Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
Strong start for Repsol Honda duo in Qatar
The 2015 season has officially begun in Losail with reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, ending the first practice session at the top of the time sheets, and teammate Dani Pedrosa just 0.76s behind in second place.
With track conditions surprisingly good on this first day – considering the rain that has fallen in the past week – the MotoGP class were immediately on the pace with Dani setting his fastest time of 1’55.357 on just his third lap, sending him to the top of the classifications. Marc’s second lap placed him second behind Dani and then after a brief modification, Marc went back on track and his fifth lap put him on top of the board with a time of 1’55.281 (just 0.128 off Casey Stoner’s circuit lap record in 2008 – 1’55.153), and remained unbeaten for the remainder of the session.
It was an impressive display from the Repsol Honda riders, who are 0.4s faster than their next opponent (Aleix Espargaro), with a mere second separating 3rd place to 16th.
FP2 will commence tomorrow at 18h00 local time.
1st 1'55.281 [Lap 5/15]
"Today went pretty well. It is always important to make a good start to the weekend. I felt good and the feeling was similar to that which we had in pre-season testing, although maybe there was a little less grip. We tried some things that we had prepared after the test and this went well. Tomorrow we will try to keep progressing, but we can't forget that the track surface here will improve a lot and the times will come down."
2nd 1'55.357 [Lap 3/15]
"We have completed the first session of the year and we have done quite well. Now we are going to work on the bike to in preparation for the coming days. We need to keep taking steps forward as the weekend goes on and keep improving our pace. The track was in quite good condition and we'll see how it evolves over the course of the Grand Prix weekend."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Prepares for Title Fight as MotoGP Season Starts
Losail International Circuit (Qatar), 26th March 2015
With the 2015 MotoGP season finally underway, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi return to Qatar and finished the first free practice session under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in fourth and ninth place.
On a completely dry circuit, as opposed to the conditions last week on the final day of testing, both Lorenzo and Rossi made the most of their first practice session to be ready for Sunday‘s racing action.
Lorenzo, who currently holds the Qatar pole position record, showed he‘s in good shape and ready to start the title challenge. Back to his typical routine, he left his box early and was the first rider to complete a lap around the slippery circuit. After warming up his tyres, he was quick to post consistent times under the 1‘56 mark, dropping a 1‘55.698 lap as his fastest time. He ended the first practice in fourth position, just under 0,417s from the front.
Teammate Valentino Rossi was also eager to get to work. He left the pit box soon after his teammate to resume the testing schedule he was unable to complete during last week‘s interrupted Qatar testing session. Despite suffering from a lack of grip, he worked on the set-up of his YZR-M1 and gradually moved up the timesheets to a provisional fifth position with a 1‘56.162 lap. He later dropped four places, finishing 0,881s from the leading time as the session came to an end.
As Qatar is the only night race of the season, there will be a second and third free practice session tomorrow.
99 Jorge Lorenzo
4th / 1'55.698 / 17 laps
“Everybody has been quite fast on these new tyres, even if the track wasn‘t perfect. Moto2 almost broke a record, I think, but in MotoGP we need a little bit more grip. The track is dusty, so it looks like the bike is a bit flowy everywhere. It‘s difficult to have confidence but I think today our side has done a quite good job from the beginning. When I feel great on the bike, which wasn‘t on the last run, I feel great. To be honest, I hope to be much faster tomorrow. We are still a second from my best lap time from last year. We have a margin, but for a first practice, knowing the track is not perfect, this is not a bad start.”
46 Valentino Rossi
9th / 1'56.162 / 18 laps
“It was quite difficult because I wasn‘t fast enough and I‘m just in the ninth position. We tried something different than what we did during the test, but unfortunately it was bad for the rear tyre. I already damaged the rear tyre after five or six laps and the bike moved around a lot. We also weren‘t fast enough during the second part of the practice, but we‘ll take the data and now we have to try to understand how to improve. Unfortunately there was just one practice today, so we have to work on the data and try to modify the setting. We will wait for tomorrow to see if we are able to go faster. I have a problem with the rear tyre, which is very soft. There‘s a lack of grip that we have to fix and I have to improve my pace. I want to try to stay under the 1‘55 tomorrow and finish in the top ten for Saturday‘s qualifying session.”
Massimo Meregalli, Team Director
“Finally the new MotoGP season has started and our results today were better than our expectations for the first free practice session. The conditions of the track weren‘t very good but they were still better than we thought. Jorge was fast and has been consistent for the whole session, but we still have a big margin to improve the bike. Vale suffered much more from a lack of grip and wasn‘t able to ride the bike the way he wanted. Tonight we will study all the data that we could collect from FP1 and we will prepare a good package for tomorrow‘s FP2.”
