The first round of press releases are here, in the run up to the season opener at Qatar. Here's what the 125 and Moto2 teams have to say so far:
REDDING AND KALLIO RARING TO GO!
Scott Redding and Mika Kallio head to the Middle East looking for a good start to the season, as the 2011 Moto2 World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Redding heads into the season opener in a confident mood, after showed strongly in the Moto2 class during the second half of the 2010 season and having completed a successful preseason test schedule.
The Marc VDS rider celebrated his 18th birthday on 4th January and is now keen to taste champagne on the podium, after missing out on the traditional rostrum celebrations twice last year because of his age.
For Kallio the opening Moto2 race of the season will be something of a step into the unknown. The Marc VDS rider is a seasoned Grand Prix campaigner but, after two years in the premier MotoGP category, battling against 39 riders for the same piece of tarmac in the Moto2 class will be a new experience for the flying Finn.
After successfully making the transition to the Suter MMXI Moto2 machine during preseason testing, where he regularly placed top ten on the timesheet, Kallio is undaunted by the task ahead and is looking forward to this new challenge with some confidence.
The Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar is unique in that it is the only race on the GP calendar to be held at night. The 5.380km / 3.434 mile Losail track is illuminated by 3,600 light fixtures burning a massive 5.4 million watts of power, creating enough light to cover an area equivalent to 70 football pitches.
Scott Redding #45:
"I'm so keen to start racing again that I packed my kit ready for Qatar about a week ago! Testing has been good, despite disruptions due to the weather, but now I want to get back out there and start banging fairings again. Qualifying was important last season, but it will be even more critical this year because they've reduced each row of the grid to three riders. Make a mistake and you could find yourself lining up to start the race from the wrong side of the last turn! We know what we need to do in Qatar, we know we're on the pace, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and starting the season with a good result."
Mika Kallio #36:
"I am looking forward to the first race of the season with some confidence. We didn't have such a good final test, with the bad weather and then the crash and injury to my right thumb on the second day, but I was more or less happy with my lap times. More time on track ahead of the first race would have been ideal, but I have a good feeling with the bike and a good working relationship with the team, so we're pretty much ready to race in Qatar. With so many riders on track Moto2 will be different to MotoGP, but it was always this way in the 125cc and 250cc classes and this is the way I like to race. The only issue at the moment is the thumb I injured in Jerez; the swelling has gone down significantly, but I'm still lacking a little bit of power in my right hand. However, I don't think it's going to be a problem in the race, which is still a few days away."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Manager
"We head for Qatar looking to start our 2011 season in the best way possible. Scott showed towards the end of last season and during preseason testing this year that he has the pace to win races. He knows an effective title campaign requires points on the board in every race, starting this weekend in Qatar, but he's quietly confident about the season ahead. Mika has successfully made the transition to our Moto2 bike after two seasons in MotoGP and I expect him to be pushing Scott hard from the outset this year. He's a proven Grand Prix race winner and his time in the 250cc class will have prepared him well for the fairing bashing that is now the norm in Moto2. I'm confident that we'll start the season with two good results this weekend."
NICO TEROL AND HÉCTOR FAUBEL TARGET FIRST WIN OF 2011 IN QATAR
Adrián Martín aiming for top ten as World Championship education continues
130 interminable days will have passed between 7th November 2010, when the last MotoGP World Championship finished, and 17th March 2011, when the new season is due to fire up. Motorcycling fans around the world have been biting their nails with anticipation but the riders at least have been able to pack their bags and head for Qatar, where the 2011 season will roar into life this week. The opening round of the 125cc season features several changes to the schedule, with two extra sessions pencilled in for Thursday evening and no warm-up before the race takes place on Sunday. The first race of the season is always an important opportunity for the title contenders to strike a demoralising first blow to their rivals, with Nico Terol, Hector Faubel, Sandro Cortese and Efren Vázquez amongst the favourites to do just that this weekend.
