Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after qualifying on Saturday at Phillip Island:
Mixed feelings after qualifying for RW Racing GP
Mixed emotions played the lead role with RW Racing GP during and after qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. Luis Salom was again fast at Phillip Island, but could not cash in.
Salom had proven in the third free practice to be able to manage well at Phillip Island by setting the third time. That was no fluke: the Spanish rider was on the pace consistently and on his own. Qualifying on the front row was therefore not an illusion, but justified hope.
Immediately in the qualifying session Salom was fast. Salom: "It threatened to rain. Then you have to make sure you have a fast time. And because I feel good at Phillip Island and the confidence is there, being fast straight away was no problem."
Until Zulfahmi Khairuddin rode in his way in turn 11, where Salom crashed in the first free practice. Salom tried to pass him on the brakes, therefore had to leave the ideal line and went off. He was lucky to be able to continue and checking the bike took only a few minutes, but the rhythm was gone.
Salom came back on the track behind Hector Faubel and could easily pick up the pace again, but it was not enough to get under the lap time (1.40.424) he set before the crash. In the last lap he finally seemed to be faster again and the intervals showed he was on the move to a top 5 spot, but in the last section Adrian Martin was in the way of Salom, and he had to get off the throttle. The tenth place was the maximum result.
"I'm really fed up with that," said Salom. "Actually it is better here to be on the grid as tenth rather than ninth – in tenth if you stand on the right side of the track – but I'd prefer to be at least two rows further to the front. It's in there, I know. I have the pace to be at the podium. But somehow there is always something that just goes wrong."
NICO TEROL AND HÉCTOR FAUBEL HEAD SECOND ROW AT THE ISLAND
Strong winds limit BANKIA Aspar pair to fourth and fifth fastest times in Australia
A few drops of rain just moments before the start of 125cc qualifying this afternoon at Phillip Island thankfully held off to make way for a dry session to decide the grid positions for tomorrow's race. With Nico Terol and Sandro Cortese having dominated proceedings up to that point, Johann Zarco made his mark with a fast lap that cut through the strong winds and sealed pole position.
Terol will serve his first 'match ball' of the season from the second row of the grid in fourth place. The odds are against it but the BANKIA Aspar tomorrow gets his first mathematical opportunity to become 125cc World Champion. The Spaniard is also looking to reach another milestone - 1000 career points - but for now he remains focused on the job at hand. His team-mate Héctor Faubel is also targeting the podium or even victory from the second row after qualifying fifth whilst Adrián Martín was unable to build on a positive start and could only manage fourteenth - all three riders struggling to cope with the high winds today.
4th Nico Terol 1.39.702 (18 laps): "The end of the session was a little chaotic and every time I tried to push I had two or three riders looking for a two. These things happen in this category but it is still a pain. For one reason or another I couldn't put a single good lap together and fight for pole position but I am not too bothered because I know we had a good consistent pace out there despite the changeable conditions. We are ready for the race and we just have to get a good start from fourth place. The objective is to put together the best race I can and that's it. There could easily be a lead group of four or five riders so we'll have to stay on our guard to try and fight to the end for the win."
5th Héctor Faubel 1.39.963 (20 laps): "It was a tough session today because it was so windy out there and I struggled to set my best lap. We're fifth and that's a decent result considering that we had a few setbacks and the wind took us all by surprise. We more or less know how we can improve the performance of the bike and I'll be speaking with the mechanics tonight to see if we can get the chassis a bit more comfortable to cope with the wind. I feel in good shape to fight for the podium or even the win tomorrow. It's a difficult circuit to escape at and the slipstreams will be important."
14th Adrián Martín 1.40.984 (20 laps): "Yesterday was a brilliant day and today didn't go quite as well but we are looking at the positives and we know we have the pace to be higher than fourteenth. We'll look to get a good start in the race whatever the weather. The position isn't what we were hoping for and we have to try and work on the bike to get a better feeling with the wind. I am also having some front grip problems because of the wind and we need to fix that."
Difficult qualifying session for Xavier Siméon Down under
The qualifying session for the Australian Moto2 race, that will take place tomorrow at Phillip Island, started off slow for Xavier Siméon, as the session was accompanied with a lot of Ups and Downs regarding the weather conditions. It was not easy to find the best settings and tyres for the qualifying as the conditions changed from one minute to the other.
