Press releases from the Moto2 and 125cc teams from Saturday at Qatar:
Luis Salom (10th) not satisfied with qualification at Qatar
During the qualifying session of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, the RW Racing GP rider Luis Salom qualified to a tenth position. The Spaniard will start tomorrow the first race of the season from the fourth row.
The qualifying session this evening didn't bring the desired position. During the weekend Luis Salom continuous ride in the top eight of the timesheets but the Spaniard couldn't improve the lap time of Friday and ended up on a tenth position. The problems with the rear suspension have been solved but the adjustments of the rear suspension had influence for the front suspension. Salom tried hard this session but wasn't able to improve his time of Friday.
Due of the new rules of the organization Salom will tomorrow start the race from the fourth row. As in the MotoGP class, there will be this season only three riders per row instead of the usual four rider per row. The race will start Sunday at 17.00 hours Dutch time and 19.00 hours local time.
Luis Salom (10th, 2:09.331):
"This result wasn't what I expected for the qualifying session. I can't be satisfied. All weekend we have struggled with the set-up of the rear suspension but these are now mainly resolved. Unfortunately, this change affects the front suspension so I couldn't ride the lap that I had in mind. Also we were not strategically well in the final minutes of the session and I missed the slip stream which is very important to the long straight of this track. The tenth position is not bad. Tomorrow I need to have a good start and make sure I can get the connection with the second group. Then a top eight position should be possible. "
Second place for Marc Márquez in his first qualifying of a new class and season in Qatar
The new Moto2 rider confirms his good performance in the past days with a second fastest time. Tomorrow he will start from the first row of this year's first Grand Prix grid
During the all-important qualifying session, Marc Márquez confirmed that his performance in his first Moto2 pre-season was not due to chance, nor were the times he set in the last three testing days. When the time arrived to grab a good place for tomorrow's race, Marquez surprised everyone again. Only Bradl was able to prevent the Repsol rider from setting the fastest time in his first qualifying session in Moto2.
Everything is ready for the first Moto2 race of the year. There is only the warm up session left which, though usually held on Sunday just before the race, in Qatar it will take place tonight, at 21.55h (local time). In Qualifying, Marquez started by taking a place among the fastest of the class, as he already did in the practice session.
In his third lap, Marc set a time of 2 minutes, 1 second and 264 thousandths, half a second faster than his best free practice lap. From that moment, Emilio Alzamora's pupil did a series of laps improving his time to a little more than 2 minutes. In lap 12 of the 18 he completed, Márquez set his fastest time of the session - 2 minutes and 375 thousandths-, which left him in the lead of the overall classification. The Repsol rider was on provisional pole position, but then Stefan Bradl snatched it from him in the last five minutes, pushing the Spaniard down to second place, a really great achievement for a rider with no experience in this competitive class.
Only Bradl, Márquez and Switzerland's Luthi - third -, were able to set a time below the 2 minutes and 1 second. These three riders will be tomorrow in the first row of the starting grid in the first round of 2011 calendar, the Qatar Grand Prix.
2'00.375 sec, 18 laps, 97 km.
"Truth is we are really happy. I feel more and more comfortable on the bike, mainly thanks to my mechanics, who are doing and incredible job. To start from the first row in our first Moto2 Grand Prix is a very good result and I will do my best tomorrow. We still have to see how the bike works in race conditions and with a full tank, but I hope I will be able to have a good start. In Moto2 the start is a bit more complicate, but I hope everything goes well. We are gathering experience and that's the most important thing".
Super Smith storms to seventh in Moto2 qualifying debut
Bradley Smith produced a dazzling performance under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar tonight, the British rider claiming a stunning seventh position in his first ever Moto2 qualifying session.
The 20-year-old clocked a best time of 2.01.442 on the new Tech 3 Racing machine to claim a place on the third row of the grid for tomorrow night's season opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.
With each row now made up of three and not four riders in a new qualifying format introduced for 2011, the action in the final ten minutes was as intense as ever.
Smith thrived on the pressure though and showed he's adap ted to the Moto2 class in breathtakingly fast fashion when he jumped into fourth position with just eight minutes of the session remaining.
