Press releases after qualifying from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams at Qatar:
Viñales, second on the grid at Losail
First qualifying session of 2012 sees Viñales less than a tenth off pole position. Oliveira places eighth and Rins thirteenth.
Repsol Media Service
Qatar, Losail International Circuit
The first qualifying session of 2012 featured a strong showing from the Repsol riders in Losail. Maverick Viñales came close to recording the best time of the session and ended up less than a tenth of a second off poleman Sandro Cortese. Miguel Oliveira, who also had his turn at the head of the timesheet, placed eighth and debutant Álex Rins -the fastest at the halfway mark- ended up thirteenth.
Rossi, Cortese, Salom, Viñales, Fenati and Rins; all of these riders had a spell as top candidate to hold onto pole position number one of the season. Maverick was the rider who stayed there for the longest period and appeared to become the first poleman of 2012, but he ran out of time to respond to a late push by Cortese. The German was just 0.016 faster than the Repsol rider at the end of the session. However, Viñales is still one of the big favourites in the fight for the win tomorrow.
Oliveira and Rins also had a positive session. The Portuguese rider could not find a slipstream on his hot laps of the Qatari track, but his eighth place gives him reason to be optimistic ahead of the race. He will start from the third row, whilst newcomer to the World Championship Álex Rins till take off from row five after improving upon his times from Thursday and Friday.
QP - 2:08.204, 15 laps, 81 km.
"This session was really good for us. We will try a few different things with the engine in warmup in order to be up there with the KTMs. The race is shaping up well for me. We have a good pace and have been working with worn tyres. A front row start can be considered a good result, because that will help me to avoid a jam on the first corner and to break away. The goal for tomorrow is to find a quick pace. As the laps go by we will see if a win is possible or not."
QP - 2:08.926, 16 laps, 86 km
"The session went fairly well; we are on the third row and that isn’t a bad result, even though I would have liked to have been further up the order. We have improved upon yesterday’s time, although we still had a lot of wind to face. I wasn’t able to tail anyone and was losing speed on the straights, but we have the pace to be up at the head of the field. We have improved some of the technical side of the front end and are just waiting to try out the tyres for tomorrow."
QP - 2:09.139, 17 laps, 91 km.
"That was a very positive session. We matched yesterday’s time, although I am still missing a little something to be up front. Now, alongside the technicians, I will look at the telemetry and we will study the best way to improve our times. I am pretty clear about the race, although to be honest I am a little nervous with it being my World Championship debut. We should try and come out as relaxed as possible tomorrow, in order to have a good race."
MAHINDRA RACING SPREADS ITS WINGS
The first-ever Moto3 qualifying session at Qatar took place under floodlights on Saturday evening - and riders of the Indian-owned Mahindra machines put testing teething troubles behind them to qualify 23rd and 25th in a strong field in preparation for the opening race of the all-new category.
German Marcel Schrötter (19) was the faster, with Briton Danny Webb (21) on his heels, with the dramatic white-and-red machines gaining strength as they build up the miles.
The Mahindra MGP30 is one of a handful of independently built machines in the new 250cc four-stroke class, which has replaced the traditional 125cc two-stroke championship, with the vast bulk of the field made up of over-the-counter machines from established racing factories.
The Indian automotive giant chose a different path, developing its own technology in the heat of racing competition. The MGP30 is a young machine by comparison - a brand-new bike and new engine, in at the start of the new championship. The learning curve is steep, but the task is inspiring.
Mahindra’s own-built chassis is a lightweight steel tube structure, chosen for ease of modification in the early development stages of the purpose-built prototype. Both riders have praised the handling, with Webb saying happily: “You can really chuck it about.”
The engine is a joint project with Italian manufacturer Oral, with Mahindra’s engineers pursuing an independent line of development. After tackling endurance, the next quest is for more top-end performance.
At this first race, the Mahindras were the best of the independent entries. Mahindra Group vice-chairman and managing director Mr Anand Mahindra was on hand to share the excitement of the new venture.
Tomorrow’s race is the first of the 2012 season, round 18 laps of the spectacular Losail circuit outside the Qatari capital, Doha. It starts at 19:00 local time - after dark, and run under floodlights.