The BANKIA Aspar pairing of Nico Terol and Héctor Faubel are popular bets for the opening victory of the season, although they are both keen not to count their chickens before they have hatched. The Spanish duo both know what it is like to win at the desert circuit, Faubel having done so in 2007 and Terol last year. They each ended those seasons as the championship runner-up and after a positive preseason they will both be looking to go one better this time around. Alongside them in the BANKIA Aspar box will be the team's new signing, and fellow Valencian, Adrián Martín. The youngster is set to contest his second season at Grand Prix level, with the simple aim of learning as much as possible and the hope of featuring regularly in the top ten.
Nico Terol: "We have had a great preseason and we arrive in Qatar feeling really positive and in perfect shape. From a technical perspective we have found a good base setting which should allow us to be fast from the first minute on track. Last year I won this race and the objective is to fight to do so once again. We have to keep our feet on the ground because everybody is eager to do well in the first race and we have to be careful. As far as I am concerned I will work as hard as ever, as I have done in preseason, and go out to give it everything. I am really excited because I know we have been going about things in the right way and the team is giving me more guarantees than ever."
Héctor Faubel: "I really can't wait for the season to start. Losail is a circuit I love and I have good memories of it because it has been good to me in the past. In 2007 I won and I love the experience of racing at night. I am not obsessed with the result this weekend, I just want to focus on the job, give my best and we'll see what happens. We have done a lot of work in preseason to make sure that my return to the 125cc class goes as smoothly as possible and the foundations are in place. I'm not exactly sure how I'll go over full race distance so if we get chance I'd like to do a full race simulation before Sunday. Anyway, I'm feeling calm because I am sure everything is in place."
Adrián Martín: "We go to Qatar with not much preseason testing behind us but I still can't wait to get started. I haven't had a lot of track time over the winter but that is made up for by the fact that I was able to sign for the best team in 125. The Losail circuit wasn't particularly good to me on my first visit last year but the chance to share a garage with Nico and Héctor gives me a lot of motivation and I know I can learn a lot from them. The team has been really supportive and that makes everything easier. My target is to score points from the first race and if it can be in the top ten then so much the better."
GRAND PRIX OF QATAR TO OPEN THE DOOR ON 2011
MAPFRE Aspar team hope to shine under the desert lights as Simón targets victory fight in first race and Forés prepares for debut Grand Prix season
Lights, camera, action! The Losail International Circuit this weekend plays host to the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship, as it has done every year since 2007, with a slight change to the schedule for the smaller classes. Due to the dramatic drop in temperatures later in the evening an extra practice session has been scheduled for Thursday, with this season also seeing a return to two practice sessions on a Friday at all rounds, whilst there will be no time for a warm-up on race day so that will take place on Saturday night.
The new schedule will have little bearing on the result although preparations carried out by the teams and riders in preseason certainly will. For MAPFRE Aspar team riders Julián Simón and Xavi Forés it has been a busy but positive winter and they are both ready to give their all from Thursday. Julián was the fastest rider at Valencia and amongst the pacesetters at Jerez. Now the Spaniard is desperate to get into race action and make up for his disappointment at this race last year, when he qualified second on the grid but retired from the race with a mechanical problem in the first corner. Forés arrives in Qatar feeling equally motivated as he prepares for his first season of Moto2 competition. The former World Supersport rider has raced at Losail three times previously and is hoping to adapt quickly to the night conditions.
Julián Simón: "I love the Losail circuit. Last year we set a really good pace during practice and I guess we would have carried it through to the race if it wasn't for a problem with the clutch that left us out of action in the first turn. I am usually fast at this circuit because it suits me well and I like it. The most important thing is to get the bike ready for qualifying because the conditions deteriorate as the evening progresses so you have to be quick from the start. The Losail layout is suited to the characteristics of the Suter chassis, which tends to work well in humid conditions. I am really excited to start the season, hopefully with a good result."
