May you live in interesting times, runs an apocryphal Chinese curse. The first Grand Prix of 2016 certainly provided us with plenty of events which might be termed interesting, in both the common sense of the word and the apocryphal curse. The three races at Qatar were thrilling, tense, intriguing, and mind-bogglingly bizarre.
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20 laps in Qatar with unusual circumstances that would have a drastic effect on the podium.
As the lights went out, possibly more than once, several riders visibly twitched on the grid, bringing the new jump start rules to the fore. Jonas Folger got to the first turn first and set about breaking away from Taka Nakagami, Sam Lowes and Thomas Luthi. Lowes and Luthi got past Nakagami and at the end of the first lap, Folger had over a second of a lead from the fight behind him and the jump start notices started coming in.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Qatar:
Bittersweet third place for Brad Binder in Qatar GP qualifying
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider takes third in the first QP of the year, but will start from the second row after incurring a penalty. Bo Bendsneyder –eighth– also sanctioned and will start from eleventh.
03/19/2016 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Practice, like testing, doesn't really count for much, riders will tell you. When you talk to the afterwards, they will tell you that they didn't set a really fast lap because they were working on set up, or trying to figure out which tire will be best in the race, or working on race pace rather than one lap pace. Maybe they were saving tires, or maybe they ran into traffic, or maybe there wasn't enough time left in the session to go for a fast lap. Even the rider who is fastest will tell you they were surprised, they were not really pushing for a time, but it just came naturally.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class:
Jonas Folger has taken the second Moto2 pole of his career, setting a blistering lap at the beginning of the session and smashing the Qatar lap record by four tenths of a second.
Sam Lowes has stamped his authority on the Moto2 class at Qatar by dominating the final session of free practice. The Gresini rider took the lead in the session early and laid down an imposing rhythm, posting a whole string of quick laps. He also managed to do it without crashing, a big improvement after crashing twice on the first day. The final few laps saw him lapping under the pole record, ending nearly two tenths quicker than his old record from last year.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
Rocket start for Livio Loi: fastest in Qatar
The first day of the 2016 season had Livio Loi’s name on it. RW Racing GP’s rider was fastest in the first practice (2.06,456) for the GP of Qatar, and in the second (2.05,832) - and he did it on his own, without a tow.
Bikes are on track, and the roar of racing four strokes is filling the desert skies in Qatar. We can check our moral compasses at the door, sit back and once again revel in the glory of Grand Prix racing. The fog of testing is lifting, exposing the reality which lies beneath. We don't need speculation any longer. We have actual timesheets.