Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of the 2013 season opener at Qatar:
Ducati Team in the spotlights at start of 2013 season
Following a long winter of testing and preparing for the 2013 MotoGP championship, the Ducati Team finally heads to the Middle East this week for the first Grand Prix of the year, at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit.
The squad has a much different look than it did just over four months ago at the 2012 season finale in Valencia, Spain, with changes in management and a new rider in Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian will be campaigning his first race aboard the Desmosedici, whereas teammate Nicky Hayden enters his fifth season with the Italian factory.
The team approaches the Qatar Grand Prix with the awareness that 2013 will likely be something of a building year, and the Losail Circuit, where the current lap record was set in 2008 by then-Ducati rider Casey Stoner, offers a first opportunity to see how competitive Dovizioso’s and Hayden’s bikes can be.
As has been the case since that same year, the season opener will take place at night, with illumination provided by an impressive array of outdoor lighting. Also unique is the format, with the event taking place over four days rather than the typical three, and all three classes given an extra free-practice session—the first of which will take place on Thursday night. In addition, Saturday evening will see the debut of a new qualifying system for the MotoGP class, as riders will endeavour to advance through a series of elimination sessions.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team
“Losail is a good track for me, as I’ve always had good races there, and I think that the Ducati’s strengths can work in Qatar. We head to this race determined to do well. We know that our pace isn’t so far from the others’ on new tyres, so we should certainly be able to fight for a good grid position, but we have a significant gap to make up in race configuration. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do a race simulation in the tests, so tyre wear is a question mark for me.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team
“I’m very much looking forward to starting another season. Of course I wish we were going into it with more speed and consistency, but I feel like we’ve made progress at every pre-season test. The team has used the dry track time we’ve had very well, and we were able to get more out of the recent Jerez test than I thought we would, considering I’d just had wrist surgery. The Qatar track is smooth, which should suit our bike well, and racing under the lights at the first round is always very unique.”
Vittoriano Guareschi – Team Manager
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to complete our work program at Jerez, due to the bad weather. Now we head to Qatar, where we’ll have to try some things in order to complete the setup work. It will be a strange race in unique conditions, as is always the case in Qatar. We hope that the wind won’t bother us too much and that our team will do well. We’ve had very good results there in the past, so the track isn’t an enemy for us. We’ve made steps over the winter, and our bike has improved at every test, so we expect to make further advances in Qatar. Andrea has done well at this circuit; he had a nice race there in his MotoGP debut and finished fourth, and we’ll be happy if we’re able to repeat that. Nicky also likes the track and has done pretty well there, but we’ll have to try hard to limit tyre wear. We still have some question marks, but anyway, we’re optimistic.”
2013 MotoGP Season ready to kick-off
After an intense winter testing period, including visits to Malaysia, U.S.A and Spain, the Repsol Honda Team are finally en-route to Doha for the first round of the 2013 season.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Qatar GP and the 5.38km track, with its ten right hand corners and six lefts, is host to the only night race on the calendar, with 3600 fixtures helping to illuminate the track. Strategically placed artificial grass helps to reduce the amount of sand blown onto the track, but this still remains a factor for the riders to consider with low grip levels, especially in the first few sessions.
This first grand prix of the season is also the only race weekend that stretches over four days, with FP1 beginning on Thursday evening, FP2 and FP3 on Friday evening, Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday night at 22h00 local time.
Dani Pedrosa, who has had a strong pre-season - topping the time sheets on five out of twelve days, took second place here in 2012 and has finished on the podium a total of four times in MotoGP and once in 250cc (2012 - 2nd, 2011 - 3rd, 2008 - 3rd, 2007 - 3rd, 2004 - 2nd 250cc).
His teammate this season, rookie Marc Marquez, has also had an impressive winter testing. Marc topped topped the time sheets three out of the twelve days as he has spent valuable track time familiarising himself with the bigger MotoGP machines. He's been on the Qatar podium twice, once in 125cc (2010) and last year when he took victory in Moto2.
"After a long testing period I am now really ready to go racing! The team has worked hard to get us in the best place for the start of the season and I'm pleased with my physical situation. It's a long weekend in Qatar, with the schedule over four days, and the grip level takes some time to improve with the sand and conditions there. It will be interesting to see how the new qualifying format works and really looking forward to the race. I'm just excited to get the season started!"
