While MotoGP factory and satellite teams held their first pre-season tests this week in Malaysia, KTM held its own test for nine riders in the new Moto3 class earlier in the week in Spain.

While the premiere class’ new 1000cc engine displacement limit and Claiming Rule Team entries draw the most attention, we can’t forget MotoGP isn’t the only class in the World Championship seeing changes for 2012. The new Moto3 class also debuts this season, replacing the old 125GP class. The old 125cc two-strokes are out as Moto3’s 250cc four-strokes take their place on the Grand Prix tour.

Nine of this year’s Moto3 competitors are riding KTM-powered racebikes, and those nine were at Spain’s Valencia circuit testing the new four-strokes. Five of the riders are on KTM factory machines while the other four are riding machines with KTM engines and chassis from Kalex Engineering.

“The tests in Valencia were probably the most important days so far for us in our Moto3 project. We have been working very hard over the past two months to transform the prototype into a race bike and preparing the engines for all nine bikes,” says Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport manager. “Now in Valencia we had good lap times and we were able to collect a lot of very useful data. This gives us the right basis for further improvement.”

Here are the lap times from the Jan. 30-31 test:

Day 1

  1. Luis Salom (Spain) – Kalex-KTM – 1:43.2 (32 laps)
  2. Alberto Moncayo (Spain) – Kalex-KTM – 1:43.3 (52 laps)
  3. Héctor Faubel (Spain) – Kalex-KTM – 1:43.7 (62 laps)
  4. Sandro Cortese (Germany) – KTM – 1:43.7 (48 laps)
  5. Nikklas Ajo (Finland) – KTM – 1:43.9 (50 laps)
  6. Danny Kent (Great Britain) – KTM – 1:44.6 (45 laps)
  7. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Malaysia) – KTM – 1:45.4 (44 laps)
  8. Arthur Sissis (Australia) – KTM – 1:45.9 (45 laps)
  9. Brad Binder (South Africa) – Kalex-KTM – 1:47.2 (25 laps)

Day 2

  1. Sandro Cortese – 1:43.2 (48 laps)
  2. Luis Salom – 1:43.5 (31 laps)
  3. Héctor Faubel – 1:43.8 (56 laps)
  4. Nikklas Ajo – 1:44.0 (50 laps)
  5. Zulfahmi Khairuddin – 1:44.1 (43 laps)
  6. Alberto Moncayo – 1:44.2 (52 laps)
  7. Danny Kent – 1:44.2 (64 laps)
  8. Brad Binder – 1:45.7 (49 laps)
  9. Arthur Sissis – 1:46.2 (55 laps)

To provide some perspective to these numbers, let’s look at some lap times from last year’s Valencia round of the 125cc World Championship. Granted, there are some notable differences such as the engine displacement, the change from two-strokes to four-strokes, and the fact these KTM-powered bikes are brand new as opposed to the battle-tested 125 bikes. The riders are also young and still developing at different rates, so that too is a variable. Yes, we’re comparing apples to (KTM) oranges, but it’s still worth a look.

Luis Salom, who tied with Sandro Cortese with the best overall time of 1:43.2, finished seventh in a race on the same track riding Aprilia machinery. Salom had lap times in the 1:44 and 1:45 range for most of the 24-lap race, with a best time of 1:43.634, about four-tenths of a second slower than his best time at the test.

Cortese (pictured above) crashed out in the Valencia race after 11 laps but his lap times were faster than Salom. Averaging in the 1:43-144 range, Cortese’s best lap in that race was completed in 1:43.424.

Alberto Moncayo‘s best test time of 1:43.3 was more than a second faster than the 1:44.599 time from his fastest lap in the race. Moncayo finished the race sixth with lap times from the mid 1:44s to mid 1:45s.

Nikklas Ajo, son of KTM factory Team Manager Aki Ajo, was eighth in the race with lap times around the 1:46 mark, with a best lap time of 1:45.901, all riding an Aprilia bike. At the test, Ajo’s best lap was 1:43.9, a full two second improvement.

Of all the riders at the test, Hector Faubel had the highest finish at the Valencia race, scoring a podium in third place.  Pictured above, Faubel’s lap times in that race were generally in the 1:43 to low 1:43 range, with his best lap clocked at 1:42.938. Faubel was third fastest at the test, but his best time was

Danny Kent was 17th at the Valencia race with lap times in the high 1:44 to mid 1:45 range with a best time of 1:44.502. At the test, Kent’s times were a few tenths of a second faster.

Malaysian racer Zulfahmi Khairuddin (below) rode a Derbi at the Valencia race, finishing 25th with lap times ranging widely from 1:47 to 1:49. His best lap in the race was 1:47.300 but he showed a lot of improvement at the test, recording times as fast as 1:44.1.

Brad Binder retired from the race after 17 laps with laps generally in the mid 1:47s. Binder’s best time at the test was a faster 1:45.7.

Arthur Sissis was the only rider in the test who didn’t race at Valencia in 2011. Last season, Sissis competed in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, finishing second overall with four wins.

Overall, riders showed faster lap times than they did in the race, though the difference varied from rider to rider. We’ll see more when the Moto3 class holds its official test along with the Moto2 riders at Valencia Feb. 8-12.

[Source: KTM. Photos by Weisse F. and Team Aspar]