Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
Miller starts strong and Hanika learns the ropes in Qatar
Red Bull KTM Ajo team debut in 2014 Moto3 World Championship with Jack Miller setting the third best time of the day. Karel Hanika debuts in Grand Prix action at the Qatar circuit and improves session after session.
03/20/2014 - Losail Circuit
A new season of the Moto3 World Championship began on Thursday night in Qatar. The Red Bull KTM Ajo team and its new riders, Jack Miller and Karel Hanika, had their first runouts in two intense practice sessions –in which they worked hard on the development of the KTM bike. The Australian was third fastest in the combined classification –2:06.427– whilst young Czech debutant Hanika was twentieth –2:07.962. Both set their best times in the second session of the day.
Miller was the very first man out on track. Concentrating on finding a feel with his bike at the track and setting up the KTM, the Australian took a calm approach and was sixth fastest –2:07.905– without taking risks on an asphalt surface with less sand than usual. The first free practice for Hanika saw him twenty-seventh –2:09.579– and getting to know a completely new track. His initial 40 minutes were completely dedicated to learning.
Gradually the young Czech rider learnt the secrets of Qatari circuit and, in the middle of the second session, had improved on his previous lap. Hanika ended the day with a best lap of 2:07.962 –more than 1.5 seconds faster than that of Free Practice 1.
Also setting his fastest time on his last attempt was Jack Miller, who led the second session at various points. Third, with a 2:06.427 lap, he was one of seven riders to go round in under the previous circuit record.
On Friday, Red Bull KTM Ajo have only one final practice session to contest, held at 7pm local time.
8 JACK MILLER
"So far things are going well here in Qatar; today was a good day. I've found good settings for the KTM. During the first session I did not feel comfortable, not with myself or with the bike, but in the second run we improved that. We still have work to do, but we also still have time.
Undoubtedly it will be a very tough and difficult week, because there are many riders going fast, but I am confident that we can get better."
98 KAREL HANIKA
"I think we started very well considering it is the first Grand Prix of my life. I dedicated myself to completing as many laps as I could and put in around 30. Both sessions served as a learning experience for the track and its lines, and we were pretty fast to adapt to this circuit. We then had time to start playing around with the setup of the bike. Finally I was able to ride alone and complete a few hot laps, which is also important. I'm not worried about the position right now, as the race is on Sunday."
Marc VDS get Qatar weekend off to a flying start
Losail, Qatar – 20 March 2014: Tito Rabat got the first race weekend of the season in Qatar off to a flying start, finishing tonight’s two free practice sessions in second place and just 0.052s off Takaaki Nakagami’s provisional pole position time.
Mika Kallio posted the fastest lap during tonight’s opening free practice but, despite improving his time in the second session, eventually ended the evening tenth on the timesheet.
The top 15 Moto2 riders were separated by less than one second.
Livio Loi missed the Qatar race last season because he was still underage, but the 16-year-old Belgian quickly got to grips with the Losail circuit during tonight’s two free practice sessions. An improvement of almost two seconds in FP2 saw Loi finish an impressive 13th, just 1.2s off Romano Fenati’s provisional pole time.
Tito Rabat // 2nd // 2’00.574
“The feeling with the bike was good from the start, the pace was fast and I felt comfortable with the lap times. The track was a little bit dirty today, like always on the first day in Qatar, but it will clean up tomorrow and the lap times will improve further. Tomorrow we will look for further improvements, but the good thing is that we only need to make small changes to the setup of the bike to achieve this. I’m happy to finally get the season underway and I’m pleased with how things have gone today here in Qatar.”
Mika Kallio // 10th // 2’01.039
“In the first session the feeling with the bike was good from the start, on the base setting we refined during preseason testing. My lap times were consistent and it’s always good to end the first session at the top of the timesheet. In the second session we used the harder option tyre, as there’s a good chance this will be the race tyre and, again, the lap times were consistent. What I didn’t get was a proper flying lap; I was on my fastest lap right at the end, with a red through sector 1, but I got the bike sideways out of turn 10 and lost time. Today was a good way to start the new season and tomorrow we will look for further improvements with the harder option tyre.”
Livio Loi // 13th // 2’07.403
“I’m happy with the two practices today. This is a new track for me, so I’m still learning my way around, but my lap times improved with every exit in the first session, despite some mistakes at certain parts of the track. I started the second session where I finished the first and, again, my lap time came down as I got a better feel for the track. For sure there is more to come tomorrow, because I was still making the odd mistake here and there in the last session, but I’m pretty pleased with the progress we made tonight.”
