The first day of ‘2014 pre-season’ testing for the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes took place on Thursday in Jerez, with several new names making their test debuts on intermediate class machinery.
Moving up to the Moto2™ class in 2014 as the World Champion of Moto3™ is Maverick Viñales, who made his test debut with his new Tuenti HP 40 Kalex, joining Sito Pons’ team alongside one of his 2013 title rivals Luis Salom.
Viñales was clearly pleased by his first contact with his new 600cc 4-stroke machine, saying, “I’m really and the bike is great. My lap time is good, but I think we should improve more when we find the right setting and adapt further to the machine. I have a really professional team around me that worked with Pol Espargaro who won the title, so I need to make the most of their experience."
Viñales put in a best lap of 1’44.611, 1.9s off pace setter Thomas Luthi, whose 1’42.662 was the benchmark on Thursday in the south of Spain. Meanwhile Viñales’ new colleague Salom registered 70 laps and has some catching up to do, having recorded a best time of 1’46.061.
One of the emerging talents in the Moto2™ class this year was Tito Rabat and he will hope to fight for the title in 2014 with another strong package at his disposal having moved to Marc VDS Racing Team, also on a Kalex bike.
The rider from Barcelona crashed in the morning as the test got underway but was on the pace all day and ended up with a best time of 1’42.962.
The day of testing in Jerez also saw the arrival of Caterham Motor Racing on track, with Moto2™ new arrival from California Josh Herrin and Frenchman Johann Zarco riding their 600cc machinery.
Also new to Moto2™ for 2014 is Jonas Folger, who notched his first laps with the Kalex Moto2™ of the Argiñano&Ginés Racing, joined in the pit box by new teammate Axel Pons. The team were held back by technical issues on Folger’s bike in the morning, with the German eventually ending the day with a best effort of 1’46.119.
Briton Sam Lowes, the reigning World Supersport Champion, commenced his preparations for the 2014 World Championship on the Speed Up Moto2™ bike, alongside new teammate Alessandro Nocco. It was not an ideal start for Nocco who also crashed, creating some additional hours of repair work for his new team, though the Italian escaped unhurt.
On his first day of work with the Idemitsu Honda Team, Takaaki Nakagami was the fourth fastest rider of session - behind Jordi Torres (Team Aspar) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS) – and 0.297s off Luthi’s best.