Press releases from the 125 and Moto2 teams after the race at Qatar:
RW Racing GP debut in eighth place in Qatar
The first race for the new Dutch team RW Racing GP at the Commercial Bank of Qatar Grand Prix has delivered an eighth place. Luis Salom fought for the sixth position but had to settle for eighth position.
The warm-up session was held on Saturday evening which is not common. Because the organization wants to start the MotoGP earlier today, the 125cc and Moto2 class were forced to ride the warm-up session on Saturday. In this session Luis Salom ran good laps and ended the session in eighth place.
The first race of the season was started at 19.00 hours local time. Salom knew right from the start to win the two positions and came in the third group that fought for the seventh position. Halfway through the race Hector Faubel had a technical problem and ended up in the group of Salom and messed up the pace of this group. The gape to the second group went bigger and Salom had to settle down to fight for the sixth position. In the last lap the Spaniard run a bit off the track and couldn't fight anymore for the sixth position. Salom finished the race on a respectable eights position which is a good start of the season.
Luis Salom (8th):
"For the race I was getting a little bit nervous. It's always exciting to ride the first race of the season. An eighth place is not bad but I know that I could do better. My start was not bad but I missed the connection with the second group and was fighting with Zarco, Vinales and Moncayo voor P6. Our lap times were as fast as the second group that fought for the second position. At the time the group where I was fighting with closed the gap to the second group, Faubel got a problem and hold us up. Therefore the gap wnet bigger and the highest position possible was a sixth. I ended up eights because I made a small mistake in the last lap. I'm satisfied with this result but I know We can do better. For next race I have to improve my starting position and certainly and I can score a better result. The team worked hard this weekend and I want to thank them ! for there support!"
A crash ruins Marc Márquez's recovery in Qatar
The Repsol rider, after a bad start, fell when trying to recover lost ground. Márquez is uninjured, despite the dramatic crash
After the nearly perfect practice sessions, Marc Márquez finished today with a crash the first Grand Prix of the season. The Repsol rider had a bad start that forced him to increase his pace in the first laps, which caused a crash were he was thrown in the air on the fast right corner number 5. Fortunately, Emilio Alzamora's pupil was unharmed, despite the spectacular fall.
When the red lights went out at Losail circuit, the Repsol rider had a bad start that ultimately determined the outcome of his race. At the end of the first lap, he was on eleventh position, after letting the clutch go too early at the start and lose several positions in the classification.
The stress finally betrayed him, as from the second lap on he started a recovery pushing at a very high pace that finally left him on the ground. In the second lap he was already ninth, seventh in the third lap and sixth on lap four. A lap later -the fifth- the Repsol rider skidded in corner number 5 and was dramatically thrown out in the air. Fortunately, despite the hard crash, Márquez was unhurt, but had no chance to go back to the race, as the bike was badly damaged.
Márquez leaves Qatar with 0 points but he is already thinking about the next round, the Spanish Grand Prix, with his lesson learned.
"I'm fine, though I'm angry with myself because the team had done a great job for this Grand Prix. I want to apologize to them. In the free practice sessions I felt really well on the bike, but I had a bad start and I wanted to recover too fast. As they say, you always learn the hard way and this crash will be a lesson for me. The first mistake was at the start and then I made the second, to rush. I am really angry because we were doing such a good job.
I was worried about the start and the front of the bike jumped. The crash was when I was going out of the corner, as I opened the gas too early. The warm-up being yesterday is no excuse, as it is the same for everyone. We still have many kilometres ahead to learn and today the overeagerness to do well took its toll. I am certain I will learn from that mistake. It was a pity, as I had a good pace. Anyway, I hope everything goes better in Jerez.".
