Pol Espargaró finished 2013’s Moto2™ pre-season as the fastest rider, again setting the pace in Jerez on Thursday. Last year’s championship runner-up, riding for Tuenti HP 40, led the way from the Italtrans Racing Team duo, which did not run on the fourth and final day.
Once again, Jerez provided a mix of wet and dry weather conditions, but thankfully the heavy rains of Tuesday did not return. This allowed for more solid dry running on Thursday, although on this occasion only two hours of track time were available. Espargaró may have been quickest on Day 4, but it was his time of 1:42.636 set on Wednesday which topped the timesheets.
Takaaki Nakagami was the leading Italtrans runner, ahead of teammate Julián Simón who had been fortunate to walk away from a high-speed crash on Wednesday. The 2010 class champion, Toni Elías was fourth for Blusens Avintia from Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, by seven thousandths of a second; incidentally, the two riders had topped the timesheets across the first two days of the week.
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Yuki Takahashi was frequently first out of the pit lane in the mornings, including on Tuesday when the driving rain heavily affected proceedings. The Japanese was the only rider testing new parts, as for most the agenda was a continuation of dry setup work with the universal Honda 600cc engines which are being introduced to the class this year.
The top 20 riders are separated by 1.7 seconds, with narrow margins of less than a tenth between many individuals. Esteve Rabat helped Tuenti HP 40 to bookend the top six and a strong outing for Aspar Team Moto2 left Nico Terol and Jordi Torres seventh and eighth overall. Completing the top ten were Desguaces La Torre Zelos’ Xavier Simeon and Mika Kallio on the second Marc VDS bike.
Yet to ride on any Moto2™ tracks apart from the four in Spain, British rookie Kyle Smith continued his learning curve with Avintia and aimed to dial out mistakes. He surfaced one position ahead of 29th-placed Sergio Gadea, who has been drafted into Interwetten Paddock to sub for the recovering Tom Lüthi; however the test ended on a negative note as the Valencia rider suffered a fall.
A last-gasp effort from Luis Salom confirmed him as the fastest rider in Jerez’s Moto3™ test this week. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider dipped underneath the best lap time of Maverick Viñales, who was absent on the final day due to injury.
Denying Estrella Galicia 0,0 a one-two finish on the final day, Salom shot to the top of the timesheets before reducing his time further to 1:46.374 – two tenths of a second quicker than Viñales had managed on Wednesday. Boosting his morale further, Salom will test a new chassis in Estoril on Sunday and Monday.
That left Álex Rins and Álex Márquez best of the rest, completing a top four shutout for both Spanish riders and KTM. Less than two seconds covered the top 19 riders.
Viñales was conspicuous by his absence, having been quickest on Wednesday before falling at Crivillé corner. After his right hand was trapped beneath the Team Calvo motorcycle, the suspected title contender flew back to Barcelona where the finger tip of the third finger was amputated. The setback should not prevent the Catalan rider from competing in the season-opener.
The 2013 campaign kicks off under lights with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar on April 7.