Pole was set by German KTM rider Sandro Cortese, at 2’08.188.
MARCEL SCHRÖTTER - 23rd position, 2’11.055
It was a really tough session. We need more power for more speed, but that’s all we need, I think, at the moment. The chassis is good. Qualifying is hard because if you’re losing on the straight and pushing hard to make up, you can go over the limit and make mistakes. The team is working hard, and we will keep improving over the next races.
DANNY WEBB - 25th position: 2’11.317
We’ve got the stuff that everyone else has, but we’re still at an early stage and getting all to work properly together. We’ve been trying a lot of different things all weekend, and there is still warm-up to go. But I think we’ve already got the bike as it will be for the race. We’ll see what we can do, and keep working for the future.
Impressive Salom just misses out on front row
RW Racing GP toprider Luis Salom just missed out a front row start for the Qatar GP. With seven minutes remaining in qualifying the Spanish rider put his Kalex KTM on provisional pole position. In the final few minutes of the session Frenchman Louis Rossi and German Sandro Cortese came under Saloms lap time. An intense fight saw the three of them changing positions several times, until Maverick Viñales - in his final lap - pushed Salom aside to the second row. In the very last second Cortese managed to take pole, with Viñales in second, Rossi in third and Salom in fourth.
Brad Binder made a good start and improved his lap times again. Until halfway the session he managed to stay in top 10, but the South African will finally have to start Sundays race from 15th on the grid.
Luis Salom: "It was a strange qualifying session with many changes in positions. I was very happy with provisional pole and I knew I could go faster. I had a go for it when an incident occurred on the main straight. I was held up by another rider and could not find my rhythm anymore for the final attempt. That was a pity, but fourth is a good position to start here.''
Brad Binder: "My goal was top 12, but the track was more dusty and there was more wind than the other two days. I have tried my best. Anyway, fifteenth is not bad with everybody so close. The gaps are really small. When I can make a good start for the race, I think top 10 might be possible.''
Team manager Johan Stigefelt: "So far we are happy with how things are going this weekend. Both riders and the team have shown they adapt quickly to the new Moto3 bikes and to changing circumstances. It's going to be a tough race, with many riders close to each other with similar lap times. The first couple of bikes are quite equal on the straight. Anything can happen.''
GREAT QUALIFYING SESSION FOR SPEED MASTER RIDERS, WHO WILL START FROM 1ST AND 2ND ROW IN TOMORROW’S RACE
The starting grid for the first Moto2 race of 2012 season was defined after today’s qualifying session.
Andrea Iannone carried out, together with his technicians, the last modifications for the Speed Up machine setting, in order to face the race. During the last minutes at disposal, the rider from Vasto set some great lap times, ending the session with the third time and conquering therefore the first row.
Mike di Meglio started the session on a good pace, joining the fast riders immediately. On the last lap at disposal, he managed to improve even more: the Frenchman ended with the time of 2’00.625, 0.438 seconds off the pole position, and tomorrow he’ll start from the fifth spot of the starting grid.
Andrea Iannone #29 - 3rd with 2'00.296
“I can say that this was a positive day. I’m happy because we got the Speed Up machine to the first row on its debut. We did an overall good job, we were fast and this is a positive result. I hope there’s a chance to improve even more, to be some tenths faster so we can be more competitive. This is going to be a tough race, especially with Tom Luthi and Marc Marquez as rivals, we need to stay calm and do our best. Thanks to the team for the awesome work they’ve done.”
Mike di Meglio #63-5th with 2'00.625
“I’m really happy with the result we achieved today. Yesterday things didn’t go quite as we had expected, but we knew in which direction we had to work. Today we were fast since the beginning, we set times close to 2’00 as we were hoping for. We tried out a modification to the settting and the bike went even better. Now we need to make a further step and be more consistent, so we can maintain a good rhythm without risking too much. I’d like to thank my crew, the team and my sponsors: I’m really glad I was given this opportunity and to have the chance to prove I’m still competitive. I have fun on the bike and this is really important.”
Marc Márquez is back in form
Repsol rider second in qualifying, 0.072 from best time of the evening. Tomorrow he returns to the front row for his return from injury at last year's Malaysian GP.
