Early drama as reigning Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin crashes and breaks his leg
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) topped the first day of Moto2 testing for 2019 at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, but it’s reigning Moto3 World Champion and Moto2 rookie Jorge Martin who stole the headlines after he crashed – and was left with a left humerus fracture and a some broken bones in his foot. That means he’ll be sidelined in order to recover, with his first taste of the category cut short for now. He did make a solid impression before that and was inside the top 15, however, but a 1:42.203 from Baldassarri in the final session of the day then changed the goalposts as the Italian beat compatriot Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the top.
The test signals the beginning of a new era not only for the rookies like Martin, but also of Triumph power – as well as some updates in the technical regulations. And it’s off to a good start, with Baldassarri getting within three tenths of his 2018 pole lap at the track. Behind him and Marini, the man in third was another man with a good record at the track: Sam Lowes, as he returns to the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 squad.
The Moto2 riders completed four sessions throughout the day, with conditions improving in the afternoon after overnight rain had seen a damp start to proceedings. At the end of Day 1, Pons HP40’s Augusto Fernandez was fourth fastest, with Remy Gardner (SAG Team) rounding out the top five – 0.533 off the top.
The fastest rookie was Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), the Italian setting the seventh quickest time of the day to finish 0.566 from P1 – a great debut for the number 11 rider. Martin was next quickest rookie, in P15, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Speed Up Racing) P18 on the times. He was just ahead of fellow rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
Elsewhere, Jake Dixon’s (Angel Nieto Team) Moto2 debut ended with the British rider setting a quickest time of 1:44.401, 2.198 off Baldassarri’s benchmark, with Dixon finishing one place ahead of Moto3 graduate Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) – P25 and P26 respectively for the pair as they settle in.
Moto2 riders will be back out on track on Saturday as they continue their adaptation to the Triumph engine.
Testing FIM Enel MotoE
Preparations for the inaugural FIM Enel MotoE World Cup have begun at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto and it was former WorldSSP podium finisher and Moto2 rider Niki Tuuli (Ajo Motorsport MotoE) who topped the times on Day 1 of three, setting a quickest time of 1:51.721. Laptimes tumbled dramatically after the first runs, and by the end of play the Finn’s time was enough to beat 2017 European Moto2 Champion Eric Granado (Esponsorama Racing) by 0.121, with former Grand Prix rider Randy de Puniet (LCR E-Team) completing the top three.
That makes a pretty tight top trio after only a few sessions – the test is shared with Moto2 – with only 0.185 splitting them. And next up on the timesheets was Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing), the British rider 0.618 off the top, with Alex De Angelis (Alma Pramac Racing) then just 0.064 behind Smith in P5. The much anticipated return of former MotoGP frontrunner Sete Gibernau, meanwhile, saw him impressively hit the ground running – only just over a second off the top.
It’s not just laptimes that were the focus of the day, however. With teams and riders settling in to the new category, first contact and experience is key to getting up to speed ready for the start of the season – including the tyres. Specially designed, the front tyres are a derivative of MotoGP tyres but the rears have more of a Superbike background. The fronts need to support the bike under braking, whereas the rears need to warm up quickly for the shorter race distances in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup. With the different characteristics of each, that made it something very new for each rider out on track – regardless of their racing experience.
So that’s Day 1 and first contact completed, with Tuuli in charge so far. Now there’s another day of testing on Saturday before a third on Sunday, so make sure to stay up to date and see how laptimes drop further and the teams settle in to the new category.