Most of the session the riders had to sit out in the box and wait before they could decide what is best to set up on their bikes. Siméon went out in the wet first, but had to come back to his garage to change the tyres as it started to dry off. A few minutes later it rained again, so the move was to change the tyres again. This happened a few times backwards and forwards and did cost the Tech3 B Team valuable time to set up the bike for the 25 laps race tomorrow.
At the end the young Belgian was happy with the improvements his team was capable of finding for him and his feeling with the Mistral 610 bike as the mix of a rain set up and slick tyres helped him to improve his lap time and at the end he finished in 23rd position. The race target will be a Top 15 finish.
Xavier Siméon, 23rd - 1'36.354:
"It was a strange qualifying session as it started with slight rain, then after a few laps it was dry again and then another few laps later it rained again. It was not easy to adjust. We had to wait about 10 minutes until we had dry conditions once again, but then it started to drizzle a bit stronger. And after another 10 minutes it started to dry off another time. But I already had decided to try the wet tyres as it could rain also tomorrow, but after a few laps it was dry again. So I decided to enter the box again and we changed to the dry tyres but with the set up for the rain and after a few laps the bike was already better than all the weekend so far. For us it was good we had the chance to try out the rain settings. The target for tomorrow is a Top 15 result."
RAIN COMPLICATES THE MOTO2 QUALIFYING SESSION AT PHILLIP ISLAND: IANNONE FINISHES WITH THE SIXTEENTH TIME
The second day of the Iveco Australian Grand Prix was marked by worse weather than the previous days and by some light rain, which particularly affected the Moto2 qualifying session.
In the last free practice of this weekend, Iannone and his crew tested some new parts on the Suter machine, which didn't really satisfy the rider's needs and therefore no improvement was achieved.
For the qualifying session, the Suter MMXI setting was arranged according to the asset that was prepared yesterday afternoon, so that the team could work on a safe base. The riders from the middle class didn't have much time at disposal on dry track, before rain started to fall and to make it difficult to improve the lap-times. With his last hot lap, Andrea set the sixteenth time (1'35.647), so that tomorrow he will have to begin the race from the sixth row of the starting grid.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — qualifying practice: 16th with 1'35.647
"This morning we had to deal with a rather complicated free practice session: we tested some new things on the bike for next season and they didn't really help us during the session. We didn't manage to put together what we expected, therefore we chose to move back to the setting we had used yesterday afternoon to face the qualifying session. The situation got tougher when it started raining just a few minutes after the beginning of the session, and on the track with mixed conditions we couldn't take advantage of the time at disposal. On my last two hot laps, I was slowed down by some riders, so I couldn't get a better grid position. I thank the team and Suter for their commitment."
A step ahead for Marc Márquez
Second in the third free practice session, the Repsol rider barely did very few laps n the qualifying, under intermittent rain, to avoid any risks
After the unfortunate day he had yesterday, during today's practice Marc Márquez focused on preparing in the best possible way for tomorrow's race, in which he will start from the last place of the grid due to the penalty he received due to the accident with Wilairot. The Repsol rider was second in the third free practice and did very few laps in the qualifying session, held under an intermittent rain that did not encourage to take risks.
The two crashes and the time lost yesterday forced Marc Márquez to work hard today in the set-up of his Moto2 for tomorrow's race. In the morning's free practice session, the Repsol rider and his team were able to improve the Suter's settings to improve his feelings at the Australian track and reduce in almost one second the time he set yesterday, stopping the clock in 1 minute, 24 seconds and 541 thousandths, 205 thousandths behind Alex De Angelis, who set the fastest time.
The rider from San Marino was also the fastest in qualifying, which took place with the always disconcerting presence of rain. From the first minutes of the session, the intermittent rain together with the gusting wind did not offer a lot of confidence on the asphalt of Phillip Island, which reached 25ºC. Under those conditions, Márquez only did eight lap, knowing that the track would not offer the required conditions to improve the set-up of his bike and, due to the penalty, he would not have to fight for a good place on the grid, so there was no need to take risks.
