Press releases from the 125 and Moto2 teams after the first day at Qatar:
NICO TEROL DOMINATES OPENING DAY OF THE SEASON
BANKIA Aspar rider controls first two free practice sessions with a full second over his closest rival
The 2011 season finally got underway today at the Losail circuit, with the 125cc riders maintaining tradition by taking to the track first. Thirty one youngsters will battle for the crown this year and whilst there are plenty of new faces to look out for it was some of the more experienced ones who set the pace today. After a careful first free practice in cool and windy conditions they all improved their lap times in the second session but none could keep pace with BANKIA Aspar rider Nico Terol.
Terol was a full second ahead of the field in both sessions, confirming the good base setting he had found in preseason and racking up lap after lap to end the night in satisfied mood. His new team-mate Héctor Faubel also set some excellent lap times despite struggling slightly for engine performance, finishing third fastest, whilst fellow new signing Adrián Martín was twelfth and is confident of better tomorrow.
1st Nico Terol 2.07.418 (27 laps): "In the second session the wind wasn't as bad as the first and we were able to set better lap times. My feeling was really good and it got better as the evening went on. I like Losail and we go back to the hotel tonight with a good taste in our mouth. The fact I am a second quicker than the next rider doesn't mean anything because they will close the gap, it is only the first day. I just want to do my best and improve my lap times every time I go out on the track. It is good to start out in a dominant way but I can't afford to relax."
3rd Héctor Faubel 2.08.576 (24 laps): "The day has gone really well. The bike is responding well in terms of the set-up and the chassis and the base we found in preseason is working well. The only setback today was the engine, whicvh wasn't working 100%, but the mechanics are working on it. Overall I am happy with the first day and I think tomorrow we can be up there with Nico. He was looking strong today but with hard work we can catch him. There is a long way to go and even though I don't feel completely adapted back to this size bike yet it will happen very soon."
12th Adrián Martín 2.10.539 (16 laps): "The track conditions weren't perfect, which you can tell from the lap times, but as far as I am concerned I felt very comfortable out there. I still have work to do on the set-up but it is only the first day so I am not worried. In the first session the set-up was a bit hard and in the second one it was a bit soft so we have to find a happy medium to make me comfortable. I need to establish a better feeling with the front end because I am running wide when I am on the gas at the moment but I am sure we will take the step we need tomorrow to make more progress."
REDDING SHINES IN QATAR PRACTICE
Marc VDS Racing Team rider Scott Redding produced a dazzling performance under the Losail International Circuit floodlights tonight, the British rider ending the first night of practice for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar in second position.
Redding quickly mastered unpredictably windy conditions that buffeted the 5.38km circuit to finish third quickest in the opening session, as he evaluated a range of Dunlop rear tyres ahead of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship's much anticipated first race on Sunday night.
Improvements to the front and rear set-up of his Suter MMXI machine saw him take another big step forward in the second session, Redding lapping 1.3s faster to finish with a best time of 2.01.748. That time moved him to the top of the timesheets with only four minutes of the session remaining, but just when it looked like the Marc VDS Racing Team would make a perfect start to the 2011 campaign, Yuki Takahashi snatched top spot by just 0.053s.
Redding suffered a small crash at the end of the session when he lost the front-end at Turn 6. But the spill did little to dent his confidence that he will be a serious contender for the victory in Sunday's 20-lap race, which is the start of a 17-round World Championship campaign.
Finnish teammate Mika Kallio was 18th on the final leaderboard, the former MotoGP rider using his wealth of experience to improve turning performance with his machine during the night.
He was able to knock close to two seconds off his best time and proving that the 2011 Moto2 World Championship is going to be another ultra-competitive fight, he was just over half-a-second away from the top ten.
