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After two days of testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo following the Valencia GP, the last chance for many to get out on track in 2017 sees the Circuito de Jerez in Southern Spain the next venue to play host. As well as those who have debuted on new machinery such as Jack Miller (Octo Pramac Racing) adapting, there is plenty of work to do preparing for 2018 and another stunning season of MotoGP™. Much of the WorldSBK grid will also be sharing the venue, making for interesting reading on the timesheets from Wednesday to Friday.
There are some notable absences from MotoGP™ however, including the Repsol Honda Team of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. After Valencia, the team have elected to next test at Sepang in January for the first official track time of the year – with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) the man on track at Jerez testing some parts for HRC. Marquez is likely to be present, however, as brother Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will test his team’s MotoGP™ machine as full time 2018 rider Tom Lüthi continues to recover from injury. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – so Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco respectively – will also skip Jerez, choosing to undertake a private test at Sepang later in the month.
The Ducati Team are therefore the biggest headline act to play Andalucia. Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo will have more parts to test and data to reconfirm ahead of the winter test break, and ahead of the expected arrival of the new Desmosedici at the first Sepang test. The aforementioned Jack Miller will be another on Borgo Panigale factory equipment as he continues to adapt to his new machine, and new teammate Danilo Petrucci is another to look out for. And as Miller adapts at Pramac, Scott Redding adapts to the Aprilia RS-GP, with the Brit and test rider Eugene Laverty taking on the Spanish venue for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini following some impressive top finishes this year.
There will also be a lot of eyes on Team Suzuki Ecstar after the Hamamatsu factory suffered a tough start to 2018 at Valencia when both riders fell ill on the first day of testing. They have big comparisons to make ahead of a decision on engine direction that must be taken soon – but had good positives from the track time they did have at Valencia on the Wednesday. After a tough start to the year and then good progress, the Noale factory want 2018 to get off to a good start.
Red Bull KTM Factory racing were competing hard for the award of happiest riders following the Valencia test, and with good reason – a “super test” in the words of Pol Espargaro, as their progress remains incredibly impressive. With so much to try, it’s all about track time for MotoGP™’s newest manufacturer – and so far in the premier class they’ve more than made the most of it. Reconfirming things from the season when the sessions didn’t provide enough time and trying – almost – “new everything”, KTM’s pace on track is starting to more than match their incredible pace of development and progress.
Next season really has begun – and for most, this is the last chance for track time ahead of the calendar agreeing with the paddock and ‘2018’ appearing in the date.
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