Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 classes after the opening races of the season at Qatar:
Zarco score points in penalty-filled Moto2 opener
Ajo Motorsport rider finishes Grand Prix of Qatar twelfth, after being penalised with a ride-through penalty for jumping the start.
03/20/2016 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The first Moto2 race of the year took place on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit, and it will be remembered for being a contest in which nine riders were penalised for jump starts. One of them was reigning World Champion, Johann Zarco, who lost all chance of a podium after serving a ride-through penalty. Nevertheless, the Ajo Motorsport rider did not throw in the towel and worked hard to make up places, finishing twelfth and scoring his first 4 points of the year.
The start of the Moto2 Grand Prix of Qatar was more decisive than ever, as a large group took off too early. Johann Zarco, who had started from the second row, was amongst the riders forced to go through pitlane on the second lap as punishment for jumping the start. This placed him at the back of the field, but the Ajo Motorsport rider was determined to make up as many positions as possible and set a pace worthy of the podium, climbing to twelfth place. With this result, the Frenchman claims 4 points for the overall standings.
Johann Zarco will have a chance to avenge his disappointment from Qatar and try to get back onto the podium in two weeks, when the series moves on to Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager
"I don't know what to say about today's race, because everything changed with the numerous 'jump starts'. It is very difficult for Race Direction to decide who had to be penalised and who didn't, and rarely in my life have I seen so many riders make a jump start. I'm sure that they will check the system for the lights, because many riders got nervous and could not get off the line well. We have to accept things. In the end we have not lost so much, so we should look ahead. I am very pleased that Johann [Zarco] found his speed and pace during the race, especially on the last few laps when he was really fast. We can't wait for the next race."
5 JOHANN ZARCO
"It was a bit of a crazy race. I made a mistake with a jump start, and my penalty was a ride through that put me almost in last place. After a few laps I saw very fast riders such as Rins and Lowes had also been punished, and then Folger crashed, so we have not lost so much in respect to them.
As for my pace, it was pretty good but not the best. It is something we still have to work on. I apologise to the team, because it was strange for me to make the mistake with the jump start -the first of my career and hopefully the last. I am very focused on doing everything even better in Argentina; the bike is very fast and consistent, and I understand it well."
Luca Marini tenth after a superb debut
After a Saturday to forget, Sunday holds a different flavor for the Forward Racing Team. Luca Marini, 26th on the grid, had a lightening start that saw him gain ten places in the early laps. The Tavulliese then lowered his lap time and managed to climb up to the tenth position after overtaking Oliveira and Wilairot despite a battered right knee that forced him to seek treatment in the Clinica Mobile before the race start.
His teammate, Lorenzo Baldassarri did not participate to the race due to a nasty shoulders injury after a frightening highside in qualifying. The young Italian nevertheless attended the race in the pits and congratulated "Maro" at the end of the GP.
"It’s a pity for me and for the team to debut as a spectator but I'm very happy for "Maro". I will go back home now and I want to get back in shape in time to be able to compete in Argentina".
"I'm really happy with this first result. I sincerely thank all the Forward Racing team for the great job, as both this weekend and during the tests we made some good steps forward. Today it was a difficult race but I managed to achieve my objectives: scoring points and maintaining a good pace throughout the race. I made a small mistake but I'm really happy with this first Grand Prix.
We will try to improve every weekend because we still have a lot of work to do.
The important thing is to stay calm, focused and continue to grow as we have done until now. This is my first year in the World Championship, we are just at beginning and I think we started well!".
Resolute Viñales powers through at season opener in Qatar
Tech3 Racing Team rider Isaac Viñales battled all the way to the chequered flag and finished in 19th after a determined and relentless effort in the challenging first round of the 2016 Moto2 World Championship. The rookie bolted forwards from the ninth row of the grid when the lights went out and jumped up two places by the close of the opening lap. He then stuck into his consistent rhythm and was in 19th by half distance. Viñales maintained his consistency by pushing onwards and he eventually ended in this position after what was a demanding Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit.
Meanwhile, Xavi Vierge was unfortunate in the opening round and after running as high as 10th, he lucklessly fell on the 15th lap. The young Spaniard kicked off the race from 20th and immediately launched into his strong rhythm, which saw him move up four places by the close of the first lap. He maintained his pace, yet with less than a quarter of distance left to run the 18 year old’s luck ran out, bringing the otherwise positive weekend to an unfortunate end. Nevertheless, Vierge remains fully confident of bouncing back with a solid result at the next GP in Argentina.
Position : 19th - Points : 0
“I am happy about my inaugural race in the Moto2 class with the Tech3 Racing Team. We gained a lot of knowledge during the 20 lap battle which is vital for the future. I am now able to give more information about what I feel on the bike with the setup and also we learnt a lot about my riding style. There are things that need to be improved more, but I have made some changes and I am pleased about what we achieved at our first GP together. I feel confident that we will finish higher up the field and I am looking forward to the next round."
Position : DNF - Points : 0
“Of course, the end result is definitely not what we hoped for which is a massive shame because in the warm up, we had a good pace for the Grand Prix and I ended up in 14th. In the race itself, things were progressing well until I fell. I had a good start and the opening few laps were positive. I got up to 14th and then shortly after, 10th. However, with five to go, I changed into second gear and the bike went into neutral, which I couldn’t save. I am dissatisfied because it was the beginning of the season and I was determined about getting a solid finish here. Anyway, now we will focus on Argentina where I will continue to learn and give my all. Thank you to the team for the work this weekend.”
Hervé Poncharal : Team Manager
"It was an interesting first race but for us the end result is disappointing with regards to Xavi. He was running in 10th and he would have been even higher due to the penalties to Morbidelli and Cortese. Today was a golden opportunity to finish strongly, and we haven’t had a single crash since the winter tests started plus, we’ve done so many laps here. Unfortunately it happened when Xavi hit a false neutral in turn two and he just couldn’t hold the bike. We have been talking about this gearbox issue quite a lot, I think this is something that will be fixed by the championship soon. Clearly, we aimed to begin the season on a high note, but it wasn’t meant to be today. On the other hand, I am pleased to see Isaac fighting as well as setting his fastest lap of the whole weekend in the race and ending up in 19th, which is not too far from the points. Hopefully this result will help him to understand a few things and will be strong in the next Grand Prix. We will keep a positive frame of mind and hopefully Argentina will be better but for sure, things will be a bit more challenging for Xavi as he has to learn the circuit. Still, we will keep pushing to try and get two solid finishes at Rio Hondo."
Morbidelli battles for the win but finishes seventh after penalty
Losail, Qatar – 20 March 2016: The opening race of the Moto2 championship delivered a demoralising outcome for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez.
Both riders were confident of making a strong start to the season only to have their hopes cruelly crushed in bizarre circumstances at the Losail International Circuit.
The start to the Qatar Grand Prix was chaotic with nine top riders making a jump-start including Morbidelli who quickly settled into third place from fifth on the grid.
Morbidelli was in superb form and started the final lap in the lead when, after a long delay, a 20 second jump-start penalty was confirmed by Race Direction.
Morbidelli took the chequered flag in second place just 0.047s behind winner Thomas Lüthi only to learn the devastating news of his time penalty after the race.
After a superb debut performance for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Morbidelli was officially classified seventh, 20.047s behind the winner.
The confusion at the start with nine top riders making jump-starts resulted in Márquez losing concentration and he dropped from 13th to 29th on the opening lap.
The former Moto3 World Champion crashed out on lap seven, to start the season with a disappointing DNF and zero points.
Franco Morbidelli: 7th
"I made a really good race and I was fighting for the victory for the whole race and led for nine laps. I'm very happy about this in my first race with a new team. Unfortunately I had a problem at the start, a lot of riders around me moved, and in that moment it is a reflex reaction so I also moved. I'm sorry for this but we must take the positives. I was fast and fighting for the win and we must take this to the next race in Argentina."
Álex Márquez: DNF
"It was not a good start to the season, I made a mistake and crashed so I'm sorry for the team. The start was confusing and I lost concentration when nine riders made jump-starts. Now we must focus on Argentina and I am 100% motivated to go there, reset to zero in my head, and do a good job at a circuit I really like."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Franco rode a fantastic race, leading more laps than any other rider and this performance justified our decision to sign him for this season. But for nine professional riders, not just Franco, to make a jump-start was a strange situation and we have to analyse this in more detail. For Álex it was disappointing to firstly run off the track and then crash when we know he was capable of a good result."
A RIDE THROUGH HALTS LOWES' VICTORY CHARGE IN QATAR
A ride through penalty for jump start stopped Sam Lowes and Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s fight for victory in this evening’s Grand Prix of Qatar, first round of the 2016 Moto2 World Championship.
Starting from the front row with the second time, Lowes was given a ride through penalty following a jump start together with five other riders, including rivals Alex Rins and Johann Zarco, while Franco Morbidelli and Sandro Cortese, for the same infringement, were added 20” on the final time of the race.
Back on track after the penalty, Lowes resulted the fastest rider on the track, setting the fastest lap of the race, 1’59”421, on the final lap, proving that he could fight for win. Crossed the finish line in 23th place on lap 3, the 25-year-old British rider still recovered to ninth place, which gives him important points for the Championship.
SAM LOWES (9th)
“I’m a bit upset but the rules are the rules, so I accept the penalty. The important thing is that I rode good. Folger was pushing hard at the beginning of the race but he crashed, I knew that I had the best pace today. I finished the race 20 seconds off the win, that is quite good considering the penalty. For the championship is not a big problem, our strongest rivals didn’t get good results too, and the first race is always a strange one. I’m happy, I rode good and next race will be good!”.
“Sam had the pace to win today, but at the start he was probably misled by other riders who have moved before the lights went out, and he moved imperceptibly. Unfortunately, the regulation is clear and then we had to make a ride through. One thing that makes me angry is that the Race Direction continues to mess: Morbidelli, who clearly made a Jump Start, was penalized with 20” on his final race time, instead of a ride through, which is much more penalizing. Morbidelli’s Jump Start was clear, so I cannot understand the reason for this decision, I’m very disappointed for this. For the rest, Sam put on display an incredible pace, with the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap, and for sure he had the potential to win. All this is positive for the upcoming round in Argentina”.
IMPORTANT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS FOR KENT & OLIVEIRA
Brit in touch with Top5 as Portuguese knocks on the door of the Top10 in maiden Moto2 race.
It was a good first test for the Leopard Racing team on their Moto2 World Championship debut. A finish in the points was the goal and both Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira duly delivered.
Danny Kent gained three places with a fine start as Pole man Folger attempted a solo escape but fell on the second lap with a lead of more than 1.5s. The Moto3 World Champion kept contact with the leading group after Race Direction sanctioned 8 riders for Jump Starts.
Further back Miguel Oliveira fought hard against his rivals to make up places after a difficult start. Lap by lap the Portuguese rider picked up the pace, posting his fastest time on the final lap.
The victory went to Thomas Luthi, who fought a race-long battle with Franco Morbidelli before the Italian took a time penalty for a jump start. Danny Kent crossed the line in sixth position on his return to Moto2 while teammate Miguel Oliveira just missed the Top10 on his debut in Moto2.
The next race is scheduled for the weekend April 1 to 3, at Termas de Rio Hondo for the Grand Prix of Argentina.
#52 Danny KENT - 6th:
“I have to say thanks to the team because all weekend we've not had the best set up but we never gave up and slowly been creeping forwards. If we'd gone into this weekend knowing we'd be sixth we'd have been really happy with that. I know some crashed out and some jumped the start but that's racing, we kept our cool and took sixth but we know we have to keep working hard to make the next step and with 17 races ahead of us we'll keep getting faster and faster.”
#44 Miguel OLIVEIRA - 11th:
"A positive first race for us, too bad for the first few laps when I had contact with several riders and almost fell, so by the third lap I was in last place. I did a great race on the comeback, I took my rhythm, I tried to give my best and the last step was my fastest lap. Argentina hope to see us continue to improve."
Binder takes magnificent second position to open the year on a high
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider claims first podium of the season in Qatar, missing out on victory by just 0.007s. Bo Bendsneyder debuts with fourteenth place and two points.
03/20/2016 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The Moto3 World Championship season got underway this Sunday with the first race of the year in Qatar. There were great results for Red Bull KTM Ajo, as the team took their first podium of 2016 thanks to Brad Binder's second place finish, and a fourteenth position for Grand Prix debutant Bo Bendsneyder.