Ducati Team riders get down to first day of free practice for the GP of Qatar at the Losail circuit
The 2015 MotoGP World Championship got underway today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The field of riders took to the track at 7.55 pm local time for the first 45 minutes of free practice and at the end of the session the two Ducati Team men, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, were classified seventh and tenth respectively.
After the excellent results obtained in testing ten days ago on the same circuit, today both Italian riders encountered a bit more difficulty in setting up their Desmosedici GP15 machines.
During the session, both Dovizioso and Iannone used a sole set of tyres, the hardest compound available (medium), and they took to the track with both GP15 bikes at their disposal, completing a total of 17 laps.
Tomorrow will see two more sessions of free practice, again lasting 45 minutes each, at 6 pm and 8.55 pm in the evening (Qatar time).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) - 1’55.980 (7th)
“Conditions today were a bit different to those during the tests and we were not particularly quick. In this session we tried both bikes to compare two different set-ups but we were unable to find the same feeling that we had last week. Now we have to analyze the data to understand which direction to take tomorrow. It didn’t go bad today, but we have to improve the feeling at the front under braking and the other things that did not allow us to repeat our testing performance. As a first session, it was OK but in tomorrow’s two we have to make an important step forward.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) - 1’56.315 (10th)
“I am quite satisfied with the way the first session went even though we were not very quick. We had a bit more difficulty than in the tests, encountering some problems that we didn’t have last week. I think that the track conditions were not the same, so for this reason we will focus on tomorrow’s two sessions: in any case I am positive and serene about everything and now we’ll analyze the data together with my team to better understand what can be changed and decide on the modifications for tomorrow.”
ESPARGARO ON PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW IN QATAR
Team Suzuki Press Office – March 26
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro put himself and the new 2015 Suzuki GSX-RR into a provisional front-row position today for the opening round of the MotoGP™ race at Losail in Qatar on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Spaniard mainly focused on testing different set-ups of the electronics and traction control in the opening Free Practice session, running the hard tyre to start preparing for the race, and then outing-in some laps with a soft tyre for the single fast-lap which saw him climb to third position with a time of 1’55.685; just 0.404-second from leader Marc Marquez.
Espargaro and team-mate Maverick Viñales used the session to improve their confidence on their GSX-RR machines, working to find the best set-up for a consistent race-pace.
Viñales struggled to find better conditions to test the set-up options the team planned to try and some small issues with the electronics on his #1 machine forced him to choose the second machine, which was equipped with a different set-up. This proved to be less effective for the 20-year-old Spaniard and he finished FP1 in 17th position with a time of 1’56.922.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Being in this position is a good start for our debut. Aleix focused on finalising some electronics and set-up options and found a good pace with the hard tyre, while he also made a positive time on the white-striped soft tyre; which gives him a good place in classification. Maverick had some issues with electronics that prevented him showing his real potential, which we know is much higher. This was only the first day, we still have time to work and find better performance.”
“It’s been a positive day. I found a lot of confidence with the hard tyre but I’m very satisfied with my single lap with a soft one, since I’m up with the top riders. We wanted to recover some of the time we lost in the last test here in Qatar so we focused on finalising traction control and electronics. We had very important feedback that gives us many indications for the work we need to do next. Tomorrow I need to try a long run to evaluate the situation in terms of race-pace, but for the moment the work-plan is going smoothly.”
“The day could have been better but unfortunately we had some issues with the electronics on my number-one bike, so I had to switch to bike two. They had different set-ups that we planned to test, but the last one was not so effective so at the end of the day this session has been somewhat wasted. I’m not worried, these are things that happen in racing, we will recover time in tomorrow’s sessions and continue to develop the set-up in order to find a good feeling for the race.”
FIRST MOTOGP PRACTICE SESSION AT LOSAIL, DEVELOPMENT OF THE APRILIA RS-GP CONTINUES
Losail (Qatar), 26 March 2015 - For the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini the first night practice session on the Losail track in Qatar, which leads up to the 2015 MotoGP season opening Grand Prix, represented another step closer to the race that will mark their return to the top motorcycle sport category.
In today's session the engineers from Noale once again continued the development path on the RS-GP bikes which began during the winter tests.
This is the spirit of the season, continuous development of materials, obviously very young, and technical solutions to become more competitive.
Neither Alvaro Bautista (22nd best time) and Marco Melandri (25th) missed an opportunity to take advantage of this session to test new solutions and setups.
