Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the 2013 season opener at Qatar:
QATAR CELEBRATES TENTH ANNIVERSARY AS 2013 SEASON OPENER
MAPFRE Aspar rider Jonas Folger targets podium in first race as Eric Granado prepares for Moto3 debut
The Losail International Circuit celebrates its tenth anniversary this weekend and it does so in fine style as it welcomes the MotoGP World Championship for the opening round of the 2013 campaign. The desert circuit has been on the calendar since 2004 and has been the first destination on the calendar since 2007. It has also been the only night race on the calendar since 2008, adding an extra touch of excitement. The Moto3 class go to work this Thursday evening with the first free practice session of the second year of the ultra-competitive four-stroke championship, which promises to be just as closely fought as it was last year.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Jonas Folger is reluctant to make any predictions but the German has to be amongst the title favourites in the Moto3 class for 2013. Folger enjoyed a fantastic second half to the 2012 season after signing for the team midway through the championship and his preseason form suggests he can be amongst the thick end of the points from the opening round. His new team-mate for this year is Brazilian youngster Eric Granado, one of the surprise packages of the Jerez test where he finished in the top ten. Granado makes his Moto3 debut this weekend at 16 years of age and with the onus on gathering experience.
Jonas Folger: "Preseason is finally over and we are on our way to Qatar for the first race of the year. Winter has gone really well for us and I think we're ready. It is an honour for me to start the season as a MAPFRE Aspar Team rider. We had some great results together in the second half of last year and I hope we can continue in the same way. I feel well supported by the team, we're working well together and it is showing in my level of riding so hopefully it will translate to a good result on Sunday. It is too early to make any predictions but we can set our targets high. We have to take it race by race, starting from this Thursday. If we do our job right and nothing strange happens we'll be running at the front for sure."
Eric Granado: "I've not got tired of saying how lucky I am. To be a MAPFRE Aspar Team rider is a massive privilege for me. I know I have a unique opportunity and I am going to do everything I can to make the most of it. We have worked hard all winter, the team have really helped me to adapt to this new category and I think we're ready for the first race of the season. Everything will be new for me in Qatar and I don't know the track but hopefully I can give it my best."
Redding and Kallio aiming high at season opener
Gosselies, Belgium - 2 April 2013: The Marc VDS Racing Team's Mika Kallio and Scott Redding head to the Middle East looking for a strong start to the season, as the 2013 Moto2 World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Redding heads into the new season as one of the favourites for this year's championship title, after successful preseason tests at Valencia and Jerez. This will be Redding's fourth season with the Marc VDS Racing Team, and his fourth in the Moto2 World Championship, and the 20-year-old Briton is determined to get it underway with a strong finish in the opening race.
For Kallio preseason testing has been all about working with this new chief mechanic, Naoya Kaneko, to find a good base setting for his Kalex Moto2 machine. The 30-year-old Finn struggled with chatter at some tracks last year, but heads into the new season with renewed confidence after all but eliminating the problem during the tests in Valencia and Jerez. Like his Marc VDS teammate, Kallio has his eyes set firmly on a top five finish in Qatar.
The Marc VDS Racing Team's Moto3 rider, Livio Loi, will travel to Qatar to support his teammates but will not race this weekend. The 15-year-old Belgian will make his Grand Prix race debut at the third round of the Moto3 World Championship in Jerez, just eight days after his 16th birthday.
The Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar is unique in that it is the only race on the GP calendar to be held at night. The 5.380km / 3.434 mile Losail track is illuminated by 3,600 light fixtures burning a massive 5.4 million watts of power, creating enough light to cover an area equivalent to 70 football pitches.
Scott Redding #45:
"Last year we achieved our aim of top five finishes, but this season I need to step it up and be aiming for the podium in every race, starting this weekend in Qatar. We head for the first race off the back of three very positive preseason tests, with a bike that I feel confident with and a package that we know is competitive. I'm probably better prepared, both physically and mentally, for the start of the season than I've ever been before, so I'm really looking forward to the weekend ahead. A podium finish in Qatar would be the perfect start to what promises to be another tough and hard fought season, so that's what I'm aiming for."
