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The Moto2™ World Championship got their first official run out on track in 2016 with Tom Luthi dominating the time sheets.
After several private tests, teams and riders in the intermediate class were finally able to take to the same track, at the same time and with the same conditions, all critical for assessing early pace. The first day of testing in Jerez had near ideal conditions, the sun shinning from the first session until the end of the day.
Times were immediately quick with the top three already under the circuit record in the first session. Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) asserted himself well on the first day, leading all three sessions and putting in a best time of 1’42.271. 2016 sees Luthi with a new crew chief, Gilles Bigot, the pair focusing on improving braking stability and furthering their knowledge of the 2016 Kalex.
Second and 0.118s behind the Swiss rider on combined times was Sam Lowes. The Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider completed a high number of laps with a focus on longer runs, he and the team keen to confirm what they had tested in Jerez privately a week before.
Having shown well in multiple private tests, Takaaki Nakagami was third overall on the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex with a 1’42.507, again under the best lap set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. The Japanese rider found his old form towards the end of the 2015 season and is well on his way to reasserting himself as a regular podium challenger. As with Luthi and Lowes, Nakagami is also on the 2016 Kalex.
Fourth was Alex Rins, the Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider taking to his 2016 Kalex for the first time this year. Previous tests had been run on a private production 600cc sport bike for the Spaniard, his 1’42.692 an impressive time considering his lack of track time on the Kalex.
Just over half a second back on Luthi and fifth overall was Axel Pons, who had shown well in private testing at the Jerez circuit during prior tests. The opening day of the test was spent experimenting with bike settings with both an empty and full fuel tank as the AGR Team seek to improve Pons’ comfort on the bike.
Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco was sixth fastest overall and 0.681s slower than Luthi. Although strong and confident in slow turns, Zarco and his Ajo Motosport team are still seeking confidence in the faster corners.
Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) rounded out the top ten. All of the top 11 riders were within a second of Luthi’s fastest time.
Dunlop, the official tyre supplier of the Moto2™ class, brought a new softer compound rear for riders to test. If the test goes well this tyre could be introduced in Jerez, Le Mans and potentially Motegi.
In 13th, Simone Corsi was the leading Speed Up machine and the top non-Kalex bike. Leading the way for Tech 3 was Xavi Vierge, the CEV runner-up ending in 24th and with room to improve over the coming days.
Testing resumes on Thursday at 11:20 Local Time for the Moto2™ riders.
Combined times can be viewed here.
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