BANKIA ASPAR'S NICO TEROL WINS SEASON OPENER IN QATAR
Win, fastest lap and championship lead for Spaniard in first race of 2011
It all began on Sunday night. The 2011 125cc season began under the Qatari floodlights, with eighteen laps deciding the winner of the inaugural race of the year. A change for this campaign was the lining up of the riders in rows of three, as opposed to the four-man grid lines of previous years. The end result was a win for BANKIA Aspar's Nico Terol, who broke away early and pulled far away from the trailing group of five riders.
BANKIA Aspar's Nico Terol was feeling comfortable in practice, and was back on the top step of the Qatar podium for the second year. He pushed hard early on and pulled out an enormous gap over his rivals. He continued to increase the gap as the laps went on, and he managed the space between he and his fellow competitors to cruise to victory. In the early stages, Terol was riding at nearly two seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field. Teammates Héctor Faubel and Adrián Martín didn't have quite as good a weekend, as the former missed out on the podium fight due to a problem with his bike. The returning Spaniard's main difficulty came on lap thirteen, and he eventually came home in eleventh place to earn five points. Martín started from fifteenth on the grid, but a second lap mistake saw him crash on turn ten. The young rider from Chiva resumed the race, in order to gain experience on the world stage.
1st Nico Terol: "I am delighted, because I felt very comfortable and fluid on the bike. As a result, the quick lap times came relatively easy. The end of the race was a bit more difficult, because on the last four laps I could feel some bounce from the rear tyre. It was very weird, and being so close to crashing made those final laps the longest of my life. I slowed down a lot in order to avoid any more scares before crossing the line. I want to thank the team for a fabulous job, because the bike was really fast and the chassis was magnificent. We have to keep our feet on the ground in any case, because a lot of riders will be gunning for anyone who pulls ahead. We reached a fantastic level last season, and I am going to try and use that experience to my advantage this year. Riding without a warmup was strange, and at the start it seemed like just another practice session. We had a great weekend overall, but I repeat that we are going to have to work hard. There will be no getting complacent."
11th Héctor Faubel: "It was a pity that we had engine problems, because I felt good in the race. The weekend wasn't especially good, but in qualifying yesterday we managed to get the bike working well. That motivated me for the race. I took off strong and found myself in the chasing pack, in which I was riding comfortably. I saw that the bike wasn't running so well, so I stuck behind Cortese instead of pushing. My intention was to make a move in the final sprint, opening up a gap, but the engine had problems when I decided to go. I lost power and had to really fight hard to take eleventh. It's five points, but not the result that I was aiming for."
28th Adrián Martín: "It was a bit of a strange weekend, but in the warmup yesterday we were able to get the bike to my liking. I took off strongly, because I knew that I could be part of the top ten. Shortly after starting I felt good in the group with Salom and Moncayo. I think that we didn't get the bike quite right for the straights, because they were taking time of me there. I wanted to push harder, but I made a mistake and fell. I lost time, but decided to resume the race in order to gain experience. That was good for me, having barely tested in preseason."
Mahindra Racing makes promising debut in Qatar
March 20, 2011, Qatar: Mahindra Racing – part of the US $11.1 billion Mahindra Group – made its race debut with a fight for a point under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit for the opening round of the 125cc class of the MotoGP World Championship.
British rider Danny Webb made strong progress from 22nd on the grid to be fighting for 15th and the point which it brings for much of the race, just losing the place with just two laps left in the 18 lap race, meaning that Mahindra finished shy of a debut point by just 0.394 seconds.
Marcel Schrötter on the second Mahindra GP125 finished in 21st after also being involved in race long battles for position.
It was a solid first race weekend for the Indian-owned Engines Engineering designed and built Mahindra GP125. After promising practice sessions, all held at night at the 5.38km circuit, the riders were a mere 0.006seconds apart in qualifying, lining up in 22nd and 23rd on the 30 bike grid.
Team Principal Mufaddal Choonia was proud of the team's debut: "This was an emotional day for us as for the first time the Mahindra GP125 has raced in a World Championship race. By fighting for a point on our debut we think the paddock has seen the promise of Mahindra Racing.
