The 2018 Moto2 and Moto3 pre-season tests got underway at Valencia recently.
All three days were hampered by rain and subsequently cold track.
Malaysian riders Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Moto2) and Adam Norrodin (Moto3) spent time adapting to their machines.
Malaysian Moto3 and Moto2 riders found the going tough during their respective class’ pre-season tests.
The three-day test session held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain saw rain and subsequent cold weather, hampering the quest for racking up more track time and faster laps.
Returning rider, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, now riding for the SIC Racing Team saw his track time cut down just three 70-minute sessions and completing only 72 laps in total over three days.
There were nine sessions (three per day) for each class. In Moto2, the first day was a total washout. No riders went on track in Session 1. Sessions 2 and 3 saw only Dominique Aegerter riding for 12 and 14 laps, respectively.
The weather stayed more or less the same on the second day. Session 4 saw only five riders posting very few laps, with Isaac Vinalez completing the most number of laps at 20. The next closest riders Stefano Manzi and Jorge Navarro completed only 7 laps apiece.
All riders saw action in Session 5 and 6 but posted times slower than the normal pace.
Session 7 on Day Three was another washout and only Mattia Pasini went out riding, completing a token 4 laps. All riders rode in Sessions 8 and 9, however, just the days before, no one put in a large number of laps to be of true meaning.
Test sessions in good weather usually see riders completing many more laps as they work on setting up their bikes.
It was a learning experience for Zulfahmi as he adapts to the Kalex, having been roped in to replace Hafizh Syahrin at almost the 11th hour.
“The first day was rain and the second day we did only a few laps to check the bike and get a feel for the bike,” said Zulfahmi.
Zulfahmi continued, “The hardest part for me is getting used to the tyres; we are now working on the engine braking to make me more comfortable to brake harder.”
Riders need time to adapt to the characteristics and limits of new tyres, especially when they make the switch from road-legal race compound tyres to full-on race tyres. Race tyres may provide more grip, but it remains as potential grip if the rider could not find the way to make them work i.e. keeping them in the optimal working range.
He remains optimistic and cheerful, however, “It’s fantastic to be going to Sepang next week because the weather is so much better than in Europe right now.”
Team Manager, Johan Stigefelt said, “This test was the first time riding the Moto2 bike for Fahmi; a week ago he didn’t know he would be here, so of course it’s quite nerve-wracking for him to have a complete new bike and new crew around him.”
As with Moto2, the Petronas Sprinta Racing team’s riders Adam Norrodin and Ayumu Sasaki (from Japan) saw rain disrupting their plans. Only four riders completed a few laps throughout the day.
Day Two’s Session 4 in the morning saw only four riders completing 4 laps each; while 17 out of 24 riders went on track in Session 5.
All riders finally went on track in Session 6, which saw Sasaki posting the 11th fastest time, while Adam was way back in 24th.
Day Three was almost the same, having full participation in Session 8, only. The most lap completed was a measly 30.
Both riders crashed due to cold tyres and Adam injured a finger. “It’s been quite a frustrating first test with the weather being so cold! We couldn’t ride at all on the first day because of the rain and then even when it stopped it was too cold to get any real heat in the tyres,” he lamented.
About the last day, “Today it has been sunnier but still so cold, so when we went out I just concentrated on getting used to the bike again.”
“Today has been a better day,” said Sasaki, “it’s been a lot sunnier but still very cold.”
Both teams will head home to the Sepang International Circuit for private testing from