Though testing for the MotoGP class has finished, motorcycle racers in other series still have plenty of work ahead of them. Both the World Superbike series and the Grand Prix support classes have been hard at work, ahead of a busy schedule of testing. The Ducati and Kawasaki World Superbike teams have been testing at the Motorland Aragon circuit, while Moto2 and Moto3 are back at Valencia.
At Aragon, Jonathan Rea made his long-awaited debut on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, alongside 2013 World Champion and fierce rival Tom Sykes. With the World Superbike teams adapting to the new regulations, the two Kawasakis were a little slower than the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. The day started off soaking, with journalists and test riders doing media laps on the 2014 bikes of Tom Sykes and David Salom. Once the track dried out in the afternoon, Kawasaki also joined the action. At the end of the day, both Ducati riders clocked up unofficial times of 1'51.3, while Sykes posted a 1'52.2 and Rea a 1'52.7. As an interesting note, they are running the track in its MotoGP configuration, using the long, sweeping double left hander as the final corner, rather than the longer version used by WSBK when the series races there, featuring the hairpin and then right and left combination leading back on to the front straight. Giugliano's best time is three seconds slower than the best time set by Andrea Dovizioso on the first day of practice for the MotoGP race at the circuit.
At Valencia, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams reassembled, taking over from the Spanish CEV championship, which held its final round of the season there on Sunday. They had returned there from Jerez, where they had held their first test of the season under difficult conditions, with rain falling on and off and the track never really drying out. That meant that Moto2 rookies Alex Marquez and Alex Rins made their debut in the class on a damp and difficult circuit, making their first steps in the class difficult.
The weather has been much kinder at Valencia, the teams all testing under clear skies and on a dry track. In the Moto2 class, Tito Rabat was the fastest man after the first day, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. Rabat was a tenth of a second quicker than Jonas Folger on the AGR Kalex, while Taka Nakagami showed some of the form from two years ago, grabbing the third spot, three tenths off the time of Rabat. Alex Rins was the faster of the two rookies setting the 14th fastest time, a tenth ahead of Alex Marquez, but over 1.5 seconds off the pace of Rabat.
In the Moto3 class, it was Karel Hanika who topped the timesheets, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider perhaps benefiting from being one of the very few riders not to be switching bikes and teams. He finished ahead of Juanfran Guevara on the Spaniard's first run out on the Mahindra, though Guevara later crashed and injured his foot. Niccolo Antonelli set the third fastest time on the Ongetta Honda, finishing ahead of the Moto3 rookie Gabriel Rodrigo, riding for Aleix Espargaro's RBA team. Spanish CEV Moto3 champion Fabio Quartararo got his first ride on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Moto3 Grand Prix bike, though no times were released for the Frenchman.
Below are press releases issued by some of the teams at the tests:
Rabat fastest on opening day at Valencia
Valencia, Spain – 17 November 2014: Tito Rabat was the fastest rider on track during the first of two days of testing at Valencia, where the weather was much improved compared to last week at Jerez.
The Team Estrella Galicia Marc VDS rider completed an extensive test program aboard the 2015 Kalex Moto2 bike, declaring himself impressed with the latest variant of the bike on which he won the Moto2 World Championship this year.
For Alex Marquez, the familiarisation process continued today at Valencia, with the reigning Moto3 World Champion making the most of the sunny and dry conditions to improve his feeling with the Kalex Moto2 machine. The 18-year-old Spaniard ended the day 13th on the timesheet, less than 1.5s off the time of his teammate, despite a small crash at turn five this afternoon.
Tito Rabat // 1st // 1’35.287
“The feeling was good today and I’m very happy with the 2015 Kalex Moto2 bike. We tested a lot of things like suspension, brakes and riding position, everything we need to test and evaluate to improve the bike ahead of next season. I’m pleased with the progress we made today and I hope we can continue improving in the same way tomorrow.
Alex Marquez // 13th // 1’36.772
“I’m really pleased with the improvement we’ve made today in the dry conditions. I feel really good with the bike and the team also. We’ve done some good work today and for tomorrow we need to keep this line, to continue improving step by step. I’m also happy with the lap time, so it’s been a good day overall, even if I did have my first small crash on a Moto2 bike this afternoon.”
Naoya Kaneko // Chief Mechanic // Alex Marquez
“Alex has done a good job today, with the gap to the frontrunners smaller than it was in Jerez last week. His consistency on the bike is also good, with only two or three-tenths difference in lap times. His crash today means he also understands more the different character of the Moto2 bike compared to a Moto3 machine, which is important. From our side we’re trying to understand him better and also what he needs to give him more confidence on the bike. I think we’re heading in the right direction, making improvements step by step, but still there is a lot of space to improve so we need to work hard together before the first race in Qatar.”
ENEA BASTIANINI GETS FIRST TASTE OF HONDA NSF250RW MACHINE AT VALENCIA
The 2015 campaign of the team Gresini Racing Moto3 has officially started today at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, where Eneas Bastianini was able to complete the first laps aboard the Honda NSF250RW machine that he will use the next year.
The 16-year-old rider from Rimini completed 53 laps with encouraging lap times, beginning to get to grips with the new bike and making the first changes to the set-up with the team.
Bastianini will return to action tomorrow for the second and final day of testing at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.
“I really enjoyed this first day of testing! The Honda is a completely different bike from the one I was used to ride, but today we could begin to get acquainted to it, doing the many kilometers and making a very good job. In particular, I immediately liked it the behaviour of the chassis; on this first day first we tried to find the feeling with the bike, then we have already started to make some changes to the set-up to adapt the bike to my needs. Tomorrow we will continue in this direction”.
SIMEON QUICKLY GET TO GRIPS WITH KALEX ON FIRST DAY OF VALENCIA TESTING
Just one week after the conclusion of the 2014 Moto2 World Championship 2014, the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Team was back on track today at Valencia to take the first laps with the new Kalex which Xavier Siméon will ride in 2015.
A first contact in which the 25-year-old Belgian rider was able to complete no less than 69 laps of the Ricardo Tormo circuit, obtaining a good feeling and getting lap times already close to the ones set during the recent Grand Prix of Valencia.
The team will be back on track tomorrow for the second and final day of testing at Valencia.
“It was a very positive first day, in which we basically started to get comfortable with the bike: in the beginning we used a standard set-up recommended by Kalex, then we moved in different directions in order to evaluate the behaviour of the bike in relation to the changes. The first impressions are good: it’s a sensitive bike with sincere reactions and as a result we already did similar lap times to those marked during the last Grand Prix of 2014, where we have been very competitive. We can be satisfied: tomorrow we will try to do even many kilometers in order to deepen the knowledge of the Kalex machine and to gain further experience”.