"We have been moved by how much support we have received outside of the paddock too, especially with our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/MahindraRacing - which gained over 5000 fans during the course of the race meeting.
"Both our riders and the team showed tremendous promise and potential for the season ahead and we hope to be battling our more experienced rivals for points in the very near future."
Leading Mahindra's charge, 19-year-old Danny Webb from Tunbridge Wells, England, was happy with his race performance: "To finish in 16th after starting in 23rd was a tough battle and I was fighting all the way. I got a good start and was making up places in the early laps, but no-one was having any dramas up ahead so it was difficult to get any further forwards.
"It was frustrating to lose out on 15th and a point, but I'm pretty sure we'll have at least one in the next race."
Eighteen year-old Marcel Schrötter from Pflugdorf, Germany, finished in 21st: "I tried my best today, and I know that myself and the team are improving step by step so I'm positive for the future."
CEO of Engines Engineering, Alberto Strazzari gave his perspective on Mahindra Racing's debut. "This was a fantastic weekend from an engineering perspective. The bikes have performed very well. The speed of the GP125 was good which means the power from our engine can take the fight to our competition. It was frustrating not to get a point today, but we are hoping for better in the next race."
Mahindra Racing will next be in action at the Spanish GP at Jerez on April 1-3.
JULIÁN SIMÓN IS FASTEST SPANIARD IN THE DESERT, OPENING MOTO2 CAMPAIGN WITH TOP TEN FINISH
MAPFRE Aspar rider has tyre issue that limits his success in Qatari round
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The bikes in competition in the 125cc and Moto2 categories were different, but the races were remarkably similar in Qatar. The grid rows were separated into lines of three, and there was no same-day warmup for the intermediate class riders, and there was one outstanding man at the front. Stefan Bradl won the race, although behind him there were plenty of duels in an entertaining contest. The next round of the series takes place in Jerez, Spain.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Julián Simón was once again faced with adversity in the opening race of the year. He qualified in a decent sixth place, and was ready to go all-out in Qatar on race night. He moved up a position on lap one, but found himself less at ease with his bike as the contest progressed. Used to such a situation, Simón responded with a cautious ride that prevented him from crashing out. He eventually came home tenth, taking five points away from the desert track.
The best Spaniard in the class, he hopes for a more positive result in Jerez at the next round.
New teammate in the MAPFRE Aspar squad, Xavi Forés, began from 21st on the grid and attempted to move up the field. A lack of pace proved to be his undoing, as he dropped down to 26th.
10th Julián Simón: "Looking on the positive side, we have got a better start than last year -when I didn't even complete the first lap. This year I have got six points. Tenth isn't where we wanted to finish, but we had a problem with the front tyre meant that I couldn't ride comfortably in the race. I hope to continue finetuning the bike in Jerez, in order to have a good race there. We have a lot of data from the winter. We had problems finding our pace, but we have improved every step of the way. I found the bike to be much better in yesterday's warmup. I felt pretty fluid at the start, but from the seventh lap onwards I was locking up on every turn, coming close to crashing."
26th Xavi Forés: "I had a pretty good start, and kept with the Group of riders from eleventh to twentiefth. That was fairly comfortable, but suddenly I noticed that the bike was shaking at the back, and I don't know why the tyre was doing that. This was a big setback, especially on the turns. It is also true that I lacked the track time to have been as good as I wanted. I felt good this weekend, found a fast lap but then lacked a bit of pace in a race situation. I tried to keep a good feeling at the end, picking up a bit of confidence. We have to think that a good result is possible in Jerez
Smith claims stunning debut top 10 in Moto2
Bradley Smith started his Moto2 World Championship campaign in superb fashion in the season opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar tonight.
The 20-year-old, starting from the front of the third row for his Moto2 debut, made a fantastic start and after a typically frantic first few corners, Smith found himself on the tail of the leading group in fifth.