Frantic overtaking typical of Moto3 was on display at the Losail International Circuit, and Brad Binder performed excellently throughout the 18 laps. Starting from the second row, the South African was third after Lap 1 and led the race after the next time around. It was a position he was reluctant to give up at the head of a six-rider group, riding at a strong pace. He would fend off attacks on the final two laps, but a slipstream on the home straight saw him beaten to the chequered flag by just 0.007s.
The Qatar GP was also a great race for Bo Bendsneyder. The rookie, who was contesting the first Grand Prix of his career, was in a large second group in the battle for tenth place. Rounding off the pack in seventeenth place, the Dutchman waited until the last lap to move up the order, crossing the line fourteenth and claiming his first points in the World Championship.
Next up for the Moto3 World Championship is Round 2 of the season, which takes place in two weeks' time at Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager
"It was a great start to the season, I'm really happy. Already in preseason we felt we were prepared for this season, and now we can say that we are. Brad [Binder] had a very solid race; I think it was hard to decide what to do on the straight, which is rather long for Moto3 bikes when deciding a strategy. Brad decided to push and lead the way, so as not to not get into trouble with traffic. He wanted to be the No.1 and has already come close to that; I am very happy with second place. As for Bo [Bendsneyder], as I always say, I am very proud of his calmness and professionalism, considering how young he is. In short, we had a great preseason and a great start to the season. Congratulations to the whole team."
41 BRAD BINDER
"It was a race in which I was leading the group on almost every lap to try to take the victory. On the final laps I tried to ride the best line in order to keep my position and see if I could get some luck on the final straight. I pushed very hard but it was very tough as the straight is very long. I had to keep on the gas, and I gave my all, but it wasn't to be. I'm happy with this first podium and with the work done by the whole team this weekend. I want to thank them for that. There is a long season ahead, there are many races and a second place to start the season is fantastic."
64 BO BENDSNEYDER
"It was a good race; I learned a lot. I began too calmly, so many riders passed me at the start and on the first laps. Later I got my feeling back, pushed and gained some places in the middle of the race, but it was too late. What I'll take away from this Grand Prix is everything I have learned and the fact that we have scored our first points. I want to thank the whole team for the work they've done over the past few days. I will try to apply everything we have learned at the next round."
BASTIANINI TAKES FIFTH IN QATAR AFTER A DETERMINED COMEBACK. POSITIVE DEBUT FOR DI GIANNANTONIO
Gresini Racing Team Moto3 racer Enea Bastianini crossed the finish line of the Grand Prix of Qatar in fifth place thanks to a determined comeback that saw him catching the leading group with just three laps to go: after a good start from the third row, the 18-year-old rider from Rimini lost some ground in the early stages of the race due to some issues on corner entry, but in the final stages he was able to improve his lap times closing the with the seven riders leading the race.
In the final stages Bastianini passed Livio Loi, then Jorge Navarro and Nicolò Bulega on the final sprint, thus closing fifth just 0.6 seconds behind winner Niccolo Antonelli and bringing home the first important points for the Championship.
His teammate, rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio, put on display a positive debut, racing till the end of race with more experienced riders from whom he learned many things that will be useful for the upcoming events. The 17-year-old rider from Rome crossed the finish line in 26th position, thus slightly improving the starting position obtained in Qualifying.
ENEA BASTIANINI (5th)
“Early in the race I was not feeling good with the bike: I did find it hard to release the brakes on corner entry as a result I could not turn the bike as I wanted. However, in the second half of the race I managed to be fast and so in the end I also closed the gap with the leading group, finishing in fifth place, so it’s not bad. Let’s say that it would have been different if we had been a little more ready, but we are only at the beginning of the season and we still have to work a little on the bike set up. For the moment it’s okay like that, we have collected important points and now we already look at the next few races, in which we will give our best”.
FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO (26th)
“I consider this race the starting point to progress: the result is not the best, since I have only improved a little my starting position, but I was able to learn a lot because I've raced together with Masbou and McPhee, who are very experienced riders. I noticed several aspects of their riding which we are going to analyze together with the team and I will try to put into practice for the coming races. All in all I’m quite happy, although I still lack a little of determination in the first laps to try to gain positions”.
“It was a quite positive first race: Enea struggled a bit in the first half of the race, but then he managed to bounce back in the final stages, taking the leading group and scoring his best performance, 2’06”5, in the final laps. We lacked something to fight for victory but we proved to be competitive. Now we are going to analyze all the data, but we are happy with this result: the Championship is long and we have brought home important points. Di Giannantonio collected a lot of experience and learned many things: finish the races and make kilometers will help him to grow and today he did so, therefore I’m pleased with his debut”.
Navarro seventh and Canet in the points in Qatar
Jorge Navarro fought for victory until the end in a tight opening race and finished as the top Spaniard at Losail. His teammate in the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team, Arón Canet, was fifteenth and therefore scored a point.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro started the 2016 season with a seventh place result, just 0.674s away from a victory. Navarro was battling for a first World Championship race victory from start to finish, in a race which was contested in a group.
Arón Canet has started his Grand Prix adventure by scoring a point on his debut. The Valencian rider, who started in fifth –the best grid position for a debutante in the lightweight category since the fourth place on the grid achieved by Scott Redding at this circuit in 2008– had a great race and finished in fifteenth position.
"Navarro fought for the victory throughout"
"Jorge Navarro has done a great job both in practice and the race, always fighting in the leading group and showing a lot of maturity on track without making mistakes. Navarro fought for the victory throughout, but on the last corner Bulega went in a bit too hot and the forced Jorge off his line, so he lost out on his podium chance. However, the overall analysis is very good. Jorge Navarro has taken a step forward compared to last year, we can see he is much more mature and today he rode a very intelligent race. Seventh was not the desired result, but we know he fought throughout the race for victory.
Regarding Arón Canet, we all know that scoring a point on your debut in the World Championship is not easy, but Arón already demonstrated yesterday in qualifying that he is a rider to be reckoned with and now he has finished fifteenth in his first race. If we consider the short preseason as he had, it adds even more merit to the result today. Now his goal should be to continue learning the tracks, gain more experience, continue running races like today and to keep developing as a rider."
"I was pretty close to the podium"
"Today everything went as expected, although I thought the lead group would be even bigger. During the race I tried to manage the tyres well and I tried to always be in the right place at the right time. Everything was going well, I was well on target for the podium, I just had to be second at the last corner, use the slipstream of Bagnaia, and try to overtake. In the end Bulega closed off the last corner, he touched me and the riders behind me came through. However, overall we can assess the weekend positively. We have started the first race of the year in the points, with a good feeling and now we will work for Argentina."
"Racing in the World Championship is tough, as all the riders give it their maximum right from the start"
"Racing in the World Championship is tough, as all the riders give it their maximum right from the start and that's what we have to learn. What surprised me most were the brakes, there are riders who slow down before you, you overtake them, but then they do not give up the position. I am happy with the result, but you always want a little more. I would have liked to finish in the first group, although fifteenth position and a point are not bad for the first race. Now we will continue learning and looking forward to the next Grand Prix in Argentina."
Tough race for RBA Racing Team in Qatar
Today the first race of the 2016 season was held at the circuit of Losail.
The riders of the Moto3 class kept up with the expectations, ensuring an entertaining race for the spectators, full of surprises till the last corner.
It was a bittersweet Sunday for Rodrigo, who finished the race in 19th position. After an excursion to the gravel on the seventh lap, Gabriel couldn’t keep fighting for the top 15. Despite all, the Argentinian set a good rhythm and finished the week with positive feelings.
Juanfran Guevara was fast since the warm up, as he was among the first ten riders. In the race, the Spanish youngster fought for the top-10, setting the fourth best time. A crash in the last part of the race prevented him from achieving the hoped result.
#19 Gabriel Rodrigo: 19th
”I started off well, but I got stuck with the other guys in the first few corners and then I was in the second group. Till the seventh lap I was setting good lap times, better than in the sessions of the other days. On the seventh lap I was about to crash out, I ended up in the gravel and once I got back on track I had lost touch with the second group. There was a moment when we had a good pace, we were very fast, but we didn’t manage to get close to the guys in front, the gap was too wide. I’m not happy because this isn’t the position I was expecting, I could have been in the group that was fighting for the tenth position. We have to check today’s data and in this way we’ll start working for the next race.”
#58 Juanfran Guevara: 25th
“We had good sensations and we made a very positive warm up, we had a great rhythm. I was confident for the race: we made a good start and we were within the top ten. Throughout the race we had a good pace, we set the fourth best time. In this sense we can see many positive points. We had everything under control and the top 10 was really close. With two laps to go, the front of the bike closed, we will have to check the data to see exactly what happened. These things can happen, now we’re already thinking about Argentina. It’s a shame not to have finished in a better position and leaving without any point, but generally speaking it was a positive weekend, we progressed a lot and we have to keep going in this direction.”
RW Racing GP happy with 8 points after strong weekend
The goal of RW Racing GP beforehand the Qatar Grand Prix was a top 10 finish. Seeing Livio Loi finish in eighth after a thrilling Moto3 race nevertheless was a bit of a mixed emotion. But all in all Loi and the team had an excellent weekend in Qatar and the good feeling and confidence that brings, is what they take back home, together with 8 championship points.
Starting from the front row gave Livio Loi a huge opportunity. He made a near perfect start and entered the first corner side by side with pole sitter Romano Fenati. Loi was able to fight for the lead immediately and concluded the first lap heading the group.
Unfortunately in the second lap already the 18 year old from Belgium was pushed wide. He was lucky to save the bike from crashing out and rejoined in tenth, having to fight his way back up.
It took until lap 8 before Loi could take the lead of the second group and start his quest to overcome the gap. In only one lap he pulled a lead of over a second to his pursuers with a race best lap of 2.06,171.
“Unfortunately Livio couldn’t get close enough to the leading group to put up a fight,” RW Racing GP team manager Jarno Janssen saw. “Sure, after qualifying in second we had hoped for more than eighth but let’s not forget where we came from. Both Livio and the team have made huge steps. The weekend overall was terrific. It would not be fair to expect miracles. We are very happy with eighth and 8 points. For now this is just where we want to be, heading to Livio’s favourite track in Argentina.”
Livio Loi - 8 (+1,710)
“Beforehand I would have put up for eighth without a doubt, but after our strong performance in practices and qualifying obviously I’m a little bit disappointed. Nevertheless I’m happy with 8 points. It’s a good start of the season. But yes, maybe there was more in it. The start was good and I was able to grab the lead of the race a few times.
My aim was to pull away, but it was too early for that and when Brad Binder overtook me I was pushed wider than I wanted. I had to leave the line and could only just prevent going off track. But I was on the dirty part of the track and it was a near crash when I tried to make the turn. I lost quite some time there and from then on it was a matter of trying to get back to the group.
I managed, but I couldn’t get close enough. Each time I had almost closed the gap, the front runners got away slipstreaming and I had to start catching up again. When Bastianini caught me, I was able to hook up, but I made a mistake in shifting, entering the corner in third instead of second. My mistake. That cost me about a second.
Anyway, it could have been better, but I’m pretty satisfied with how the weekend went. I have the circuit record, recorded the fastest lap in the race, topped the practices, qualified on the front row and I get home with 8 points in the bag. It could have been much, much worse and slightly any better. I’m a happy chap.”
Brilliant Podium Debut for All-New Mahindra
Losail International Circuit, Doha, 20 March 2016: Aspar Mahindra rider Pecco Bagnaia toughed it out for a brilliant third place under the floodlights in the opening round of the 2016 Moto3 World Championship in Qatar today.
The 19-year-old Italian fought every inch of the way in an eight-strong pack of the world’s best riders, using the MGP3O’s superb handling and his own intelligent tactics to be with the leaders as the chequered flag fell.
The new white-liveried Mahindra racer was just 0.148 of a second adrift of winner Niccolo Antonelli’s Honda, with Brad Binder’s KTM sandwiched between them.
Bagnaia had started the Qatar Grand Prix – the first of 18 rounds – from the fourth row of the grid, and finished the first of 18 laps of the 5.38-km Losail circuit in seventh position. From there to the end it was an action-packed 38 minutes, with eight riders exchanging blows at every corner, and swerving in and out of one another’s slipstreams down the kilometre-long start-finish straight.
Bagnaia held his own throughout, sometimes losing ground on the straight but then taking it back with interest in the corners. At the finish, the first seven riders were still within three quarters of a second of the leader.
It was a superb debut for the all-new Mahindra Moto3 machine, completely redesigned during the winter break; and justification also for a tactical change of bodywork during the weekend, after it was found that a different version of the fairing gave better results at the desert circuit.
With the agreement of its customer teams, the only Indian constructor in international racing made the one bodywork change allowed for the season even before the first race. The podium finish was the pay-off; in future races all eight Mahindra riders will have the choice of two different versions of the fairing.
FRANCESCO “PECCO” BAGNAIA – Third Place
This was a really, really difficult race. I had to push to the maximum on every single lap, and the pace was very strong. After practice and qualifying I didn’t think it would be possible to stay with the front group – but with the slipstream in the race, I realised I could do it. It was an amazing result for us. Mahindra and the Aspar team have worked really hard. The different fairing was definitely a help: it was easier to take the slipstream, and to close the line on the corners.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
A podium is a fantastic way to start the new season after all the hard work from Mahindra Racing and our teams over the winter. Pecco rode magnificently to show the potential of the new MGP3O. Congratulations and thanks to him. He was the only rider who used the new aerodynamic package that we chose to homologate here. It improved stability and cornering speed, and the result certainly showed. Now we will work toward ensuring all the Mahindra and Peugeot Motocycles riders have the same opportunity: we’re committed to providing all of them with the new fairing from the next race in Argentina."
4th AND 6th PLACE FOR THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 AT LOSAIL
Romano Fenati was close to the podium, also Nicolò Bulega. 17th Andrea Migno
Romano Fenati and Nicolò Bulega are in the group of the five Italians at the Top of the standings of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The first race of the new Moto3 season ended with Fenati close to the podium after 22 laps and with Bulega sixth in his first race in the new category. The two riders of the Sky Racing Team VR46 have handled their debut with determination: after a great start from the pole position, the number 5 has leaded the group for the whole race but he lost five positions in the last lap. Started from the thirteenth place of the grid, Nicolò has reached the leading group and he is 6th under the checkered flag.
Penalized by a contact in the first lap, Andrea Migno closed in seventeenth place.
PABLO NIETO - Team Manager
We are satisfied with the result: we did a great job. Look at the standings and finding Romano and Nicolò in the Top10 after the first GP is a satisfaction. It is a pity for the podium, but we have proven to be on the right way. We have the qualities to reach the target. Andrea also did a great job and he was close to the points. At the start he lost several places and from the end of the group he tried to recover some positions.
ROMANO FENATI - Pilota Sky Racing Team VR46
It was a very tough race. I was in the group of the leaders from the beginnig and I had a strong pace. I have fought for the victory til the last lap and it was a shame losing the podium. There was a bit of bitterness for the target missed, but we look forward to back on track.
ANDREA MIGNO - Pilota Sky Racing Team VR46
It was not a lucky race. In the first lap, due to a contact, I found myself at the end of the group. I tried to push hard to recover some position and I was 17th under the checkered flag.
NICOLÒ BULEGA - Pilota Sky Racing Team VR46
It was an incredible race. After the qualifying I was 13th and after 10 laps I found myself in the first position. I didn’t know what I had to do: I tried to stay focused and not make mistakes. I'm really happy with this debut.
Moto3 - Race to make experience for 3570 Team Italia in Qatar
Stefano Valtulini (29th) and Lorenzo Petrarca (31st) finish the first Gran Prix of the season, learning from the experience of this weekend.
Great day for the Italian motorcycling. In the inaugural Gran Prix of the Moto3 World Championship, Niccolò Antonelli wins and Francesco Bagnaia 3rd completes the podium, after an engaging race that gave to the young riders of 3570 Team Italia a real opportunity to make experience in the category. The Italian Motorcycling Federation congratulates to 'Nelli' and 'Pecco', ex riders of Team Italia, that today have reached this beautiful podium.
At their official debut in the World Championship, Stefano Valtulini(29th) and Lorenzo Petrarca (31st) defended themselves in their reference group, improving their time compared with the ones of the practice.
With the starting points defined in the Qatari round, 3570 Team Italia will continue his path in Moto3 World Championship in two weeks at Termas de Rio Hondo (Argentina), second round of the 2016 calendar.
