12 February 2014
Moto3: Antonelli under the Valencia lap records
"Now we are really close to what we might call an ideal setting" - Niccolo Antonelli.
Niccolo Antonelli raised his pace to stay fastest during the second day of official 2014 Moto3 testing at Valencia.
Riding the Gresini's team's new KTM machinery, the young Italian improved by just over half-a-second, with his 1m 39.454s time under both the official race and best lap records set by Alex Rins in last November's title showdown.
“I am very happy because apart from the lap time we were able to further improve the bike set-up and now we are really close to what we might call an ideal setting,” said Antonelli, who struggled to feature at the front during his two grand prix seasons on FTR-Hondas.
“Of course, we can always improve in many areas, but at this point they are just refinement: in particular, I think there is still some room for progress both on corner entry and exit.
“Today the track conditions were better than in the first day of testing and many riders lowered their times, but we are still on top, and this is really important.”
Despite his pace, Antonelli was closely pursued on the timesheets by new Red Bull KTM signing Jack Miller, the lively Australian a mere 0.008s slower.
'Team-mate' Danny Kent took third place on the new Husqvarna branded entry (+0.272s) while Romano Fenati slipped one position to fourth (+0.431s) for Valentino Rossi's VR46 team.
Isaac Viñales (Calvo), Francesco Bagnaia (VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini) completed an all-KTM/Husqvarna top seven.
Mahindra's Miguel Oliveira was 0.752s from Antonelli in eighth, with Rins moving forward from 17th on day one to be the leading Honda rider in ninth (+0.777) for Estrella Galicia 0.0.
Rins found over a second and a half relative to day one, as he and team-mate Alex Marquez (16th) focused on refining the electronic configurations of the new NSF250RW, working on engine braking and fuel injection.
"It was a very positive day today; we have taken an important step forward from yesterday,” said Rins, the top rider to remain in the class from last season. “In these first tests of the season it is mainly about putting in a lot of laps, because the Honda is quite different to the bike from last year and we still do not know it so well.
“In terms of the chassis, I feel more comfortable with this one than with the KTM, but I still do not know exactly how it behaves or how it responds to changes in the setup. That's why we have to gather date on many different things during these testing days. Overall, today went pretty well - including my own riding, which has greatly improved."
The test concludes on Thursday evening.
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