Showing the undoubted potential of the Tech 3 Racing Mistral 610 machine, Smith settled into a consistent rhythm, comfortably reeling off a series of laps in the low 2.02 bracket to keep a determined Michele Pirro at bay in ninth.
Smith was overtaken by Pirro on lap nine, but the British rider displayed tremendous fighting spirit, refusi ng to let the Italian open up a gap as the 20-lap race unfolded. Far from settling for tenth position, Smith superbly chased down Julian Simon, closing down a 2.2s deficit on the 2010 Moto2 runner-up to pass him with four laps remaining.
Smith kept his cool under enormous pressure from Simon and fellow Spaniard Aleix Espargaro on the final lap to finish in a thoroughly deserved ninth, much to the delight of his Tech 3 Racing crew.
Mike di Meglio also made a terrific start under the Losail International Circuit floodlights, the Frenchman producing an aggressive opening lap to move six places up the order into 13th. He finished in 19th but gained a wealth of information on the Mistral 610 machine to focus on improving when the European phase of the World Championship gets underway in Jerez on April 3.
Bradley Smith 9th – 7-points
"It feels awesome to have got a top ten in my Moto2 debut. I'd always set my heart on a top 15, so this is a real bonus. I feel like I earned it though because I am really tired now and the race was quite tough. Moto2 is obviously a lot more physical than 125s, so I might need to spend even more time in the gym! I learned so much in the race it was unbelievable. Those guys at the front certainly don't hang around and while I'm obviously happy with my result, we've got work to match that pace. I'd say I'm a second a lap behind them at the moment, but I also learned a lot about the bike and what we need to do to take another step. But to pass and hold off a rider as good as Julian is a great feeling too. I guess I owed him one from our time together in 125s. The Tech 3 Racing Team never stop working so I know we will have some improvements for the next race in Jerez. Tonight was as much of a test as it was a race, so we can only g et stronger."
Mike di Meglio 19th
"We can't deny it was a hard weekend, but I think we collected a lot of information that is going to help make us stronger in the next few races and make big improvements with the bike. I was involved in a good fight for some of the race but I would have liked to be closer to the points. I gained a lot of experience with the bike and understood more clearly that I can improve with my own riding technique, so I'm looking forward to Jerez and working on improving the set-up I found at the recent test to get closer to the top 15."
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
"Bradley did a wonderful job when you consider this was his first race in Moto2 and I have to pass on big congratulations to him and his Tech 3 Racing Team. He was able to pass Jul ian Simon, who was a hot favourite a few weeks ago for the title after he finished runner-up in 2010. And he was always fighting with some of the best riders in the world, so this is a fantastic early boost for his confidence. He was consistent all the way through the race and the experience he gained will only make him stronger for the rest of the season. Mike had a few difficulties this weekend and I think he still lacks a bit of confidence. He was fighting all through the race and never gave up and I'm pleased he was able to hold off Kallio at the end. I am positive Mike is moving in the right direction and we haven't seen anything like what he is capable of."
POSITIVE START TO MOTO2 SEASON FOR TEAM GRESINI
Yuki Takahashi and Michele Pirro finished the opening race of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship in fifth and eighth place respectively in Qatar tonight – satisfactory results at a circuit that has proven to be a difficult challenge for the Moriwaki MD600 Team Gresini machine. It is a positive first step on a long road that concludes at Valencia in November.
Yuki Takahashi (5°) "It was important to finish the race tonight and I tried to do it in the best possible way. I got a good start but from midway through the race I started to feel the rear sliding and I lost a little feeling, which cost me a few positions and the opportunity to finish on the podium. Overall though I am happy and confident because I know that with this bike we can expect to do much better at the circuits to come."
