With the next round of World Superbikes just under two weeks away, the top WSBK teams are already in Spain and testing at the Jerez circuit. The private test sees the factory Ducati, Kawasaki and Aprilia teams, as well as the Pata Honda and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki teams working on set up ahead of the Aragon round on 13th of April.
Sunny weather saw fast times posted, Marco Melandri taking an early lead, eventually to be displaced by the Ducati duo of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. Giugliano posted a very strong lap, six tenths under the race lap record, and just four tenths off the pole record set by Eugene Laverty last year. Giugliano was also significantly quicker than the trest of the field, four tenths faster than teammate Davies, and nearly half a second ahead of Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki, with Jonathan Rea just behind Sykes on the Pata Honda.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the last day of the final test at Jerez:
Jack Miller leaves the final Moto3 test of the 2014 preseason in confident mood, having topped the timesheets both on the final day, and leaving as overall fastest. The Red Bull KTM rider did not improve on his time from yesterday, but still held an advantage of three hundredths of a second on the final day, and a tenth of a second overall.
The final day of the test saw a resurgence of the Hondas, both the Estrella Galicia team and Racing Team Germany starting to find a set up which works with the extra power of the Honda engine. The teams still lack some set up date with the new bike, but still booked outstanding progress. Alex Marquez ended the day in 2nd, just behind Miller and ahead of Miller's teammate Karel Hanika, while Efren Vazquez and RTG teammate John McPhee took 5th and 6th, making it three Hondas in the top six, and with Alex Rins taking 10th, four Hondas in the top ten. With Rins still recovering from surgery on his wrist, the Hondas should be a lot closer to the front by the time the season gets underway at Qatar.
Takaaki Nakagami leaves the Jerez Moto2 test as fastest, having dominated all three days of testing. The Idemitsu Team Asia rider was quickest on the final day of the test, just as he had been on Tuesday and Wednesday, holding a comfortable lead over Sandro Cortese on the Intact GP bike. Behind the leading Kalexes came a trio of Suters bearing Thomas Luti, Xavier Simeon and Johann Zarco. Luthi took 3rd on th day, despite still suffering the after-effects of a big highside he had on Wednesday, just edging out Simeon and Zarco, with Luis Salom and Lorenzo Baldassari also very close behind.
With the exception of Nakagami, who held a lead of two tenths over Cortese, the rest of the field was bunched up pretty close. 2nd through 11th were covered by less than half a second, while Ant West down in 19th was the first rider to be a second off the pace of Nakagami. The times were not quite as quick as at the first Jerez test in February, Mika Kallio having posted a lap of 1'42.169 on that occasion. The Marc VDS Racing team and Mapfre Aspar were both absent from the test, having tested tires for Dunlop at Phillip Island last week.
Sam Lowes rode once again on Thursday, though the swollen tendons in his wrist confined him to just 9 laps in the morning. He was the only rider in the top 20 not to have improved his time from Tuesday, and ended the test in 14th.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the second day of testing at Jerez:
Takaaki Nakagami has topped the timesheets on the second day of the final Moto2 test at Jerez. His advantage is slim, though: the Idemitsu Team Asia rider was just fifteen hundredths quicker than Tom Luthi on the Interwetten Paddock Suter, the Swiss rider holding off former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese. Cortese had a very strong day on the Intact GP Kalex, ending the day in 3rd, and over a tenth ahead of Johann Zarco on the AirAsia Caterham.
Luis Salom continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, grabbing 5th spot a third of a second behind Japanese veteran Nakagami. Fellow Moto2 rookie Maverick Viñales struggled again on Wednesday, managing only the 14th best time, more than eight tenths behind Nakagami. Reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes skipped the second day of the Moto2 test, choosing to rest a painful wrist. A tendon inflammation had flared up overnight, he told British site Bikesportnews.com, and he decided to sit out the test, hoping to ride on Thursday.
The test concludes on Thursday, and with it preseason testing. The only concern will be the weather, as light showers are forecast for the afternoon.
Jack Miller has stamped his authority on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. The Australian put a big gap into the competition, ending the day nearly three tenths of a second ahead of the chasing pack. Isaac Viñales grabbed 2nd spot, the Spaniard putting a big gap of his own over Danny Kent. The Husqvarna man was a quarter of a second slower than Viñales, and the fastest of a tight group containing places 3 through 8. Jakub Kornfeil grabbed 4th on the Calvo KTM, just ahead of the first Honda, Efren Vazquez on the Racing Team Germany bike in 5th.
Though the Hondas are showing improvement, there is still plenty of work to be done. The latest revision of the engines now produces sufficient power, Estrella Galicia team manager Emilio Alzamora told Speedweek.com, but the Honda teams still need to spend a lot of time on set up. Fine tuning the bike will take some time, but the Honda teams are confident they can close the gap. They will need the first few races to get everything dialled in before they are completely competitive, however.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of the final test at Jerez:
Takaaki Nakagami has topped the timesheets at the end of the first day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez. With the teams and riders having taken delivery of the 2014-spec Honda engines and ECU, the field got down to work on their race set up at the final test of the season ahead of the first race at Qatar.
Nakagami topped the timesheets in the two later sessions of the test, ending the day two tenths up on Tom Luthi, the Interwetten Paddock rider putting in a very solid performance during the preseason. Speed Up rider Sam Lowes continues to make outstanding progress on his Moto2 debut, the reigning World Supersport champion a third of a second off the time of Nakagami. Lowes' position also leaves three chassis makers in the top three, the Suter of Luthi and Speed Up of Lowes close to the Kalex of Nakagami.
Differing fortunes for the Moto2 rookies, Luis Salom ending the day in 4th, while Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales finished in 14th, a second off the pace of Nakagami. Viñales is still feeling the after effects of a crash at the last day of the previous test, but is fit enough to ride. Ricky Cardus made his debut replacing the injured Alex Marinelarena with the Tech 3 team.
After a windy start to the final Moto3 test of the season, Romano Fenati ended the first day in Jerez at the top of the timesheets. The Team Sky VR46 rider topped two of the three sessions for the Moto3 class, ending the day a tenth of a second ahead of Karel Hanika. The young Czech rookie continues to impress on his debut in the class, finishing ahead of his teammate and title favorite Jack Miller, while Danny Kent took 4th on the Husqvarna.
Efren Vazquez was the fastest of the Hondas, the Racing Team Germany rider just under half a second off the pace of Fenati. The Hondas of Estrella Galicia teammates Alex Marquez and Alex Rins were not far behind, Marquez three hundredths slower than Vazquez, Rins nine hundredths slower.
Times at the end of day 1:
The FIM has today released the final, official version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar. As expected, the Brazil round has been dropped, after it became clear that construction work at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia would not be completed in time for the September round. To ease the congestion in that part of the season, the date of the Aragon round has now been pushed back a week, and will take place on 28th September, the date originally scheduled for Brazil.
The dropping of the Brazil round had been expected almost from the moment it was placed on the schedule. There were serious doubts that the circuit would be able to make the necessary changes in time for September 2014, and teams were informed of the doubts which Dorna and IRTA had. The inclusion of Brazil was a statement of intent, with both Dorna and the manufacturers keen to return to South America, as both Brazil and Argentina are key markets. Actually racing in Brazil will depend one of the circuits still in the country being able to make the necessary modifications to make it safe enough for Grand Prix motorcycles.
Below is the official, finalized version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the final day of testing at Jerez:
Times at the end of day 3:
Times at the end of Day 3:
Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.
Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.