FP3 - 1:34.541, 18 laps, 80 km.
QP - 2:35.198, 8 laps, 36 km.
"We forgot about yesterday and planned the practice in a completely different way. We were able to improve progressively and for that I have to thank the team and Suter for their efforts to give me a bike as the one I had, completely new.
This helped me a lot and in the end we found a good set-up, which gives me confidence for tomorrow to try to recover the lost ground. Naturally, we cannot prepare the race as a normal Grand Prix, but we have to focus on doing a good start, improve lap after lap and do our own race.
I think that if we keep the concentration and stay calmed, we will be able to improve our position a lot".
FRONT ROW AT LAST!
The Phillip Island circuit was the scene of a pleasant surprise today as Yuki Takahashi qualified on the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix. It was a difficult session due to several dramatic changes in weather during qualifying practice but Team Gresini Moto2 used their experience and intuition to give Takahashi the chance to set the third fastest time right at the end of the session. Michele Pirro was also on course to set a perfectly-timed fast lap at the end but paid the price for a series of small mistakes.
Yuki Takahashi (3rd 1'34"689) "I am happy because we made the right choice at the right time and managed a front row start, which is important for me and the team. The conditions today were particularly tricky and we spent most of the session in the box until the rain ceased, then we went out and gave it everything. It is a nice feeling and starting from this position should give me the chance to have a good race tomorrow."
Michele Pirro (12th 1'35" 281) "It is a shame because without a couple of small mistakes I could have been starting from a really good position on the grid tomorrow. I was pushing hard but on every lap there was something that spoiled my lap time. I will try to make up for it tomorrow by making a good start and running with the guys at the front."
Di Meglio storms to front row at Phillip Island
The Tech 3 Racing Team celebrated its best Moto2 qualifying result of the 2011 World Championship today after Mike di Meglio stormed to a stunning front row at a wet and windy Phillip Island circuit.
Qualifying started on a dry track but as heavy clouds hovered ominously over the fast and technical Australian venue, light rain started to fall that made it impossible to continue on slick tyres.
The weather disruption continued for the majority of the session and it was only in the final minutes that the surface had dried sufficiently for the field to begin an exciting time attack.
French rider di Meglio quickly mastered the tricky conditions, with the c oastal circuit battered by a gusting and chilly wind this afternoon, to claim a brilliant second place on the grid for the 25-lap race.
He powered his Mistral 610 machine to a best time of 1.34.662 that left him just 0.088s away from a stunning pole position in the ultra-competitive Moto2 class.
Today's outstanding result was only the second time this season that di Meglio has qualified inside the top 10. And his Tech 3 Racing crew are now hoping he can mount a top six challenge on the track where he won the 2008 125cc World Championship.
British team-mate Bradley Smith will start tomorrow's race from just five places further back in seventh on the grid. The 20-year-old has been battling a heavy cold since he arrived in Australia but he didn't let that distract him on his way to recording a best lap of 1.34.867. That was only 0.293s away from pole position and just over 0.2s behin d di Meglio and he has high hopes that he can fight for a fourth rostrum of the season tomorrow.
Mike di Meglio 2nd 1.34.662 – 11 laps:
"I am really happy to be on the front row because it has been a very difficult season. But together with my team we have never stopped giving our maximum effort to improve and today is a big reward for all that hard work. We managed to improve the bike from this morning and in the end it all worked out well because it was a very difficult session and made complicated by the rain. I was much faster immediately in qualifying but then the rain came and it was frustrating having to sit in the pits because the track wasn't wet enough for rain tyres. But it was too risky to go out on slicks. We managed to get out for one last exit at the end and I had a good feeling with the bike, even though the track was a little dam p and the wind was blowing very hard. That made riding very difficult but I pushed at my maximum and almost grabbed pole position. Second is still a fantastic result and I hope to be fighting at the front in the race tomorrow."
Bradley Smith 7th 1.34.867 – 12 laps:
"This afternoon's qualifying was quite complicated with the weather and I am happy to have done the lap time I did because the conditions certainly weren't ideal. The wind was very unpredictable and even at the end you had a few rain spots on the visor, so it was quite tricky to push with a lot of confidence. It would have been nice to be on the second row instead of the third but I'll be looking to get a good start and be aggressive in the first few laps like always. Looking at the lap times it could be a close and exciting race at the front, and I'm looking forward to it a nd being right in the middle of the battle."