Michele Pirro (8°) "I am not happy because eighth place is never a result to be happy with but we did our best tonight. The chassis set-up was good but we were losing a bit of top speed and with a straight as long as the one here at Losail it cost us vital ground. I lost contact with the lead group over the opening laps and even though I recovered it wasn't enough to challenge for sixth place, which I think was within my reach tonight."
Fausto Gresini "For a first race it hasn't gone bad. Last year we took fifth place here and tonight we got a fifth and an eighth, which is positive. Obviously a podium would have been better but I am satisfied all the same. We knew tonight was going to be a difficult race because we weren't quite as well prepared as we would like but unfortunately that was the maximum we were capable of on this occasion. I was impressed with Yuki and Michele was the top rookie so we have to think positive and look forward to the next race."
TOUGH START FOR MARC VDS RACING TEAM
The 2011 Moto2 World Championship campaign kicked off in disappointing fashion for the Marc VDS Racing Team in Qatar tonight.
Mika Kallio's debut in the ultra-competitive Moto2 class was a hard fought affair, the Finnish rider ending the Losail International Circuit encounter in 20th position. Highly fancied Scott Redding's challenge ended prematurely when he crashed on the second lap while fighting to break into the top ten. He remounted to finish 31st.
Having worked throughout practice and qualifying to gain more confidence with the front-end of his Suter MMXI machine, Kallio was engaged in an exciting five-rider fight for 17th that included World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu and ex-125cc World Champion Mike di Meglio.
But pushing too hard to improve his position in the second half of the race, the Finnish rider started to encounter a small front-end vibration and was just unable to overhaul di Meglio on the final lap to claim a place in the top 20.
Redding was optimistic of mounting a podium challenge going into the 20-lap race but starting from 10th on the grid, he lost four places in a typically frenetic first lap.
Seeking to swiftly move back into the top ten and hunt down the leading pack, Redding crashed out on the second lap, the 18-year-old losing the front-end at the second corner.
Determined to atone for his small early mistake, Redding remounted his Suter MMXI machine, and despite losing his left footpeg in the spill, he completed the full race distance to gain vital data and information to help him bounce back when the season resumes in Jerez, Spain on April 3.
Mika Kallio #36: Race Position 20th
"I was hoping to be much closer to the points because the feeling with the bike was better for the race. It wasn't a huge step we found in the warm-up last night but we ran a harder front suspension setting and we gained some feeling on corner entry. The problem is, I haven't found a really good feeling with either of the two tyre options that were available here and it was the same at the last test in Jerez. Maybe that is one reason why I've not been faster here. In the first eight laps I was catching some guys in front and it was a good battle. But as soon as I caught the group I started having some chatter from the front and, unfortunately, I couldn't keep in contact for the pack fighting for 15th position. The gap to the front group is too big and we have to be much closer at the next race in Jerez. I had a good test there so we will work to improve the setting in practice and have a much stronger race."
Scott Redding #45: Race Position 31st
"I'm really disappointed and this wasn't the way I expected to start the season at all. The new chassis we're running this year has improved the rear traction a lot but I haven't found a good feeling with the front yet. The front is a bit too unpredictable at the moment, so I never really know when I'm going to have a problem. I was pushing into the second corner and without any warning I lost the front. I tried to pick it up on my elbow but it was too late and I was down. The left footpeg broke off and the left handlebar was all bent but I carried on because my guys in the Marc VDS Racing Team have worked really hard all weekend. It is always good to start the season with some good results to build up confidence and I am convinced we will bounce back in Jerez. I was fast at the test recently and, hopefully, I'll be able to show much more of what I'm capable of."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"We came here aiming for the top ten with Scott and the top 15 with Mika, so for both of them to be outside the points is disappointing. It is unusual to see Scott make a mistake so early in the race and we need to identify the causes of the crash ahead of the next race in Jerez, where we know he is competitive. Scott did well to finish the race with no left footpeg, and despite this problem he was lapping quicker than some of the riders in front of him. Mika was involved in a good battle and we thought he might be able to fight for the points. But like in practice he was unable to keep his fast rhythm after seven or eight laps and we must look to make him more comfortable for longer into the race in Jerez."
