of the teams stuck in the garage waiting for temperatures to rise; despite the winter sun, track temperatures reached just 12°C, putting a damper on grip and lap times.
Despite the cold, Scott Redding managed to get just inside Karel Abraham's Moto2 lap record at Valencia circuit, the young Briton adapting very quickly to the Kalex chassis which the Marc VDS Racing team switched to for 2012. The Kalex proved to be quick for everyone: the five fastest men were all on Kalex machinery, with Thomas Luthi the first of the Suters in 6th, ahead of Andrea Iannone on the FTR Speed Up and Simone Corsi on the FTR Ioda bike. 2010 World Champion Toni Elias return to the Moto2 class has been muted: Elias posted the 11th fastest time on Wednesday, 1.8 seconds down on Redding, and a tenth of a second behind 2011 125cc runner up Johann Zarco, telling MotoGP.com that he had decided to take it a little easy on his first day back on the bike after a two-month layoff.
The Marc VDS Racing press office issued the following preview of the first Moto2 test of 2012, due to be held from Wednesday to Friday this week: