2016 Qatar MotoGP Post-Qualifying Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and sponsors after qualifying in Qatar:


LORENZO CLINCHES FIRST POLE POSITION IN CLOSE QATAR QUALIFYING

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong form today during the Qualifying 2 session, returning to the top of the time sheets again under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. He secured the 62nd pole position of his career with a 1‘54.543s lap, making him the new leader in the all time pole position classification. His teammate Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, left it to the last lap to make his move, securing fifth on the grid for tomorrow‘s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Losail (Qatar), 19th March 2016

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi rode on the limit this evening during an intense 15-minute qualifying session at the Losail International Circuit to take first and fifth respectively on the grid for tomorrow‘s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

After setting the pace in FP4 with a 1‘55.301s lap, Lorenzo was the last rider to start the 15-minute qualifying shoot out. As the second to last man to leave pit lane he enjoyed some clear track space. He immediately dropped under the 1‘55 mark on his first hot run to take over the provisional pole from his teammate.

Unable to improve on his next lap, he came in for a fresh set of tyres with a little more than six minutes left on the clock and had another go at a time attack only one and a half minutes later. The triple and reigning MotoGP Champion put his head down once more, but had to relinquish the hope of bettering his own time after encountering a big moment on his third flying lap. Fortunately none of his rivals was able come any closer than 0.091s to his 1'54.543s lap, giving him the first pole position of the 2016 season.

Rossi was also on the charge today. Similar to his teammate, the nine-time World Champion left it late to get out on track, but needed little time to put his stamp on the proceedings. His first stint saw him briefly take provisional pole with a 1'56.024s lap. Despite improving his time on his second go, a flurry of activity pushed him back to ninth.

Eager to move up the ranking order, the Doctor quickly returned to the pits and came back out on track with a little less than four and a half minutes of the session remaining. He moved up from tenth to seventh place, but knew he had more to give on his final hot lap. Squeezing out every ounce of effort on his ultimate lap, he clocked a 1'54.815s, 0.272s from pole. This time briefly put him in fourth place, before dropping one place in the qualifying standings. The Doctor will start tomorrow‘s race from the middle of the second row on the grid.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Today we saw some very strong results from our riders. Jorge did very well, setting the pole position on his second lap, on his first tyre. Valentino‘s fifth place is fully deserved and it‘s a good position to start tomorrow‘s race from. We were able to make another step in FP4 and it gave us the edge over our rivals in qualifying. We can be quite satisfied with the work we have delivered so far; the riders are comfortable with their setting and the way how the bike is behaving, but no points will be distributed until after tomorrow. We expect the race to be challenging with all the riders pumped for the opening race. Yet I think we are in with a fair chance to fight for some very good results tomorrow. We will use the warm-up to perfect the bikes‘ settings and then we finally get to start the 2016 season with hopefully a very exciting battle.

JORGE LORENZO

It‘s not bad to have this record for most pole positions on the first weekend of the championship. Today it has been quite difficult to keep calm and try not to crash, because sometimes you have a good feeling with one rear tyre and you put in another and you have a different feeling. This is what happened on my second try, I almost crashed on the first lap, but luckily on my first try, my first lap was enough to keep the pole position. I expected to be a little bit faster and that everyone would come closer to the 1‘54.0s, but finally this 1‘54.5s was enough to be on pole.

VALENTINO ROSSI

I‘m quite satisfied, because it‘s important that we start from the top5 and we are fifth. It‘s the ’minimum target‘, but it‘s not so bad because we are not so far from the pole position. I lost a little bit in the second part of the lap, I didn‘t do a perfect lap. If I had done so, I could have stayed a bit more in front, but anyway it‘s good to start in fifth place. I‘m also quite happy about the pace. We have to work and improve in the warm-up tomorrow, but I was already not so bad. It looks like four or five riders are fast and have more or less the same pace, but I‘m most worried about Marquez, because today he had the best pace.

I‘m happy and satisfied with my decision to stay with Yamaha for two more years. I thought I wanted to wait a little bit, but I spoke with Yamaha over the last few days and they were ready, so was I, and the contract was OK, so we said “why not?”. Now we can concentrate on the races.


