Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's race at Qatar:
Double Delight as Yamaha Dominate in Qatar
Losail (Qatar), 7th April 2013
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo kicked off the defence of his title tonight in the best possible way, delivering a flawless ride under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit to take a perfect victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar.
Lorenzo put the hammer down from pole position, taking the hole-shot into turn one and never looking back. He remained untouchable throughout, dispatching the 22 laps in isolation with trademark efficiency to claim his first victory of the season and add 25 Championship points to his 2013 title bid.
Valentino Rossi proved he still hasn’t lost his magic in tonight’s race, thrilling fans with a sensational run to claim second on the podium, completing a Yamaha Factory Racing one-two finish with his teammate Lorenzo.
Rossi made sure his first race back with Yamaha was one to be remembered, having started from seventh on the grid he quickly moved up to fourth only to mistime a pass on Andrea Dovizioso and drop back to seventh again. By lap eight he was charging back up the field, closing down a gap of over three seconds to catch the podium battle and join the fight for Qatar honours. The nine-time World Champion dispatched fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow and Honda rival Dani Pedrosa before entering into a fantastic duel with MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez in the final laps for second place. Rossi emerged from the battle the victor, crossing the line in second position just under six seconds behind Lorenzo to take 20 Championship points.
1st / 42'39.802 / 22 laps
“Half an hour before the race I felt a little bit nervous so I had to really concentrate and relax on the grid. I knew it was going to be difficult to open a gap but I had to try,
I made a good start and pushed more than 100%. In the beginning it was hard to open the gap as Pedrosa didn’t want to let me get away, he tried to stay with me but after six or seven laps I opened the gap which made me more confident to keep my pace.
I’m very happy for Yamaha and happy for Valentino as he has now passed two difficult years.”
2nd / +5.990 / 22 laps
“I’m more than happy, very happy indeed because it was my dream to come back with Yamaha.
To arrive on the podium at the first race was my target from November and I put all my effort to arrive at the maximum here.
It was a difficult weekend, especially yesterday in qualifying, but I knew I had great pace so I tried to recover in the beginning but I made a mistake and I lost time. I had to do a great second part of the race and step by step I came close to my podium.
In the end there was a great battle, especially with Marc for the second place. I’m so happy for me, for my team, for my friends and all my fans who stay with me through two difficult years and also for Yamaha, to start the season with first and second place is not so bad!”
“What a terrific start to the season, we are of course very pleased with the result. There are 17 races to go and it looks like it will be a fantastic season.
The first race is always quite important to get a little advantage and have a good feeling. To have your first win for Jorge and of course second with Vale is great for the team and for the spirit because it will be a long season as we know so for everybody it's a big boost.
We go to Austin now where we struggled a bit in the test but we have improved the bike already quite a bit. Hopefully we’ll be able to close the gap and have a good race there as well.”
“I have to say that this weekend started very well and finished even better. We couldn’t expect anything more.
We won the race with a big gap and we finished second with Vale after he made an incredible comeback. I think the team did a really great job since Sepang test one, making the bike better and better and I think this result is the icing on the cake.
Everyone put in a lot of effort so I have to make a big thank you to then all. This is the best way to start the season and we won’t give up to until the end.”
Marquez achieves incredible podium in first MotoGP race
Tonight in the Grand Prix of Qatar, Repsol Honda's rookie Marc Marquez, took a fantastic 3rd position to claim a podium finish in his first race in the premier class with teammate Dani Pedrosa finishing just three seconds behind him in 4th position.
It was an intense race from the start with Dani moving up to second by the first corner. Marc dropped back briefly to 7th but fought through the pack and up to 4th by lap two and then up to 3rd, behind Dani by lap three, setting the fastest lap of the race with 1'55.445. The two Repsol Honda riders then stuck together for fourteen laps with only a few tenths between them, until Marc passed Dani on lap sixteen.
In the final laps, Valentino Rossi came through the pack and passed Dani on lap eighteen and Marc was unable to hold him off on lap nineteen. He battled and briefly overtook Rossi, but finally settled for 3rd just over two tenths behind the Italian.