Quite a bit of work was also done on the chassis, an area where the most margin for improvement had been noticed. For tomorrow there are plans to explore more radical solutions to make a comparison with the work done today. The purpose is still to build a strong technical base that will be developed throughout the championship season.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
"For us every session on the track is another step forward, so the first Grand Prix practice sessions are no exception. During the last tests here in Qatar we dropped the engine brake levels very low, values that proved to be too low today. So tomorrow we'll work on this and, with both Alvaro and Marco's second bikes, we'll work on some chassis solutions that are radically different than the base setup. The purpose of this is to explore every possible development direction."
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
"For us this isn't much different than the tests we did just a couple weeks ago right here. Our riders continued to work hard, with Alvaro concentrating more on engine tests and Marco looking for the right feeling to make progress, focusing more on the various setups. Tomorrow we will have two practice sessions that we can use to continue in this direction, working hard to improve."
"On this first day of practice we focused our work on a few new engine parts, making a fairly important comparison between the two different solutions. At the moment there is not much difference, but I think that with a few more changes we'll be able to take a big step forward, so I'm confident in the changes that Aprilia has in store for the future. Obviously in just 45 minutes today there wasn't a lot of time to try and improve the situation compared to the recent test sessions here at Losail, just like there wasn't much time to work on the bike on site. In any case, for this weekend our goal is still to achieve the best possible sensations in the saddle. We'll look at the race as if it's a long run, like it's a test where we will be trying to maintain the most consistent pace we can."
"Basically the bike is the same as the one we used in the recent tests, so we clearly were not expecting any great revolution. We tried a few different setup solutions, but there is still a lot of work to do on both the bike and my feeling with it. Sure, we've still got a long way to go, but for us every session is a new test."
CRUTCHLOW FLIES TO FIFTH IN FIRST PRACTICE
The 2015 MotoGP World Championship roared into action at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this evening, with the first free practice session for the CWM LCR Honda Team taking place under the thousands of floodlights at the desert track.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow made an excellent start to his debut weekend on board the factory spec Honda RC213V he campaigns in this year’s championship, sealing a creditable fifth fastest time in the only MotoGP session of the evening. He set a best time of 1’55.818, just over half-a-second behind quickest rider Marc Marquez.
Things could have been even better for the 29 year old, as he was on an even faster lap when he was baulked by a slower rider, but he and the CWM LCR Honda Team were happy with what represents an extremely positive start to their year.
Cal Crutchlow #35, 5th - 1’55.818 (lap 14 of 16)
“I take nothing from the first race, let alone the first practice! Tomorrow I believe there will be a big change in the standings, but I was happy with the lap and fifth place is not so bad. We had a couple of issues early on and I was forced to pit, so we lost some time there, and I also had another problem with the brake lever like we had in the test.”
“I also had another issue on my fastest lap with a rider in the last corner, and this comes after a briefing we had an hour before the session saying that we weren’t allowed to wait in that corner. It was idiotic, as he was riding 100 km/h too slowly. Clearly, the games have started already!”
“The CWM LCR Honda team did a great job again though; we’re doing the best with what we have and they are giving me great support to make me competitive. The race could well be a bit different to first free practice, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Positive start of the MotoGP season: Abraham is one of the best riders of OPEN class
Karel Abraham had confirmed his performance from off-season tests during the first practice in Qatar. The Czech MotoGP rider reached 1:56,651 and holds fifteenth position losing only 1,37 second to the fastest Marc Marquez. Among OPEN class bikes Abraham reached second best time losing just 74 thousands to fourteenth Stefan Bradl.
"Definitely we don’t have to be shamed for our current performance. But honestly i was expecting to beat our pre-season best. We started with our bike 2 trying to find the best setup. It seems we have the same situation as on bike 1. We are suffering by lack of grip, but I´m sure we can deal with it and move forward. We are staying very close to Stefan as well as to factory bikes. It is nothing unbeatable."
Marco Grana, AB Motoracing chief
“Surely we have many reasons to be satisfied. We ended second in OPEN class losing only three tenths to the Top Ten. We are on fifteenth position, so we met our target. But the truth is that we expected little bit more. Compared to the last testing the track conditions get worse. The track is dirtier and slippery. We must set the bike for new conditions. We need to get a better grip in fast corners and improve the feeling on front. Tomorrow we will focus on the issues we missed due to the rain condition on Day 3 of pre-season tests. It will be hard work.”
Redding gets the 2015 season underway in Qatar
Losail, Qatar – 26 March 2015: Scott Redding made his debut aboard the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V in Qatar this evening, finishing the first MotoGP free practice of 2015, the only session for the premier class tonight, in 12th position on the timesheet and just 1.093s off provisional pole.