Marquez clinches front row in Qatar, Pedrosa qualifies in seventh

An incredibly close first QP of the 2016 season saw Marc Marquez qualify on the front row with the field’s second best lap time (1’54.634), while Dani Pedrosa set the seventh fastest lap at 1’55.078, a fraction away from the second row.

Following a very positive FP4 session in which he posted a succession of laps in the mid 1’55 range, Marc had a solid first exit in Q2, setting a time that was just 91 thousandths down on what would prove to be Lorenzo’s pole time. After exiting the garage again, Marquez began his fast lap a couple of seconds too late, just missing out on the opportunity to improve.

Dani was fifth after the first run but was unable to make the most of his second tyre and had to settle for seventh.

The red lights for the Qatar GP will switch off tomorrow night at 9 p.m. local time.

Marc Marquez

2nd 1'54.634

"I am happy. At first I thought I had taken pole, but when I got back the team told me that the chequered flag had already been shown before I began my lap. On the display I saw 1:54.2 and thought it was the pole time, but it didn’t count. We are satisfied with the feeling we have with the bike and how everything in general is going. At the end of Q2 we had a scare when making a practice start. Something happened and now we have to see what it was. We'll see tomorrow if we can keep this pace up, which I think will be good for the race."

Dani Pedrosa

7th 1'55.078

"Today was not the best day for us. I've been trying to decide which tyres we will use tomorrow and I didn’t find a good pace in PF4. Later, in Q2, I started well but had a problem with the second tyre and could not improve my times. Unfortunately I dropped down a few places and I am not as high up the grid as I would like, but tomorrow we will be fully focused on having a good race."


Ducati Team riders to start Grand Prix of Qatar from Row 2. Iannone fourth and Dovizioso sixth after qualifying at Losail

The two Ducati Team men will start tomorrow’s opening round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship – the Grand Prix of Qatar at the Losail International Circuit – from the second row of the grid.

Andrea Iannone was fourth quickest in today’s fifteen-minute qualifying session, the Italian’s time of 1’54.693 coming on the last lap of his second exit. Iannone just missed out on pole position, after being slowed by traffic on the track in the last few corners. Andrea Dovizioso instead finished the Q2 session in sixth place, with a time of 1’54.963 he set on his fourth lap.

Dovizioso was third quickest in the thirty-minute pre-qualifying FP4 session, while Iannone was in fifth place.

Tomorrow’s MotoGP schedule sees the warm-up scheduled for 5pm local time (15.00 CET), with the race due to start at 9pm (19.00 CET).

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’54.693 (4th)

“It was a very positive qualifying session, but unfortunately I found Redding on the line during my last lap and he slowed me down when I was improving my time. I could have picked up a nice pole position, but these things happen. In any case I am very happy about the progress we’ve made throughout the weekend and for the work we are doing, because we have always been very quick and constantly in amongst the leading positions. FP4 was useful because it helped us understand something vitally important in view of the race, where I think we will be competitive. For sure it would have been better to start from the front row, but in any case tomorrow we will try and get up to the front right from the early laps.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – 1’54’.963 (6th)

“I am quite happy with my position, even though maybe I could have been a bit further up. However the aim was to start from one of the first two rows and this is what we have done, so I’m pretty happy about that. Unfortunately today the feeling with the bike, in particular during qualifying, was not the same as yesterday so I was unable to push as hard as I would have liked. I’m satisfied with the work we’ve done up until today: now we will have to decide which rear tyre to use in the race, but we are quick in any case and we have a good race pace, so I reckon we can be in amongst the leading group.”


VIÑALES & TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR FRONT ROW AT QATAR

Team Suzuki Press Office – March 19

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales put-in a sensational final-lap dash to get himself and his Suzuki GSX-RR on the front row for tomorrow’s MotoGP™ opening round at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The 21-year-old Spaniard was sitting in eighth position with four minutes to go before jumping up the ranks to third with a best personal lap of 1'54.638, just 0.095s away from Pole Position and securing his second-ever MotoGP™ front row start; his first was at the GP of Catalunya last season.

Team-mate Aleix Espargaró will start from the fifth row after a crash in Q1 and his subsequent run back to the Suzuki Garage to change machines left him out of time to fully exploit a further faster lap. Although his feeling with the machine is growing lap-by-lap in terms of race pace, unfortunately he didn’t have right opportunity for a proper time attack. This will force him into a recovery race, but he is capable of this type of effort that is required.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“For sure this is a good result for us. I want to consider this front row as a reward for all the work that Suzuki’s engineers did during the whole winter, for the preparation work done by the Team during the winter tests and, above all, for Maverick, who has grown-up a lot and is exploiting at its best the year of experience he gained in 2015. This is a first reward that we want to enjoy although it is only Saturday. Of course, this good result makes us curious to see what will happen in race, for sure tomorrow we will start with the consciousness that the race can be different, but we are also aware that we can enjoy it. Aleix has been a little unlucky, I believed he could have got into the Q2 but unfortunately he crashed towards the end of the session and had to replace the machine; and everything got more complicated. His feeling with bike #2 was not the same with bike #1 so he couldn’t do better than 15th place, which is for sure not the position he deserves. Our main task now is to finalise a good set-up that will allow him to feel comfortable in the race and hopefully recover some positions.”

Maverick Viñales:

“I’m very happy, we did an incredible job and finally we are taking some of the profits from all the hard work we have done in the winter. This is only qualifying and the race is tomorrow, therefore I’m keeping my feet on the ground, but being in third place is a very good sensation and makes me proud. It means a lot that last year here, I started in 12th while now I am in third, it shows that we have worked hard and I want to thank Suzuki for the development job they have done in the winter and also to my team that gives me full support. The extraordinary last lap is the result of the hard work I have done in the winter with my training, but also the calmness I have now: I am exploiting the experience I gained last year and also the engine we have now, which is a huge step forward.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“Today I have been unlucky, the practice session we did gave me a good confidence with the pace, but then in Q1 I had a crash and had to switch the bike. Unfortunately my feeling with the second bike was a little different, I felt some chattering at the front and couldn’t find the proper confidence. Of course starting so far back on the grid will make the race very complicated, I will need to push hard to recover; and that won’t be easy. However, my improvements in the past few days are very solid, my confidence with the pace is not so bad, but I still think I can do a good race and then we will take some time to analyse everything and increase our performances for the future. For sure this is not where we belong and I want to get back to the top.”


THE APRILIA RS-GP MACHINES TAKE ON THE QUALIFYING SESSION THAT DECIDED THE STARTING ORDER ON THE GRID FOR THE FIRST TIME

SIXTH ROW FOR BAUTISTA WHO IMPROVES HIS TIME EVEN MORE, SEVENTH ROW FOR BRADL

Losail (Qatar), 19 March 2016 – In his first qualifiers with the new Aprilia RS-GP, Alvaro Bautista continued the constant process of improving his lap times. In fact, he finished with 1’56.595, which is his best time since the start of the weekend where he has been consistently improving in every session. His performance, although marred by a crash, earned him the sixth row on the starting grid for the GP that will open up the 2016 championship season.

The same result was not to be for his teammate on Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Stefan Bradl, After improving steadily until yesterday (1’57.069), Bradl was unable to repeat the performance and, also hindered by a crash with no serious consequences in FP4, he finished the qualifying session with 1’57.216, a time that places him on the seventh row. Now the focus shifts to the races tomorrow, when Bautista and Bradl will need to rely on a good race pace - taking advantage of the warm up session to achieve it - in order to improve on their performance during practice.

ALVARO BAUTISTA

“Today we continued with our programme, making a few changes during FP4 to try and improve. We are fairly confident with our race pace. We have reached a set-up level that allows me to be rather consistent lap after lap. Especially in terms of the electronics, we have been working well over the past few days. In qualifiers we changed our strategy compared to last year because I need a few laps on the new tyres in order to be fast. So I started with used tyres and we had planned to be on the track for the entire session. It was a shame about the crash. Unfortunately, when it comes to shaving of a few tenths I still don't have the right feeling with the bike. Physically I don't have any problems. I'm confident about the race tomorrow. Our primary goal is still to go the full distance”.

STEFAN BRADL

“This was not our best day of the weekend. I was following our practice plan and I was improving, but unfortunately the crash in FP4 stopped me. I'm not really sure what the problem was, but in any case I didn't suffer any injuries and the bike was also sorted quickly. What we're still missing and what we need to find, is that feeling when I'm pushing to the limit, as well as a certain operational stability with the electronics when conditions change. The positive side is that tomorrow we can only get better. The more laps we put in the more we learn about the new RS-GP”.


Fourth row start for Scott in Qatar GP.

Petrux is flying back to Italy

In the first qualifying session of his new adventure riding Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati Desmosedici GP, Scott Redding didn’t manage to repeat the convincing performance recorded at Losail circuit in the last official pre-season tests and during the first two days of the 2016 Motogp season opening week end.

After having easily conquered the Q2 on Friday and confirming good sensations even today in FP4 (despite a mid-session crash without consequences), in Q2 the British rider could not find the right pace to take that step forward that would allow him to start closer to the leading group tomorrow. His fastest lap-time of 1'55.508s earned Scott twelfth place on the starting grid.

A few minutes before the start of Q2, Octo Pramac Yakhnich team greeted Danilo Petrucci who will return to Italy this night after the problem with his right hand accused during free practice on Friday. Petrux will undergo more check up on Monday to obtain instructions on the best procedure to follow for his full recovery.

12th - Scott Redding - 1'55.508

It’s clear that I could do better today. But I do not want to think too much about what has happened so far, partly because two falls in a weekend are something never happened before. I must say that I struggled a a little on the front but I have not lost confidence. I have to think about the race that is my strong point while lap-time is an issue on which I have to work. I am sure we can do well tomorrow as the feeling with used tires is very good . I've got to lap consistently as I did during the tests. Now we have to analyze the data we have. I think it's a matter of details and I am sure that we will solve them before the race.


Miller and Rabat aim for strong season opener in Qatar

Losail, Qatar – 19 March 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat are confident they can race to positive results in tomorrow’s season opening MotoGP round under the Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar.

Miller and Rabat encountered turning issues on a frustrating third night of track action in Doha, with both unable to show their full potential in a difficult FP4 and 15-minute Q1 session.

Australian Miller’s night started with an early crash but he was able to restore some confidence to push to a best lap of 1.56.620 that placed him 18th on the grid for tomorrow’s 22-lap race.

It was an equally tough evening for Rabat, who was hampered by a lack of front-end feel that prevented him from improving his time of 1.57.108.

The Spaniard makes his MotoGP debut from 19th on the grid, but despite tonight’s difficulties, Miller and Rabat remain optimistic that they can start 2016 with point scoring finishes.

Jack Miller: 18th - 1’56.620

“It had been a positive weekend up until today started! I had some big problems as soon as I went out in FP4. I wasn’t even pushing on my out lap when I lost the front at turn 15 and that definitely knocked my confidence a little bit. A bike that felt perfect last night just turned into something that was very difficult to ride to the limit tonight. Conditions were not easy with cooler temperatures and a big wind blowing around but I only got one qualifying lap in. At least we found something at the last moment and if I get a decent start tomorrow I think I can have a good race.”

Tito Rabat: 19th - 1’57.108

“I am quite disappointed because we changed a few things on the bike and we kept arriving at the same point. It was difficult to improve the lap time and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike. All we can do is work hard and try to find a better way. It is so strange and I can’t be happy. The bike doesn’t turn and to be honest I think I was clever not to push any harder because I think it was easy to crash given my feeling with the bike.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“Tonight was very disappointing and probably not an exaggeration to say it was a disaster after a positive start to the weekend. To be so far down the grid is clearly not where we want to be and Jack and Tito both seem to be complaining about the same issues. We can talk all we want but at the moment we don’t have a solution and that is frustrating. Jack and Tito are very motivated and I hope they can show more of their true potential in the race.”


Tech3 duo primed for opening round battle in Qatar after solid qualifying

Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro will commence his 2016 campaign from the third row of the grid after a determined performance today in Qatar. A thorough effort in FP3 yesterday allowed the young Spaniard to progress to QP2 where he launched into action as soon as the session began. Espargaro built up his speed before setting a personal best on his last lap that was only just over six tenths from the front row. With his confidence high in his race rhythm, the 25 year old’s sights are now firmly set on winning the battle for the leading satellite position tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bradley Smith pushed hard and produced a tireless qualifying assault today that will see him commence the Qatar Grand Prix from 11th on the grid. The 25 year old had to battle through Q1 after just missing the direct qualification to QP2 by only 0.029 yesterday, but he wasted no time and graduated straight through to the second session after setting a 1’55.490. Here, he upped his pace before firing a personal best lap which was just a tenth from his teammate. The British star now confidently awaits the 22 lap sprint tomorrow where he aims to fight for a top eight result.

Pol Espargaro

Position : 9th Time : 1'55.302 Laps : 7

"In all honesty, I think that we have put ourselves in a promising place for tomorrow. My race pace is strong and our position in FP4 showed that. We have a clear idea about which choice of compound to use and we know that some other riders are struggling with the tyre life. However, we still need to stay focused and sort out a few minor issues in tomorrow's warm up, but I feel prepared and ready. Regarding my qualifying position right now, I'm actually a bit irritated because I'm convinced I could have done a better lap time. Of course, that's easy to say now, but when I left the garage for my last run I was together with some other riders and as we aren't particularly strong on one single lap at the moment, the last thing I wanted was to have the other riders behind me. Therefore I waited, but probably a bit too long, so I didn't do a faster time. Nevertheless, I'm realistic and I wouldn't have been on second row anyway, but I could have been at least a bit higher on my line, therefore there is a slight bitter sweet taste in my mouth. Yet, altogether we have done a good job. I did my lap on my own and I believe that there are a few riders with a worse rhythm in front. Tomorrow will, for sure, be entertaining and the initial laps with the full fuel load might be interesting but I'm 100% motivated to clinch a positive result."

Bradley Smith

Position : 11th Time : 1'55.414 Laps : 7

"I am pleased with my qualifying position today even though it was a different experience on the Michelin tyres compared to Bridgestone. I knew that we wouldn’t be challenging for any of the top positions, so I made the decision to stay out on the bike in QP2 in order to get a few more laps under my belt as well as figuring out several things for the race. All in all, I am satisfied that we are in and around the other satellite riders which ranges from 8th to 12th, so with a good start, we can be right in the mix. With regards to the setup, we are still trying to adjust some details, but I did a full race distance on a set of tyres and was still running competitive lap times. This is positive, however, we need to work something out for sector three and four, but particularly the third. The Yamaha’s strength is corner speed which is something we need to improve on as I don’t quite have the confidence to lay it into the corner, release the brake and go through. Therefore, this is what I need in order to make the difference, so we will study the data and go from there. A top eight position is achievable but we need to work hard between now and then. Having said that, I am excited for the first race of the season tomorrow and will give it everything I’ve got.”


Third row for Barbera in the opening race of the season

Following a difficult FP4 with some issues to match yesterday’s pace, Avintia Racing team worked hard to set up Hector Barbera’s Ducati Desmosedici GP for the qualifying session. The Spanish rider also did his job and he was able to set a really fast lap of 1’55.165 to secure the eight place on the grid for tomorrow’s opening Grand Prix of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship. In addition, Barbera was the first Independent rider in the first qualifying session of the season, a good price for the team. Tomorrow he aims to get a good start and try to finish the race as close as possible to the front.

The night sessions didn’t go as well for Loris Baz. The Avintia Racing French rider was not able to find back to the good feeling from yesterday’s last free practice and he couldn’t get a place in the final Q2 qualifying session. He will start the race tomorrow from the 16th place of the grid, but he’s confident in finding the right way during warm up and recover some places during the 22 laps-race.

Hector Barbera - 1'55.165 - P8

 

“I’m happy because the third row it was something we have targeted before coming here, but at the same time I feel that tonight was possible to do even better. We didn’t get the maximum out of the second tyre. Anyway the lap times are quite tight and this eighth place is a good base to start the first race. I want to thank my team, because they worked really hard during the weekend. Maybe you feel more nervous in the first race, more tense, and you find some more issues. This is because you are more stressed riding the bike as you are so eager to improve every time you get on track. But when I went out for qualifying, everything was ready. The start will be crucial tomorrow. We have to be there from the first corner, because the first three laps will be as important as half a race distance.”

Loris Baz - 1'56.375 - P16

“Today was a difficult day. Our goal was to be inside the top ten and we finished quite far away, but to be honest the track conditions changed every day, and although is the same for everybody, I didn’t ride as well as I would have liked to. I crashed when I was almost in a straight line after just two laps of the FP4, and then I had some issues with my second bike. We did some modifications to improve but we had no time to test them, and when I started to push in the qualifying, I found that we had not taken the right direction; I had more moments in two laps that in the whole winter riding this bike. I tried to save the situation to be in the best possible position for tomorrow during the Q1, because if we manage to get back to yesterday’s set up, I’m sure it will be possible to do much better in the race.”


ASPAR riders make big improvements on Saturday in Qatar

Saturday, 19 March 2016 20:48

Yonny Hernández concludes qualifying thirteenth, whilst Eugene Laverty takes a big step forward for fourteenth on the grid

Today saw the first qualifying sessions of the 2016 MotoGP season, to decide the grid for the Qatar Grand Prix. Pole position for the season opener went to Jorge Lorenzo, who set the fastest time of the weekend with a 1.54.543 lap. He was challenged by Marc Márquez, who placed 0.091s off the top spot, and an all-Spanish front row was completed by Maverick Viñales –who pushed hard on his final lap to also close in on Lorenzo. Just under a tenth of a second separated the front three at the Losail International Circuit.

The ASPAR riders were very active today in the first qualifying session of the season. Both pushed hard to try to sneak into Q2 -something that they finally could not manage- but both Yonny Hernández and Eugene Laverty put in a great performance. The Colombian again encountered a defective tire that disrupted his plans, but was still able to set a 1.56.157 lap and claim thirteenth on the grid.

Only 0.029s slower than him was teammate Eugene Laverty. The Irishman, who had spent much of the practice time adapting to a new engine, took a big step forward to set his best time of the weekend on the final lap of the qualifying session. A gearing issue was the only thing denying him an even faster lap of the Losail International Circuit.

13th Yonny Hernández 1.56.157: "I feel bad because we have not had good tyres throughout the entire weekend, and it has given us several problems. However, the team have done everything possible to give me a good, competitive bike with which to try to fight to be among the top ten. I want to thank the team, because they have done a great job. It's a shame that we had several defective tyres, as I know that we could be higher up if that hadn’t occurred. The base we have, both in terms of chassis and electronics, I really like. We have been progressively improving and I hope to do my best tomorrow in the race to try to fight for a top ten finish. If not, I will try to score as many points as possible. A good start to the season is very important. I hope I'm wrong, but I think there will be a lot of crashes tomorrow. By the looks of things, the tyres will become critical at one point. We have already encountered three defective tyres in two days, so I hope that tomorrow they will not give us any problems and we can finish the race without issues.”

14th Eugene Laverty 1.56.186: “We worked in a good way today. Yesterday we had problems, basically losing an entire practice session. I got comfortable with the new bike and the new tyres in qualifying, so I pushed more. We made another small change in the same direction for the second tyre, and I set a fantastic lap with that. I got a 1:55.8 for my last lap, but I’d shifted to sixth gear before the finish line and lost a bit of pace when it didn’t work. That dropped my time down to 1:56.1. I was really angry, because I lost about 3 tenths because of that. I’d done everything perfectly on the final two corners, but it came undone when the gear didn’t engage. The crew will check what the problem was, but it dropped us down one place on the grid. However, the important thing is that we took a huge step forward. We were behind before, but now we are catching up just in time. I tested out the bike on a medium duration run in FP4, and the bike does change a lot –especially with the rear tyre- so we will have to make a plan for the race with the electronics to give me some options.”