Marc Marquez 3rd Championship Standing: 3rd - 16 points
"To tell the truth, I was pretty nervous on the grid, because it was my first MotoGP race. I don't think I've ever been so nervous before. I found it hard to keep calm and I wasn't as focused as in Moto2. However, I regained my concentration at the last moment. The start was important and we knew that we were taking off from the dirty part of the track. I didn't get off well, but I was able to attack on the opening laps and overtake many riders. I think that this was the key. When I rode behind Dani I learnt a lot, also later on with Valentino. Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it's always tough at the same time. Valentino was a tough rival to overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us"
Dani Pedrosa 4th Championship Standing: 4th - 13 points
"Today's race was good, in part. I rode strongly and at a good level, although I had to slide around a lot during the entire race to combat a lack of rear grip. I saw from the opening lap that Lorenzo was going much faster and I tried to keep my position, because I knew that on the corners the traction issue came into play. I tried as hard as I could to keep my position, but then Rossi came through at a blistering pace and, to tell the truth, I couldn't stop him -he went straight through. I did all that I could, but it wasn't enough. Maybe there was a setup issue with the rear, because I had problems with it all weekend and we didn't have enough grip tonight. I was off the podium in the end, which is a shame considering we had some good pre-season tests and that the setup was good in t hose. For some reason, it just didn't work for us tonight"
Dovizioso, Hayden seventh and eighth in Qatar Grand Prix
The season-opening MotoGP race saw Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden finish in seventh and eighth places, respectively, under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit.
After starting from the second row in his debut race for the Italian factory, Dovizioso ran in third place in the early laps and was then involved in battles with Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl, and teammate Hayden. Meanwhile, the American quickly advanced from the eleventh spot on the grid to ninth place, and after pushing hard the entire race, he crossed the finish line in eighth.
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 7th
“Before coming here, this is about the best result we could have hoped for. It’s true that we had hoped to do better following the exceptional qualifying session, but this is the reality. Races are different than practice, and I knew that. In fact, I was really curious to see how I’d go in the race. Doing a race weekend is an important experience, so we go on from here. We knew there were limits, but in my opinion we couldn’t have done any better. We improved on the times from last year, so that’s positive. Still, of course we always want to do better, so we don’t go home happy.”
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 8th
“We knew it was going to be difficult. We made a little improvement in the warm-up session, and I felt a bit better. I have to give credit to my guys because we made one more change before the race, and my bike was better than it’s been since we got here. I did my best time of the weekend by two tenths and basically ran at my qualifying pace for the first part of the race. I worked really hard to close that gap and get onto that little group in front of me, and things started feeling better. It would have been nice to pick up one more spot, but I couldn’t get past Dovi because he was better than I was on the brakes.”
Bernhard Gobmeier – Ducati Corse General Manager
“We’re happy that all four Ducati riders finished the race without any specific issues, and the result was as good as we could have expected in the current circumstances. With the progress made over the testing season, we were able to improve our speed, but nevertheless, we don’t yet have the consistency to run at the front, especially toward the end. We’re looking forward to the next races and the tests, where we’ll have some new things to try out.”
As the team heads home to prepare for the championship’s next round, in Texas, its members extend their warm support to Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi, whose father Claudio passed away on Sunday.
Crutchlow fights for podium in thrilling season opener
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow finished tonight’s opening MotoGP round in Qatar in fifth position after putting up a fantastic fight for the podium in a nail-biting 22-lap encounter at the Losail International Circuit.
After starting from the front row of the grid for the eighth time in his MotoGP career, the British rider was quickly locked in a thrilling battle for second position with Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez in the unique Qatar night race.
Crutchlow exerted immense pressure on Pedrosa and Marquez but as he calculated where he could try and attack in the final laps, the battle for second became a four-way fight by lap 16 with Valentino Rossi joining the action.
Crutchlow’s challenge for his third MotoGP podium came to an unfortunate end though on lap 18 when he ran off at the first corner while trying to defend his position against a hard-charging Rossi.
He lost just over three seconds with the off-track excursion but such was his fast and consistent pace earlier in the race that he was able to easily secure fifth position and start the 2013 World Championship in positive fashion.
Bradley Smith’s long-awaited MotoGP debut started brilliantly and a lightning start off the line saw him pass Marquez on the run to the first corner to move into the top six.
As the early action intensified, Smith settled into a comfortable rhythm and he was just about to launch an assault on the top 10 when he crashed out unhurt on lap five at the seventh corner.
Cal Crutchlow 5th – 11 points :
“It’s positive to finally kick of the Championship after a long winter, but to be honest after the way I had been performing in practice and qualifying, finishing fifth is a little bit frustrating. My pace was promising and I think I would have deserved to be on the podium, but it was clear to see that I was lacking a bit of speed on the straight. That meant I had to push hard to close the gap in the corners and if we can resolve that small issue I’ve no doubt I can have the possibility to really challenge the guys at the front. It was a good battle with Dani and Marc but I just get close enough to them to try and make a pass, but credit to Valentino because I was over three seconds clear of him and he caught and passed me. He rode awesome but so did Jorge, who proved yet again that he is going to be the man to beat. It was a great nig ht for Yamaha but also for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because I showed that I can battle for the podium. The top four are the best riders on the best bikes but I pushed them as hard as I could until the small mistake stopped me. I’m best of the rest and that’s pleasing and hopefully I can be up there again in Austin.”