Good start for RW Racing GP in Qatar
Scott Deroue and Ana Carrasco have made a good start of the 2014 season at the first day of the Grand Prix of Qatar. With 16th and 19th respectively they firmly left their mark in the first session.
In the second session Deroue improved his lap time to 2.08,897, but dropped to 25th position as the others improved even more, with Romano Fenati breaking the lap record of the Losail Circuit already. Carrasco could not go faster in FP2 and dropped to 28th overall with 2.09,420. She was bothered by a malfunctioning clutch that cost her time and rhythm.
The first day of the opening round was a long one for the Moto3 riders, with several photo shoots and a long briefing by the race direction. And of course there was the buzz of excitement for the kickoff of the new season, with so much at stake, that put some extra tension on the young riders.
Scott Deroue – 2.08,897 (25)
“So, the start has been made. My first Grand Prix… The start was better than I could have imagined. Maybe P16 in the first practice was a little overrated and I got a bit overexcited.
It was difficult to concentrate in the second practice and I even ran off the track once. But I improved my time, I like the circuit, I feel good with the bike, and 25th overall on the first day isn’t that bad.”
Ana Carrasco – 2.09,420 (28)
“I had a problem with the clutch at the start of the first practice, but it went okay and I was satisfied with the lap times and the position.
I was looking for improvement in the second session but unfortunately I ran off track and the problem with the clutch reappeared. It took over 15 minutes to get it right again: valuable time that cost me my rhythm. I had to start all over again but I could get the good feeling back.
It was only the first day. The team is working hard to get the bike in a good shape to try again tomorrow.”
Alex Marquez and Alex Rins premiere new Honda in Qatar
Repsol Moto3 riders sixth and ninth on first combined timesheet of 2014, following two free practice sessions.
The floodlights at the Losail Circuit in Qatar were on for the official start to the Moto3 World Championship on Thursday night, as the lower cylinder class was once again the first out on track. The Moto3 field had two practice sessions, in which Alex Marquez finished sixth –0.647 off top rider Romano Fenati. Alex Rins, ninth, was 0.918 off the Italian.
Emilio Alzamora's proteges had their first runout at Qatar with the Honda NSF250RW. After a total of 32 laps between the two sessions, Marquez improved by more than 1 second to complete his day in sixth place, with a best time of 2’06.647. On the other side of the garage, Alex Rins completed 29 laps, with a final best of 2’07.086.
Tomorrow will see a third 40-minute session in which to set up the bikes, before qualifying on Saturday to decide the grid for the first race of the year. The race itself takes place on Sunday at 7pm local time.
Alex Rins 9th 2:07.086 29 laps 156 km
"I am very satisfied with the work we have done today, and we've taken a big step forward compared to the last test at Jerez. I've adapted pretty well to this circuit and perhaps I lacked a good hot lap, but I think the day has been good overall. Tomorrow we shall have a good setup ready to go and our pace is good. I enjoy today, focusing on the bike. At Jerez I went out on track a little nervous and we had to do many tests every day, whereas today I was able to focus on riding and enjoying myself."
Alex Marquez 6th 2:06.647 32 laps 172 km
"I'm pretty happy. From the first moment on I felt very comfortable with the bike and I have to thank the team for that; I think the base we have is good. We must work to keep on improving, because in some things I do not feel entirely comfortable, but that is also positive as it means we have room for improvement. Tomorrow we will have to finish putting everything in place to have a good qualifying session. We saw at Jerez that the Honda engine is fast and here we can confirm that it goes well. Today we focused basically on learning more about the track, because I had only been here once before. I focused on finding the fastest line. That has been the key to having a good day today."
Husqvarna debut under Losail floodlights
Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo end opening day of 2014 Moto3 World Championship curtain racer with eleventh and nineteenth fastest laps, respectively.
03/20/2014 - Losail Circuit
The lights were on at the Losail Circuit in Qatar where the first two free practice sessions for the Moto3 World Championship season were held on Thursday. Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo were two of the main protagonists, riding a Husqvarna for the manufacturer’s first time in this category. After improving their times in the last session of the day, the Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo and Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider were eleventh and nineteenth overall, respectively.
The first 40 minutes of free practice for the year were set aside for relearning the Qatar track and adapting to the characteristics of this Grand Prix. That was precisely what Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo did. The Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo rider was always amongst the top riders on the timesheet and finished with the eighth best time of 2.08.032. However, Ajo preferred to be more cautious on a less sandy asphalt surface than usual, and was twentieth with a 2:09.437 lap.