Mika Kallio #36:
"We've worked hard with the bike over the winter to eliminate the front end issues that caused me so many problems last season. It's meant changing the settings quite significantly, which took me some time to get used to. The good news is that, at Valencia and Jerez, the chatter and vibration from the front was almost non-existent, which is a big step forward. It means I go to Qatar with much more confidence compared to this time last year. Our aim this weekend is clear; I think there are probably eight or nine riders capable of finishing on the podium in Qatar and I need to be up there battling with them for a top three finish at the first race of the season."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"It's been a long winter but, finally, we're heading to the first race of the new season in Qatar. For Scott there is a little bit more pressure this season, as he's been tipped as one of the main contenders for the championship, but he hasn't let that distract him from his build up to the first race. He knows what he has to do, not just in Qatar but also during the whole season, and I'm confident he will deliver. Mika has made some big changes to the bike over the winter and, despite preseason testing being disrupted by the weather, he goes into the first race with more confidence than we've seen from him previously. I think Mika may well turn out to be the dark horse of the championship this season. We're looking for two good results to kick off the season in Qatar and I expect to see both riders running towards the front of the field this weekend."
ALL SET FOR THE START OF THE 2013 SEASON IN QATAR
MAPFRE Aspar riders ready for a successful campaign after an ideal preseason
After a relentless winter of testing the 2013 season is finally upon us as the MotoGP World Championship fires up for another year in Qatar this weekend. The Losail International Circuit plays host to the season curtain-raiser as it has done every year since 2007 and once again it holds the unique honour of being the series' only night race. At 5.380km in length and with one of the longest straights on the calendar Losail is one of the most demanding for the riders, especially with the varying level of grip due to the sand that blows onto the track from the surrounding desert. Last year's runner-up Pol Espargaró starts the season as the title favourite but as always the intermediate class promises to be unpredictable and exciting.
The MAPFRE Aspar Team head to Qatar in top form after a successful preseason, with their laptops packed with data and set-up information from hours on track. Nico Terol and Jordi Torres have been a constant presence at the top of the Moto2 timesheets throughout the winter, giving them huge confidence going into the new campaign. Nico's progress puts him amongst the podium candidates in the opening round whilst Jordi can look forward to a competitive showing and a possible top ten finish on his debut at Losail.
Nico Terol: "Preseason has been brilliant. We have made a lot of progress throughout winter testing and it has given a huge boost to team moral. We knew we could be strong but we struggled more than we should have last season and it took the podium at Valencia to change our mentality. We have been on the pace in every session during preseason in both wet and dry conditions and now we know we can be up there we need to keep working to try and improve even more. Losail was always a good track for me on the 125 and even though I was a bit lost there on the Moto2 last year I am sure it can be different this weekend."
Jordi Torres: "I am excited by the idea of racing at Losail for the first time. I have never raced at night or in the middle of the desert so I can't wait to get there and see what it's like. Everything will be new for me but we won't be using that as an excuse. We have worked hard in preseason and we are ready for anything. The team have done a great job to help me and I feel well prepared for the start of the year. This will be my first full season as a World Championship rider. It has taken a long time for me to get an opportunity like this and I don't plan to waste it."
KTM set for another positive Moto3 season
Following a great start to Moto3 in 2012, KTM is powered up and ‘Ready to Race’ the second year of the new class of MotoGP when races begin on Sunday, April 7 under lights at the Losail Racing Circuit in Qatar.
The company’s official factory team, Red Bull KTM Ajo will be looking to repeat the success it had in the inaugural season when German rider Sandro Cortese won the title on the newly developed KTM Moto3 racing machine in a tightly fought battle with Luis Salom on the Kalex-KTM and Maverick Viñales.
Lining up on the grid in 2013 there will be no less than 16 KTM-driven bikes: eight of the latest KTM 250 FFR Moto3 machines, the essence of the expertise, experience and passion of KTM’s Racing Department and the company’s Research and Development and eight Kalex-KTMs from the German chassis specialist Kalex, which are driven by the latest KTM Moto3 engines.
