Press release previews issued by the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the season opener at Qatar:
Podium the target for Rabat and Kallio in Qatar
Gosselies, Belgium – 17 March 2014: Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio head to the Middle East determined to get their 2014 Moto2 World Championship campaign off to a flying start in Qatar, after topping the timesheet at all three preseason tests in which they participated.
In Valencia and Phillip Island it was Rabat who dominated, posting the fastest time at Circuit Ricardo Tormo and then going on to smash the lap record in Australia during the Dunlop tyre test.
In Jerez, Kallio waited until the final session of the three-day test before replacing his teammate at the top of the timesheet. The 31-year-old Finn’s time of 1’42.169 was not bettered during the final Jerez test, which the two Marc VDS Moto2 riders didn’t attend.
It bodes well for the opening race of the 2014 season, which takes place under floodlights this weekend at the Losail International Circuit on the outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar.
Livio Loi heads to Qatar with a point to prove, after struggling to match his previous lap times at the final preseason test in Jerez. The 16-year-old Belgian, however, remains confident of opening his 2014 campaign with a good result in the first race of the season.
“Preseason testing has gone well. We’ve found a good setting with the bike and the lap times have been fast, but now we must carry that momentum into the first race. I’m going to Qatar to fight for the win, but I suspect the other 34 Moto2 riders are heading out there with exactly the same idea! Everyone arrives at the first race of the season with a lot of energy and high expectations, so it’s definitely a bit special. I like the Qatar track, but we will need to fight from the first practice to stay in front. We need to work hard, make our best and push every day.”
“The results from the end of last year when combined with our preseason testing performance means we go into 2014 with some confidence. The first three races are the most important; if we can return to Europe at the end of April with three good results behind us then that only adds confidence and motivation. I really believe that this season I can fight for race wins and also the title. While Qatar doesn’t rate as one of my favourite tracks, I’ve had some good results there in the past and I find racing under floodlights quite interesting, as it’s a bit different to the other races on the calendar.”
“In the last session on the last day at the Jerez test, when the wind had dropped a little, I started to get the feeling back with the bike, so I’m happy enough going into the first race of the season in Qatar. I didn’t race there last year, because I was too young, so the track will be new for me, as will racing at night under floodlights. But, I’ve been practicing on the PlayStation and I will be giving it 200% this weekend, to ensure I get my first full season in Moto3 off to a good start.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We couldn’t have asked anything more of Tito, Mika and their respective crews during preseason testing this year. Between them they have dominated testing, topping the timesheet at every test in which they participated. It means we go into the new season confident that both riders can fight for race wins and, ultimately, the championship title. Despite a disappointing final preseason test in Jerez, and not having raced in Qatar previously, Livio remains confident of a good result this weekend. He certainly has a point to prove; the team has done everything possible to prepare him for his second season in Moto3, but now it’s down to him. He’s been given an opportunity many can only dream of, but now he needs to repay the faith shown in him with results.”
More information and high resolution images are available on the Marc VDS Racing Team website at www.marcvds.com.
AGT REA Racing set for Qatar after positive Jerez Moto2 test
AGT REA Racing rider Gino Rea has concluded the pre-season testing at Jerez with a positive final day on track. After breaking his left foot at the Valencia Moto2 test 4 weeks ago, Rea was forced to sit out the first Jerez test but returned to the track for the final Moto2 test last week. After riding through pain on the first day in Jerez, Gino had his foot x-rayed to find that the metatarsal bone in his left foot was still broken, causing him aggravating pain on a circuit that has many left corners. Walking on a crutch and riding with gritted teeth, Gino and the AGT REA Racing team continued their hard work to develop the Suter bike, adapting it to Gino’s riding style and the Jerez circuit. Making significant progress on the final day, Gino finished the final session just 1.2 seconds behind the fastest rider. Having missed 3 days testing at Jerez and riding with a broken foot, Gino and the team were very happy with the progress made and now look forward to riding in the night at Round 1 of the Moto2 World Championship in Qatar.
Gino comments: “Jerez was a positive test for us. It was like our first proper test because we were very limited at Valencia once I broke my foot and we missed out 3 days in Jerez. Everything is still new for us, including the whole team and the bike but it’s been really positive, everyone is getting to know each other and myself and crew chief Alessandro made good progress with the bike. I can’t say I’m too happy with my foot being broken still, I was having to compensate for it in a lot of areas so now it’s rest time until Qatar. It won’t be fully recovered in time but I’m hoping it will be a bit easier on it than Jerez, with less left corners at Qatar. I’m really looking forward to getting there and getting out on track, it’s been a long winter so I can’t wait to go and represent American Green Technology and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.”