In the last session the strategy was the same, involving trying all sorts of configurations for the Husqvarna to find the best possible setup for the race on Sunday. Kent improved on his morning time to go eleventh, with a 2:07.315 lap, whilst his Husqvarna project-mate Ajo took an important step forward. In the first 20 minutes the Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider lowered his best lap of the opening session and, on his penultimate lap, he did it again to finally go 1.5 seconds quicker. That put him nineteenth, with a best lap of 2:07.861.
Tomorrow will see the second night of action at the Losail circuit, where the Husqvarna riders and the rest of the Moto3 grid have one more practice session at the first event of the year.
52 DANNY KENT
"We're not entirely happy with how the day went. We had some problems with the bike; we endeavored to set it up well but, when cornering, when I eased off the brakes we went too wide. We have to sit down and work hard to try to rectify the problem for tomorrow. I am convinced that we will solve the issue, so I feel confident. We have the bike and team to get a good result, so we just have to keep fighting."
31 NIKLAS AJO
"These two sessions have been positive and I've felt good on the bike with no problems. During the first session we did not put new tyres on, so the lap time was not very good. I'm quite surprised by the level generally -I have never seen such a high level from everyone. I feel good, but we are still far from the fastest, so we still have to work and see where we are losing time. In any case, our feeling is good so maybe the difference is not in the bike but with my riding."
Moto3™ - At Losail the San Carlo Team Italia focused on the race set-up
Andrea Locatelli and Matteo Ferrari today completed the first and second Moto3™ Free Practice sessions
The 2014 Moto3™ World Championship campaign of the San Carlo Team Italia officially kicked off today under Losail International Circuit floodlights. The former FMI rider Romano Fenati was the fastest on both sessions, setting a best time of 2'06”168 Andrea Locatelli and Matteo Ferrari worked on the set-up of their Mahindra MGP3O focusing in preparing their Sunday’s race.
Andrea Locatelli’s tireless efforts saw him to establish the twenty-fourth best lap time out of 28 laps, on his first day ever at the Qatar track. In the second session the Italian Moto3 Champion knocked over two seconds off his pace from the previous spell.
Solid start also for the 2012 Moto3 Europen Champion Matteo Ferrari who today completed 25 laps improving his time by over one and a half second: the Italian set a best time of 2'10"685 in the FP1 and a best time of 2'09"027 in the FP2. The San Carlo Team Italia pair will built on this base, following the directions of the Team Manager Virginio Ferrari, on the tomorrow only session that will start at 7:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. Italian time).
Andrea Locatelli (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #55) 24º, 2'08"431
"I’m happy with my first day because everything was new for me: the track and, above all, the fact of riding at night for the first time. I used the whole first session to learn the best lines and in the second one I was able to improve a lot. I think it has been a good start, the team is strong and together we began to prepare well our first race week-end. I think we have considerable room for improvement and we will show it tomorrow".
Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #3) 26°, 2'09"027
"We struggled a bit at the beginning of the day but step by step we made some big improvements. We are still looking for the best chassis set-up and, by my side, to adapt my riding style to the Mahindra. After the first two sessions we have a more clear idea of where we are: the guys know where we have to work to tune the set up and I understood how to better myself in the next sessions".
Virginio Ferrari (Team Manager - San Carlo Team Italia Moto3™)
"Today the whole team worked to allow our rider to take the best advantage of the bike and of the track layout. We think we accomplished our first target already, with a solid performance and a limited gap from our benchmark group. Andrea felt immediately at ease, even if he was at his debut on this track. In the second session he was riding more smoothly and his lap times confirmed it. As for Matteo we are trying to help him to adapt to the bike, working on the chassis settings. After this first day we remain confident, as we know where we have to work on in order better the bike’s balance".
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia
No. 25 Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman：
2:03.387 – 25th position 2:02.406 – 27th position
No. 30 Takaaki Nakagami：
2:01.291 – 3rd position 2:00.522 – 1st position
The 2014 Moto2 World Championship got underway under the spotlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider Takaaki Nakagami, who spent good winter tests, dominated the day one of the season opening round. Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman finished in 27th position.
This good start to the 2014 season made us extremely happy! The track conditions were better than last year, and I felt grip while I went out to the track. Thanks to this conditions and using kerps, I could complete today’s program. I could improve my time lap by lap. I’m very satisfied about the lap time of the first Free Practices! The first position is where we have to be, so we will continue this way.
Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman:
Today, I focused on working on suspension area. I improved one second during sessions but I need something more. We will work on suspension again tomorrow and try to improve my lap timing.
Tadayuki Okada - Team Manager:
We are happy that Nakagami finished in the top position of the timesheet. However, the gap time with rivals is very close, so we concentrate until the end.