Bradley Smith DNF :
“It is frustrating to crash out of my first MotoGP race so early because I need to be gaining all the experience I can. We changed the bike for tonight and the bike was much better on corner entry. Unfortunately I lost the front at Turn 7 and I was down. I’d had a couple of warnings and I will know for the future that I am close to the limit when that happens. There are a lot more positives than negatives to come out of this weekend but I can’t deny it would have been great to start the year with a top 10 finish. We move onto the next race in Austin where the goal again will be to build up my experience and learn more about the bike.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager :
“It has been a positive start to the season and Cal did an incredible job during practice and qualifying and also during the race he definitely showed that he’s made another step forward during this winter. Finishing fifth is a little bit disappointing when he was in the battle for the podium for so long but there is a lot of positives we can take from this weekend and it was great to seeing him be the only one to put pressure on the factory guys. He was the best of the rest again and he proved that the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is once again very competitive.
It was a big shame for Bradley because it would have been good to start the Championship inside the top 10. He really could have picked up a lot of information to get more experience to learn from, but these things can happen and the crash shouldn’t detract from the fact th at he had a very encouraging weekend that bodes well for the future. We are looking forward to seeing his development during the next races but I’ve no doubt he is going to be regular inside the top 10.
I also want to pay huge compliments to Yamaha for an incredible start to 2013. Jorge was outstanding and showed why is the World Champion and Valentino showed in the last five laps that this year could be fantastic.”
EARLY FINISH FOR BRADL AT SEASON OPENER IN QATAR
Losail, 7 April: the opening round of 2013 campaign at the desert track saw LCR Honda Stefan Bradl failing to finish the 22-lap night race. The German (Moto2 World Champion of 2011) headed into his second campaign of MotoGP quietly confident and he strongly secured a second row start in yesterday’s qualifying. Bradl was in sixth on the eighth lap when he lost the front end in turn 7 and fell, unhurt.
“Since the beginning of the race I was not enough confident with the front tyre feeling and I felt the same issue we suffered on Friday; probably even worse. We felt not so bad in the warm-up session as I was lapping consistently fast. Unfortunately in the race I could not push over the front and could not do anything to improve my pace. Rossi passed me and I was not capable to follow him because of this front issue as I was losing the front in every corner. Honestly I have not made any mistake so I can not explain exactly why I crashed. We will investigate checking the data together with my technicians”.
SOLID START TO THE SEASON FOR BAUTISTA
Alvaro Bautista kicked off his 2013 MotoGP World Championship campaign with a solid sixth place finish in the Grand Prix of Qatar. The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider pushed hard to stay with the lead group in the early stages of the race but had to back off towards the end and make the points safe. It was a night to forget for debutante Bryan Staring, whose first MotoGP outing ended in the gravel trap after an unfortunate crash. However, it has been a positive weekend overall for the Australian rookie who like Bautista will look to build on his efforts in the next round in Austin, Texas, in two weeks' time.
Alvaro Bautista (6th) “We have had the same problems in the race that we had in practice. I tried to push hard at the start and stay with the lead group but I didn't have the feeling or stability under braking. I stayed with them for a while but I was taking too many risks so I just had to try and make it to the end and defend my position. We're hopeful that the problems we have had here, which were also the same problems as last year, are down to the track conditions and won't be as bad in the coming races. We will keep working but I am happy with the job the team is doing and I expect us to make big progress in Texas.”
Bryan Staring (DNF) “I am disappointed because I didn't want to finish my MotoGP debut in this way. We made progress throughout practice but then I ruined it all with a stupid crash. I am disappointed for myself and for the team, who have helped me out so much. Hopefully I can make up for it in America.”
ESPARGARÓ AND DE PUNIET FINISH TOGETHER AGAIN
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair eleventh and twelfth, respectively, at Qatar GP. Both were the top CRT riders of the night.
If the rest of the season is going to be anything like tonight, then fans had better get ready for the of adrenaline from the premier class. Of the three races held in Losail, the most exciting was the MotoGP contest. Jorge Lorenzo won the race after breaking away early, taking victory with an advantage of some six seconds. Behind him an exciting battle between Pedrosa, Marquez and Crutchlow emerged, until Rossi joined the party and muscled his way through the group to finish second. He had to hold off Marquez at the end in a great duel between veteran and debutant.