Scott Redding #45: 2nd - 2.01.748
"That was nearly the perfect way to start the season. It's always nice to finish on top of the timesheets but it is the race on Sunday that matters and we are immediately competitive, carrying on the form I showed in winter testing. The first session went well and I wasn't too bothered by the windy conditions. In the second session I concentrated on improving the set-up on worn tyres and at the end put a new set in to put in four fast laps. I thought I'd done enough to be fastest but Yuki just went a little bit faster. I had a small crash at the end but nothing to worry about. I'd been struggling a bit with the left-side of the front tyre and as I went to turn, I was turning and the bike wasn't. It was a good start and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend to get the season off to a good start for the Marc VDS Racing Team."
Mika Kallio #36: 18th - 2.03.336
"It wasn't an easy practice but at the end I am still quite satisfied. I was nearly two seconds faster in the second session but the gap to the front guys is still a bit too big. We made a big improvement with the setting of the front forks in the second session and I was much faster. In the first session I couldn't turn the bike so well and I was losing most of my time in the first section, but it was much easier to ride in the second session and I felt more confident to push. We can obviously improve the bike but I still need to work on my own riding style to adapt to the Moto2 bike. If you look at the timesheets then all the fast riders were in this class in 2010, and that is a big advantage. I am still on a big learning curve but I feel l'm starting to show more of my true potential."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Manager
"Tonight was a positive way to start the season. Scott was in the top three in both sessions and to be less than a tenth off first position shows his potential and the potential of the Marc VDS Racing Team's package this season. It was a little bit like what happened a few times last year when we thought we were going to be fastest, only for somebody on the last lap to push Scott back into second. The bike is already looking very competitive so we have high hopes for the race on Sunday. Mika is starting to show his true potential and it is clear he is making big progress in adapting his style to the Moto2 bike. Unfortunately he's still suffering a little bit with the right thumb injury he picked up at the last test in Jerez and we can see on the telemetry he still can't brake as hard as he needs to. But we are confident he will improve his pace over the rest of the weekend and be fighting for the top ten."
ANDREA IANNONE BEGINS 2011 SEASON POSITIVELY IN QATAR
2011 season officially started today for the Moto2 class: with the initial two free practice sessions, the riders from the middle category got out on the track of Losail, Qatar, for the first event of the World Championship.
Speed Master team and Andrea Iannone played an important role throughout the day. The rider from Vasto set various good lap times in both sessions, finishing with the fourth best lap time (2'01.983). Together with his mechanics, Andrea began working on the Suter MMXI setting and found an answer to the doubts that were raised after the last tests in Jerez.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — free practice n.2: 2'01.983
"After all this was a positive day: we managed to get rid of the doubts that we were facing throughout the official IRTA tests at Jerez the la Frontera. It's a great feeling to start the weekend in this way. We still have some things to improve, we have to define the ideal setting for the race, but definitely I'm happy for the harmony we have within the team and for how we are working now. I believe this is essential inside the box. I'd like to thank my crew, my chief mechanic Tommaso Raponi, our Suter engineer Alessandro Giussani and our Ohlins suspension technician Peter Bergvall."
LOSAIL PLAYS HOST TO 2011 SEASON OPENER
MAPFRE Aspar riders make solid start: Simón ninth despite minor fall and Forés the surprise in 11th
Low temperatures and high winds welcomed the Moto2 riders to Losail for the opening free practice sessions of the 2011 season tonight. Whilst the MotoGP and 125cc riders were some way off lap record pace due to the tricky conditions the Moto2 category quickly eclipsed last year's benchmarks, set in the embryonic days of the category, although they were just as close as ever and promise to provide another year of close racing between the riders and indeed the different chassis manufacturers.
Amongst the pacesetters was MAPFRE Aspar rider Julián Simón, who escaped injury when he crashed early in the evening, losing the front end of his bike in turn 14 on only the third lap. His mechanics worked hard to get him back on track before the end of the session although there wasn't enough time for him to regain full confidence. Changes to the front end set-up allowed him to do that in the second session and Julián was able to set the ninth fastest time, confident that he can improve tomorrow. His new team-mate Xavi Forés was the surprise package of the session, lapping just a second off the fastest time despite this being his debut in a famously fierce category.