Azlan still need to his riding form but he could improve rear grip in FP2.
LOSAIL SHINES THE SPOTLIGHT ON THE 2014 SEASON
MAPFRE Aspar rider Juanfran Guevara eighteenth on opening night of the new campaign
The Moto3 World Championship officially kicked off the 2014 Grand Prix season this evening as the minor category riders were the first to take to the track under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Both sessions tonight were dominated by Romano Fenati, on both occasions ahead of Jakub Kornfeil, but with only a second covering the top ten riders it promises to be an open battle for supremacy as the weekend progresses.
Juanfran Guevara made his full debut as a MAPFRE Aspar rider with the eighteenth fastest time of the evening. The Spaniard admitted that he struggled to get up to speed in the opening session, whilst in the second he made changes to his clutch and rear shock – the former having a positive effective but the latter not so. Despite losing valuable time making these alterations he lies just 1.5 seconds shy of Fenati's pacesetting effort and knows he has plenty of room to improve over the next two nights before Sunday's race.
18th Juanfran Guevara 2.07.749 (26 laps): “We started the evening with the setting we had for the final few days of testing and just like in preseason I struggled to get on the pace immediately. We made a change to the rear shock for the second session but I didn't like it so we went back a step. We also had to make a change to the clutch because I wasn't happy with how it felt. These two changes cost us a lot of time and by the time we got back on track there were only ten minutes left and we didn't have enough time to improve.”
Hafiq Azmi starts full time Grand Prix career in Qatar
Malaysian SIC-Ajo Team rider makes debut in the 2014 World Championship as a full-time rider with two free practice sessions for the first event of the year.
03/20/2014 - Losail Circuit
Hafiq Azmi achieved a dream today at the Losail Circuit, making his official World Championship debut as a full-time rider. Onboard the KTM of the SIC-Ajo Team, the young Malaysian contested the two free practice sessions scheduled for Thursday. This was also the first time he had ridden at the circuit, but he quickly adapted and set his fastest lap in the second session, taking thirty-first place with a 2:09.481.
Setting out immediately after the 6pm start time, Hafiq Azmi debuted officially in the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. The SIC-Ajo rider was back riding for the first time on his KTM after suffering an injury to his right wrist in testing. He worked hard and took thirtieth place, setting a 2:11.055 time, but had to regain his feel for the bike after four weeks out of action, learn a new circuit and adjust to the experience of night riding.
Hafiq Azmi demonstrated what he had learnt right from the word go in the second session, improving on his previous best lap. He clocked a 2:09.481 on his fourth of 15 laps, for his top time of opening night.
Work for Hafiq Azmi on his KTM continues tomorrow in Qatar with the third and final free practice session –set for 7pm local time.
Hafiq Azmi - SIC-Ajo rider
"It's the first time I have come here, so it's a completely new circuit for me. During the first session I tried to learn the circuit and then just find the best possible feeling. The track is a bit difficult and I need more time. However, the bike is perfect. Hopefully I’ll do better tomorrow."
ANTONELLI BEGINS THE SEASON IN GOOD FORM. POSITIVE DEBUT FOR BASTIANINI
Tonight the Losail circuit was the venue for the first two free practice sessions of the 2014 Moto3 World Championship: after a long period of winter testing on Spanish soil, the riders of smaller category were back in action in totally different conditions, on a track made treacherous by the desert sand and illuminated by spotlights.
After a technical problem that slowed him in the first session, Niccolò Antonelli was promptly back to the front scoring the fourth best time in 2’06”551. Tomorrow the 18-year-old Italian will focus on chassis set-up to further improve both the speed on single lap and the race pace.
For Enea Bastianini the first day of practice in the World Championship was a new and very exciting experience: the youngster from Rimini, who had never before seen the Losail Circuit, has performed very well closing is “first day of school” in 22nd position with a time of 2’08”248, improving his lap times by over 1.5 second between the two practice sessions.
NICCOLO' ANTONELLI (4th - 2'06"551)
“Today was good, although unfortunately we lost most of the first practice session because of a technical problem on the bike. Fortunately we were able to overcome it quickly and in the following session we were back we expected to be. Also on this track, with different conditions from those usually encountered during the winter tests, I was immediately at ease with the bike. Obviously we are only at the beginning of the weekend, so there is still much to do: we will check all the data collected today and tomorrow we will work on the chassis trying to improve boht on the single lap and on race pace”.
ENEA BASTIANINI (22nd - 2'08"246)
"Finally I made my debut in the World Championship and I am very happy because everything went very well: we need to improve the behaviour of the bike on corner entry, but in particular I need some more time to understand this track, which I had never seen before. During Grand Prix weekends the rhytm is different compared to the testing sessions, and the experience is very important to make the most of the practice sessions”.