"We've had a good winter testing and now it's time to go racing. Qatar isn't one of my favourite tracks but I still enjoy it. There are many factors to consider there with the sand from the desert which affects the grip and also the fact it's a night race. Also, as I saw in Jerez, everything is very different on the MotoGP bike compared to Moto2 so we will need some time. Let's see when we get there, for sure I will be nervous going into my first MotoGP race but I'm also excited"
Yamaha Prepares to Open the 2013 MotoGP Season in Qatar
Doha (Qatar), 3rd April 2013
The long winter wait is over as Yamaha Factory Racing prepare this week for the first race of the 2013 MotoGP season, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. The unique night-time race schedule will mean that the first practice session of the weekend will happen in just one day, on Thursday 04th April.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo arrives in Qatar as a strong favourite to take opening round honours having delivered several impressive simulations in winter testing at a race-winning pace. Lorenzo will be hoping to replicate the stunning win at the Losail Circuit in 2012 that kicked off the journey to his second premier class title last season. Losail is a good track for the champion, Lorenzo has always started from the front row and always finished on the podium. Last year’s victory was his first premier class win in Qatar.
Valentino Rossi prepares for his first race reunited with Yamaha in confident mood having seen a marked return to form over winter testing. The nine-time MotoGP World Champion has been quick to answer his critics and find a highly competitive pace on the 1000cc YZR-M1, putting himself firmly among the favourites alongside his team-mate for podium honours under the spotlights of the Losail Circuit. Rossi can claim three premier class victories in Qatar, the last being also his last outing at the track on the Yamaha M1.
Built in the desert on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital city Doha, the Losail International Circuit has hosted a MotoGP round since 2004. The track celebrated the first ever night-time Grand Prix in 2008 and continues to be the only night race on the calendar. The 5.4km track is well suited to the YZR-M1 with a fast flowing nature. With a main straight over a kilometre in length and a combination of medium and high-speed corners the track is guaranteed to provide an exciting spectacle to start the season.
“I am very excited to return to Qatar and begin the season. The testing has been good, we have good pace and we are quite happy with our performance. We still have some areas to improve but our situation is not so bad compared to our competitors and I think we can fight for the win.
Jerez was a good point for us after testing in Austin; that was a new circuit where maybe we haven’t yet found a perfect feeling. In Jerez we were able to make a long run and all the Yamahas were on top; that gave us some extra motivation before travelling to Qatar. It also shows that every track is different and it’s going to be an exciting Championship.
I want to keep the crown but it’s going to be hard. There are some great riders this year, I was surprised by Marquez’ pace and also with Valentino on his return to Yamaha. Dani is also so strong after the last part of the 2012 season. We will fight really hard from the first race, I believe we are in good shape for that.
Losail is a track where we usually find a difficult track surface, plenty of sand and because of that it is always very tough with the tyres. We will see how we can perform there. I am feeling very fit and ready so I want to start!”
"I’m very happy with the work done in Jerez and over the winter. I was fast and everything worked fine and we have a competitive bike to fight for the podium.
I believe that in Qatar will not be so easy; it is a track that is a little difficult for me, but I think I can defend myself and get a good result. I would like to get on the podium: that's my goal. After the testing I know I can be competitive in some tracks but also that I will have some problems in other tracks. The most important thing is that now I have a good feeling when I ride my M1 and this will help me at all tracks, including Qatar.
Every year you get a little bit nervous at the beginning of the season. It’s normal to feel like that; it’s crucial to get some good points and not to make mistakes. I can’t wait to start this 2013 season."
"We are pretty satisfied with all the work we’ve done during the winter tests, especially at Jerez, where we were able to find a good pace and we could prove the new materials.
I think more or less the work is done and Jorge is ready for Qatar. He is in good shape and we have a lot of good information for the first race in Losail. As we saw at Jerez, Jorge seems to be quite consistent in a long-run, despite some little problems we found with the setting because of the wet conditions in Jerez.
We are looking forward to starting the new season, it’s going to be a very tough year with good rivals like Dani, but also Valentino returning to Yamaha and Márquez who has been impressive on his first tests. I guess the key for us is going to be keeping calm from the beginning, trying not to make mistakes and going race by race.
I can say that Jorge has been training very hard and is very fit, he has a competitive package to ride with the M1 and is ready to fight and defend our title."
“We arrive in Qatar with good confidence. Our performance over the winter testing has been very good and we are very competitive.
We have two very strong riders, both with a good record at Qatar. Jorge has completed some race simulations and I think he’s very physically prepared.
Valentino has improved his feeling with the bike at each test. It’s normal that it has taken him more time because for two years he has had another bike, but at Jerez he definitely proved he had the right feeling.
The bike will continue to improve over the season but as it stands now it is a very competitive machine and we know it can achieve good results.
The track is very suited to the characteristics of the M1, there is only one place which is difficult, the last corner is a very slow turn, first or second gear so we suffer a little there. We believe we can have the best start to the season here.”
NEW SEASON STARTS HERE!