They know one another perfectly, they spend hours travelling together and they are teammates -and rivals. Last season they were the top and second top CRT riders in MotoGP. POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet were back for another season together, competing to be the best CRT rider of the night in Qatar. Espargaró took charge in the duel, with a move that put Spies in between the two, although De Puniet stuck behind the American and regained ground. In the end, an airbox issue for De Puniet with eight laps remaining stopped him from engaging in a straight fight with his teammate, who concluded the race in eleventh.
11th Aleix Espargaró: "Obviously we always want more, and we've been left wanting more tonight. We were hoping to fight against some of the MotoGP riders. The thing that made that so tough was that we CRT riders lose a lot of distance on the straight and have to take risks on the corners. I took advantage of a mistake by Spies to pass him, then I pushed like crazy and I held on for a bit, but eventually he overtook me again at the end of the straight. Realistically, we have to be satisfied with our result. We have every reason to be very happy, at a circuit as long as this, with a finish just 49 seconds behind the winner. It is quite an achievement. Clearly, we have taken a huge step up from last season. We could not have started better here, and I am particularly pleased that we have solved a lot of our chattering problems. We leave here as leaders of the CRT standings, so it was 'job done'."
12th Randy De Puniet: "If on Thursday, after the first practice session, I had been told that I would end the weekend as well as I did, then I would have been happy. Throughout the weekend, mainly yesterday, we improved our confidence issues with the front end. Today I had a good feeling during the first three parts of the race, I could stick with my teammate Aleix and, although he escaped slightly, I could reel him back in. However, with eight laps to go I started having problems with the left handers, as I just couldn't turn into them. Later, with eight laps to go, I started to have chatter problems and lost almost two seconds per lap. It seemed like the air intake had come unstuck, which impeded me from turning the bars and led to a lot of bouncing. It's a shame, as I could have stayed with Aleix throughout if not. We have to think positive -at least I was able to complete the race and was also the second best CRT rider. Despite this setback, we had a very consistent race."
Top Ten for Pramac Racing Team
The long wait for the 2013 MotoGP championship finished at 10 p.m. Qatar time, when Losail International Circuit’s start light flashed off and the first race of the season got underway.
The Pramac Racing Team finished its race weekend with solid top-ten finishes by both of its riders, Andrea Iannone (Energy T.I. PRT) and Ben Spies (Ignite PRT), with the pair taking the checkered flag just behind fellow Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.
Despite his right shoulder still not being at 100%, the American soldiered on to finish the race in tenth place.
Ben Spies – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“It was the best tenth place I’ve ever had in my life. The race was good. We get off to a good start, but I knew I couldn’t run with a good pace for a long time. I was actually worried before the race, because after yesterday’s crash and straining my shoulder in practice, I didn’t think we’d be able to finish. Once I saw that the top ten wasn’t impossible, I just pushed as hard as I could, and I was able to make it. I just want to thank the guys for doing everything they could to make the bike easier to ride, and I was happy. We finished the first race, and that’s the most important.”
Francesco Guidotti – Team Manager Pramac Racing Team
“Overall, it was a positive weekend, as we get a lot of satisfaction from putting both of our riders in the top ten despite both riders’ physical conditions. Ben is still suffering from the injury to his right shoulder, and Andrea had a problem with his arm that he had never experienced in the tests. I would like to thanks the Mobile Clinic for having help both riders. I would say we’re very satisfied.”
Top Ten for Pramac Racing Team
The long wait for the 2013 MotoGP championship finished at 10 p.m. Qatar time, when Losail International Circuit’s start light flashed off and the first race of the season got underway.
The Pramac Racing Team finished its race weekend with solid top-ten finishes by both of its riders, Andrea Iannone (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team) and Ben Spies (Ignite Pramac Racing Team), with the pair taking the checkered flag just behind fellow Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.
The Italian stayed in the draft of the group in front of him for nearly half the race, at which point arm pump in his right forearm caused him to lose contact. Nonetheless, he was still able to finish his first MotoGP race in ninth place.
Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“It was really difficult with my arm. We tried injections because that was probably the only way to relieve the pain, but after just four laps I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sorry because I thought I could have stayed with Nicky for a bit longer, but I realized that I couldn’t manage it. I also began losing grip pretty early, after just six laps. I had tried to change the bike settings to see if the situation would improve, but it didn’t happen, so I just raced in pain. I’m satisfied though, as we’re in the top ten, and we’ll see if we can close the gap in the future.”
Francesco Guidotti – Team Manager Pramac Racing Team
“Overall, it was a positive weekend, as we get a lot of satisfaction from putting both of our riders in the top ten despite both riders’ physical conditions. Ben is still suffering from the injury to his right shoulder, and Andrea had a problem with his arm that he had never experienced in the tests. I would like to thanks the Mobile Clinic for having help both riders. I would say we’re very satisfied.
First race and first step for Edwards and Corti
The first race of the season has come to an end under for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti in Qatar.
Both the American rider and Italian rider have improvd their feeling with their FTR – Kawasaki bikes. Unfotunately neither one of them was able to take the first points of the season during this first race. Corti finished sixteenth one position away from the points after having an impressive start of the race where he gained seven positions within the first few laps while Edwards was constraiend to retire due to a technical problem.
Claudio Corti – 16th
“I made a really good start and was convinced of being able to have a race pace of 1´58. I was very motivated and determined to stay close to the Aprilias and fight with the other FTRs. Just after the start I managed to take some positions but my eagerness to be close to De Puniet caused me to go long on the first turn. While coming back in I must have damaged the front rim with the curb and caused me to have vibrations. A real shame because I was convinced of being able to have a good race. We had a few problems from the tenth lap, a problem that we have had throughout the winter and the time has come to solve it. We can do better; we have the potential both in terms of the bike and as a team. This is only the first race and we have already gotten really close to the points.”
Colin Edwards – Not Classified
“We made a change just before the race, went a little bit harder on the front forks spring and the bike was fantastic. It did everything right tonight. I started the race feeling confident and tried to heat up the clutch to get it to slip and it didn’t slip at all so then I had to readjust and lost positions. The start was terrible, saw the guys in front of me and started to make some moves. I saw Barbera and Hernandez there and by the time that I got around they had pulled a little bit and managed to come back at them but with seven laps to go I had an issue in turn 10 and I shift down to fifth and it would come back to forth so I would have to shift again and it either broke the front sprocket. I was lucky the chain didn’t lockup the wheel. Thanks to my team, my bike felt good today, we were just unlucky.”
Sergio Verbena – MotoGP Technical Director
“The fact that we took no points today does not reflect our true potential. Colin did a great beginning race, always close to the points positions. He was close to the Aprilia of Hernandez and managed to closeup on Barbera and was preparing to attack. We had a techncial problem with the gear box that caused the break of the rear sproket and constrained Colin to retire. It was unfortunet given that he had such a good begining of the race and diserved to get in the points. Claudio on the other hand, right from the start went straight on the first turn and hit the curb causing him to have vibrations. At the end of the race he was getting in very good lap times and managed to get one position away from the points. We have found a good electronics setting and bike setting here in Doha and we hope to get the first points in the following races.”
Lorenzo dominates MotoGP™ season opener at Qatar
Round 1: Qatar MotoGP™ - Race
Losail International Circuit, Sunday 7 April 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 22-22°C; Track 23-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo led from start to finish at the Qatar Grand Prix to start the defence of his MotoGP™ title in the best possible fashion.
Starting from pole, Lorenzo got an excellent start and led into the first corner and was never headed, going to cross the finish line 5.990 seconds ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi who made a valiant charge through the field to claim second place. The final rider on the podium was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, the MotoGP™ rookie losing out to Rossi by just 0.211 seconds. Claiming CRT honours at Qatar was Power Electronics Aleix Espargaro, the reigning CRT champion placing eleventh ahead of his teammate Randy de Puniet.
Track temperatures were cooler again today with a peak of 23°C and though the wind reduced in intensity compared to yesterday, there was still a significant amount of sand on the tarmac. As track conditions were quite dusty for the race, all riders opted for the softer rear slick to ensure maximum edge grip in the tricky conditions, while all but two riders – Bautista and Pesek – selected the harder front slick. Despite the less than ideal track conditions, the overall race time was five seconds faster than last year and Marc Marquez’s quickest race lap of 1'55.445 was just three-tenths short of the race lap record.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“The tyre combination that was most popular during practice and qualifying proved to be the best choice for the race, with all but two riders selecting the harder front slick paired with the softer rear. The track temperature was cooler than yesterday and this combined with the dusty track made the softer rear slick the option that would ensure the best combination of edge grip and rear drive. The softer rear slick still offered enough durability for a race distance and it was pleasing to see that despite the less than ideal track conditions, the overall race time was almost five seconds quicker than last year. Overall, I am happy with tyre performance over the first race weekend of the season and it was excellent to get the season started with such an exciting contest.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing – Race Winner
“Before the race I felt nervous and had to concentrate as I knew it was very important to get a good start. I had to try to build a good gap and after a good start I pushed more than 100%, but in the first laps it was hard to get away. Little by little it got easier and I was finally able to get away. This was a very good result for me, for my teammate Rossi and for Yamaha.”