“Unfortunately, during the first free practice session we had a technical problem on Niccolò’s: we have lost valuable time to work on the chassis set-up, however we are not far from the fastest riders: tomorrow we will have only one practice session so it will be important to do a good job to prepare for Saturday’s qualifying. As for Bastianini, the excitement of the first Grand Prix is so great, and above all Enea had never seen before this track. Given all these factors, I think he did a great job on this first day”.
AT LOSAIL SIMEON FOCUSES ON RACE DISTANCE. BALDASSARRI DEBUTS WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
The Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Team has started today the long season of the 2014 Moto2 World Championship with the first two free practice sessions at night at the Losail circuit in Qatar. After the excellent results obtained in winter testing , Xavier Siméon was immediately back to work with his mind already focused on the race, in an attempt to improve the durability of the tyres over the long distance. At the end of the evening the Belgian was 11th in the combined classification.
Aboard the Team Gresini Moto2 Suter, Lorenzo Baldassarri has officially debuted in the middle class of the World Championship, taking advantage of the first two practice sessions in the best way for a rookie: the young Italian remained calm in the first session, trying to take the first references on this track with a more powerful bike than the Moto3, while in the second session he began to lower gradually his lap times, closing the evening with the 20th time in 2’01”745.
XAVIER SIMEON (11th - 2'01"101)
“Regardless of the position in the classification, we are not so far from the top and especially today we have already tried a long run of 13 laps in which we were able to keep a good pace. In fact, we are focusing a lot on tyre wear because we want to try to improve tyre performance over race distance, given that we have had some problems from this point of view. The feeling with the bike is very good, so I'm not worried at all: tomorrow we will continue to work for the race and focus on tyres life again”.
LORENZO BALDASSARRI (20th - 2'01"745)
“Today’s first two practice sessions were positive, I spent a lot of time to take the first references on a track that I had never rode with a Moto2 bike. At the beginning it was definitely not easy, because compared to the Moto3 class, the situation changes a lot, so I starded with calm the first session, while in the next one I tried to push a little more, and I improved my times. For the rest, we focused on tyre wear because we need more rear grip over the long distance”.
“Regardless of the position in the standings, Siméon today showed a good pace and, after all, the gap from the fastest is not so high. Tomorrow we will work especially for the race, to improve the durability of tyres, while for the fastest lap ahead of qualifying we know we can do better. For Baldassarri today was the first day in Moto2, so he improved taking it step by step, so he did a great job and we are pleased with his debut”.
MAPFRE ASPAR RIDERS MAKE STEADY SEASON START IN LOSAIL
Nico Terol and Jordi Torres begin to build after disappointing first session in Qatar
The Moto2 World Championship kicked off with two free practice sessions under the Losail floodlights this evening, with just two more to go before the all-important qualifying session on Saturday night. Takaaki Nakagami set the pace today with an advantage of just 0.052 seconds over Tito Rabat, although with fifteen riders inside the same second the Moto2 class once again promises to be as close and unpredictable as ever.
The first meaningful sessions of the year did not go to plan for the MAPFRE Aspar Team, with both Nico Terol and Jordi Torres struggling for feeling around the Losail Circuit. Both riders calmly went about improving the situation, Terol reverting to data from last season and Torres using his preseason work to improve the performance of their respective machines. Progress began to build in the second session and Nico was able to finish in fourteenth place with Jordi in 21st, the pair now extra determined to make the most of the remaining track time before Sunday night's race.
14th Nico Terol 2.01.394 (32 laps): “The feeling today here in Qatar was a bit strange, I struggled to find the right line and it to get into any kind of rhythm. The positive thing is that we started to work things out towards the end of the session and using the data we gathered at this track last year we were able to steadily improve the lap time and close the gap to the guys at the top. Even though I am in fourteenth place I am happy with the feeling we had in the second session and the way we ended the evening. We will have to keep making similar progress tomorrow to get up to where we need to be. So far Losail has been more difficult than we expected but we will try to get the bike moving better tomorrow.”
21st Jordi Torres 2.01.896 (37 laps): “I just didn't have a feeling in the first session, I couldn't get the bike running or brake where I wanted to. It is only my second time at this track but today it felt like I'd never been here before at all. I couldn't find the right line through the corners or get a feeling, but we have become adept at solving problems during preseason and that's what we have to do tomorrow. We already started to improve things in the second session and even though we have made a slow start to the weekend we still have two very important sessions before Sunday's race, so we will work hard to make the most of them.”