The first preparations for the 2011 Moto2 World Championship got underway at Valencia on Monday, where the intermediate category convened for the official one-day test.
Battling through cold and windy weather, 35 riders were in attendance at the site of the final round of the 2010 season, which took place just the day before.
Championship runner-up Julián Simón led the unofficial times on board the Suter MMX machine of his Mapfre Aspar team with a time of 1:36.7, some six-tenths of a second outside Toni Elías’ pole position time for Sunday’s race, but the focus for the Spaniard was on trying a range of components for use next season.
“I’m quite happy with the work done today,” said Simón, who completed 46 laps. “We collected a lot of information that we’ll be able to study over the winter in order to prepare for next season.”
Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider Stefan Bradl, testing a Kalex chassis, matched Simón’s effort with Scott Redding of the Marc VDS Racing Team just two-tenths back as he rode the 2011 version of his Suter in the afternoon.
“We tested the new chassis and various other parts and it’s been positive and a good starting point for next season,” Redding said.
Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi started work with the Gresini Team along with Italian Michele Pirro whilst Kenan Sofuoglu, who earned himself a permanent ride with Technomag-CIP for 2011 with his impressive displays in the final two rounds of the 2010 campaign, amassed 47 laps on the Suter of the French team.
His Swiss teammate Dominique Aegerter worked on new parts for the manufacturer. Andrea Iannone, who finished the inaugural championship in third place, was also on track.
With world champion Toni Elías and Valencia race winner Karel Abraham both absent as they prepare to test their premier class machines tomorrow, two riders making the switch in the opposite direction were on track.
Aleix Espargaró completed the second-highest number of laps – 80 – on his Pons Kalex, whilst Mika Kallio took to the Suter of the Marc VDS Racing Team for the first time.
“It was a good opportunity to get some first impressions on the bike,” said the Finn. “Of course the power is lower compared to the Ducati I was riding this year but I like the bike as it’s much lighter and nimble.
“I have to do more laps to get used to it and we have to iron out a few minor issues, but I’ll get more and more confident with the bike quickly.”
Esteve Rabat (Racing Team by Quereseno), Bradley Smith (Tech 3), Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Speed Up) and Randy Krummenacher (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) started their new adventures in the class having made the leap from 125s, with the first of the four setting the best time at 1:38.0.
Smith’s Tech 3 team were lent a hand by their premier class rider Colin Edwards, and the young Brit rode the highest number of laps putting in 90 turns of the track.
“It was great. Obviously the wind affected us but it wasn’t too much of a problem for me as I was trying different things to get comfortable and see what direction my base set-up needs to follow,” said Smith.
“I got to ride the 2010 bike while Colin and Mike [Di Meglio] rode the 2011 version, and I think it was the best thing to do so I could adapt to the bike.
“It was also good to work with Tom Jojic for the first time. It was a great day and a big confidence boost, and for a first day we did a good job.”
Espargaró also enjoyed his initial adaptation to the bike, a crash failing to curb his enthusiasm.
“It’s a difficult motorbike, moving all the time, but it’s good fun,” said the Spaniard. “We are learning and I think we can do a good job because the team is so professional. I had a small crash but it was nothing serious.”
Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing), Raffaele de Rosa (G22 Racing Team), Max Neukirchner (MZ Motor), Xavier Simeon (Holiday Gym Racing), Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten), Kenny Noyes (Jack&Jones by A. Banderas), Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2), Mashel Al Naimi (QMMF Racing Team), Yonny Hernández (Racing Team by Quereseno), Ratthapark Wilairot (SAG Racing Team) and Axel Pons (Pons Racing) were all present with their teams.
Other riders also on track included Lukas Pesek, Anthony West, Gabor Talmacsi, Arne Tode and Alex Baldolini.