On Sunday, Filip Salač will start what is probably the most important season in his career. In his second year in the Moto2 class, he should prove that he can regularly fight for the top ranks.
The first year in a new category is usually a time of defense for motorcycle racers within the framework of the World Championship. The transition from one class to another is not easy, you have to get used to a different machine and driving style.
But the second season is to show the driver’s real ambitions using the background of a quality team.
In Salač’s case, it is the renowned Gresini Racing stable, which fields bikes even in the elite MotoGP class. But he has a lot of catching up to do in Moto2.
Although the Czech rider was second in the wet Grand Prix of Thailand last year, otherwise after the transfer from Moto3 he mostly collected points in the last third of the top 15. He was in the top 10 only four times out of twenty races. This resulted in 20th place in the final standings.
But that would probably not please boss Nadia Padovaniova, who replaced the deceased Faust Gresini two years ago, this year. Therefore, in both pre-season tests, Salač worked hard on tuning the bike and his racing form.
In Jerez, Spain, in mid-March, he was primarily concerned with getting back up to speed.
“I’m really happy to finally be back on track after a very long winter break. We worked hard during the two days of these tests, but I also had a lot of fun. The opening day was mainly about finding the feel of the bike,” he said.
But then came the plot in the form of an accident. “On the second day, I managed to set a good time at the start, but then I made a beginner’s mistake and crashed,” he recounted.
“Fortunately, I’m fine and the whole team did a perfect job repairing the bike. It was perfectly prepared and I was able to ride at a good pace for the rest of the day,” described the native of Mladá Boleslav, who will have a new teammate. Italy’s Alessandro Zaccone will be replaced by Jeremy Alcoba from Spain.
At the end of last week, the Moto2 racers moved to Portimao, Portugal for a three-day circuit. It is at the Autodrom International do Algarve circuit that the 75th edition of the World Motorcycle Championship will start on Sunday.
Salač achieved the 11th fastest time of the entire tests in the reduced table in the final intense preparation. Together with the team, he decided not only to drive fast laps, but also tried a simulation of the entire 21-lap Grand Prix.
“We tried different settings and we were able to improve in each outing, so I rate the whole test really positively. On the last day, we decided to simulate the race. I managed to set good times and accelerate during this simulation,” commented the Czech pilot.
“This means that we did a good job. I apologize to the team for the small crash in the morning, but overall it was a perfect test,” added Salač, who feels he is very well prepared for the new season.
This year, the Czech driver and his 29 rivals from among the permanent participants of the series have a packed 21-part calendar. For the first time since 2006, the season will not start with a night event in Losail, where an extensive renovation and reconstruction of the paddock and circuit facilities is underway. Qatar will be on the program as the penultimate event of the series in November. The championship will traditionally end with the Valencia Grand Prix.
Races in India and Kazakhstan will make their debut as part of the WC, on the other hand, after 12 years, the Aragon Grand Prix has been cancelled. The originally planned races in Hungary and Finland have so far been postponed to 2024.
World Motorcycle Championship 2023 calendar: