Scott Redding and Bradley Smith made big moves up the Moto2 timesheets in Jerez today.
Redding climbed up from 11th yesterday to fourth fastest this afternoon, despite a late crash at Turn 10 that he was able to walk away uninjured from.
The Marc VDS Racing rider took advantage of cooling track temperatures and a drop in strong winds that hit the track earlier to clock a best time of 1.42.638 on the Kalex chassis.
That put him 0.480s behind Swiss rider Thomas Luthi, who once again headed the timesheets with a quickest lap of 1.42.158 set in the final hour of the day.
The Gloucestershire rider told MCN: “Today was a bit better and I feel better in myself, but we need to find a little bit more out of the bike to close the gap. I got down to a 43.0 earlier which is good but it is still a little bit frustrating because at the last test I did a 42.2 and that is a bit strange for me.
"I think it is the temperature of the track and the feeling is not so good in the heat. We are making it better slowly. We need to get the bike turning a bit more and find a bit more rear traction for the heat.
"(Thomas) Luthi and (Claudio) Corti seem really consistent and now the gap to them is closer, so I’m happier about that.”
Smith also made significant progress today on the second day on board an all-new Tech 3 Racing chassis and swingarm package.
The Oxfordshire rider was a lowly 17th yesterday but he climbed into the top 10 today. A best lap of 1.43.012 put him eighth quickest but he was less than half-a-second away from the top three.
He told MCN: “It is nice to actually put on the timesheets what I am feeling on the bike. I knew there was the potential in the bike yesterday but when you look at a 43.8 and you are 17th on the sheets, it doesn’t look like there is much potential.
"But we just needed to find it and today we made some big, big changes and actually found a bike that always in my mind I’ve thought how a 600 Moto2 should react and now we are 95% there.
"I’m really happy over race distance again too and I am banging in low 43s consistently and that fills me with confidence because we are not dropping off. I’d have liked to see a 1.42 but the work we did was fantastic.
"A lot of it is balance for braking and corner entry. We need to make a bike that when I’m braking it doesn’t feel like I’m going over the handlebars all of the time and the rear is jumping off the floor.
"That makes a big difference on these bikes because when you have got 155kg of bike hopping off the ground and wanting to go straight it is difficult to muscle it into the corner regardless of how much you counter steer on the handlebars.
"That’s the biggest change making sure we’ve got a stable feeling entering the corner.”
Gino Rea also made good progress today on the Gresini Moriwaki machine and he ended up 14th with a best time of 1.43.486. That was 0.7s quicker than his pace on day one and he cut the gap to the top six to just 0.6s.
Spaniard Marc Marquez was in impressive form again today and he clocked the third best time.
Making his first serious testing appearance of the winter having been ruled out for five months with nerve damage in his right eye resulting from a heavy crash in Sepang last Octoher, he set a best time of 1.42.557.
That put him 0.399s adrift of Luthi and he walked away from a late crash at Turn 10.