The 22-year-old Briton started the session on the hard option tyres, encountering some issues under braking and with the tank cover that was designed specifically to better accommodate Redding’s height.
Redding also tested a number of changes to the set up of the Honda RC213V that he was unable to evaluate during the recent test in Qatar, after the final day was cancelled due to rain.
The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider posted his fastest lap right at the end of this evening’s 45-minute session, after switching to the softer option tyres, and is confident that there are further improvements to be made in tomorrow’s two free practice sessions.
Scott Redding: 12th – 1’56.374
“We had a couple of small issues with the tank cover and the brakes, so it wasn’t the perfect start, but it was better to get these issues out of the way now. We used the hard tyre at the beginning before switching to the soft at the end, which made a big difference to the lap time. We tried a few different things today that we couldn’t try at the test here because of the rain on the final day, so this was a bit of a last test day for us really. I’m happy enough with today, because we still have room for improvement, so tomorrow the work really starts.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Scott had a couple of small problems at the start of today’s free practice session, but these were quickly rectified by the team. Most of the session was spent testing a couple of changes that we would have tried here at the test if the final day hadn’t been rained off, so to finish just over a second off provisional pole tonight was a reasonable start to the weekend. Tomorrow we return for two more free practice sessions, at the end of which I expect us to be a little higher on the timesheet and closer to the frontrunners.”
MILLER MAKES SOLID START TO MOTOGP LIFE
The 2015 MotoGP World Championship roared into action at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this evening, with the first free practice session for the CWM LCR Honda Team taking place under the thousands of floodlights that illuminate the desert track.
It was Jack Miller’s first ever outing in an official practice in the premier class, and the series’ youngest rider acquitted himself well on board his open spec Honda RC213V-RS in the unique conditions.
With a rehash of the normal timetable there was only one session for the MotoGP riders this Thursday night, and the Australian ended it in a solid 19th place, just 1.7 seconds behind lead rider Marc Marquez. With a tightly bunched pack of riders all around him, the 20 year-old will hope to build on the positive start through the rest of the weekend.
Jack Miller #43, 19th - 1’56.983 (lap 12 of 16)
“I’m happy with today. It could be better, but I need to minimize my mistakes – I was making too many out there tonight. For now though I’m just happy to get the first MotoGP session of my career out of the way. I felt comfortable on the bike and the lap time wasn’t too bad, so tomorrow I hope I can improve the situation.”
Tech3 pair back on track as 2015 begins in Qatar
Pol Espargaro began the first day of the 2015 MotoGP season with best lap time of 1’56.361 as the MotoGP paddock returned back to action at the Losail International Circuit. The young Spaniard got straight to work with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and began refining the setup of the Yamaha YZR-M1 in preparation for the opening race on Sunday. The 23 year old finished the session in 11th and he set his quickest time on the 3rd lap as he completed 18 in total. His efforts saw him only a second from the top time and he also scored the fastest speed of the Yamaha MotoGP bikes with 344.6 kmh. Espargaro now looks onwards to tomorrow where he will intend to improve his position.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith concluded the opening day of action under the floodlights in Qatar with a 13th placed finish in FP1. The young Briton dug deep and completed a total of 20 laps, which was more than any other rider, as he began making the necessary steps and changes to his MotoGP bike. Smith produced his best time of 1’56.428 on his 11th lap which left him only 0.067 behind his teammate. Having kicked off his MotoGP campaign today, the 23 year old optimistically awaits the other two free practice sessions tomorrow with a view of making additional steps forward and ascending up the grid.
Position : 11th Time : 1'56.361 Laps : 18
"Today was not a bad start to the 2015 season as we were fast straight away. However, we used the same tyre for the whole session and I wasn’t able to improve as the practice came to an end. In addition, I made a small mistake at the beginning of the session where I went wide on the track. Beside that, it's logical that after the rain this week the track conditions would not have been ideal and it certainly gave an advantage to the riders who used a softer tyre towards the end of the session, so we lost several positions. Yet, I'm confident already that tomorrow there will be more grip on the track so the situation will change and we will be further up the grid."
Position : 13th Time : 1'56.428 Laps : 20
"It’s good to get the first practice underway and be back riding again. The difference you feel when you are actually racing for real where it means something is amazing and you don’t get that sensation when testing. I think the track conditions today were a bit tricky and not ideal for the setting which we have in place at the moment. However, I know we will improve tomorrow when the grip level increases. My lap times were good and I actually rode a better time on the ideal laps, where I was more than three tenths faster than my final result which would have placed me well inside the top ten. We still need to work more with the rear of the Yamaha to make it easier for me to ride, as the bike is a bit nervous at the moment. In any case, it's nice to ride and just get a general feeling of the track as it's a quite tricky one and I'm already looking forward to the next two sessions tomorrow."
