Press releases from the teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
Oliveira starts out setting the pace
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider sets the fastest time of the first night of the Qatar Grand Prix. Binder and Hanika conclude with the eleventh and seventeenth best times on the combined timesheet.
03/26/2015 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The lights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar were turned on tonight to start the Moto3 World Championship for 2015. In the first two practice sessions of the weekend, Miguel Oliveira had a starring role, setting a great pace and taking the best time of the night. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates Brad Binder and Karel Hanika also enjoyed a good start, with the eleventh and seventeenth fastest laps, respectively.
It took less than five minutes for Oliveira to take command of the timesheets in the first practice session of the year. The Portuguese gradually kept improving his lap times, ending with a best of 2:06.699. Only Danny Kent was able to bet him, in the last minute and by 98 thousandths of a second. Binder went from strength to strength in the 40-minute session, finishing with the fifth fastest time -2:07.748- while Hanika dedicated the session to find a positive feeling and placed 23rd with a 2:09.305.
In the second session the dynamics were the same, with the Portuguese rider the fastest from the early going. However, this time, a final lap of 2:06.580 undertaken completely by himself made him the quickest of the night. Meanwhile, Hanika was among the first to improve his time from the first session, taking sixteenth with a 2:08.119. Binder was fifteenth with a 2:07.961 but was unable to up his pace from FP1.
Tomorrow, Oliveira, Binder and Hanika will be back on their KTM bikes to contest a third and final free practice session, from 7:00pm local time.
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"The first night was very good. It's always good to finish the first day at the front, but we are keeping our feet on the ground, because we know that times will improve tomorrow. We must keep going and improve further because we have not yet matched the time from last year and we are aiming to improve on it. Today the track was in good conditions right from the first session, as it offered very good grip and there was no wind. We have not adjusted much with the bike, but enough so that tomorrow we can improve even more."
41 BRAD BINDER
"I am excited to begin the season. The first practice session went quite well; at first it was a little hard but in the end I was able to do a long run and I tried to improve with every lap. It was a very good start, I felt comfortable on the bike and enjoyed riding.
FP2 did not go so well, because basically I kept the same tyres for almost the entire session. When I put on new tyres, five minutes from the end, I started to see raindrops on my visor and the bubble of the bike. I decided not to risk it, because the track was not in conditions for me to go fast.
Although I didn’t end up with a good position, this does not worry me because I know that if I could ride as I know how, I would have been higher up."
98 KAREL HANIKA
"For the first day, it has not gone badly. We dedicated the day to getting back used to riding on a dry track, because it’s been a while. In the first session we spent our time finding a good setup and we tried to improve it ahead of the second session. Currently we are on the right way, because we have improved in each stint, and this is the most important thing. If we continue to work well, then on the big night this weekend we can be up at the front; that's the goal. Our work so far is good and I want to thank the team, because I am very happy. I just need more laps to get more used to the circuit and go faster."
FIRST NIGHT OF WORK FOR LOCATELLI AND BASTIANINI AT LOSAIL
The two Gresini Racing Team Moto3 youngsters, Andrea Locatelli and Enea Bastianini, closed the first day of practice of the Grand Prix of Qatar in 21st and 24th position, respectively. However, both Andrea - who was satisfied about the set-up work done on the rear shock, and Enea – who today struggled with chassis set-up - are still confident that they can improve tomorrow in the third and final free practice session.
ANDREA LOCATELLI (21st - 2'08"482)
“I’m very pleased with the progress we made today! In the final part of the second session I couldn’t take advantage of the new tyre because I was slowed by traffic and I made only one lap, so the final position is not great, but before that we made a change to the rear shock that allowed me to improve immediately: I have obtained my best lap time with worn tires and I feel very at ease. We are in good shape, I believe that tomorrow we can do well”.
ENEA BASTIANINI (24th - 2'08"584)
“Unfortunately during winter we couldn’t test a lot with the new bike and actually now we are a little behind our rivals. I still need to get familiar with the bike and find the best set-up for my riding style. Tomorrow we will work a lot on the chassis set-up and we are confident that we can improve”.
Quartararo and Navarro make strong start
A new season starts this weekend in Qatar, with Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera representing Repsol.