Repsol Media Service
Qatar, Losail International Circuit
The admirable return of Marc Márquez to action continued with second place in qualifying for the Qatar GP. In his first qualifying session since October last year, in Australia, he put in a great performance. Only the traffic on track for his final fast lap attempts and 72 thousandths of a second separated him from pole position, taken by Thomas Luthi.
After 2 days and 3 sessions of free practice, the Losail International Circuit was lit up this evening for qualifying. Marc Márquez has been steadily finetuning his Moto2 bike in practice, and in qualifying he bounced back from initial front end and back wheel handling issues to put himself on the front row for the Qatar GP.
The Repsol rider will start from second, having clocked a time 0.072 off that of Thomas Luthi. He undertook an additional 3 laps after his fastest time, but was caught up in traffic and unable to improve his position.
QP - 2:00.259, 18 laps, 97 km.
"To tell the truth, this session went better than we were expecting. We have been looking for the best setting and getting more kilometres under our belts throughout the weekend and we found an improvement. We have been working with the race in mind, although in the warmup we will be trying out a couple more things. I think that we've done a great job, because I wasn't expecting to be on the front row.
We will be going out to enjoy the race tomorrow, because even though I don't have the pace that the others do, we will still be giving 100% and trying to take as many points as possible."
ANTONELLI DISAPPOINTED WITH QUALIFYING DEBUT
After such an encouraging start to his Grand Prix career in free practice in Qatar young Niccolò Antonelli ran into problems during tonight's qualifying session and was unable to match his times from yesterday. The Team San Carlo Honda Gresini teenager struggled to regain his confidence on the bike and was hoping for an improvement during tonight's late warm-up session ahead of tomorrow's race.
Niccolo’ Antonelli (20th 2’ 10” 150) “I am disappointed. We've been going backwards since yesterday and we need to find a solution before tomorrow. I think my potential is higher than this position and I am sure my mechanics will work hard to give me the chance to show that on track. ”
Fausto Gresini “It's a shame because Niccolò has struggled to match his time from yesterday and that means the bike is not as good. We'll check things out in warm-up but we know Niccolò has the potential. In racing sometimes things go well and sometimes not so well but we have to stay calm and work together towards the same objective.”
Grand Prix of Qatar
Losail, April 7, 2012
Just one rider on the track: Simon Grotzkyj. Giulian Pedone, his companion, was in the garage, but no helmet and overall, for him: in winter, while testing, the young Swiss hinjured his wrist. The fracture was cured with sixteen screws, but the recovery time is longer than that granted by the World Championship calendar. He will return to racing in Jerez, in the second GP of the season.
Simone Grotzkyj (2'12 "960 - 29 °) “We are working flat out to improve speed and acceleration. We are trying different solutions, and working hard: there is a strong commitment by all, and I'm sure we will soon take a big step forward".
Fiorenzo Caponera (Team Owner) "We are working on a very interesting project, but new and young. The engine is not coming from other existing projects, but specially prepared for this class, and designed exactly for our chassis. There are working times that cannot be avoided. But every day we improve, and commitment is very strong: at the end of this race, for example, we send the engin to Oral, in Italy, with a special expedition to save hours and enable our partners to take advantage of every second to continue the process ".
TOUGH FIRST GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING SESSION FOR ROOKIE REA
It was a disappointing first Moto2 qualifying practice for Gino Rea tonight and he faces a difficult race debut tomorrow night, with a host of changes to his Moriwaki failing to bear fruit so far. The Brit and his team face a major challenge to come up with a set-up before tomorrow night's race that allows him to be challenging higher up the order, where he belongs.