At the end of the 45-minute session, Smith was only 0.012s away from claiming a place on the second row as he comfortably lapped faster than a host of riders boasting more experience in the Moto2 class. Smith is now confident he can fight in the leading group in tomorrow's 20-lap race.
French rider Mike di Meglio was unable to cure a chatter problem that has hindered his progress throughout the opening weekend of the season. He tried a range of set-up changes to try and solve the issue and is confident of making further improvements prior to the race. A lap of 2.02.352 will see him start from 19th on the grid.
Bradley Smith 7th 2.01.442 – 19 laps:
"This obviously has been a fantastic qualifying for me. It was my first qualifying session in Moto2 and it went better than I expected. I actually did my best lap time on my with a new tyre, so that gives me a lot of confidence. I did another a few laps behind people too and that helped me learn a lot, which is what I need to do to help build my experience. I still feel that there are some modifications that we can make for the race and I hope it will make easier for me to do a fast lap time. I don't know if we can improve on the lap time, but making it easier would obviously be a big help. The Tech 3 Racing Team has been working incredibly hard to give me a competitive bike. Seventh position on the grid that gives me a good opportunity to start with the front group and it will help me to get a lot of experience in my first race. I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait for tomorrow night."
Mike di Meglio 19 th 2.02.352 – 17 laps:
"I've had a lot of trouble with chatter right from the start of practice and it has been difficult to find a solution. We need to think very fast now to try to find some answers to get faster. Starting from 19th position will be difficult and I need to be able to do the lap times easier than I can at the moment. But I'm confident my Tech 3 Racing crew have some ideas and we can try and improve for the race and fight for the points."
REDDING TARGETS PODIUM IN SEASON OPENER
Scott Redding is confident he can fight for the podium in the opening Moto2 World Championship race in Qatar, despite a difficult qualifying session tonight.
The Marc VDS rider started the 45-minute qualifying session confident that gearbox and rear suspension modifications to his Suter MMXI machine would help him continue the impressive form he displayed in practice.
But having finished third overall at the end of free practice, the 18-year was unable to find a comfortable rhythm on the 5.38km Losail International Circuit and he will start from 10th position on the grid for tomorrow night's 20-lap race.
A time of 2.01.564 secured Redding a place on the fourth row of the grid with the Moto2 class switching to a new grid format for 2011, with three instead of four riders per row.
Mika Kallio made a big improvement with his lap times tonight, the Finnish rider taking full advantage of steering head angle changes to improve front-end confidence to lap 0.8s quicker than he managed in practice.
He set a best time of 2.02.549 but his improvement wasn't reflected on the final results with Kallio preparing to make his debut in the ultra-competitive Moto2 class from 25th position on the grid.
In a change to the normal weekend schedule, the Warm-Up session also took place tonight with Redding and Kallio finishing 11th and 19th respectively.
Scott Redding #45 - 2.01.564 - 15 laps
"That's not the result I was expecting at all. I couldn't get the rear tyre to work in the first part of the session and after that I struggled to get into a rhythm. I was trying to do lots of different things to improve my pace but it feels like I'm at the limit of what the bike is capable of doing. We made an improvement with the rear traction but now I don't have a lot of front feel, so we've got to try and find a better balance for the race. I'm pretty sure I could have been a bit faster at the end but as is always the case in Moto2, there was a lot of traffic and some riders just sitting in the middle of the track. That's not an excuse and I'm not over the moon with the result. With only three riders per row now qualifying is more important than ever, so I've got to make a lightning start, get my head down and try and go with the front group."
Mika Kallio #36 - 2.02.549 - 16 laps
"Obviously I can't be happy with my grid position. We actually made the feeling with the front a little bit better than yesterday and I had some more confidence on the entry to the corner. I had more feedback too but the step wasn't as big as we hoped and I couldn't improve as much as I needed. It is a little bit strange because at the last test in Jerez my pace and lap times were competitive, so we came to Qatar very optimistic. But I just haven't been able to show my potential so far. As we saw last year in Moto2, if you don't qualify well then the race becomes very difficult. We will make some changes to the bike again for the race and hopefully be able to battle for the top 15. At least I want to set some consistent lap times and learn about the bike in race conditions."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"Unfortunately it was a difficult qualifying session and the result is definitely not what we expected, so we have to do a lot better in the race. I thought we were going to be much closer to the front with Scott and Mika, so we are disappointed because both of them struggled for almost the whole session. It was only in the last few minutes that we started to see Scott making some good lap times but it still wasn't fast enough to be close to the front. After Scott's performance in winter testing and his third position in practice, we were hoping he would be much higher and at least on the second row. Mika was nearly a second faster than he was in practice, which is encouraging. But he's quite far down the grid and it will be a difficult race. But we have to show more of the potential of the Marc VDS Racing Team and I am confident we can do that."
