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Moto3: Vinales overturns KTM advantage at final test
21 March 2012
Beaten by KTM in the two previous Moto3 tests, FTR Honda star Maverick Vinales overturned the Austrian advantage in this week's final pre-season test session at Jerez.
Vinales - pre-season favourite for the new 250cc four-stroke class after taking four wins during his rookie 125cc season - had been second behind factory Red Bull KTM riders Sandro Cortese and Danny Kent at Valencia and Jerez I respectively.
The young Spaniard had spoken about the need for improved engine performance to take on the KTMs and looked to have few power complaints as he replaced rookie Romano Fenati at the top on day two, then repeated the position on day three.
The Avintia rider left Jerez with a confident 0.423s advantage over Kent - the British teenager upping his pace on the final afternoon to finish just in front of surprise-of-the-test Fenati.
Fenati's Team Italia FMI outfit made the late switch from Ioda to FTR Honda machinery for this week's test. The decision looked more than justified as Fenati improved spectacularly on his 23rd place in last month's first Jerez visit.
Cortese was 0.029s behind Fenati in fourth on the overall timesheets, with Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin making it three KTMs in the top five (+0.653s) to complete a promising pre-season.
The final rider within one-second of Vinales was Gresini's Niccolo Antonelli, using the full Honda Moto3 machine. Seventh place then went to the highest placed Kalex-KTM of Aspar's Alberto Moncayo, followed by Estrella Galicia (Honda) team-mates Miguel Oliveira and CEV champion Alex Rins.
Racing Team Germany's Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) completed a top ten covered by 1.5s, the added variable of open engine development spreading the field relative to the ultra-close Moto2 lap times.
The top 20 positions were filled by FTR Honda, KTM, Honda and Kalex KTM machines.
Danny Webb was the lead Mahindra rider in 21st (+2.661s), Toni Finsterbusch the top MZ-RE Honda in 25th (+3.281s), Jasper Iwema the top FGR Honda in 29th (+4.040s), Jonas Folger the top Ioda in 30th (+4.563s) and Manuel Tatasciore the top Oral rider in 31st (+4.959s) out of the 33 riders present this week.
The first ever Moto3 grand prix will be held in Qatar from April 5-8.