Gino Rea ( 27th 2’ 02” 934) "We really haven't improved the bike over the last couple of days. We're just going round in circles, we're a long way from the top guys and we need a lot of development and a lot of time to try and get the Showa suspension working with this new Moriwaki frame. Everything we try seems to result in the same problem or something worse so it is frustrating. I feel like I am riding well, I know the track now and I'm just being held up by the bike. We know when the bike is right we can be fighting in the top fifteen at least but all I can do right now is try to get a good start tomorrow night and battle hard to stay in the mix. "
BANKIA ASPAR STRUGGLE FOR FEEL IN LOSAIL QUALIFYING
Héctor Faubel and Alberto Moncayo target warm-up improvements with chassis ahead of tomorrow night's race
The first qualifying session of the new Moto3 season got underway at 6pm local time at the Losail Circuit this evening, with the majority of riders struggling to improve their pace on their new prototypes. The uncertainty and lack of development amongst the machines has led to some surprise contenders at the top of the time sheets and anything could happen in tomorrow night's historic first Moto3 Grand Prix.
BANKIA Aspar's two riders continued with the job of getting their machines up to speed and the task was not made easier tonight for Héctor Faubel when he was tagged by another rider from behind and forced back to the pits to replace his tail unit. Alberto Moncayo also spent more time in the garage than he would have liked as he worked on his chassis setting, eventually qualifying in fourteenth position - two ahead of his team-mate.
14th Alberto Moncayo 2.09.370 (14 laps): "I was expecting more from qualifying tonight but the truth is nobody went really fast. We have improved the engine since yesterday but the chassis needed more work and that is to be expected because we have spent so much time focusing on the engine. The good thing is our pace is decent and I feel comfortable on the bike. The lap time isn't quite there but we have a lot of ideas for tomorrow. We don't know what will happen tomorrow but we'll try to get a good start and hang on to the lead group."
16th Héctor Faubel 2.09.869 (14 laps): "The first qualifying session of the new season was a tough one and I'm disappointed because we tried a few things that we thought would give us a bit extra but they didn't work. Now we have to work out if we take the changes further or go back to what we had before. I expect more from myself and from my team but we will get there if we keep working like this. Our main handicap is chassis flexibility, which is costing us a lot of time in the fast corners. We start from quite far back but we certainly don't throw in the towel now - quite the opposite."
Tech 3 Racing aims for strong start in Moto2 opener
Tech 3 Racing Team riders Bradley Smith and Xavier Simeon are confident they can both fight for points-scoring finishes when the ultra competitive Moto2 World Championship gets underway in Qatar tomorrow night.
British rider Smith qualified his Mistral 610 machine in 12th position on the grid for the 20-lap race after a typically closely contested qualifying session under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights this evening.
Less than a second split the top 15 riders and Smith's best lap of 2.01.015 was less than 0.4s away from placing him inside the top six. The 21-year-old was hoping to qualify higher up the grid after ending practice in ninth position, but he has put in a tremendous amount of work improving the race set-up of his Mistral 610 machine and he is optimistic that he can fight for a top six finish when the third Moto2 World Championship campaign kicks off.
Simeon is also optimistic that he can commence his second season in the Moto2 category with a strong ride inside the top 15 after an encouraging performance in tonight's qualifying session.
He ended practice in 21st place but he was able to improve his time by almost 0.5s in qualifying to climb up to 18th position on the grid with a best time of 2.01.718.
Bradley Smith 12th 2.01.015 - 17 laps:
“I'm a little bit disappointed to be back on the fourth row because you really want to be on the third row at least in a class that is as competitive as Moto2. But looking at the guys around me, a lot of them beat me and were a bit faster in winter testing, so I have to be happy because we made some important improvements to the bike. Tomorrow it will be very important to get a good start and try to attack right from the beginning to pick up some places and get as close to the lead group as quickly as I can. After that it is likely to become a slipstream race with the home straight being so long. As it is the first race we are going into the unknown a little bit, but our bike is definitely better over the longer race distance than it is for one fast lap in qualifying. I'm sure we will really come on strong after half distance, but after a long winter I am just really excited to be racing again.”
Xavier Simeon 18th 2.01.718 - 18 laps:
“I am reasonably satisfied with the performance of the Mistral 610 but I definitely wanted to be a little closer to the front. My pace is not so bad and I am confident if I can get a good start and be aggressive in the first few laps that I can be battling for the top 10. I think that's a realistic target because over a race distance we seem to be more competitive than when we need to push for one outright fast lap. We need to improve the bike for qualifying because a good starting position is so important in Moto2.”