SECOND AND THIRD ROW STARTS FOR TEAM GRESINI MOTO2 PAIR
The fourth and ninth fastest times for Yuki Takahashi and Michele Pirro respectively tonight means they will start from the second and third rows of the grid in tomorrow's Moto2 race. New rules mean that the intermediate category will also have three riders per row. Both Team Gresini riders were hoping for more tonight but remained convinced they can be competitive when the race gets underway at 20:15 tomorrow (local time).
Yuki Takahashi (4° 2' 01" 179) "I had more confidence with the bike yesterday compared to today and I am not completely satisfied. We still have to work to improve the feeling and hopefully we can do that in the warm-up. We could have done better tonight but to be honest there are so many riders on track it is difficult. I am a little disappointed but still confident that we can have a good race tomorrow night."
Michele Pirro (9° 2'01" 479) "I missed out on the second row by very little so I am disappointed about that. We had a bit of a problem with the front and we have worked out that it was coming from the tyre. It's a shame but it is all part of the experience and it will help me develop from race to race. Tomorrow won't be easy because we have a lot of strong rivals but I am confident and will try my best."
Fausto Gresini "Things could have worked out better but fourth and ninth – the second and third row of the grid – still isn't bad. Unfortunately we struggled a little tonight with set-up problems. The front two on the grid are looking really strong but we are confident. We still have the warm-up to change things and we will do what we can to improve the feeling of the bikes. Our pace is not far off and I think we can be challenging in the race."
Thomas Lüthi conquers front row at the season-opening Grand Prix
Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rider Tom Lüthi conquered a front row starting position in the final practice for the first motorycle Grand Prix of the season. With a lap time of 2.00,996 minutes, the 24-year-old Swiss rider qualified in third position behind German Stefan Bradl and Spain's 125 cc World Champion Marc Márquez, and is now one of the top contenders for a podium finish.
Tom Lüthi – rider (3rd in 2.00,996 minutes)
"We are happy with third place in qualifying, as we set the base for a good race. Now it is important to set the bike up for the whole race distance and to make sure tyre performance remains steady. We also will try to improve the bike's behaviour under acceleration out of the corners. We made a huge step forward in terms of lap times, we are much faster and now we have to adapt the bike to our new pace!"
Terell Thien, Team Manager:
"Qualifying was really, really good. Since the start of the pre-season tests, we keep talking about qualifying and the fact that Tom needs to be able to pull all stops for one or two really fast flying laps. Today, he was at the very limit in each and every corner – he did very well and I take my hat off to him. But work doesn't stop for us because there still is a gap of one second to the riders on top that we need to close. Tom is now faster than ever before on this track, and we have to keep up with the settings of the bike so he can open the throttle earlier without the bike moving too much!"
Daniel Epp – PADDOCK Grand Prix Management
"We are on front row which was our target for this race, and which is our target for all the races this season. We are happy with that, but we can't be happy with the gap between Tom and the two riders ahead of him. We will continue to work in order to be fully competitive in the race!"
IANNONE WILL START FROM THE 16TH POSITION ON THE GRID FOR THE QATAR GP
After today's qualifying session, the starting grid for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar was defined for the Moto2 category.
Andrea Iannone, Speed Master rider, will begin the race from the sixteenth spot on the grid tomorrow, as he set his personal best time of 2'01.903. The team is working to improve the setting of the Suter MMXI machine and in the session different modifications were carried out, but those weren't completely satisfying. During the warm up, which took place today, the team gathered some extra data and they tried to elaborate some useful information for Sunday. Andrea will do his best to move up and to be competitive in the first event of the season.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — qualifying session: 16th with 2'01.903
"This was a difficult day because we still have most of the problems we had yesterday, we didn't manage to solve them and this isn't really positive. Obviously our intention is to aim to something completely different, not to what we have now. My team is strong, I believe in my crew. We have to understand what we still lack, we have to understand what causes the problems and what prevents us from solving them. With our working method I believe we'll manage to find a way out of this and I hope it'll happen soon. Let's see what happens Sunday: it isn't over yet, the race is tomorrow, I think we still have a chance to get a good result, I hope so and we'll try our best. I hope this night we'll help us to understand something more. I thank the team and the Suter technicians that are working a lot."