9th Julián Simón 2.02.620 (23 laps): "It was quite a positive first day - the crash was a shame because it set our work programme back in terms of the set-up. It was a stupid crash - I ran over a rumble strip and it was covered in sand so the front just folded. I still don't have full confidence in the front although the changes we made gave me a better feeling through the fast corners and I was able to drop my times at the end, so I hope we can continue that tomorrow. We are on the right lines and I am sure if we work like this tomorrow we will move up."
11th Xavi Forés 2.02.923 (22 laps): "I am quite happy because this is the first time I have ridden here at night and I think it went pretty well. It was a positive first point of contact even though I am still struggling with the hand injury I picked up at Jerez. We are a second off the leading rider but I think we can work to reduce the gap and meet our objective of a top ten finish. There is a long way to go but so far I am feeling satisfied with what we have done and motivated for what is to come. We tried a shorter gear ratio in the first session today but I didn't like it so we went back to a longer setting and it was better. We also tried a harder front tyre which also helped - these were the two key factors today."
Positive debut for Marc Márquez in Moto2
The Repsol rider was second in the first free practice and concluded the first day of the Qatar Grand Prix in sixth
After the long winter break, the current 125cc World Champion was finally back to action on Thursday at the Losail Circuit. Marc Márquez felt very comfortable in his new class, Moto2. He set the second fastest time in the first of the two free practice sessions at the Qatar Grand Prix and sixth in the second session.
The Repsol rider quickly adapted himself to the special features of the Losail Circuit and in only a few laps was among the fastest riders of the intermediate class. Taking advantage of his team's experience, Márquez was able to fine-tune the set-up of his bike and improve with each lap in order to reduce his times. Despite the high wind on track, that reached 23 km/h in the first free practice session, Márquez was one of the only two riders that run under 2 minutes and three seconds in that first session. After 18 laps, the Repsol rider set a fastest time of 2 minutes, 2 seconds and 805 thousandths, 3 tenths behind Stephan Bradl.
In the second free practice the wind reduced its intensity and the track grip, after other classes testing, had also improved. Under these conditions, the Repsol rider kept working on his bike's set-up, focused on testing the tyres, as it will be a key factor in such a close class. Setting a very consistent time with used tyres, Marquez finished the day improving his time in nearly half a second, with a fastest register of 2 minutes, 2 seconds and 348 thousandths.
The third free practice session will take place tomorrow and on Saturday the qualifying session that will shape the starting grid of the first Grand Prix of the season.
2'02.348 sec, 35 laps, 188 km.
"Now I know what an official Moto2 free practice is like. I'm a little surprised, as I thought I would not be so close to the fastest time here, in Qatar. I'm satisfied with the team's work, as their experience is very useful for me. One of the most complicated things in this class is to know how to manage the tyres during the free sessions, but we will learn about it. The changes of direction are also slower with a Moto2, but overall I'm happy with the result. During the first session the track was a bit slippery".
Excellent debut for RW Racing GP in Qatar
Today the 2011 season started at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. RW Racing GP had today the officially debut in the MotoGP championship with the Spanish rider Luis Salom. The Spaniard started very good during the first two free practice sessions and manage to finish both session on an excellent fourth position.
The season traditionally starts in past years in the desert of Qatar a night race held in the dark. After the winter testing for each team is still exciting where they standing during the first Grand Prix of the season. In the first free practice Luis Salom knew was able to achieve fast lap times after only six laps during the 2010 Qatar GP on the Losail International Circuit. Salom came, to everyone's surprise, to a very good fourth position.
Between the first and second free practice session the team reviewed the data and made some adjustments to the rear suspension. This resulted in a lap time 1.6 seconds faster than the first free practice. In this second and final free practice session of Thursday, the Spaniard finished on an excellent fourth position.
Luis Salom (4th, 2:08.877):
"I'm very pleased with today's result. The team started late during this winter because of circumstances but it has still worked out well. The first free practice I wanted to use to explore the track after only six laps on this track in 2010 throughout the weekend. But the engine felt so good that I could directly ride fast lap times. I'm not completely satisfied with the setup of the suspension, but we are on the right track. Tomorrow we have the third free practice session w! hich will be used to optimize the set-up. I have a good feeling about today and want to keep up this line during the weekend."