After a long winter, the Moto3 World Championship returns to action this weekend in Qatar. On Thursday, the riders enjoyed their first two free practice sessions at the Losail International Circuit. Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera completed their first kilometers as full World Championship riders under these unique circumstances.
The trio started calmly in the first practice session of the 2015 season, with Quartararo 13th, Herrera 19th and Navarro 32nd after the first quarter hour. The opening session ended with the Repsol riders sixth (Navarro), fourteenth (Quartararo) and 31st (Herrera) in their first contact with the Qatari track.
With a little more grip on the asphalt thanks to rubber laid down in the inaugural sessions for all classes, in the second free practice the Moto3 field were able to lower their times. Quartararo finished a creditable sixth place with a best time of 2:07.424, 0.844 off the best time set by Miguel Oliveira. His teammate, Jorge Navarro, set the tenth fastest time ‒2:07.674‒ after completing 17 laps of the Qatari track. Herrera was thirty-third on her first night at Losail.
Fabio Quartararo 7th 2:07.424 34 laps 183 km
"I was really keen to ride at night and it was an awesome experience. The goal we set ourselves for these two sessions was to familiarise ourselves with the circuit and find a good setup for the race. We still have to improve some things, but the work is well on its way. Today we rode with a good pace and this allowed me to feel very comfortable on the bike ‒and to achieve these results. We do not know how far we can go yet, but we will work to be as high up as possible."
Jorge Navarro 10th 2:07.674 34 laps 183 km
"The first session went very well. I went out with a group to better learn the circuit, and taking advantage of slipstreams I was able to set a good lap. In the afternoon I focused on finding my pace riding by myself, trying things out with the rear suspension and engine braking of the bike."
Maria Herrera 33rd 2:10.861 30 laps 161 km
"My first run was a bit chaotic, because I made a mistake when choosing my helmet. I picked a transparent visor and had problems seeing. Later, with a more adequate helmet, the most important thing was that I was able to add laps, which is what I need to do in free practice. I've got used to to the track slowly, and in the second session things went much better. I really like the circuit and it is great fun to ride. I think I was only missing a tow in order to lower my time. Tomorrow I will try to latch onto a group and try to improve my times."
Johann Zarco starts fast and consistent in Losail
Ajo Motorsport rider starts first GP of the year in Qatar with second fastest time overall.
03/26/2015 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Johann Zarco made a good start to the weekend in Qatar, on the opening night of the 2015 Moto2 World Championship season. At the Losail International Circuit, the Frenchman was fast from the very first laps on Thursday night. Second in both the first session and in the combined timesheet, light rainfall prevented him from improving his times in the second runout.
The first 45 minutes of free practice for the year allowed Johann Zarco to confirm his good feeling from preseason onboard his Kalex. From his first flying lap, the Frenchman was the fastest rider on track and improved his best time on five occasions. Leading the session, only a late lap from Sam Lowes left him second, with a time of 2:00.339.
In the second session, fine and intermittent rain complicated the work for Zarco and the rest of the Moto2 grid. He was unable to lower his previous lap times as a result. Nevertheless, the Ajo Motorsport rider continued amongst the Top 3, completing the session with the third fastest time of 2:00.687.
Tomorrow’s schedule will feature a single free practice session for Moto2, starting at 7:55pm local time.
5 JOHANN ZARCO
"Today went very well. The good thing is that it's only the first day and we still have time to improve. The aim is to prepare for Sunday's race. I went pretty fast from the beginning. The setup we found was good but not the best, and that is good news. We know where we should go from here and will test out a few things. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's session, and I think it will go well too. I want to remain consistent and prepare for the race. It's strange, because we come from the Spanish winter to the heat of Qatar, and are also on a fast track. But I like it and I'm very happy with how the first day went."
Rabat gets Moto2 title defence off to a flying start in Qatar
Losail, Qatar – 26 March 2015: Reigning Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat got his title defence off to a flying start on the opening day in Qatar, ending the two free practice sessions third fastest on combined times.
Alex Marquez, making his debut in the Moto2 class here in Qatar, ended the day in 18th position, but confident that he can improve both his lap time and his position on the timesheet with more track time tomorrow.