STEPS FORWARD FOR LCR HONDA IN QATAR

The first qualifying session of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship saw LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow qualify in a creditable tenth place on the grid, after having found the going tough throughout the week in Qatar so far.

It was a considerable turnaround in fortunes, with front-end issues plaguing the British rider ever since the first practice on Thursday. In his customary gritty manner Crutchlow first made progress through the preliminary qualifying practice, with a stunning 1’55.291 putting him top of the timesheets.

The 30 year-old was unfortunately unable to better that time in the final qualifying quarter-hour, with traffic problems holding him up on his fastest lap, but Crutchlow still put the bike onto the fourth row of the grid in tenth with a 1’55.352. Hopes still remain high of a good finish for the sole LCR Honda campaigner in Sunday’s season-opening race.

#35 Cal Crutchlow – 10th (1’55.352)

“We found a little something today, but we didn’t really change too much on the bike. I just had to compensate a lot for everything that’s happening with the engine-braking on the bike. I just tried to ride in a completely different way – not because of the tyres, because my riding style of carrying a lot of corner speed suits them – but I had to change a lot because we can’t really use the rear brake at the moment.”

“There’s something really wrong with the engine-braking control system that we can’t fix here. The factory team have been able to do something, but we will hopefully be able to in a few races time.”

“We’re happy enough today, although not too much with the qualifying because we could easily have been further up but I got held up. I believe I could have easily done a 1’54 and been on the front two rows, so I’m disappointed for that, but overall it was a lot better day than yesterday. My pace for the race is not too bad and I think we can run a good race tomorrow if we get away well.”


FIRST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE FOR MICHELIN AT LOSAIL

Michelin held a Press Conference in the Media Centre at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar today where the French tyre company discussed its progress and laid out its plans for the forthcoming year as the supplier of the Official MotoGP™ Class Tyre.

Michelin is returning to MotoGP racing after a seven-year absence and Director of Michelin Motorsport, Pascal Couasnon, Deputy Director and Technical Director of Michelin Motorsport, Nicolas Goubert, along with Piero Taramasso, Michelin’s Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group, took the opportunity to explain the 18-month journey that the company has taken to get to the first race of the season here in Qatar. Couasnon also took time to explain the company’s decision to return to motorcycling’s premier championship and the importance of how the reintroduction of the 17-inch tyres into MotoGP will reflect in Michelin’s commercial markets and enable the French company to transfer racing technology to the road.

In front of a large audience, which included Dorna officials, team representatives and the massed ranks of the media, the three Michelin spokespersons covered many aspects of the development strategy leading up to this weekend and how the tests at the beginning of 2016 have helped with the evolution of the Michelin Power Slicks. The floor was then opened to all present and many questions were asked, and answered expertly by Couasnon, Goubert and Taramasso.

All details and information covered in the press conference can be found in the attached Press Pack which is available to download within this document. The whole press conference can also be viewed on www.motogp.com

Pascal Couasnon – Director of Michelin Motorsport:

“This weekend is a really big weekend not only for Michelin Motorsport, but all the employees of Michelin. We have been waiting for seven years and now it is a great for us to come back and I am really delighted about it. We made the decision to return because for Michelin all forms of motorsport are really crucial to our development and it is through motorsport that we get the chance to test ideas and develop solutions, and to then prove that these solutions are correct. Working with the best riders with the top bikes was something that we really wanted to be able to do again and when that opportunity arose it was something that we believed in and wanted to be involved with. One of the big things about our comeback was how we could make the link between the track and the street, so one of the discussions we had was to bring back the 17-inch front tyre. This was very important for us, as all the sports bikes on the road have that size of wheel. So being able to learn and develop on the track and then transfer to the road was very significant for us. This is totally aligned with our philosophy and an important factor in our return. We are very glad to be back and now look forward to some exciting racing throughout the season.”


