The 2017 MotoGP season is just two weeks away, the entire grid is preparing for the first race in Qatar. Moto2 has seen a few riders move up and new faces have taken their place. 32 riders and 18 teams will line up on the grid in Qatar. Italian riders Lorenzo Baldassari and Stefano Manzi have been forced to sit out due to injuries. From 8th of March to the 10th of March, the Moto3 and Moto2 grid participated in the mandatory test at Jerez. 30 Moto2 riders took part in nine sessions spread across three days. Session one was topped by Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami for the Idemitsu Honda Team. Behind him was Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira on board the Red Bull KTM machine and Italy’s Mattia Pasini for the Italtrans team. Completing the top 10 are Italy’s Luca Marini, Switzerland’s Thomas Luthi and Dominique Aegerter, Spain’s Alex Marquez, Italy’s Franco Morbidelli and England’s Danny Kent.
Session 2 was topped by Oliveira followed by Morbidelli and Marini respectively. The rest of the top 10 were Alex Marquez, Malaysian rider Khairul Idham Pawi, Dominique Aegerter, South African Moto3 champion Brad Binder, Takaaki Nakagami, Spanish rider Axel Pons and Italian rider Simone Corsi. The Ajo Motorsport team switched to KTM bikes for this season and will be ridden by Oliveira and Binder. Straightaway, the KTM was setting competitive lap times. Nakagami was back on top in session 3 with Marquez and Morbidelli behind him. Day 2, Session 4 saw a new leader in the form of Franco Morbidelli who led his teammate Alex Marquez and rookie rider Fabio Quartararo. In Session 5, the Marc VDS riders Morbidelli and Marquez traded places and were followed by Thomas Luthi. In Session 6, Marquez was still on top, but Nakagami split the two Marc VDS riders. On Day 3, session 7, Marquez was still on top but Morbidelli and Oliveira were not far behind. On the penultimate session, Alex Marquez was still ruling the time sheets and was trailed by Nakagami and teammate Morbidelli. In the final session, Takaaki Nakagami topped the time sheets and was followed by Quartararo and Morbidelli.
This seasons rookies are reigning Moto3 world champion Brad Binder, Spain’s Jorge Navarro, Italian riders Francesco Bagnaia and Stefano Manzi, French rider Fabio Quartararo, Italian rider Andrea Locatelli, Japanese rider Tetsuta Nagashima, Italian rider Axel Bassani, Malaysian rider Khairul Idham Pawi, and Spain’s Iker Lecuona gets a promotion to a full time seat at Technomag CarXpert Interwetten. With regard to team changes, Ajo Motorsport switches to KTM engines and is rebranded Red Bull KTM Ajo. Valentino Rossi’s team Sky VR46 expands to Moto2 with Bagnaia and Manzi. The SAG team will once again field 2 bikes after withdrawing their second entry in 2016, following the death of Spanish rider Luis Salom. Dynavolt Intact will switch to Suter machines, as will Leopard Racing. Leopard Racing will revert to their original name Kiefer Racing. The Italtrans team will field two bikes again with Mattia Pasini and Andrea Locatelli. The AGR Team will field one bike this season, the QMMF team withdraws from the championship and Speed Up expands to two bikes. Finally, RW Racing will leave Moto3 and race in Moto2. With regard to rider changes, Spain’s Isaac Vinales moved to the SAG team from the Tech 3 team and Australian rider Remy Gardner takes his place. German rider Marcel Schrotter moves to Dynavolt Intact in place of compatriot Jonas Folger who has moved to MotoGP. Oliveira moves to Red Bull KTM Ajo to reunite with Binder. Belgian rider Xavier Simeon will move to Tasca after QMMF pulled out of Moto2. Dominique Aegerter will switch to Kiefer Racing after four seasons with CarXpert Interwetten.