JORDI TORRES TAKES VITAL STEP FORWARD IN QUALIFYING
Iván Moreno ready to make MAPFRE Aspar Team debut in Australia
The thick black clouds that hung over the Phillip Island circuit throughout this afternoon finally gave way just a few laps into the final session of the day as light showers provided an unwelcome interruption to qualifying practice for the Moto2 class. It led to a chaotic session that saw the riders in and out of their pit garages until a dry spell five minutes from the end finally gave them the opportunity to push for a quick lap time. Alex De Angelis timed his run the best, clocking pole position ahead of Mike Di Meglio and Yuki Takahasi.
MAPFRE Aspar Team rider Jordi Torres is targeting his first points in the Moto2 World Championship after qualifying inside the top fifteen for the second successive race. The Spaniard has taken a big leap forward in his adaptation to the class in recent weeks and he is keen to confirm his good form in tomorrow's race. Despite limited track time this afternoon around a circuit he only rode for the first time yesterday, Torres put together an impressive lap to qualify fourteenth fastest amongst an extremely competitive field. His team-mate Iván Moreno is preparing to make his debut in the class from 31st on the grid.
14th Jordi Torres 1.35.519 (12 laps): "I have been struggling all weekend to hold my line in the long corners and we didn't get much time to work on it this afternoon because of the conditions. It kept raining and then stopping so we just had to play our cards at the end. The set-up changes turned out to be positive and we made up some good positions. When you hang it out on the last lap and it works out, it gives you a real boost in morale. As usual the team are doing an amazing job and we have been able to solve every problem, which gives me extra motivation to play my part. I will be starting from fourteenth on the grid and that gives me the belief that I can run at the front. The goal is to start well, improve from there and start scoring some points. Tomorrow is as good a day as any!"
31st Iván Moreno 1.37.414 (10 laps): "With the wind and the cool conditions we took things carefully today and after making a couple of changes the bike felt good. It was a strange session today and the rain didn't allow us to work properly, otherwise I think we would have made much bigger improvements. On my last lap there was a lot of doubt about whether the track was dry or not and I had a couple of moments. If I can get a good start tomorrow and hang on to the group in front of me it could be a fun race. The lap times are close and even though we are a little way back we have room to improve."
REDDING FIGHTS FOR POLE AT WET AND WINDY PHILLIP ISLAND
The Marc VDS Racing Team's Scott Redding finished just 0.125s away from claiming a fantastic maiden Moto2 World Championship pole position in a dramatic qualifying session at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia today.
With threatening grey clouds lurking above the super-fast 4.4km track at the beginning of qualifying, Redding immediately pushed for a fast lap time in full dry conditions in the early stages of the session, the 18-year-old conscious that rain would almost certainly play a decisive role in proceedings.
The predicted rain duly arrived with Redding only completing four laps, but his decision to push hard from the off was fully vindicated as a lap of 1.36.213 put him on top of the timesheets.
But when it looked like Redding might claim a stunning pole position having immediately gelled with the new 2012 Suter MMXII frame and swingarm package, the rain stopped and a strong gusting wind quickly dried out the track.
Redding dropped down the order but delivered a blistering final lap of 1.34.699 in a frenetic finale to claim a deserved place on the second row in fourth place. His final lap perfectly demonstrated Redding's skill and bravery, as his time was a personal best of the weekend, beating his practice benchmark of 1.34.783 despite the far from ideal conditions.
Mika Kallio's luck deserted him once again, the Finnish rider unfortunately falling foul of the rain disruption to finish down in 15th position. That result was cruel on Kallio and his Marc VDS Racing crew after the 28-year-old showed he was one of the fastest and most consistent riders during practice.
He was confident of challenging for a second row starting position, but he couldn't produce a quick lap when conditions were at their best at the beginning and end of the session.
