Pol Espargaró the fastest rider in the final Moto2 pre-season test.

With Marc Márquez moving on to MotoGP, attention turns to just who may step in to be the next Moto2 champion. Fellow Spaniard Pol Espargaró, who won four Moto2 races in 2012, has finished 2013’s Moto2 pre-season as the fastest rider, again setting the pace in Jerez on Thursday. Last year’s championship runner-up, riding for Tuenti HP 40, led the way, ending the four-day session with the top time at Jerez at 1:42.636, nearly a half-second faster than Italtrans Racing’s Takaaki Nakagami. Nakagami’s  team did not run on the fourth and final day.

Once again, Jerez provided a mix of wet and dry weather conditions, but the heavy rains of Tuesday did not return. This allowed for more dry running on Thursday, although only two hours of track time were available. Espargaró time set Wednesday held as the overall best time of the test.

Nakagami was the leading Italtrans runner, ahead of teammate Julián Simón who had been fortunate to walk away from a high-speed crash on Wednesday. 2010 class champion Toni Elías was fourth for Blusens Avintia from Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, by seven thousandths of a second; incidentally, the two riders had topped the timesheets across the first two days of the week.

Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Yuki Takahashi was frequently first out of the pit lane in the mornings, including on Tuesday when the driving rain heavily affected proceedings. The Japanese was the only rider testing new parts, as for most the agenda was a continuation of dry setup work with the universal Honda 600cc engines which are being introduced to the class this year.

The top 20 riders are separated by 1.7 seconds, with narrow margins of less than a tenth between many individuals. Esteve Rabat helped Tuenti HP 40 to bookend the top six and a strong outing for Aspar Team Moto2 left Nico Terol and Jordi Torres seventh and eighth overall. Completing the top ten were Desguaces La Torre Zelos’ Xavier Simeon and Mika Kallio on the second Marc VDS bike.

Yet to ride on any Moto2 tracks apart from the four in Spain, British rookie Kyle Smith continued his learning curve with Avintia and aimed to dial out mistakes. He surfaced one position ahead of 29th-placed Sergio Gadea, who has been drafted into Interwetten Paddock to sub for the recovering Tom Lüthi; however the test ended on a negative note as the Valencia rider suffered a fall.

The 2013 campaign kicks off under lights with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar on 7th April. With reigning Moto2 title holder Marc Márquez now threatening to make an impact in MotoGP, this serves as great motivation for those competing in the second tier of the World Championship.

A last-gasp effort from Luis Salom confirmed him as the fastest rider in Jerez’s Moto3 test this week clocking a 1:46.374 on his Red Bull KTM, bringing the curtain down on the 2013 pre-season. On Thursday Salom dipped underneath the best lap time of Maverick Viñales, who was absent on the final day due to injury.

Combined Moto2 Test Times - Jerez

1.            ESPARGARO, Pol              Tuenti HP 40                                       1:43.355

2.            TEROL, Nicolas                   Aspar Team Moto2                         1:43.796

3.            RABAT, Esteve                  Tuenti HP 40                                       1:43.947

4.            ZARCO, Johann                 Came IodaRacing Project              1:43.993

5.            ELIAS, Toni                          Blusens Avintia                                 1:44.010

6.            TORRES, Jordi                    Aspar Team Moto2                         1:44.112

7.            WEST, Anthony                 QMMF Racing Team                       1:44.310

8.            CORSI, Simone                  NGM Mobile Racing                        1:44.334

9.            AEGERTER, Dominique  Technomag carXpert                      1:44.344

10.          KENT, Danny                      Tech 3                                                   1:44.350

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