Rabat made a solid start in the first practice session, but intermittent light rain at the start of the second and final session of the day meant that he had to wait until the final minutes of the 45-minute practice to push for a fast lap. The 25-year-old Spaniard was happy enough with his first day back at work in 2015 and is confident of further improvement in the single Moto2 session tomorrow.
A technical issue hampered Marquez at the beginning of the first session today, but his crew quickly rectified the problem and the reigning Moto3 World Champion went on to improve his lap time with every pit exit. In the second session the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider improved further, eventually finishing 18th and declaring himself happy with his Moto2 debut.
Tito Rabat: 3rd – 2’00.368
“This was a very interesting test, as the weather meant we didn’t do so many laps with this bike during preseason testing. Today we have seen many different things with the bike where we can make improvements, which is good for us. In the second session it took some time to get going, because there was spots of rain on my visor every lap, but with five minutes to go it cleared up and I was able to start building the pace, eventually putting in a very good lap time. Tomorrow we will try to make another step, focus on our job and try to go even faster.”
Alex Marquez: 18th – 2’02.076
“The team is working well and the bike felt really good today. Sure, we can improve it, but I think the biggest improvements will come from me adapting my riding style to suit better both the bike and the track. Tonight we will look through the data but, more importantly, we’ll look closely at video footage of the two sessions, to identify where we can make the biggest improvements tomorrow. Today we’re two seconds off the pace, but I’m happy because, once again, we improved step-by-step and this is how we need to continue tomorrow.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today both riders made a solid start to the new season. Tito was on the pace and in the top three, but ended the final session today confident that the changes he wants to make to the set up of the bike for tomorrow will see him close the gap on the two riders ahead of him. Alex had a technical problem this morning, but it was soon rectified and he didn’t let it faze him at all. He improved with every pit exit and I’m confident we’ll see a significant step forward from him again tomorrow. So, a good start to the season, which we can build on in tomorrow’s single Moto2 session.”
The Sniper strikes at the start of new season
RW Racing GP and Livio Loi have made an excellent start of the 2015 season. Loi finished the second practice at the first day of the Grand Prix of Qatar in seventh with a best lap time of 2.07,504.
The white and blue Honda with number 11 was one of the first bikes that hit the road as soon as the lights of the Losail track turned green for FP1. With quite a strong wind and dirty tarmac it wasn’t an easy task for the Moto3 riders. The in-between gaps were big, with only the first three within one second. Livio Loi finished the first practice in 17th with 2.08,600.
Both Loi and his crew knew that there was more in it and they used the hours between the two sessions well. In the second practice the track was cleaned up a bit by the Moto2 and MotoGP. Loi began with 2.08,888 on the same set of tyres as in FP1. In his second time around the team tried harder tyres, but that didn’t work and they moved back to medium front and rear for the third outing.
In these final laps of the first day The Sniper attacked to jump to sixth. It wasn’t just one fast lap: Loi did three consecutive laps of 2.07, with 2.07,504 as his best. This was good enough for seventh by the time the chequered flag was waived.
RW Racing GP team manager Jarno Janssen was delighted with this first result. “Of course, this is what we were hoping for. We knew what we were doing when we set the top 10 as a goal for this season. We came to Qatar with confidence, but with only limited time of preseason testing, we too had to wait and see what would happen when the real game began. It’s good to see it wasn’t just pious words.”
Livio Loi – 7 (2.07,504)
“I went out as one of the first and although I had to find my rhythm, the feeling was good right from the start. The result from FP1 wasn’t too impressive yet, but I knew I had quite a lot left. The hard tyres we used halfway through FP2 didn’t suit me, but it was worth the try as it helped me to find out the limits. I could use that information in the third part of the session and improve my lap times. The good news is that I did those laps on my own. I was not far behind the fastest man of the day, Miguel Oliveira, but the gap was too big to use his slipstream. I had no advantage whatsoever from Oliveira, except from that I could use him as a target. Even better news is the feeling that I still have something left. There is quite something to gain in sector 3 and 4; I can still go faster.”
Tomorrow there is only one session (FP3) for Moto3, at 17.00 (CET).
Qualifying is set for Saturday at 16.00 (CET).