The 65th edition of the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship, which started back in 1949 at the Isle of Man TT, gets underway this weekend in very different surroundings as for the sixth year in succession the Losail International Circuit in Qatar plays host to the opening round. The track on the outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar, welcomes the MotoGP paddock for the tenth year and there will be no brighter bikes under the floodlights than the new Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V of Alvaro Bautista and the CRT FTR-Honda of Bryan Staring. Bautista heads into the season full of confidence after finishing fifth in the championship last year and especially after the progress made in the most recent preseason test at Jerez de la Frontera. The work done by the team along with the Showa technicians has been intense and the rider's feeling with the bike is optim um. Staring makes his MotoGP debut this weekend with a lot still to learn about the championship and the bike, which is much more powerful than anything he has ever raced before, not to mention a much higher level of competition. The Australian has already proven to be a talented and tenacious rider and he is determined to make the most of this opportunity.
Alvaro Bautista “The new season is about to start and I think we are ready. We did a great job throughout preseas on, even though we weren't helped by the weather in the final session at Jerez della Frontera. Unfortunately we still had some things we needed to test so it would have been good but we didn't get chance. Anyway, overall we have made a big step from last year. Racing in Qatar is always very special and it's exciting to go out on track under the lights. It's a nice track but the fact you're racing at night and the varying levels of grip makes it strange to ride. I'm curious to see how the new qualifying system works but I think it will be exciting. We'll keep working to make the bike more rideable and make sure we're as competitive as we can be for the race. I had a lot of problems in practice last year in Qatar and only managed to finish seventh in the race, which I wasn't happy with, so this year we'll certainly look to make up for it.”
Bryan Staring “I am nervous and excited about making my debut in MotoGP. After an encouraging test at Jerez I am highly motivated and confident we can do well. I don't know Losail but I have watched all the races there on television and I'm curious to experience it myself. I have worked hard with the team throughout the winter and gradually I am getting used to the bike, which is very different to anything I have ridden before. I have gradually adapted my riding style to cope with the power of the FTR-Honda and I am ready for this new experience now. Obviously racing at night will be completely new to me too but that just makes me even more excited about making my debut in MotoGP. Hopefully I can have a good race and start the season in the right way.”
Fausto Gresini “We start again in Qatar with a new season that for many reasons I am just as excited about as my first season in this championship. We have put together a highly professional team that has enjoyed a lot of success over the past sixteen years and in Qatar I will be proud to see our new livery on track. GO&FUN will be our new title sponsor and thanks to the support of the company president Bruno Bollini we can look forward to a lot of success and excitement together. After finishing fifth in the championship last season Alvaro Bautista is determined to do even better this year. We have worked hard in the winter tests alongside Showa and we are ready for a competitive season. Alvaro has the opportunity to show his full potential on a competitive bike in the RC213V and we are as proud as ever of our association with Honda and HRC. For Bryan Staring this is the start of a new adventure and we will try our best to help him make the step up to MotoGP. He has the quality to do it, as well as the determination and the humility. We have put together a bike along with FTR that can do well in the CRT category and we can't wait to get on track and take on this new challenge. I am confident that the FTR – Honda will be competitive in the new season.”
LOSAIL LIGHTS UP THE 2013 SEASON
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders target another season at the top of the CRT pile
The end of the 2012 season seems like only yesterday but almost five months on and several days of winter testing later the teams and riders are ready to race again. As it has done every season since 2007 the Grand Prix of Qatar will be the opening round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship and for the sixth year in succession it will take place under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit. It is the event's tenth anniversary but as with every year there are plenty of changes to the championship to look out for. The biggest change this year will be a revised qualifying format and a softer tyre compound available only to the CRT riders. Factory foursome Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Márquez and Rossi have dominated preseason and it looks like it could be the closest championship battle in many years.
The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team have dominated the CRT timesheets over the winter testing period and after finishing as the top two riders in the new category in 2012, Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet will have the targets on their backs this time. It is a challenge the pair are happy to accept and they will have each other firmly in their line of sight as they look to be crowned 'CRT Champion' in 2013.
Aleix Espargaró: "Even though preseason went well I was looking forward to it finishing and for the real action to start. We have a new challenge ahead of us this year, which is to retain the title of top CRT, and I am excited to get started. Being the guy the other CRTs will want to beat is an extra source of motivation for us but on the evidence of preseason there will be more competition and we will have to work just as hard as last year to be at the front. I love the Losail circuit and can't wait to get there and ride. There is a new qualifying format in MotoGP this year and it looks like it will be a lot of fun, especially to watch, and I am looking forward to seeing how it works."
Randy De Puniet: "It has rained more than we would have liked in preseason but luckily on the final day of the Malaysia test and at Jerez we drew some positive conclusions. The new ART is a sweeter bike with more set-up options and I can't wait to ride it in Qatar. Last year the top CRT honour was between myself and my team-mate Aleix but it looks like it could be more open this time and I think it will be a fun season. I feel very strong on the new ART and even though we still need to iron out a few things with the set-up I think we are ready for the start of the season."
Ready to ride at Qatar for the first race of the season
The 2013 MotoGP season kicks-off at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team.
