Danny Kent dominated the three day Moto3 test at Jerez on the Red Bull KTM.
The 18-year-old Briton was at the top of the time sheet at the end of each day and well backed up by team mates Sandro Cortese in fourtth and Arthur Sissis who was 10th.
Kent was second in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2010 and stepped up to the 125cc Grand Prix class last year to take 11th in the title race.
He has obviously adapted incredibly quickly to this year's change of GP regulations from 125cc 2-stroke to 250cc 4-stroke and despite very little testing is already making it look as though 2012 could be a great season.
Just as impressive is Sissis, the 16-year-old Australian who was second in last year's Rookies Cup and steps up to the full Grand Prix class for the first time. He too is just adapting to the switch of machinery and in many respects still learning his craft as the ex speedway ace has nothing like the road racing experience of his peers despite three years in the Rookies Cup.
Kent's domination in Jerez mirrored Cortese's performance at the Valencia test earlier earlier in the month when the 22-year-old German headed the time sheet on all three days on the Red Bull KTM.
It was a huge boost for Cortese who said: “It felt fantastic to get back on the bike again after the winter layoff and even better to feel how good the new KTM is and how competitive we could be from the start.”
Cortese fell on Friday in Jerez but was steadily improving by the end of the final day on Saturday. “It sometimes happens that you crash in tests when you’re trying to go fast but I have a good feeling. The mechanics did a great job to repair the bike and though I hoped for a better result we were always up with the top guys,” Cortese said.
Kent was thrilled not only with the machine's performance but the way it suited him in particular. “I felt great as soon as I got on the bike. It is very different from the 125 2-stroke but it seems to suit my style and I have just felt more and more confident every day. It is very early yet but I hope that I can carry on like this.”
He went on to give a hint of what was expected from the season. “KTM are obviously very serious about the new class and have put in a huge effort, they obviously want to win the world championship in the first year. Today (Saturday) we also managed to do a race simulation and each lap we’re learning something new.”
Of course there is plenty of opposition for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team and the fastest newcomer last year, Maverick Viñales, was second quickest in Jerez on his Avintia Racing machine, four tenths slower than Kent.
A KTM engine powered the bike of third placed Alberto Moncayo, fastest member of last year's world championship winning Bankia Aspar Team but another four tenths slower than Viñales and just one tenth quicker than Cortese.
The final Moto3 test is at Jerez from the 19th to 21st of March and the season kicks off in Qatar on the 8th of April.
Unofficial Moto3 lap times Thursday (recorded by teams)
1, Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1’48.4
2, Alberto Moncayo (Bankia Aspar Team – KALEX KTM) 1’48.7 (51 laps)
3, Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM Ajo –KTM Moto3) 1’49.2
4. Miguel Oliveira (Monlau Competición) 1’49.2 (70 laps)
5, Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar Team – KALEX KTM ) 1’49.8
6. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (AirAsia Sic Ajo - KTM Moto3) 1’49.5
7. Niklas Ajo (TT Motion Events Racing - KTM Moto3) 1’50.4
Unofficial Moto3 lap times Friday (recorded by teams:
1, Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1’47.5
2, Maverick Viñales (Avintia Racing) 1’47
3, Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar Team – KALEX -KTM) 1’48.1
4, Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM Moto3) 1’48.3
5, M. Oliveira (Monlau Competición) 1’48.9
6, Alberto Moncayo (Bankia Aspar Team KALEX -KTM) 1’49.0
7, Niklas Ajo (TT Motion Events Racing – KTM Moto3) 1’49.5
8, Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1’50.1
Unofficial Moto3 lap times for Saturday (recorded by teams):
1, Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1'47.1
2, Maverick Viñales (Avintia Racing) 1'47.5
3, Alberto Moncayo (Bankia Aspar Team KALEX-KTM) 1'47.9
4, Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM- Moto3 ) 1'48.0
5, Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar Team – KALEX - KTM) 1'48.4
6, Z.Khairuddin (AirAsia SIC Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1'48.4
7, Luís Salom (RW Racing GP – KALEX-KTM) 1'48.5
10. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM Moto3) 1'50.1
13. Niklas Ajo (TT Motion Events Racing – KTM Moto3) 1'49.4