Xavi Forés: "Preseason has been quite positive and I have adapted well to the bike so I am really looking forward to Qatar. My right hand is still quite painful after the crash at Jerez but I don't think it will stop me from being at 100% and enjoying myself in the first race of the season. I know Losail well from my time in the World Supersport series but I have never ridden at night there before. I have had some good results though and it's been a good circuit to me in the past. We'll have to see how quickly I can adapt to riding at night but hopefully I can find my references quickly. I have actually ridden at night before in the Endurance World Championship although I expect it will be quite different because there will be a lot more light."
Interview with Marc Márquez
"This winter we achieved all the progress we wanted and I think I'm ready for the first race"
125cc World Champion Marc Márquez arrives to the first Moto2 World Championship race with all homework done after the most intense winter of his life
A little more than four months ago, Marc Marquez took the 125cc crown after a 2010 in which he had broken all moulds. However, he has already left behind that brilliant season to burst into the intermediate category with an extremely quick adaptation process, during a winter in which he has been showered with honours and awards.
We are starting this weekend. You moved up a level, and with good marks. You did your homework in winter and you are ready for Moto2. Are you nervous?
"Not right now, but I'm sure I will be when the first race starts. I'm not nervous mainly because I enjoy the feeling of having had a good preseason. We achieved everything we wanted, we did a lot of progress and I'm confident that I'm ready for the first race. I might not be fully ready to fight for victory, because it is my first year, but I will do my best. I know that things will be different in the race than in testing".
They say that winter is holiday time for the riders. Have you been able to stop at any moment?
"Truth is that after winning the World Championship I've been going back and forth and I was not really able to stop. Just a week in Christmas to rest, relax a bit and disconnect, but I start to work and train immediately because I wanted to be ready for the new bike.".
Had you caught so many planes before? Could you give us a list of the places you have gone to?
"I could not say all the list, because I've been to so many places. Portugal, several times to Madrid, Valladolid, Barcelona, but I also went to Finland, Switzerland, Austria… and there have also been places I have not been able to visit, such as Italy, because I had no time and Emilio [Alzamora] had to go in my place".
What is it that you were more excited to do?
"Specially to be able to meet champions of other specialties, such as Toni Bou or Laia Sanz, as you are never able to meet them and it is always exciting to talk to them about how their year went. Each place is different. Sometimes you have a lot of fun and others not so much, but being received by the King and Queen was also very special. Or when you are invited due to your victory to programs such as "El Hormiguero" or "Buenafuente", which is so much fun. It‘s exciting to go everywhere".
They say you even have an offer to run the Finnish championship of motorcycling on ice…
"It was a joke with Aki [Ajo], more than an offer. But it's true that I was fast and they told me I could compete in a race of the Finnish Championship. However, I prefer Road Racing".
Do you remember November the 7th, 2010?
"Valencia, isn't it? It seems so long ago. All winter has passed and I did a lot of things, everything passed in a blur and I'm a bit tired. It was a very short winter that is nearly over and now I only think about Moto2".
After all that, taking part in the World Championship and travel every two weeks to a different country might seem even quiet.
"Yes, because it's different to travel to the races or to test. Catching a plane to go somewhere to receive an award or for an interview and then back is a bit more tiring. What I really like is running with the bike and what I want is to be on the track, so you travel to the races in a different frame of mind".
Your adaptation to the new class was very fast. Which was the key?
"I'm certain that everything Emilio [Alzamora] taught me all these years helped me enormously. When I started working with him, at 12, we worked from the beginning, not only on how to take the line on the track, but when I stopped at the garage, he would tell me how I had to explain my feelings on the bike and what should I noticed when I was on the track. You see that it's important to notice the differences you feel on a corner, when you are braking, on fast or slow corners, when you it the gas and so on. In the afternoon we would have a look at the telemetry data and, although I was very young, he would explain me many details and compare it with what the professional riders did. All that experience was really helpful".
Last year we saw very fast riders in Moto2 that came both from MotoGP and from 125cc. Which style do you think would be most suitable to be fast in Moto2?