The work starts for Avintia Racing in Qatar
Avintia Racing MotoGP – Qatar Grand Prix – FP1
The MotoGP World Championship officially started today in Qatar. Avintia Racing Team riders suffered some electronic problems on their bikes and they were not able to match the lap times made in this track just two weeks ago. But even so, Hector Barbera was the fourth fastest Open class rider today, while Mike DI Meglio was behind. Ducati Corse engineers are already working together with the Avintia Racing technical staff to solve those little problems to come back stronger. Tomorrow we will have two more free practice sessions and the FP3 result will be crucial to try to be inside the Q2 on Saturday. The most positive thing today was that the atmosphere inside the team is great and the motivation of the riders is very high ahead the first race of the year.
HECTOR BARBERA #8 / 18th 1'56.957 @HectorBarbera
The first day was difficult, because you arrive eager to do the best after the hard work during the winter and hopeful to do a very strong first practice session. But we had an electronic problem with the first bike and stopped, they have brought some new power maps and software here, but it doesn’t work, and with the second bike we had a similar problem. So I couldn’t ride as much as I would like, and the time we spend on the track was useless. The most positive point is that we have two more days before the race, but our target is to win the Open class and today we are fourth. And we want to be first.
MIKE DI MEGLIO #63 / 24th 1'57.612 @Mikejpp63
Today was a bit disaster. We had many electronic problems and we spent more time inside the garage that on the bike. We have to understand why this happened and start tomorrow with the same base set up we had in the test. We have tried some things slightly different and although at the end we came back in the right direction, I’ve never feel comfortable on the exit of the corners and as I touched the gas the bike was really aggressive. Tomorrow we have to make a step forward to try to get a good grid position on the grid.
Stefan Bradl fastest Open bike at Losail
Stefan Bradl ends the first day of practice sitting on top of the standings of the Open category while Loris Baz managed to stay inside the Top20 at the Losail circuit.
After struggling on this track last week during the winter test, Bradl had a strong session wearing the new team colours of the Athinà Forward Racing. The German, without using the soft tires, posted a personal best of 1.56.577, which earned him the 14th position, first among the Open bikes.
It was a productive day also for his teammate Loris Baz. The Frenchman, at his race premiere in the world championship, stopped the clock on the time of 1.57.031, just four tenths off his team-mate and close to the other open bikes.
"After a difficult test on this track it was important to make a good first practice session. I started well, I was able to be immediately fast and I set my best lap without using the soft compound. I focused immediately on the race pace, doing a lot of laps to find the best setup possible. I'm confident for tomorrow: I have kept the soft tire to try to improve the flying lap”.
"It’s been a good day. After many months of work it's time to get on track for the race. It was a positive session: the feeling was the same of last week and also the my pace on the long run is good. I was able to be immediately faster than before and I finished just four tenths short of the first Open bike. I am confident for my weekend debut in MotoGP”.
Pramac Racing in the Top 10 after the first free practice in Qatar
Pramac Racing Team went back to the Losail Circuit in Doha, Qatar, for the first free practice of the 2015 MotoGP season and scored an extraordinary result by placing its two riders in the Top 10 even though both of them felt less comfortable with the track conditions than in the last pre-season test.
Danilo Petrucci showed great lucidity and determination as he was forced during his last run to switch off his Desmosedici GP14. After running back to the pit box and thanks to the prompt reaction of the team which prepared the second bike at very short notice, he managed to go out again notching up a laptime of 1'55.939 (less than 7 tenths from the best laptime of Marc Marquez ) which allowed him to end the day in 6th place.
A good start also for Yonny Hernandez who worked intensively on his Desmosedici Gp14.2. On his quickest lap the Colombian rider recorded a ltime of 1'56.139 which earned him 8th place.
6th Danilo Petrucci - Pramac Racing # 9 - 1'55.939
"I am very satisfied with my laptime even if this is only the first day of free practice. But it is a good start which can give a little boost to all of us. The problem with the bike? I was going out for the last run but i saw a LED come on and I preferred to stop. I had to run one kilometer, hoping that the boys were aware of the problem. I thank the team for putting me in a position to get back on the track soon."
8th Yonny Hernandez - Pramac Racing # 68 - 1'56.139
"A first very positive day for me. I'm in the Top 10 and this is our goal. I hope to be able to improve day by day starting from tomorrow. I am very happy with the result but the season has just begun. We are working very well to find a good pace, especially with the race tyre. Meanwhile i'm happy for the laptime recorded".