The MotoGP objectives are clear, have the Colin Edwatds and Claudio Corti to figh among the best CRTs for the first CRT podium of the season with their FTR-Kawasaki bike. The Moto2 objective for Simone Corsi, Alex de Angelis and Mattia Pasini and Ricky Cardús is clear, fight for the title with the SpeedUp factory support.
After a short but intense pre season the six NGM Mobile Forward rides are ready to ride. MotoGP testing will begin Thursday at 19:55 local time, preceded exactly one hour before by Moto2´s first free practice session, followed by the second free practice at 21:50 also for Moto2.
COLIN EDWARDS – 5
“Looking forward to get to this first race with a new package (FTR-Kawasaki) Qatar is always a little bit special to me, being a night race and having had good results here in the past. Looking forward to it, ready to get the year underway.”
CLAUDIO CORTI – 71
"Finally the season begins! We have worked very hard from the very first test to the last one and I can ´t wait to get on track and see where we are at in terms of the other CRTs. We know we still have a lot of work head of us but right now I want to feel the adrenalin rush that you only get during a race!”
SIMONE CORSI – 3
“I am very happy to get this new season started. We have tested many things this winter in order to find the best possible setup. I am satisfied of the work we have done on the new bike and I can’t wait to get to Doha!”
ALEX DE ANGELIS – 15
“ I am very curious to see how this first race goes. Qatar is a circuit that I like a lot; it’s always a pleasure for me to ride here. We have the new chassis for this race and we hope it will give us a little something extra to get closer to the top guys. As always I will do my best to get the season started in the best possible way!”
MATTIA PASINI– 54
“I can’t wait to get to race with the new bike on Qatar. I am extremely motivated and so is my team.”
RICKY CARDÚS- 88
“We have a long season ahead of us and Qatar is the starting point. This race will help me fully understand where we are at with the bike and its development at this particular circuit and gain confidence with my bike. I am calm and hopeful because I know results will come.
Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 1: Qatar, Losail
2 April 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Hard; Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Losail International Circuit will light up the opening round of the 2013 MotoGP™ season as the twenty-four riders contesting this year’s championship prepare to do battle in the Qatari desert.
This year is Bridgestone’s fifth as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ and during that time, it has been the fast and technical Losail circuit that has hosted the season opener. This year sees a new practice and qualifying format which has brought with it a revision in tyre allocation, with each rider being given one extra rear slick and an extra set of wet tyres at each race compared to last year.
Bridgestone has also responded to rider requests by allowing selection of up to seven of the softer option rear slicks at each race weekend, compared to six last year. Although the total number of front slicks allocated to each rider remains the same at nine tyres, riders have greater flexibility in how they can select their tyre compounds and can now choose up to six tyres in either the softer or harder slick option, up from five last year. Slick compounds for the front tyre remain unchanged this season, though the names of the front slick compounds have been revised to extra-soft, soft, medium and hard to make them consistent with the rear slick tyre.
The desert setting of Losail brings with it cool track temperatures at night and the potential for wind-blown sand which when combined with the flowing nature of the circuit, creates a challenging environment for race tyres. Although Bridgestone is offering different rear slick specifications for the CRT and works riders this season, the particular demands of this circuit mean that two specifications of rear slick – the medium and hard asymmetric rears - will be provided for all riders at this race. Front slick tyre compounds for Qatar are the same as last year, with the soft and hard compounds giving the variety needed to manage the changeable grip and abrasion levels that often occur at this circuit.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“It is with great pride that Bridgestone commences its fifth year as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP this weekend at Qatar. This race also marks the introduction of the revised tyre allocation regulations which sees every rider receiving one extra rear slick and an extra set of wet tyres, and this change is just the latest example of Bridgestone’s continued commitment to improving its quality of service to the riders and teams.
“Many riders have shown good form in pre-season testing and the pace across the whole grid is more competitive, so I am confident that we will see an exciting race this weekend and that the season as a whole will be one to remember. I am also very interested to see the new qualifying format in action, and I’d like to wish everyone competing in this year’s MotoGP championship a safe and successful campaign.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“The first race of the season at Qatar presents quite a challenge for tyre development. Being run at night, track temperatures are always quite low which would normally require softer compounds, but the desert sand often blows across the circuit, making the surface quite abrasive which makes durability also a priority. This combination of low temperature and high abrasion makes it very tough for tyres, especially on the right shoulders, as they have to be soft enough to provide grip in the low track temperature but hard enough to resist wear. The tyres also need sufficient stability for the heavy braking points.
“To meet these demands, last year we brought asymmetric rear slicks to Qatar for the first time and this helped improve performance and safety, so we will offer the same this year in the medium and hard compounds. Our front tyre compounds will be soft and hard, with the softer option being offered in case especially cool conditions occur.”