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After three days of official testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) set the fastest lap of the intermediate class runners with a 1:35.779 – but only just. The Italian finished up track action only 0.016 ahead of compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40), with Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) completing an Italian triple at the top, only a further tenth off despite a crash.
After weather all but rained off Day 1 and Day 2 was off to a sluggish and damp start, Thursday’s limitation in the morning was low track temperature – with Pasini the first rider to venture out, and the only rider in the first session. But then action took off as it warmed up and the Italian had company, nevertheless keeping his name at the top of the timesheets come the flag.
Behind the three Kalex machines at the top, the winner of the final three races of 2017 struck back for KTM. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) kept the Austrian factory high on the timesheets for the majority of the test, and put in a 1:36.146 as his best to end Day 3 just two tenths back on the top three. Teammate Brad Binder, after struggling with injury during preseason last year as a Moto2™ rookie, begins 2017 healthy and also had a solid best lap, putting in a 1:36.729 to complete the top ten on the timesheets.
Barbera on the difference between a Moto2™ and MotoGP™ bike
Behind Oliveira, however, was an impressive first outing in 2018 for Isaac Viñales (SAG Team). The Spaniard was less than a tenth off the KTM ahead of him, but also had compatriot Hector Barbera for close company behind – with the second Pons HP 40 machine only 0.037 in arrears. Barbera is a rookie in Moto2™ but far from it in the intermediate class, having raced in the 250 World Championship before moving up to MotoGP™. Now the Spaniard faces a new challenge and began 2018 on the back foot after suffering with illness on the first day of the Official Test, but once back out Barbera was quickly back up the timesheets.
Marcel Schrötter and new Dynavolt Intact GP teammate Xavi Vierge took P7 and P8 on combined times, with Vierge adapting well to life on a Kalex, ahead of another rider adapting well to a change of a different kind: Romano Fenati. Fenati moves up to Moto2™ this year with the Marinelli Snipers Team, and the Italian was within a second of the best lap set by veteran compatriot Pasini at the top.
Quartararo talks new team and new challenges for 2018
Behind Binder completing the top ten, Fabio Quartararo was the fastest Speed Up in P11; less than a tenth off the KTM ahead of him and half a tenth quicker than the Tech 3 of rookie Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder behind him. In an incredibly tight midfield on the timesheets, American rookie Joe Roberts (NTS RW Racing GP) was P13 as he prepares for his first full season, impressing as he completed the sessions as quickest NTS rider. Teammate Steven Odendaal, the 2016 European Moto2™ Champion, was just over a tenth off his teammate, however, making for an impressive first showing for the new NTS chassis on the 2018 timesheets.
Joe Roberts on his full-time Moto2™ debut with NTS in 2018
Separating the two NTS machines, sophomore Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was P14 and Australian Remy Gardner (Tech 3) fifteenth. The final manufacturer represented in the Moto2™ field this season is Suter, and Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) took P19 as the Forward Team adjust to the bike, making it all six Moto2™ manufacturers in the top 20.
Now it’s next stop Jerez for the lightweight and intermediate classes, with action beginning again on the 12th February.
For results from Valencia, click here!