NICO TEROL TAKES THE FIRST POLE POSITION OF THE SEASON
BANKIA Aspar continues form as race favourite after second pole of his career
A third day of practice took place at Losail today before the main course finally arrives with the first races of the season tomorrow. A handful of youngsters staked their claim for a top grid position early in this evening's 125cc qualifying session but the more it progressed the more the experienced riders in the field moved to the fore, Nico Terol and Sandro Cortese eventually becoming embroiled in a two-way battle for pole position.
BANKIA Aspar rider Terol was again in dominant form but after holding a significant advantage over his rivals in previous sessions he was almost outdone by Cortese at the crucial moment. The German moved to the top of the timesheets on the penultimate lap but Nico produced a last gasp response. Héctor Faubel had a smile back on his face again, finding a way through the engine problems that have plagued him for the last couple of days and putting a string of fast laps together at the end of today's session to qualify fifth fastest. Adrián Martín struggled to improve his feeling and could only qualify fifteenth although he was able to shave a second off his time in the warm-up, which took place at the end of the evening, so is confident of making progress tomorrow.
1st Nico Terol 2.06.605 (13 laps): "In the end it was a close battle for pole and I had to push hard on the last lap but I am really happy to kick off the season in this way. More than the pole position I am pleased with my race pace. We are ready to go but we can't afford to back off for a moment because as we saw today there are plenty of guys ready to pick your pocket! The first few laps will be tough tomorrow because we don't have a warm-up so I will try and get a feel as quickly as possible and push as hard as I can."
5th Héctor Faubel 2.08.062 (13 laps): "I am really happy because we have made a big improvement today and solved the problems we've been having over the past couple of days. The mechanics put a completely new engine in and we were able to set it up really quickly. During the warm-up we were able to put the finishing touches to it and make sure we are ready for the race tomorrow. We also changed the exhaust halfway through qualifying and forty minutes is not a long time to work in so we were up against it but things worked out well. Fifth place isn't bad considering that we are still in a phase of adapting back to this class. It will be strange to start the race tomorrow without a warm-up but hopefully we can get a good start and get in the front group over the opening laps."
15th Adrián Martín 2.09.859 (12 laps): "It hasn't been an easy few days for me, I'm struggling to get on the pace and set the bike up. I haven't qualified where I would have liked but we are not going to throw the towel in. It is the first race of the year and I am determined to turn the situation around and pick up as many points as possible. I felt more comfortable in the warm-up and the team are helping me a lot. After lapping a second faster in the warm-up I am confident we can do better tomorrow."
SIMÓN MAKES LATE PROGRESS TO QUALIFY SIXTH FOR SEASON OPENER
'Aspar' protege loses time with gearbox experiment but recovers in time
The pace in the Moto2 class continued to increase today as the intensity rose ahead of the opening race of the season tomorrow night. Even with less riders on track this year the first qualifying session of the season saw problems of a familiar kind, with heavy traffic especially towards the end of the session making life difficult, but an entertaining session saw a host of riders on a variety of machinery staking a claim for pole position. Marc Marquez and Stefan Bradl are the two favourites for victory although Simón, Luthi and Takahasi will no doubt have something to say.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Julián Simón kept his composure this evening despite problems with a new gearbox setting early in the session. A return to yesterday's setting for the final fifteen minutes gave him the confidence to set a string of fast laps and seal the sixth fastest time of the day, adding his name to the list of podium candidates tomorrow. On the other side of the box Xavi Forés was able to sample the high pressure atmosphere of a Moto2 qualifying session for the first time. The Spaniard made a strong start but a fruitless experiment with the rear end setting of his bike cost him valuable time and he must now focus on recovering ground tomorrow after qualifying 21st.
