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With great experience at Jerez from his time in the CEV, Nicolo Bulega impressed by leading testing ahead of Antonelli and Navarro.
After a number of private tests, the Moto3™ World Championship finally had their first official run on track at the Jerez circuit. The first day of official testing has already thrown up surprises with Italians dominating the day and rookie Nicolo Bulega topping the combined time sheets after three sessions on track.
Having taken pole position for the 2015 CEV Moto3™ Junior World Championship race in Jerez, Bulega has a strong track record at the circuit with hundreds of laps completed at the Spanish track during his time in the CEV. The reigning Junior World Champion set a 1’46.591 during the third and final session to top combined times. After a strong debut race in Valencia, many are expecting big things from the SKY Racing Team VR46 rider and his early speed has caused the team to restructure their test plan. It was also a strong debut for the 2016 KTM, the Austrian manufacturer eager to return to the top of Moto3™ after a Honda mounted rider won the title in both 2014 and 2015.
Fellow VR46 Academy rider Niccolo Antonelli was second fastest aboard his Ongetta-Rivacold Honda. His 1’46.861 from the first session saw him 0.270s shy of Bulega’s time. The Italian focused on fine-tuning his Honda, already pleased with the base setting but looking for more front-end feel. Antonelli is aiming to continue his strong end to 2015 and be involved in the title fight throughout the year.
Also breaking into the 1’46s was Jorge Navarro who set a 1’46.967 in the final session, 0.307 behind Bulega. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider is yet another favourite to contest the title after a strong rookie campaign in 2015. Already comfortable with his setting and pace, Navarro and his team and experimenting with various setting options.
Fourth was Enea Bastianini aboard his Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda. Unlike Bulega and Antonelli, Bastianini did not manage to go under the 1’47 mark with a best time of 1’47.073, 0.482s behind rookie Bulega.
Fresh off his Dunlop Forever Forward victory, Philipp Oettl ended the first day of testing in fifth overall with a 1’47.186 aboard his Schedl GP Racing KTM. Oettl has made finding an improved pace in Qualifying his main aim for the test and the season as a whole, a poor grid position leading to many difficult races in 2015.
Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) completed a top ten split by 0.901s.
It was a strong showing for the new Mahindra with Bagnaia in ninth and teammate Jorge Martin just behind in eleventh. Meanwhile John McPhee was the leading Peugeot bike, the Peugeot SAXOPRINT Motocycles rider 23rd and within two seconds of Bulega.
Testing resumes for the lightweight class at 10:00 Local Time on Thursday.
Full times are available here.
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