Light and Shadow for MZ Racing Team
The first practice day of the 2011 World Championship offered light and shadow for the Moto2 riders of the MZ Racing Team. From the first to the second session, Max Neukirchner improved by 1.5 seconds on his MZ-FTR with aluminium chassis whilst Teammate Anthony West lost track time due to unforeseen problems on his MZ-RE with MZ's own steel tubular trellis frame and had to settle for 25th spot.
"We solved the problem concerning the rear grip, which occurred during the last test at Jerez, by using a different linkage for the rear suspension. But now we have a problem on the front at the corner entries. The bike remains stable for a long time but feels stiff, and then the front starts to bump. Therefore Anthony lacks the confidence to push", said development manager Dietmar Franzen. "Tomorrow we will try a different set-up for the front fork and the overall balance of the bike. I am sure we will be able to improve!"
Max Neukirchner (19th in 2.03,404)
"I think we made a huge step from the first to the second practice today. We changed the balance of the bike and went one and a half seconds quicker immediately. Even on worn tyres, I was still able to repeat the lap times from the beginning of the session. We start to understand the bike better and better and I am having more and more fun to work with my crew. They really know what they are doing and we are improving steadily. 19th place may not look that good at the moment, but the times are very close together and I am pretty satisfied. Having said that, we definitely can improve our set-up, but I also have to work on my riding style. On the brakes I am not too bad, but I have to find some more corner speed and I have to open the throttle earlier."
Anthony West (35th in 2:05,646)
"The new linkage for the rear suspension is a step forward as we now can use the whole stroke of the Öhlins shock. But it works so differently that the set-up from the Jerez test became obsolete. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of time looking for a new set-up. In the first session, the fairing broke after only two laps. When I went out again after my pit stop, the chain came off at the end of the pit lane because something broke on the chain adjuster. Except for four laps right at the end, the session was lost. In the second practice, I struggled with the front fork, as it was bottoming out and I was running wide in the corners. We changed the spring, but the session was too short for further adjustments!"
TAKAHASHI IMMEDIATELY ON THE PACE IN QATAR
Team Gresini began its defence of the Moto2 World Championship title tonight in fitting style as Yuki Takahashi took a leading role in the first free practice sessions of the season. The Japanese rider, with his heart and mind on the devastation in his homeland, produced a determined and dedicated performance to clock the fastest lap of the opening night in Qatar. His new team-mate Michele Pirro also made a positive start as he rode in floodlit conditions for the first time. Both riders continue their preparations for Sunday's race with a further free practice tomorrow evening.
Yuki Takahashi ( 1st 2' 401" 695) "What can I say? I am really happy with this first day. To be so strong in the opening Grand Prix of the season is an encouraging start. This is yet further proof of my relationship with this team, which is working really well. Today I was feeling very sad and thinking about my people back home in Japan. It is a terrible tragedy that I am struggling to get out of my mind and I found the first session hard tonight. Then I felt the motivation to have a good race so that I can dedicate it to my people and at that point everything changed. In the end I was able to set the fastest time of the evening. We still have work to do but my spirit has changed and now I am confident we can do well here."
Michele Pirro (7th 2' 02" 498) "The first time under lights was a little strange for me. After a few laps I got confident and actually enjoyed it. I maybe could have gone a bit faster but there is a lot of traffic in Moto2. We have some work to do on the set-up of the bike but I am confident because we are working well and I think we can take a step forward before the race."
Fausto Gresini "It has been a profitable day's work with a good result at the end of it. We know we can be competitive and this is the proof although there is still a long way to go. We struggled a little in the first session but then we found our way and the hard work paid off with good positions for both riders, especially Takahashi. So I am confident and we will keep working over the next sessions to make sure we are ready to fight for a good result on Sunday."