Moto2 Losail : encouraging results for the Technomag-CIP team
Losail, 20 March 2011 - Losail's racetrack opened the GP season and it's the second time that Moto2 had to ride on this complex track. If you add to this the fact that they ride by night with the warm'up done the day before, we can say that this race has singulars conditions.
In general, free and qualifying practices were delicate for the Technomag-CIP team with an even more complicated integration for Kenan. During the first two days, our riders Kenan Sofuoglu and Dominique Aegerter were in trouble. Throughout the qualifying session, Dominique ran in 2:01.895 and qualified 15th on the 5th row (the new rule is 3 riders per line instead of 4).
Kenan was not very successful during the practices and he qualified in 10th lines with the 28th lap time.
During the race the weather conditions were fine : 21°C and slightly windy. Dominique did a good start and remained within the group which battled for the 11th place during the whole race. Aggressive until the end, Dominique ended up 13th at only seven-tenth of a second of his predecessor. Dominique brought back three precious points from Qatar.
Concerning Kenan, even though he made a good start which brought him five places ahead, and despite his time laps very closed to the top 10, he finished 18th.
On the edge of the Grand Prix, a commemorative ceremony paid tribute to Shoya Tomizawa who was the first rider to win a Moto2 race (Qatar, 2010). When the memorial stone was unveiled in the presence of his parents, Technomag-CIP team and a lot of riders from all categories (with Jorge Lorenzo), the emotion was huge. The team wants to thank the organizers and the circuit for this tribute.
Great start into the new season for Thomas Lüthi: The 24-year-old star of Team Interwetten Paddock celebrated third place in the Moto2 race of the Qatar Grand Prix.
Lüthi started from third place on the front row and held second spot behind lightning-fast German Stefan Bradl for the opening three laps. Then a fierce battle in the top group of riders unfolded, and by mid-race, Lüthi had to give way to Italian Andrea Iannone and Japanese ace Yuki Takahashi. But in a thrilling final, Lüthi hit back, overtook Takahashi and secured third place on the podium. "Even watching this race was tough – the whole team is exhausted just by looking at the monitors", smiled team-manager Terrel Thien. "Tom didn't have enough drive out of the last corner and therefore wasn't able to attack on the main straight. There was only one overtaking manoeuvre in the race that didn't happen on the straight – Tom's attack on Takahashi! He and the whole team reached our goal for this weekend. I hope we can continue this way!"
Tom Lüthi – rider (3rd + 5,137 sek.)
"At the beginning of the race I tried to stay with Stefan, but it was impossible because he had more traction on the corner exits. I then concentrated on the fight in the pack. Andrea Iannone pushed me onto the dirty outside line and I had to cut the gas. This cost me a few metres, but luckily there was enough time left to catch up again. Takahashi held me up for a long time though, I was right on the limit with my rear tyre, sliding everywhere, and I needed many laps to figure out where I would be able to pass him. When I did, there was not enough time left to hunt Iannone down. But I am happy with this result, it was a good start into the season. At the same time I am well aware that we have a lot more work ahead of us. But we know what we have to do. I have a great crew around me and I'm convinced that we will have a very successful season!"
Alfred Willecke, Criew Chief:
"I am very happy with Tom's race. He rode very well and attacked at the right moment. Now we have to continue to work in order to close the gap to Stefan Bradl. He was unbeatable today and I want to congratulate him to his success. We tried for further improve our set-up in yesterday's warm-up session but then decided to return to what we had in qualifying!"
Daniel Epp – PADDOCK Grand Prix Management
"Tom confirmed his good practice performance in the race. He was within the top runners from the very beginning of this weekend and battled his way to second in the race in a group of four top riders. This makes me very confident for the next Grand Prix at Jerez!"