"You need the style of a 4-stroke bike, taking into account the engine brake, the weight, and so on. You need to understand your bike and how to improve it to be faster. At the end of the day it's just a bike and any rider can be fast in the end, both coming from 125cc or 250cc or MotoGP. What is really difficult is to make the difference so that you are among the top riders and be able to get onto the podium. To do that, I think it will be easier for a MotoGP rider, as he has already run with heavier, faster bikes with a 4-stroke engine and a lot of electronic devices... When you come from 125cc you have many things to learn, but it depends a lot on the rider".
What do you need to be in front with so many riders on the track?
"You have to work a lot to get a good pace and have a good understanding with your team. With the engines we use being the same for everyone and with very few differences on the chassis, you need to work a lot with your technical team, that has to be very good so that you can make the difference on track".
To do so, the qualifying work is even more crucial to have a better starting place in a grid so full?
"Yes, the Saturday session will have a huge importance to try and get the best possible place on the grid, which will also have three-rider rows. Anyway, you still need to work on your race pace, which in Moto2 is where you can really make the difference".
This year the tyre supplier is bringing new compounds. Do you think they will play a more important role?
"Certainly, because it is the part of the bike that is in contact with the ground. As well set-up as the bike might be, if the tyre is not the right one, the bike will not work well. Anyway, we have only two compounds available for each race, one softer and the other harder, so there will not be a huge difference. In any case, the new compounds Dunlop is working on are very welcome, because they help competition and they are also safer".
With a bike so different from the 125cc, which aspects change more in the set-up? What do you focus on during the tests?
"The set-up work is not so different from last year, because the things that change the most, such as the engine or the engine brake, are things that we don't touch so much. During the test you usually work on the chassis configuration, suspensions and in choosing the best tyre, and that is the same with a 125cc".
With all riders having the same engine, the difference, apart from the rider and his work with the team, is made by the chassis. Which are the stronger points of your chassis?
"I could not say, because I haven't tried any other. I have never run with 4-stroke bikes and I am still learning about mine".
Who do you think will be the stronger riders of the class?
"The ones we have seen during the preseason or that were strong in the last season, such as Simón, Iannone, Bradl, Takahashi, Redding, Corsi… They are riders that already have some experience".
What do you think about them considering you as one of the favourites. Do you think you will be able to be on top?
"I don't know. If they think I am one of the favourites, it means I'm working well and that I'm on the right path, but this is not really our battle this year. If we can be among the fastest, perfect, if not, it's ok".
The first race will be in Qatar, a circuit where you had many set-up problems last year during practice. What did you learn in that race?
"I learnt that to win a Championship you cannot win all races. When you have trouble, you need to know that you must finish third or fourth and get some points. A year ago we did not achieved a good set-up and I was not able to be faster, I wasn't comfortable. It was one of the few races we had trouble with the suspensions, but it's also true that the team was very new, we had not learnt enough from one another and we had not worked together for a long time. Nevertheless, we achieved a third position, that in the end helped us to win the Championship".
RED NOSE REDDING SHOWS SUPPORT FOR COMIC RELIEF
Scott Redding will show his support for Comic Relief by wearing a special Red Nose Day helmet for the opening Moto2 round of the season, which takes place this weekend at the Losail International circuit in Qatar
Redding will auction the helmet after the race weekend through his official website at www.scottredding45.com, to raise money for Comic Relief, a charity that does so much to fight poverty and injustice worldwide.
And Redding's show of support won't end when he removes his helmet; the Marc VDS rider will also be sporting bright red hair in Qatar, to make sure the message to donate to Comic Relief is received loud and clear.
"I wanted to support Red Nose Day, which takes place on the Friday of the Qatar weekend," explains Redding. "We had a think about it and decided that a Red Nose helmet would be a good idea. It will be instantly recognisable on track, which I hope will persuade people to donate to Comic Relief, and we will auction it after the race weekend to raise more money for what is an extremely worthwhile cause."
"Just to make sure we get the message across, I've also dyed my hair red as well," admits the 18-year-old British rider. "It's a bit bright, to say the least. If I get on the podium this weekend then you'll be able to see me from about five miles away!"
For more information on Red Nose Day, check out the Comic Relief website at www.comicrelief.com.