SIXTH AND NINTH ROW STARTS FOR ELÍAS AND TEROL IN FIRST RACE OF NEW SEASON
MAPFRE Aspar riders hoping to improve race prospects after difficult night
The first qualifying session of the new Moto2 World Championship proved to be equally as chaotic as those that preceded it over the past two years, with thick traffic fighting for positions on track and a potential tow to a fast lap time. Thomas Luthi managed to find enough space to set a deserved pole position after dominating practice so far this weekend and the Swiss rider is the current favourite for victory, although anything can happen in Moto2 and usually does.
MAPFRE Aspar riders Toni Elías and Nico Terol both need to show the fighting qualities that made them World Champions in the Moto2 and 125cc classes respectively, after a difficult qualifying session saw them finish some way down the grid. Both worked hard to find more grip, Elías focusing on his chassis set-up in the fast corners whilst Terol's work was based around tyre choice, the pair qualifying in 17th and 26th place respectively.
17th Toni Elías 2.01.618 (16 laps): "I am struggling more than I would like and we are some way down the grid but we have to be optimistic and keep working to improve before the race starts. Hopefully we can do that and then it is a case of me fighting as hard as I can once the race starts. We still need laps on the bike to get up to speed so the objective tomorrow has to be to leave Qatar with as many points as possible. We are all working hard and we will turn things around soon."
26th Nico Terol 2.02.811 (17 laps): "It was a strange session tonight and I struggled to get feel. I spent too much time chasing a tow instead of focusing on my own pace and that cost us. I changed tyre a few times because the bike kept giving me scares, I don't know whether that was because of the track or because the rubber wasn't up to temperature. When changing things didn't work I started to lose confidence so now we need to focus on getting my pace back together for the race."
Redding and Kallio facing a tough task in Qatar
Doha, Qatar - 7 April 2012: Scott Redding and Mika Kallio face a tough task in tomorrow's Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening race of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship, after qualifying well below expectations in 13th and 14th places respectively.
Redding was unable to significantly improve on his time from free practice yesterday, after the front-end chatter that has been an issue all weekend returned with a vengeance during qualifying. The Marc VDS rider tried a number of set-up changes on his Kalex Moto2 machine during the 45-minute session, to try and reduce the chatter, but with little success.
Having lost most of yesterday's practice session to a technical problem, Kallio was forced to continue evaluating set-up options during the first part of today's qualifying session. Unfortunately for the Finn he was unable to find the same feeling with the bike and the rhythm that had seen him finish top six on the timesheet on Thursday.
Redding and Kallio are hopeful of finding a solution for tomorrow's race, and both remain confident they can battle their way to a top ten finish.
Scott Redding #45: 13th - 2'01.031
"The front-end chatter was a real issue in qualifying, much worse than it was in the free practice sessions. We tried a couple of set-up changes to try and at least reduce it, but we weren't even slightly successful. Why it should have been so bad today I have no idea, as we haven't really changed anything on the bike. It made it almost impossible to push for a fast lap time tonight. We need to sit down and find a solution to the problem ahead of the race, as battling through from the fifth row of the grid tomorrow will be hard enough without having to ride around a chatter problem as well."
Mika Kallio #36: 14th - 2'01.111
"The fact that we missed most of yesterday's session put us on the back foot today. We were still trying things on the bike in qualifying that we should have tested yesterday and, as a result, my lap times were up and down. It meant I couldn't find the good rhythm needed to set a fast lap and we ended up on the fifth row of the grid. The good news is that we finally found a good set-up in warm-up, so I'm still confident we can go out tomorrow and fight for a decent result. The pace of the front guys is fast, but I think if I can get a good start and make up places in the opening laps then a good start to the season is still possible."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I'm disappointed, because we expected to be starting this race from the front two rows of the grid. Scott and Mika were fast in preseason testing, they were fast during free practice here but, when it came to qualifying today, there was something missing. We've made only small changes to the bikes over the three days and the track conditions have been pretty consistent since Thursday, so why the lap times didn't improve significantly in qualifying is something of a mystery. We will sit down tonight with both riders and their crew chiefs, to find out what we can do to turn things around ahead of the race tomorrow. We did not realise our true potential today and now we need to understand why."