The rider list is no less impressive. With Cortese moving up to Moto2 in 2013, Luis Salom of Spain is now the lead rider in Red Bull KTM Ajo together with Malaysia’s Fahmi Khairuddin and Australian Arthur Sissis. Fahmi wound up his season very strongly in 2012 with his first career podium at home in Malaysia and finishing seventh in the overall standings. Sissis, who moved up from the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup in 2012 has, according to team boss Aki Ajo, matured as a rider and is set to move up the order this season.
Aki Ajo speaking after the final tests in Jerez: “We have all been working very hard over the past two months and many thanks to KTM who have done a great job and have come up with many new parts. The new bike was already good but we have managed to make even more improvements to it. We were able to give our riders some free test time on the track and I think we’ve got a good basic setup for all our riders.”
While Salom is a definite title contender Spanish talent Maverick Viñales is also in the title hunt. In 2013 he is riding a KTM Moto3 bike and competing for Team Calvo of Spain. Viñales was injured in the final round of pre-season official tests at Jerez, Spain, and underwent surgery for a skin graft after losing the tip of one of his fingers. He is cleared as fit for the opening round in Qatar but may be hampered by the injury in the early races. Viñales has Ana Carrasco as his teammate, the only woman on the starting grid, but one who has a proven record in the Spanish National Championships
Two KTM riders who have been consistently been among the fastest in pre-season tests are Spaniards Alex Rins and Alex Marquez, the younger brother of Marc Marquez, who also started his MotoGP career racing KTMs in the small class. Rins and Marquez are racing for Spanish outfit Estrella Galicia and all indications are that they will play a prominent role in this year’s competition.
Not to be overlooked is Germany’s Jonas Folger of Mapfre Aspar of Spain on the Kalex-KTM. Folger, who had a very strong second half of the 2012 season after switching teams at the half way mark has been constantly among the fastest in pre-season tests. He is another graduate of the Red Bull Rookies and is joined in the team by Brazilian rider Eric Granado who has also been recording fast times in tests.
Other riders to watch carefully are Niklas Ajo of Finland, riding KTM for Avant Tecno, and Moto3 rookie Livio Loi of Belgium. Both have shown good form in tests and Loi, who finished the 2013 Red Bull Rookies season on a high note has also already picked up a win in the opening round of the 2013 French Moto3 championships.
Other riders on KTM-driven bikes are Jakub Kornfeil of the Czech Republic and Dutch rider Jasper Iwema of RW Racing on the Kalex-KTM and German riders Toni Finsterbush (Kiefer Racing, Kalex-KTM), Philipp Oettl (Paddock TT Motions Events, Kalex-KTM) and Florian Alt (Kiefer Racing, Kalex-KTM).
FEDERAL OIL BACKING DEBUTANTE DONI TATA PRADITA
Doni Tata Pradita makes his Moto2 World Championship debut in Qatar this weekend, the Indonesian youngster carrying the hopes of an ambitious project put together by Federal Oil and Gresini Racing to promote young Indonesian racing talent. Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 has been working hard throughout the preseason to prepare Doni Tata Pradita for his debut at Losail. He has gradually improved his feeling with the bike and is now ready to go racing.
Doni Tata Pradita "I can't wait to get to Qatar! I am really excited to get out on track as soon as possible! For me this is a completely new and extremely competitive championship but I think I am as prepared as I could possibly be. The team have helped me so much during preseason testing and I am gradually finding my feet with this bike. It has been a tough process but I am sure that we can look ahead to a positive result in the first race in Qatar. I have to thank F ederal Oil and Gresini Racing for the faith they have shown in me and I will give my best to make sure I don't let them down."
Fausto Gresini “We are proud to be involved in such an ambitious and important project alongside Federal Oil and we share their belief in such a strong geographical area as Indonesia to the global motorcycling market. Doni Tata Pradita has the opportunity to become an ambassador for a generation and we will give our maximum to help him establish himself in Moto2. He has shown throughout winter testing that he has good potential and we will continue to work in the same direction.”
