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 times in Moto2 confirmed that the Kalex is the machine to beat, with 7 bikes in the top 10. Corti and Nakagami matched the scorching pace set by Scott Redding on Friday, with both men happy with the progress made so far. Pol Esparagaro was slightly less satisfied with the next fastest time, the Pons Kalex rider hinting at further ideas the team had to try at their next test. First non-Kalex was once again Thomas Luthi, tied in time with Espargaro, with Redding setting the 5th fastest time, along with Julian Simon on the Avintia FTR. All of the top non-Kalex riders - Luthi, Simon, Andrea Iannone on the Speed Up FTR, and Simone Corsi on the IODA FTR - said they had a clear deficit to the German bikes, though the gap is not too large. Luthi continued work on the 2012 Suter, making slow progress, while Simon struggled with some chatter in Jerez' faster corners on the FTR. Bradley Smith managed to take 10th spot on the Tech 3 bike, using a standard Honda CBR600 engine, though how much of the eight tenths deficit Smith has to Corti is down to the engine and how much to setup is anyone's guess. Whatever engine he had in the bike, he did manage to lap half a second faster on the 2012 Tech 3 machine than he did back in April of 2011 during qualifying.
The Moriwaki machines seem to be furthest behind in Moto2 on the evidence so far. Gino Rea and Ratthapark Wilairot struggled with setting up the 2012 Moriwaki and matching it to the new Showa suspension that Gresini has elected to run for this season. Rea told MotoGP.com that he would have liked "one more day" of testing to run the 2011 and 2012 bikes back to back, to establish a clearer baseline for the new machine. While the Londoner is sure of taking part in the final Moto2 test at Jerez in mid-March, his 2012 contract is still not signed, with details still to iron out. But the chances of Rea not riding for Gresini are slim: the vibe coming out of the Gresini garage is very positive, and frankly, both Gresini and Rea are running out of alternatives as the 2012 season is approaching.
The real measure of the Kalex dominance will become clear on March 19th, when Marc Marquez returns to testing with the rest of Moto2. The Spaniard is due to test privately at the Portimao circuit next week, once he has recovered fully from eye surgery to correct the vision problem he suffered in the crash at Sepang in October last year. Given the remarkable performance of the Spaniard in his rookie season, he is sure to be a factor in 2012, despite (for want of a better word) being mounted on a Suter.
While the advantage that Kalex has in Moto2 is small but significant, the KTMs have dominated in Moto3. All of the bikes are making massive steps with each outing, as witnessed by the fact that Danny Kent took 1.3 seconds off his time between Thursday and Saturday. Kent also took some two seconds off his personal best around the Jerez circuit, managing only a 1'49.1 in April during the race weekend. Behind the Red Bull Ajo rider, only Maverick Viñales disturbs the KTM (and Kalex-KTM) dominance. KTM took 6 of the top 7 spots, and 7 of the top 10. Only the outstanding ability of the 2011 125cc Rookie of the Year kept Kent and the KTMs honest, Viñales complaining that where the FTR Honda suffers most of all is with a lack of motor, the engine clearly weaker than the KTMs. More should be forthcoming from the NSF250 powerplant, and once it does, Viñales should be competitive with the KTMs.
Behind Kent and Viñales, Alberto Moncayo - fully recovered from his heavy crash on Friday - lead the charge in 3rd, though the local boy (Moncayo is from Cadiz, just a few miles away from Jerez, further west along the coast) was still eight tenths behind Kent. Sandro Cortese, who had dominated the Valencia test last week, ended the day in 4th, another tenth behind Moncayo, and the last of the Moto3 riders to get within a second of Kent's impressive pace.
Testing for both the Moto2 and Moto3 classes is now complete, though the Moto2 teams are free to test privately at non-Grand Prix tracks (no such restrictions apply to Moto3, as technically, the do not become a Grand Prix class until the first day of practice at Qatar). A few teams will head off for private tests at various tracks around the Iberian peninsula, before gathering at Jerez once again for the final official IRTA test, from March 19th to March 21st. At that test, all of the Moto2 teams will be supplied with the official Geo Technology Moto2 engines, while the Moto3 bikes will have seen more development, with improved engine performance expected especially for the Hondas.
Unofficial results for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes as supplied by the teams, courtesy of MotoGP.com and GPOne.com:
|13||Alex De Angelis||Suter||1:43.6||1.4||0.1|
|17||Mike Di Meglio||Speed Up FTR||1:43.7||1.5||0.0|
|18||Xavier Simeon||Tech 3||1:43.7||1.5||0.0|
|24||Andrea Iannone||Speed Up FTR||1:44.2||2.0||0.2|
|31||Damian Cudlin||Moriwaki||No time supplied|
|32||Elena Rosell||Moriwaki||No time supplied|
Race lap record: 2010 - Toni Elias - 1'44.710
Pole lap record: 2011 - Stefan Bradl - 1'42.706