After a wet first day at the first European round in the season at the Circuit de Jerez, Spain, the Moto3 class were way off the pace set from the previous years when they first adjusted to the track which was damp due to the weather conditions.
Kornfeil quickest during FP1 at Jerez
Free Practice 1 saw Jakob Kornfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) topped the timesheets on the opening session aboard the Mahindra with his fastest time of 2:01 minutes dead. Rookie Tony Arbolino (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) was second quickest ahead of wildcard rider Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Academy). Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the top five with Scottish rider, John McPhee (British Talent Team) finishing sixth.
McPhee had crashed during the second session damaging his finger in the process. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), Arbolino and Oettl were also caught out during the second Free Practice session, but fortunately none were seriously hurt.
Weather improved in Jerez
As the opening day went on, conditions improved, the track dried, times decreased and the timesheet was completely reordered. Almost 2.5 seconds quicker than Kornfeil’s earlier fastest time, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) topped the second practice session, and the timesheets at the end of the day as the quickest Honda. The 2016 Moto3 winner, Romano Fenati who is now with Marinelli Rivacold Snipers, was second quickest and before his crash McPhee was able to place himself in third making it Honda 1,2,3.
Darryn Binder was fourth quickest as the highest placed KTM with the Platinum Bay Real Estate Team ahead of Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) in fifth. Many of the names that we are used to seeing found themselves out of the top 10 enhancing the fact that should the conditions not be ideal for racing on race-day we could see some extraordinary results.
Sunny start to day two in Jerez for the Moto3
Come day two, the sun was out, and although it was a cool start to the morning, the track was dry and the riders were soon able to change from previous test settings which enabled them to begin to drop the lap times.
Approximately halfway through the Final Practice session, the times began to drop significantly. The conditions from day one left the riders lapping around 1:49 minute laps, but changes to tyres, down to the 1:47 minute laps after making adjustments to suspensions and tyres.
The Spaniards battle it out at the top
A surge of laps occurred when the lead riders began to lap at 1:47 minutes. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was quick, and other fellow Spaniards Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) joined him near the top of the timesheet.
With three minutes of the session going, Canet had broken through the 1:47 minute barrier and began a time attack in the 1:46 minutes reducing his time. He set a time of 1:46.513 after overtaking Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and had the chance to do one more lap. Unfortunately it was essentially ruined by Kornfeil who he had come across on track and as the two pushed to say in front they spoiled each other’s lap losing time when they overtook.
His competition were making mistakes that were prevented them from becoming a challenge at the top of the timesheets. The likes of Mir ran wide and this resulted in lap times being cancelled as many others had. Philipp Oettl (Sudmetall Schedl GP) was once again spotted getting himself in the zone, visualising his lap time before completing his final run of the last practice session.
Martin quickest at the end of Free Practice 3
The final stages of the final Free Practice session for the 250cc class saw Martin claim the top spot with the quickest time of 1:46.513 which beats Brad Binder’s official Circuit Lap Record set during the race in 2015, but does not match the best ever Moto3 lap set by Jack Miller in 2014.
A fantastic run from Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) saw him finis the session in second as the highest placed KTM. Canet was the only other rider able to lap within 1:46 minutes finishing third fastest ahead of Qualifying.
Mir, who was quickest at the end of day one, was fourth fastest (out of four Spaniards) ahead of a string of four Italians that followed. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Sky Racing Team VR46 teammates Bulega and Migno, and Fenati were placed fifth to eighth. Despite his injury, McPhee, who was reluctant to remove his left glove in the pits, was ninth, and Darryn Binder completed the top 10.
Record breaking pace for pole setter Martin
The temperature increased by the time the Moto3 riders returned to the track and it ended up being an extremely memorable session for one Spaniard especially. Martin was quick on track and on his second to last attempt at securing pole, not only did the Spaniard do that, but he broke the lap record that was set three years ago.
Lapping at a time of 1:46.004 and 0.437 seconds faster than anyone else on track, Martin beat Jack Miller’s time of 1:46.173 from 2014. Qualifying meant that Canet will join him on the front row as well as Fenati to make it Honda 1, 2, 3.
Bulega leads a row of KTMs on row two where he is joined by Ramirez in fifth and Antonelli in sixth. Suzuki heads up row three ahead of Migno, and Mir in ninth. Following them, Binder will start from 10th on the grid ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Juanfran Guevara (RBA ROE Racing Team).
Arenas the top Mahindra on grid for Jerez
On the front of row five, Albert Arenas (Mahindra Northgate Aspar) is the highest placed Mahindra in 15th ahead of Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and the highest placed rookie Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team) in 16th. Beside him are Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Mahindra Northgate Aspar) and Livio Loi (Leopard Racing). Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team), wildcard Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Racing) and FP1 session leader Kornfeil are on row seven.
Unfortunately for Oettl, although he qualified 22nd on the grid, he crashed during the session which resulted in him breaking his collarbone. He has been declared unfit to race and will not be participating in the fourth round of the season. Therefore the only female in the class, Maria Herrera (AGR Team) will take his spot in 21st ahead of Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers).
Scottish rider, John McPhee, after hurting his little finger on day one will start from 25th one the grid with the British Talent Team ahead of rookies, Marco Bezzecchi (CIP),Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), Arbolino, Manuel Pagliani (CIP), Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) Raul Fernandez (Mahindra MRW Aspar Team) and Patrick Pulkkinen (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) who completes the grid in 33rd.