Testing season is picking up now, with the Moto2 and Moto3 teams also taking to the track in greater numbers. Today, a large group of teams gathered at the Valencia circuit to prepare for the 2016 season, including some twenty Moto3 riders and eight Moto2 riders. The weather was far from ideal, with rain calling an early halt to proceedings, but the teams and riders still got in an average of forty laps apiece.
Though it was only one day, the times set - unofficial, reported by the teams to circuit staff, and therefore not entirely reliable - were reasonably fast. Outside of fastest man Johann Zarco in Moto2, the times were about a second off lap record. 2015 Moto2 champion Zarco was in a league of his own, nine tenths quicker than the rest of the pack. In the Moto3 class, it was another preseason favorite heading up the timesheets, Brad Binder setting the fastest time, though only by a narrow margin.
Behind the favorites, what impressed was the speed of the rookies. In Moto2, Danny Kent - more of a returnee than a rookie - was second fastest, level with former race winner and regular contender Jonas Folger, and four tenths quicker than Sandro Cortese. Kent's teammate Miguel Oliveira is taking longer getting up to speed, finishing nine tenths behind Kent, and 1.8 seconds behind Zarco.
Alex Rins was also present, though his name did not appear on the timesheets. That is because Rins was testing on his own, and not with this team, riding a Yamaha R6 instead of his Kalex Moto2 machine, supported by his friends and family, rather than his official HP Pons team and mechanics. This allows Rins to take part in the test without using any of his allocation of official test day, while still getting a feeling for the track and the speed of his rivals.
Rookie riders were even more impressive in the Moto3 class. Joan Mir, Leopard Racing's young Spanish rookie, took second spot, a tenth behind Binder and two tenths ahead of his teammate Fabio Quartararo. Italian youngster Niccolo Bulega was the fastest of the Sky VR46 team, just edging his teammate Romao Fenati. Dutch youngster and Red Bull Rookies champion Bo Bendsneyder was equally impressive, posting the seventh fastest time, seven tenths behind his much more experienced teammate Brad Binder.
Testing continues on Friday.
Unofficial times, courtesy of the teams and the Valencia Circuit:
|5||97||Xavi Vierges||Tech 3||1:37.0||1.7||0.4|
|7||32||Isaac Viñales||Tech 3||1:37.4||2.1||0.3|
|13||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||1:42.0||1.6||0.5|
|17||4||Fabio di Giannantonio||Honda||1:42.5||2.1||0.2|