6th Julián Simón 2.01.430 (16 laps): "We have improved quite a lot compared to yesterday - the only sticking point was the fact we used a different gear ratio to yesterday and it didn't work out. It cost us time but it was something we needed to try to put our mind at rest and after switching back at the end of the session we started to make progress again. Anyway, I think the second row is a decent result because we are close to the front and with a good start we can be up there. We made some finishing touches to the set-up in the warm-up and I improved my feeling. It is the first race of the year tomorrow and it looks like there are at least two riders with a clear plan - mine is to fight for the podium."
21st Xavi Forés 2.02.397 (16 laps): "I am a little disappointed because we were working well but we tried something that didn't work. We dropped the rear to try for more grip but it affected the front and it was folding on me in the fast corners. It was a shame because we'd done a good job up to then and I would have liked to have qualified in the top ten or fifteen. The important day is tomorrow and I think with a good start we can make up positions. That is what I'll be fighting for anyway. Points in the first race would be a positive start."
Max Neukirchner twelfth in qualifying
Max Neukirchner confirmed his strong performance from the previous day in qualifying for the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar and qualified in twelfth position for the Moto2 race on Sunday night. "With a little luck, he could have been in the top ten", said his crew chief Marco Nicotari. "But unfortunately, Max ran out of fuel during the session and it took quite while for him to return back to the garage. In the end, he got another two fast laps in and we are happy because to ride in the 2:01's at our first Moto2 race here at Qatar is quite an achievement."
Neukirchner's team-mate Anthony West was not as happy. The Australian battled with chattering problems on his MZ-RE and had to settle for 37tjh place. "We tried to fix Anthony's front end problems with another set-up, but it was not the right solution yet", said MZ CEO Martin Wimmer. "Anthony rode half a second quicker last year, so we know it's not the motorcycle – it's just a question of the right set-up!"
Max Neukirchner (12th in 2.01,741)
"I am more than pleased today. Right from the beginning I was able to do good lap times. We then changed the tires, but the new one didn't work at all no matter what air pressure we tried. We then went back to the ones we knew would work and fine-tuned the bike a bit more. After that, the bike was fine and I did two laps almost like in Superpole in World Superbike! I didn't take too many risks but it still was quick. I think with these lap times we aren't far away from race pace!"
Anthony West (37th in 2.04,043)
"I still have the same problems as yesterday. The front fork isn't bottoming out any more, but instead, I now have a lot of front end chatter and I keep losing the front. I can't run any corner speed and I can't even lean the bike over. We've tried different set-up solutions and I hope that we can find the right answer for the race. I am determined to make the best out of the situation!"
Kenny Noyes Still Chasing Setup At Qatar
The season opener at Qatar sees Kenny Noyes still blowing out the cobwebs after his long preseason layoff. The Avintia-STX rider found himself still working on finding a base setup at Qatar, after a deal to allow the American to ride only came together very late in the preseason, when FOGI Racing and GP Tech pitched in their support with Avintia and the STX team to put him on an FTR, meaning he only got to ride the bike at the final Moto2 test at Jerez.
Work on the base setup was made more complicated by a small but stubborn problem, with some vibration in the fast corners restricting Noyes' corner speed. But his Avintia-STX team have been working closely with FTR to try and track down a solution, and both Kenny and the team are confident of putting up a better fight come race day.
Kenny still has some work to do, starting back from the 12th row of the grid in the new three-rider grid format for the Moto2 class. But if the solutions the team have been working on overnight work for the American, then Noyes hopes to be able to fight his way forward as he did last year at Qatar.
Kenny Noyes, 34th, Fastest Lap: 2'03.461
Kenny said, "We're starting off further back than we wanted, but we knew it would be tough coming in with so little preseason testing. Spending all winter not knowing whether we would be racing this year means we got a real late start, and we're still chasing a solid base setting to start from."
"The new FTR is awesome, it feels real good, and it's so fast in a straight line. If we didn't have the vibration problem, we'd be a chunk closer to the front. But FTR and the crew have been fantastic, and have been working their socks off to solve the issue."
"My shoulder is holding up pretty good after the surgery last winter. It's still only 80%, but I can ride the FTR pretty well as it is. Once I get a base setting on the bike we should be well in the points, but tomorrow, all I can do is push as hard as I can, and learn as much as possible about the bike during the race."