ON FORM SIMEON TAKES EIGHTH AFTER FIRST NIGHT OF PRACTICE IN QATAR
Aboard the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex machine, Xavier Siméon finished today’s first two free practice sessions of the Grand Prix of Qatar in eighth place with a time of 2’01”175. Back from winter testing disturbed by rain, the 25-year-old Belgian rider has gradually taken the right references to the circuit and to the dry conditions, improving himself until reaching a lap time which places him only 0.1 seconds off fourth place. Tomorrow Siméon will seek to further improve and close the gap to the three fastest riders, Sam Lowes, Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat.
XAVIER SIMEON (8th - 2'01"175)
“I’m pretty happy. At the beginning of the first session I struggled to find the rhythm: after the last winter test on the wet, it was necessary to regain confidence in the dry. The situation improved at the end of the first session, and in the second I was able to to get a good lap time. In my last attempt I could improve my lap time further, but I was slowed down by Lowes. I’m also happy because, apart from the first three riders, who today went really fast - Lowes, Zarco and Rabat - we are all very close”.
Moto3 - First free practice in Qatar for San Carlo Team Italia
Encouraging sensations for Matteo Ferrari and for the rookie Marco Bezzecchi.
The 2015 season of San Carlo Team Italia, in Moto3 World Championship, has officially started in the spotlights of Losail International Circuit. The first two sessions of practice projected Miguel Oliveira (KTM 2'06''580) on top of the classification, but the riders of the Italian Motorcycle Federation have found some interesting starting points in the work completed during the evening, which will help them to improve their positions in the classification during the weekend.
At his second consecutive season with San Carlo Team Italia, Matteo Ferrari gradually improved his own time in the two sessions of practice: 2'10''506 in the first session, 2'09''790 in the second one; he ranked 28th in the combined classification ,showing to be satisfied with the method of work decided with the team.
At his debut in World Championship, as substitute of the regular Stefano Manzi (who will debut for the second round on the agenda at Austin on April the 12th), Marco Bezzecchi impressed during the first "evening" of practice on the Qatari track. Without any references of the track, the rider from Rimini improved in the two sessions (2'10'566 in FP1, 2'09'994 in FP2),reaching good levels. The only setback was a crash, without any consequence, during the second session, which didn't compromise at all the feeling with the bike and the team.
The Sky Racing just got off to a flying start with Fenati
Romano fifth in the timesheets. Migno looking for the right feeling on the new track
Losail, March 26, 2015. The Sky Racing Team VR46’s first day on the Qatar track got to an end with Romano Fenati setting the 5th best time: rider number five of the young Italian talents’ team completed the first two free practice sessions with the final time of 2.07.377 set during the second round. After completing winter preseason tests with positive results on a damp track, Fenati repeated his good performances also on a dry track (with weather conditions getting worse towards the end of the second session as it began to drizzle). Today Romano inaugurated the new on-board camera installed on the tail of his KTM, thus giving viewers the chance to experience the thrills of the first FP sessions of the season right from the rider’s saddle.
On the Losail circuit, Andrea Migno, on his debut on the new track, struggled to find the right feeling: rider number 16 finished 30th with the time of 2'10.732.
PABLO NIETO / Team Manager
“Considering it was the first day on track after the winter tests, it went well. I think we doing a great job, even there is still a long way to go. We have just got started, but certainly we have to continue on this path. Romano has got a very good feeling with the bike and that is what really matters. With him we are working with a focus on the race, but also to do well in qualifying. That’s our main focus and today’s outcome has shown that is working out for us.
This track is new for Andrea, and it is a very tough and technical one. He run on his own and we know this is a track on which you can easily make up for lost seconds when you find slipstreams. That’s why we have to be patient, I think tomorrow things will go better for him. No wonder if a rider does struggle a bit on his debut on a track like this”.
ROMANO FENATI / Pilota
“We run the first session with the same tyre to get the right feeling with the track and it did not go bad at all. In the second session we used new tyres and tried a different setting thus dashing to the front. I have a good feeling with the bike and I hope I’ll be able to improve in every session”.
ANDREA MIGNO / Pilota
“On my first day of free practice sessions in Qatar, I could not get a real feel for the track. I struggled to find a slipstream and I mostly rode alone and that did not help me on my debut on the new track. Tomorrow we will try to fine-tune the setting and get acquainted with the track to get ready for qualifying”.