Dave Peterson, president and CEO of WMRR says: "Given all of the obstacles; new team, short prep time, missed tests and Gino's broken foot I'm happy with our results and the way the new team worked together. I'm sure we will move up the field as the season progresses."
The first round of MotoGP will take place this weekend at Qatar, with free practice starting on Thursday night.
JUANFRAN GUEVARA READY FOR THE SEASON OF HIS LIFE
Spanish rider prepared for huge opportunity with the MAPFRE Aspar Team
For the eleventh season the GP of Qatar provides the curtain raiser to the MotoGP World Championship this weekend and for the seventh season it holds the unique distinction of being held at night. Fascination under the floodlights is the order of the weekend at Losail, a fast and flowing circuit that has a bit of everything. The Moto3 World Championship gets underway with the main protagonists of last season now departed for Moto2 and a host of hungry young riders looking to stamp their authority on the championship.
Juanfran Guevara heads to the desert with a smile on his face after an intense but fruitful first preseason with the MAPFRE Aspar Team. After making a swift adaptation to the Kalex/KTM machine the Spanish racer is now ready for the most important season of his career so far. He knows that with the MAPFRE Aspar Team he has the material at his disposition to take his career to the next level and the opportunity to be a frontrunner in the Moto3 category for the first time.
Juanfran Guevara: “I am really looking forward to getting started at the first race of the season, where I hope we can confirm all the good work we have done during preseason. I know it's early but I would like to be running at the front. We had a really good end to preseason, we have very clear ideas about the bike and I think this will help us make a successful start to the season. Losail is a spectacular track with an interesting layout but it is not one of my favourite races, probably because of the fact it's run at night. Anyway, this year I go there with a completely different level of motivation.”
THE JUNIOR TEAM GO&FUN MOTO3 ALL-ITALIAN LINE-UP PREPARED FOR QATAR SEASON OPENER
After an intense winter testing period, including visits to Almeria, Valencia and Jerez, the Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3 is finally en-route to Qatar for the first round of the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. Niccolò Antonelli and Enea Bastianini head to the Losail International Circuit, on the outskirt of Doha, with a clear goal in their minds.
Antonelli has proved to be able to fight for race wins and the championship title, after topping often the timesheets during pre-season: despite struggling to match his previous lap times at the final test in Jerez, the 18-year-old from Cattolica remains confident of opening his 2014 campaign with a good result.
Adding to the spectacle of the curtain raiser in Qatar will be the floodlit nature of the first race: an exciting atmosphere for Enea Bastianini, who will race his first World Championship Grand Prix. Aged only 16, the youngster from Rimini had had two positive outings at Almeria and Valencia, but then struggled to find a good rythm at Jerez. His goal at the moment is to try to enter in the top 15, in order to open his points account.
NICCOLO' ANTONELLI “We arrive in Qatar with great confidence because we know that we have everything we need to be competitive and to stay on top: we have proved it during all the winter tests, although the last session in Jerez was a bit disappointing. Our rivals are very strong, so for sure it will not be an easy challenge, but if we work well we can be protagonists. During the winter we have reached a good chassis set-up, although we need to make some more adjustment in order to improve: we'll see how it goes day by day during the race weekend”.
ENEA BASTIANINI “In a few days I will race my first Grand Prix and certainly it will be an exciting experience. During the race weekend I will face a completely new situation, with short practice sessions in which it will be important to work methodically, avoiding mistakes: definitely a different rhythm from that to which we are accustomed in testing. On paper, the first race is the more complicated for me: I have no experience, and I don’t even know the Losail Circuit, and above all, the level of the Championship is very high. My goal is to try to get into the points; it will not be easy, but we'll try”.
FAUSTO GRESINI “We are approaching a very important season: during the winter Antonelli has proved to have the right potential to fight with the fastest riders, even though the final test in Jerez didn’t go as hoped, with Niccolò slowed down by two untimely crashes. However, it should be said that during all these tests we have always maintained a useful approach, without looking at lap times. Therefore I think that the situation will balance during the Grand Prix weekend and we expect to be competitive with him. Niccolò got immediately to grips with the KTM: during the pre-season I saw a mature rider, with more self-confidence, ready to start season in which he knows he is called to make the most of his two years of experience in the category. Also in Moto3, as in the other two classes, we will see a debut: Enea Bastianini is very young and he has very little experience: of course, at this stage we do not expect anything from him, but we will simply help him in his growth path, putting him in the best conditions to learn, then we will see”.
