Among a small number of teams not to take part in the recent official test at Valencia, reigning Moto2's champions Marc VDS will kick off its 2018 preparations at Jerez today (Monday).

Alex Márquez has played a key role in development of the Kalex chassis over the past two seasons, but this year his input will be even more critical as the German chassis manufacturer goes head-to-head with the factory-backed KTM machines.

KTM won the last three races of its debut 2017 season and, in the words of Marc VDS team principal Michael Bartholemy, they are preparing to 'fight against a factory'.

"The first tests of a new season are important, but this year that's doubly true. We saw in the last three races of 2017 that KTM had made a big step forward and this year there will be even more of their bikes on the grid.

"It's never easy to fight against a factory, but that's exactly what we intend to do.

"Álex, as the more experienced of our two riders, will work closely with Kalex during preseason testing on development, which I'm confident will pay dividends, not just for our team but for all the Kalex riders."

Marquez, a triple 2017 race winner, added: "I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike at Jerez, after spending the long winter break training ready for the new season. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us, because it was a bit inconsistent at the Valencia test, which we sat out for exactly that reason.

"It's important at this first test to remain calm, rediscover the feeling with the bike and confirm our findings from the tests last year. Once this is done we can move on to evaluating the upgrades that Kalex are sure to have for us to test in Jerez.

"We know our level, so we don't need to be chasing fast lap times to prove any points during this test. More important is to work with my crew and with Kalex to make sure we arrive in Qatar for the first race with the most competitive package possible."

For reigning Moto3 champion Joan Mir, Jerez will provide an opportunity to continue his adaptation to the Kalex Moto2 machine. The Spaniard enjoyed two successful post-season tests at Jerez and Valencia in 2017 and is determined to further close the gap to the top of the timesheet this week.

"It will be good to get back on the bike and continue where we left off at Valencia last year," Mir said. "I've been training hard over the winter for the physical demands of riding in Moto2, but I've also been working to further adapt my position and riding style to get more from the bike.

"What is important for me at this first test is to carry on working to increase my confidence and feeling with the bike, as well as continuing to build a good rapport with my crew.

"In terms of the bike, our initial focus will be on increasing rear grip on corner exit because, together with changes to my riding style, I think this is where we can find the biggest improvement in the lap times."

Bartholemy added: "Joan, as a newcomer to the intermediate class, will have a little less pressure. His only aim will be to continue his familiarisation with the Moto2 bike that he started at the end of last year.

"We have set no targets for him but he's a racer, so I'm sure he heads into this test with his own goals."

Marc VDS won last year's Moto2 World Championship with Franco Morbidelli, who has been promoted to their MotoGP team alongside title rival Thomas Luthi.

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