Scott Redding #45: 4th Position - 9 Laps - 1'34.699
"I'm not disappointed that I didn't get pole position but there was a point where I was thinking I hope we get a monsoon so I could stay in first. When it started raining it was quite heavy, so I was thinking it was never going to dry up and pole would be mine. I got in one fast lap at the end when I needed to and I'm happy about that because the pressure was on and the track conditions weren't perfect. I can't be too disappointed to be fourth on a bike I've never even had chance to test. We made a change for qualifying because I was struggling a bit to get into the low 35s this morning and immediately the bike felt awesome. It was a gamble that's paid off and tomorrow I'm sure like last year we'll be fighting for the podium. "
Mika Kallio #36: 15th Position - 13 Laps - 1'35.564
"The weather really hurt us and that's a big shame because in practice we'd been consistently fighting for the top six. At the start of the session we ran with used tyres to work on the race set-up because we didn't expect the rain to come so fast. When the track dried a little I went back out ansd I was fast in the first three sectors. But in T4 it was raining again and I missed that chance to improve. And right at the end I just couldn't get into my rhythm because in some places there was spots of rain and this disturbed me a little bit. I am disappointed because we expected much more and I thought I'd be on the second row at least. This track usually is good for close racing and keeping the pack together, so hopefully with a good start I can be fighting for the top six."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"At one stage we thought we might get a pole position but the rain made it a lottery for everybody. Scott was unbelievably fast at the start with the modifications to his bike and that gave him the confidence to go back out at the end of the session and put in a fast lap when he really needed to. On the last lap he made his best time of the weekend, so this showed he was confident to push hard in tricky conditions. And it proved our decision to use the 2012 Suter MMXII machine was a risk worth taking, even though he'd never done a lap on it before yesterday. I'm sure he'll be fighting for the podium tomorrow but I feel very disappointed for Mika because he has been incredibly fast all weekend and without the rain disruption we were confident he was going to be battling for the second row. But he didn't have the same confidence as Scott to push hard at the end of the session and he is 15th. I've no doubt though that the speed he's shown all weekend means he can have a strong race and a top six is definitely possible."
Ninth place in qualifying: Tom Luthi happy with his set-up – but not with the weather conditions
Team Interwetten Paddock star Thomas Luthi is confident he will improve from his ninth place qualifying position in tomorrow's Moto2 race at Phillip Island, Australia. The top nine riders were separated in qualifying by only 0.3 seconds, so the race tomorrow is likely to be very, very competitive.
Luthi improved all weekend long and found a good set-up with the bike and his new rear swingarm. It is now keeping the cornering lines better and it's also a bit smoother over the bumps, but due to several rain showers, qualifying was a bit of a lottery – with the slipstream of another fast rider out of the last corner he could have been in the first row. Now he is ninth and confident for the race.
Thomas Lüthi – 9th in 1.34,958 min.:
"We worked our way towards the top guys over the course of this weekend and found a good set-up, which makes me happy and confident. But the qualifying session was a wild story in itself. You could see black clouds, so I went out and pushed right away. When it started to rain I held tenth place, then I pulled in and waited. When I saw that the conditions improved again, I found a good slot and set fast times once again. Then another rain shower came down and the story repeated itself. On my last and fastest lap, I could have made it to the front row of the grid if I had had slipstream out of the last corner. But I was by myself and now I am in ninth position which is okay since the gaps between the top riders are almost non-existent!"
Terrell Thien - Teammanager:
"We made a huge step from the morning to the afternoon and improved heaps. The motorcycle is moving less, is smoother over the bumps, keeps cornering lines better and offers more grip. It's a pity that we missed out on the first two rows of the starting grid because we were fast enough to get there. We needed
Daniel M. Epp – PADDOCK Grand Prix Management:
"We were disappointed at first with ninth place but then we realised that we were just 0.3 seconds away from first place, which means that Tom's lap time was really strong. I am confident about his chances to run within the first group of riders in the race!"
Neukirchner 11th, West 18th: MZ riders confident despite weather lottery
MZ factory riders Max Neukirchner and Anthony West played their cards well in a qualifying session that turned into a lottery when it started to rain and when the tarmac dried up again towards the end of the session. In the dying moments, Neuirchner qualified in eleventh position and equalled his best starting position from his home Grand Prix in Germany back in July. West has his best qualifying result of the entire season and rode to 18th place.
