Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) made a habit of going fast in 2017 as he took pole in half the races, and 2018 has begun much the same for the Spaniard as he took to the top in testing. But expected key rival Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) made it far from easy, ending the three days of Official testing just 0.095 in arrears. Behind the two Hondas at the top, Italian sophomore Marco Bezzechi (PruestelGP) kept KTM close behind, 0.007 further back.
It was a tight first test for the Moto3™ field despite early delays and some difficult conditions. After Tuesday was affected by rain, cold temperatures then delayed action on both subsequent days – but warmer afternoons allowed the paddock to get down to work for the first Official Test of 2018.
Behind the top three, the gaps didn’t get any bigger. Day 2 crasher Aron Canet (EG 0,0) was fourth overall and only 0.017 off Bezzecchi, with exactly the same gap back to Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in fifth as the Italian gets up to speed quickly in his new team, much like compatriot Bastianini. Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) broke the Spanish and Italian dominion at the top in six, with the German on the Austrian bike a tenth and a half further back.
Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) was eighth quickest, ahead of Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) despite a crash, and Alonso Lopez (EG 0,0) was impressive on his debut; the Spaniard the quickest rookie. Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) was tenth overall, having gone quickest on Day 2 ad that laptime putting him in P10 on the combined.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) was P11, ahead of another sophomore in the form of 2017 Rookie of the Year Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Just behind him was compatriot, rookie and reigning Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider), by only 0.031, with Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) even closer in P14. The 2017 Mugello winner was only 0.001 off the Japanese rookie. Livio Loi (Reale Stylobike) completed the fastest fifteen.
Meanwhile in Moto2™, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.