WILAIROT READY TO SPRING A SURPRISE IN QATAR
Ratthapark Wilairot starts his second season with Team Gresini this weekend, determined to prove that he can be a consistent points scorer in the Moto2 class. The Thai rider has made scrupulously detailed preparations during the winter testing period and demonstrated his progress in the final preseason session at Jerez de la Frontera. With a good feeling for his Suter machine and plenty of confidence, Wilairot is ready to spring a surprise under the floodlights of Losail this Sunday.
Ratthapark Wilairot “I am really happy to be back for another year with Team Gresini. I have a great relationship with all the guys and we are working hard towards this new championship. They are all helping me a lot, they've put me in a position where I know I can be competitive because I have a good feeling with the bike. I am confident I can be competing for points on a consistent basis and that is the target for Qatar. I want to give my fans something to get excited about this season and I will be giving it my best shot!”
Fausto Gresini “I am very proud to be entering the second year of this relationship between Gresini Racing and Honda Thailand. It is a really interesting project to me because it is aimed at the future and a motorcycle market that is on the up. I am happy to be working with Honda Thailand and the group of sponsors backing Ratthapark. 'Feem' has shown massive improvements on last year already and he is determined to back it up with results. He has a good relationship with the guys and I am sure that he can easily be in the points on a regular basis this year. ”
TEAM GO&FUN GRESINI LAUNCH MOTO3 YOUTH PROJECT IN QATAR
Team GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 begin their ambitious World Championship campaign this weekend with Italian teenagers Niccolò Antonelli and Lorenzo Baldassari kicking off the season at the Losail International Circuit. For Antonelli this is his second season as a Grand Prix rider and after a positive rookie year in 2012 he is determined to become a frontrunner in the minor category. A shoulder operation at the end of last season has limited his track time during the winter and even though he is still not 100% fit the talented youngster is ready to race in Qatar. Baldassarri makes his World Championship debut following an impressive period of adaptation to Moto3 during the winter.
Niccolo Antonelli “I am ready and excited about the first race of the season at the Losail circuit in Qatar. I can't wait to get out on track and see how I am physically but if I feel okay I will be trying my best to fight at the front. I have confidence in the new Honda engine and with the job the guys have done in the recent test at Jerez I think we can be racing with the best of them. I like Losail and the surreal atmosphere of racing at night is exciting to me so I can't wait to get back on the bike and start this new adventure.”
Lorenzo Baldassarri “Everything is new to me, the championship, the circuit and the fact we are racing at night. We have done a great job during preseason and I have been able to make constant improvements. I am confident that in Qatar we can have a good race and finish with a positive result. I just can't wait to get on track and enjoy my full World Championship debut.”
Fausto Gresini “Moto3 has a 'fresh' imagine and I am very proud to be launching our own 'youth project' together with GO&FUN. Antonelli and Baldassarri are two kids with a lot of potential and I have maximum faith in them. Niccolò already showed his talent last season and Lorenzo has made good progress in the winter tests. He is ready for his debut and I think he can be running near the front. I can't wait to see him in action because I am sure he is going to give us a lot to be excited about. ”
MotoGP Moto3 - San Carlo Team Italia FMI is ready to kick off the Moto3 championship
MotoGP 2013 starts under the spectacular floodlights of Qatar, where last year Romano Fenati took second place at his debut, claiming a protagonist role in Moto3.
Pre-season tests were dominated by KTM bikes, but Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5) is not daunted and hopes to make the most of what he learned last year on this technical track.
Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#4) faces a challenge after breaking his wrist in Jerez. He will be in Qatar, but his world-stage debut is still uncertain. In the next few hours the local medical staff and Doc. Macchiagodena will decide whether he is fit to race.
Massimo Vergini (Team Manager, San Carlo Team Italia FMI)
"We can't wait to get racing after so many tests. Fenati will face each race as if it were the last, focusing on the present. That's a sign of maturity to be expected from a sophomore. Unfortunately Bagnaia will start with a handicap because of his fracture. I hope Romano can finish at the front."