The gods have not looked kindly on the advent of the Moto2 class. Nearly every time the new bikes have taken to the track for testing, the elements have intervened, throwing wind, rain and even snow into the paths of the CBR600-engined prototypes. The final day of testing at Barcelona was no different, the day starting wet and the track only drying out some time after 2pm, leaving precious little time for the riders to work further on developing and setting up their brand new Moto2 machines.
Despite the conditions and the lack of track time, the majority of riders still at the circuit did manage to improve their times. Once again, it was Shoya Tomizawa who was fastest, sharing the honor on Friday with Julian Simon and Yuki Takahashi. In the unofficial standings, Jules Cluzel was awarded the 4th fastest time, ahead of Ant West on the MZ.
But twelve riders finished the test within a second of each other, though being unofficial and self-reported, the lap times need to be treated with an artery-clogging helping of salt. A potential lead group seems to be appearing, but given the well-reported difference in engine tune being used, it is hard to judge just how much difference in time is being disguised by superior engines.
Piecing together the information from a couple of reliable sources, the two Japanese riders - Tomizawa on the Technomag-CIP Suter and Takahashi on the Tech 3 bike - are the strongest of the field so far, with American Kenny Noyes on the Jack&Jones Promo-Harris not far behind. Tomizawa, Takahashi and Noyes are all using engines in a pretty mild state of tune, compared to others - such as Ant West, Julian Simon and Stefan Bradl - who are using Supersport-spec engines to help get their riders up to speed.
The subterfuge will be over in less than ten days' time, as the bikes return to Valencia (and not Jerez, as we previously erroneously reported) fitted with the official Honda powerplants, which should be the same for everyone. From that point on, the gaps will be attributable to the riders and their chassis, rather than the vagaries of different specs of motor.
That test, from March 1st to 3rd, will see the grid further expanded. Gabor Talmacsi of the Speed Up team will take delivery of the FTR M210 machine to replace the standard Honda CBR600RR he's been using to get used to the bike and the Dunlop spec tire. Talmacsi will be joined by his teammate Andrea Iannone, the team having decided to wait until the new spec of the FTR machine was available, rather than first testing the M209 version which Alex Debon has been running so far.
Debon should also be back at Valencia, after having a titanium plate fitted to fix the collarbone the Spaniard fractured on Wednesday. Barcelona's other big casualty, Roberto Rolfo, will not be present at Valencia, the Italian's dislocated shoulder putting him out of action for up to four weeks.
In the 125 class, Pol Espargaro took a firm grip on proceedings, finishing the three day test on top of the pile. The Spaniard finished two tenths ahead of Nico Terol, and over half a second quicker than his teammate Efren Vazquez. British rider Bradley Smith made a cautious start to his season, matching the pace of Vazquez and working slowly and steadily on the setup of his Aspar Aprilia.
Times courtesy of MotoGP.com:
|1||Julian Simon||Mapfre Aspar Team||RSV||1'49.3||Friday|
|2||Shoya Tomizawa||Technomag-CIP||Suter MMX||1'49.3||Friday|
|3||Yuki Takahashi||Tech 3 Racing||Tech 3||1'49.3||Friday|
|4||Jules Cluzel||Forward Racing||Suter MMX||1'49.4||Friday|
|6||Yonni Hernández||Blusens STX||BQR||1'49.6||Thursday|
|7||Kenny Noyes||Jack&Jones by A. Banderas||Promo-Harris||1'49.9||Thursday|
|8||Mike di Meglio||Mapfre Aspar Team||RSV||1'50.0||Friday|
|9||Roberto Rolfo||Italtrans STR||Suter MMX||1'50.0||Thursday|
|10||Claudio Corti||Forward Racing||Suter MMX||1'50.1||Thursday|
|11||Stefan Bradl||Viessmann Kiefer Racing||Suter MMX||1'50.3||Friday|
|12||Alex Baldolini||Caretta Technology||ICP||1'50.3||Thursday|
|13||Raffaele De Rosa||Tech 3 Racing||Tech 3||1'50.5||Friday|
|14||Sergio Gadea||Pons Racing||Kalex Pons||1'50.5||Friday|
|15||Fonsi Nieto||G22 HolidayGym||Moriwaki||1'50.7||Friday|
|16||Axel Pons||Pons Racing||Kalex Pons||1'50.7||Friday|
|17||Dominique Aegerter||Technomag-CIP||Suter MMX||1'50.7||Friday|
|18||Thomas Luthi||Interwetten Moriwaki Racing||Moriwaki||1'50.8||Friday|
|19||Scott Redding||Marc VDS Racing Team||Suter MMX||1'51.1||Friday|
|20||Mashel Al Naimi||Blusens STX||BQR||1'51.2||Thursday|
|21||Robertino Pietri||Italtrans STR||Suter MMX||1'51.7||Friday|
|22||Joan Olivé||Jack&Jones by A. Banderas||Promo-Harris||1'51.9||Thursday|
|23||Vladimir Leonov||Vector Kiefer Racing||Suter MMX||1'52.3||Friday|
|24||Karel Abraham||Cardion AB Motoracing||RSV||1'52.8||Thursday|
|25||Vincent Lonbois||Marc VDS Racing Team||Suter MMX||1'52.8||Thursday|
|26||Yannick Guerra||G22 HolidayGym||Moriwaki||1'53.2||Friday|
|1||Pol Espargaró||Bainet Derbi||Derbi||1'52.9||Friday|
|2||Nicolás Terol||Bancaja Aspar Team||Aprilia||1'53.2||Thursday|
|3||Efrén Vázquez||Bainet Derbi||Derbi||1'53.5||Thursday|
|4||Bradley Smith||Bancaja Aspar Team||Aprilia||1'53.5||Friday|
|5||Esteve Rabat||Blusens STX||Aprilia||1'53.9||Thursday|
|6||Marc Márquez||Red Bull Ajo Motorsport||Derbi||1'54.0||Thursday|
|7||Alberto Moncayo||Andalucia Cajasol||Aprilia||1'54.8||Thursday|