Tissot Pole Position Awards - Qatar

LORENZO MAKES POLE SETTING HISTORY

World Champion Jorge Lorenzo became the most successful Pole setting rider in MotoGP™ history when he secured the 62nd pole position of his career after leading an explosive qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Qatar under the Losail International circuit floodlights this evening.

The Yamaha rider led the all-Spanish front row to receive his first Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar watch from double World Superbike Champion and three times MotoGP pole setter Colin Edwards. Lorenzo led the way around the 5.380 kms circuit to qualify in pole for the opening round of the Championship. Double MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez actually lapped quicker than Lorenzo but started his lap just seconds after the chequered flag had been shown. Completing the front row is 21 year old Maverick Viñales who’s been so impressive in pre-season testing.

Valentino Rossi starts from the middle of the all Italian second row after announcing he has signed a new two year contract with Yamaha to ensure he will continue racing in 2017/18. It’s been a tough weekend for the Tissot Ambassadors. Bradley Smith qualified in tenth place despite two practice crashes. Tito Rabat on his MotoGP debut was 19th, one place in front of Stefan Bradl who was another faller.

German Jonas Folger won the Moto2™ race last year and starts the opening round from pole position after fighting off the challenge of last year’s pole setter Sam Lowes and Alex Rins. It was Folger’s sixth pole position as he received his Tissot T-Race watch. Tissot Ambassador Tom Luthi starts from the fourth row after qualifying in tenth place.

Twenty year old Italian Romano Fenati waited until the chequered flag had come out to claim only the second Moto3™pole position of his career. Riding the KTM he pipped Belgian Honda rider Livio Loi to claim the first pole setting Tissot Quickster watch of the season.

FAST FACTS

MotoGP

  • Ten World Champions line up on the MotoGP grid tomorrow. Between them they have won 27 World titles and 386 grands prix including 179 Premier class races.
  • Tissot Ambassador Tito Rabat is the only newcomer to the class this year. Fellow Ambassador Nicky Hayden had ridden in all previous 12 Qatar Grands Prix but competes in the World Superbike Championship this season.
  • The top four places in qualifying are filled by factory bikes from four different manufacturers. The last time this occurred was at the Czech GP in 2008 when the top four places were taken by the following manufacturers: Ducati, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki.
  • Jorge Lorenzo starts from pole in the MotoGP class at Qatar for the fourth time; from his three previous poles he has had two wins and a second place finish. Lorenzo is aiming to become the first rider since Casey Stoner in 2009 to win the opening race of the year having won the final race of the previous season.
  • Of the top nine riders on the grid, the only two who have not previously won a grand prix at Qatar in any class are Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa.

Moto2

  • Sixteen of the riders competing tomorrow are grand prix winners. Six of these riders have won World titles and between the 16 have secured 95 grands prix wins.
  • Jonas Folger, the Moto2 winner from Qatar last year, has qualified on pole for the first time since the French GP in 2014.
  • Sam Lowes, in his first race using a Kalex frame, has qualified in second place on the grid.
  • Taking the final place on the front row is Alex Rins, who finished fourth last year in Qatar on his debut in the Moto2 class.
  • Johann Zarco starts from fourth place on the grid and is attempting to become the first reigning Moto2 World Champion to win the opening race of the year.

Moto3

  • Five of the riders have won grands prix but no World titles. There are ten rookies in the entry list this year.
  • Livio Loi has qualified on the front row for the first time in his grand prix career. This is the best qualifying result by a Belgium rider in the lightweight class of grand prix racing since Lucio Pietroniro started the 125cc Belgium GP in 1985 from second place on the grid.
  • Fabio Quartararo starts from third place on the grid – his first front row start since the German GP last year.
  • Aron Canet starts from fifth place – the best grid position by a rider making his debut in the lightweight-class of grand prix racing since Scott Redding qualified fourth fastest in Qatar in 2008.
Round Number: 
1
2016

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