HIGH HOPES FOR THE TEAM FEDERAL OIL GRESINI MOTO2 AS NEW SEASON KICKS OFF IN QATAR
This weekend the fiercely competitive Moto2 class kicks off its fifth year as the intermediate category of the World Championship, with a 35-rider field set to make the 2014 season another closely-fought contest. After the good consistency showed at the final pre-season test in Jerez, Xavier Siméon heads to Qatar determined to get his 2014 campaign off to a flying start aboard the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Suter machine.
On the other side of the garage, Moto2 newcomer Lorenzo Baldassarri - Team Gresini Moto2 - will try to repeat the strong performance showed during winter testing; however, the main goal for the young Italian rider under Losail floodlights is to keep calm in order to avoid mistakes and to continue his apprenticeship, without thinking too much at results.
The first Grand Prix of the season is 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 20h20 local time.
XAVIER SIMEON “Every year, beginning a new challenge is always exciting, and lining up on the starting grid for the first race of the season always gives a great adrenaline rush. Considering the good results we have obtained during winter testing, our goal is to try to fight for first positions: the important thing will be to work well throughout free practice, just as we have done during pre-season, and then we'll see how it goes in the race. I really like the Losail circuit, whilst racing at night does not give me a special feeling; what is certain is that it doesn’t annoy me, so I will try my best, as always!”.
LORENZO BALDASSARRI “We head to Qatar with great confidence: winter testing went very well, even better than expected, so the feeling is that we can have our say. Obviously, since I’m only at my first race in Moto2, it will be important trying to maintain a proper approarch, working well during free practice. However, if we look at what we were able to do during the winter, we believe that we can be fast, even though I don’t want to make predictions. After all this is a debut for me: I’ve never rode a Moto2 bike at Losail International Circuit, so I’ll need to learn how to ride quickly. However, I like this track, so I hope that this can help me”.
FAUSTO GRESINI “Our challenge in Moto2 resumes with a whole new team with great ambitions: our approach has radically changed compared to last year, and we head to the first Grand Prix of the season with a really competitive team. We have worked so hard to improve the quality of this important project developed together with Federal Oil, which is supporting us at its maximum, so I am looking forward to the season opener. Siméon has the right experience to lead the field and, despite having started the pre-season with a fall that had forced him to skip two testing sessions, Xavier later was able to significantly reduce the gap from the top, so I expect to see him already competitive from the first race. Then, it will be really interesting to attend Baldassarri’s debut, a rider in which we have always believed, who was able to grow so much during the winter, showing a great potential; I’m happy and proud to have made this choice. Lorenzo is very young and determined: he must only remain quiet and I am convinced that the results will come soon”.
Moto3™ - San Carlo Team Italia hits Qatar for season opener
Losail hosts the first round of 2014, Ferrari and Locatelli are ready to race
A stable feature of the MotoGP calendar since 2004, Losail International Circuit will host the first round for the eighth consecutive year. The program will be, as usual, spread over four days. The young talents of Moto3 will race under the Qatar floodlights on Sunday, March 20th, starting at 7 p.m. local time (5 p.m. in Italy), over a total distance of 18 laps.
Relieved after the positive feedback gathered in the recent Jerez tests, the young riders of San Carlo Team Italia Matteo Ferrari (european Moto3 champion in 2012) and Andrea Locatelli (reigning Moto3 champion in Italy) will start from Qatar their path of technical and profession development set forward by the Italian motorcycling federation together with San Carlo Gruppo Alimentare S.p.A.
Aside from the duo, the team is reinforced by the presence of two prestigious names in the two-wheels world such as Virginio Ferrari (team manager) and Carlo Pernat (in charge of public relations and communications), who will bring expertise and an invaluable array of technical and human skills.
Riding Mahindra MGP3O machines, Matteo Ferrari (#3) and Andrea Locatelli (#55) will defend the federation's colors in a season that features 7 Italian riders, 6 of whom already rode for Team Italia in the recent past.
Virginio Ferrari (Team Manager - San Carlo Team Italia Moto3™)
"During the recent tests in Jerez, we made some big steps forward. After receiving the 2014 Mahindra engines, Matteo took over a second off his previous best, which leaves us hopeful for the next races. We head to Qatar with a clearer picture of the bike, and we just need to work on the setup. Our riders are excited to be part of this FMI project, and eager to make their dreams come true. Our goal is to help them grow, giving them helpful information to speed up their technical and sport growth".