Neukirchner could have been even higher up on the starting grid but his fastest lap didn't count – when he crossed the line alongside Stefan Bradl, he had just passed the chequered flag without seeing it and was two seconds too late. But more importantly, Neukirchner was consistently fast all weekend. He scored a straong third place in Saturday morning's third free practice session and therefore has a good chance to battle with the front group of riders on Sunday. "Finally we found the bike that Max likes, and he likes the track as well. We are very confident", said his crew chief Marco Nicotari. "We have the pace to run within the top ten, maybe even better. Max is confident and strong here despite the crazy situation in qualifying. I'm happy!"
Anthony West and his crew chief Warren Willing expected a bit more from qualifying, despite the fact that West scored his best grid position of the year so far. "Of course we could have been better. But even though the weather has screwed us around, it's still been our best qualifying result. We just didn't get down to a quick time like the guys with confidence in their set-up and could bang in a good lap before it rained", said Willing.
Max Neukirchner – 11th in 1.35,267 min.:
"The conditions in qualifying were very tricky. Unfortunately, I crossed the line two seconds too late. It was my last flying lap and I was three tenths of a second quicker which would have gained me two positions on the starting grid, but I hadn't seen the chequered flag and this lap obviously didn't count. Nevertheless, we were never as good in qualifying and we are only 0.6 seconds behind pole position which is great. This morning, I was in third position which was also fantastic. Our race pace is really good and I think we made a good tyre choice for the race as well. I just hope it will stay dry!"
Anthony West – 18th in 1.35,675 min.:
"I'm not happy with my grid position, even though it was better than it has been. The last few qualifying sessions we've had unusual things happening like rear brake calipers breaking, clutches and all sorts of weird things going wrong, and always in qualifying. This time the weather came in and I didn't push hard enough on the first lap like a few guys did. I was lucky to get a good lap toward the end but even that lap I messed up over Lukey Heights. As I hit the gear lever it didn't go in, so I went over Lukey in fourth gear, I lost a bit of time there, a few tenths. But I know I will be strong in the race!"
Redding fourth, Sofuoglu fifth in qualifying - Márquez starts his hunt from last grid position
Several brief rain showers and a track that kept drying up again and again turned qualifying practice for the Moto2 Grand Prix of Australia into a lottery. Five minutes from the end it looked as if Suter would be the dominant force with eight Suter MMXI riders within the top ten positions. But after a hectic final, things had turned around once again. Now, Briton Scott Redding and Kenan Sofuoglu from Turkey were the best Suter riders in fourth and fifth position. And Thomas Luthi, Switzerland's big star, was the only other Suter rider who managed to break into the top ten rankings with ninth position.
Marc Márquez had made all the big headlines long before the final session. The new world championship leader of the Moto2 category had crashed early on in the first free practice session on Friday morning and missed most of the track time due to the repairs in his garage. Merely seconds before the chequered flag came down, he managed to go out on the track again. Still reasonably fast on his cool-down lap, he hit Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot from behind, who was much slower and out of Marquez` line of sight behind another rider, causing a spectacular accident from which both Márquez and Wilairoth walked away with just minor injuries.
Later on, Márquez was sentenced to a penalty of one minute, which was to be added to his best qualifying time on Saturday and meant the last position on the grid regardless of his efforts in the qualifying session. "You have to accept the situation the way it is, even though my opinion about the whole case is different", said Márquez.
Eskil Suter, CEO of Suter Racing Technology, was less reserved in his comment. "I can't understand and agree with this penalty. Firstly, Marc was not riding flat out on this lap, and secondly, he simply wasn't able to see Wilairoth because he was covered by somebody else. Wilairoth didn't continue his cool-down lap at a normal speed but slowed down considerably, which also contributed to the incident in an unlucky way. In my opinion, neither of the two is guilty. It was an accident that can happen unfortunately and that had nothing to do with dangerous riding!"
"But of course, you have to accept such a penalty and try to make the best out of the situation. Now, the world championship will remain interesting until the very last race. But I am nevertheless convinced that Marc will still do very well at the Australian Grand Prix. Due to the poor weather conditions, there are some other top riders way back on the starting grid. The race will be super-thrilling!"