MotoGP™ engines finally fired back into life today for the final 2020 pre-season run at a scorching Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto. The brief track outings for the MotoGP, Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes preface the Gran Premio Red Bull de España at the same site this weekend.
Pol Espargaro rode almost 50 laps with his 2020 KTM RC16 and consistently posted times to remain in the upper echelons of the classifications. The Spaniard joined the rest of the grid in regaining a feel for the speed and force of MotoGP and also discovering the limits of the hot Jerez asphalt. The morning session was cooler, the afternoon even warmer and tougher where he placed 9th and finished the day 13th in the combined standings. Teammate and rookie Brad Binder also reacclimatized around the Andalusian layout and for the first time with the ’20 KTM RC16 after making his very first circulations at the 2019 winter test. The South African logged a quickest effort of 13th in the afternoon (18th for the day); just 1.2 seconds from the top slot.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona used the other two factory bikes to positive effect. Oliveira in particular was the swiftest KTM racer during a stretch of the two MotoGP sessions. The Portuguese rested with the 11th best lap-time overall – just over half a second from the fastest - while Lecuona was 19th.
Jerez was also the scene for Moto2 and Moto3 testing. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez led the Moto3 time screens with his KTM RC4 in the second session and Jorge Martin fronted the second Moto2 period for the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad.
2020 MotoGP officially begins with Free Practice 1 on Friday at 09.55 CET.
Pol Espargaro: “It’s so nice to be out on track again. For sure we want more but - for now - we are seeing at this test, and the ones before, that our pace is good enough to fight for the top ten at a place where we have struggled in previous years when it has been so hot and we lost a lot with the grip. With the 2020 bike we are turning a bit more and it seems to be a bit more stable. It’s good for us.”
Brad Binder: “Today was quite OK. This morning was good, and I felt much more at home with the bike straightaway. It’s a physical racetrack and I had some issues and messed up quite a lot of laps which didn’t help but had a longer run. It was nice to do a good few laps in a row just to get comfortable and to get an idea of what Sunday is going to be like. I have made good steps forward and I am much more ready for the first grand prix.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a nice day and it was good to compare ourselves to the rest of the field. The morning session was a bit easier for us, while in the afternoon we struggled to find grip and make the bike turn. This will be our target to improve on Friday.”
Iker Lecuona: “Today has been a very good for me. I continued to learn and to improve with the bike. I tried something new and immediately felt better. This morning I went very fast and also with used tires I managed to improve, likewise this afternoon with high track temperatures. I’m very happy and ready to finally start the MotoGP World Championship in 2020.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “We had a good first day in these hot temperatures with no crashes and the riders showed good performance: Pol was in the top ten and Brad rode well: we can feel that he is really adapting to MotoGP. In the morning Miguel was fast and Iker was able to show more promise. We wanted to lock down some settings for these conditions, so a rapid lap-time was not our priority. Now we’ll look towards the weekend.”
Jerez 2020 IRTA Test final times (combined standings)
1. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha 1:37.793
2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +0.118
2. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda +0.148
3. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +0.400
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha +0.429
11. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.633
13. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +0.799
18. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM +1.223
19. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.296