Stefano Valtulini (3570 Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #43) 29th
"I can't be completely satisfied, but we finish this first race weekend together with encouraging signals and some positive points to use in the continuation of the season. Compared to the practice, we have improved in terms of performance, riding with impressive times in line with our reference group. I have succeeded in defending myself well in the bagarre with other riders, learning some things that will be useful in the future. For the next races, we will keep on increasing our level of competitiveness and to carry on with the work done, in order to improve race after race."
Lorenzo Petrarca (3570 Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #77) 31st
"I started quite well and my times were not that bad. The feeling with the bike is good, I've felt well on the bike thanks to a set-up suitable with my riding style. What I miss is to find the confidence for the first laps, in the World Championship it's necessary to start well immediately, in order not to loose contact with the other riders. We will carry on this work in Argentina and Texas, and then we will be focusing on tracks that I know, where I can't wait to race."
Emanuele Ventura (3570 Team Italia - Team Manager)
"We have finished this weekend of constant improvement. We are quite satisfied with the performances that are improved compared with the pre- event tests and the practice. Stefano gave his best and he has defended well himself, battling with a group of riders with more experience than him, getting interesting times. Lorenzo started well, he did a positive race, he only misses a little of aggression in the first laps, to keep close the chasers group. We are sure that,making the right experience, he will succeed in the rest of the season."
DIFFICULT RACE FOR LEOPARD RACING TEAM
Joan Mir edges out Fabio Quartararo at the finish line, both finishing in the points with Andrea Locatelli 21st.
It was a bittersweet finish to the opening race of the 2016 season for the Moto3 class. At the Losail International Circuit, the three Leopard Racing riders were confident of building on their positive results from Free Practice and Qualifying.
Today, however, Leopard Racing riders couldn't return their best efforts.
Fabio Quartararo lost touch with the lead group in the early laps while Joan Mir battled hard on the edge of the Top 10. Andrea Locatelli rode hard, taking risks in heavy traffic to improve his position.
The race was won by Niccolò Antonelli, his third career win ahead of Brad Binder and Pecco Bagnaia. At the line Joan Mir out sprinted his teammate Quartararo to take 12th place.
The next race is scheduled for the weekend April 1 to 3, at Termas de Rio Hondo for the Grand Prix of Argentina.
#36 Joan MIR - 12th:
“I'm not completely satisfied with today, I suffered a lot with the front. It was a pity because I think we can do more but it's my first race on a track I don't know so 12th place is not bad for a rookie. I want to thank the whole team.”
#20 Fabio QUARTARARO - 13th:
“It was a very complicated race, I didn't expect it to end like this so for the next round we will have to work harder. I'll leave this race behind and turn my mind to Argentina.”
#55 Andrea LOCATELLI - 21st:
“I honestly didn't expect this kind of race. I hoped for better because a few days ago I had a good feeling but instead today I had to work very hard. Whenever I wanted to attack, the bike locked and I had to take several risks.”
13th Finish for Wilairot
14th For Nakagami
Losail International Circuit : Sunday, March 20 2016
Ambient: 22℃:Track: 24℃
After twenty laps’ bizarre but nail biting race, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider Takaaki Nakagami crossed the line with fourteenth, with his team mate Ratthapark Wilairot having checkered flag just one position in front of him.
At the beginning of the twenty lap race which has started 18:55 local time (GMT +3), Nakagami dominated the race in the leading group. He and other three were informed in earlier stages to obey the ride though penalty due to the jump start, which demoted him to twenty-first position. Thereafter the Japanese rider started bouncing back with strong pace. Nakagami overtook riders one after another and finally climbed up to fourteenth. Other two riders who were informed the violation at very end of the race were applied twenty seconds timepenalty.
Team mate Wilairot also showed strong performance and set consistent lap times. The 27 year old Thai rider demonstrated invictus determination till the end and finished the race with thirteenth position.
The Argentina GP will commence in fortnight and the FP1 is set to start at 09:55 on April 1.
Ratthapark Wilairot (13th)
“Considering the fact that we had to start from difficult position, we did a good race today. I am very happy with this result because quite a long time I didn't get points in Moto2. My lap time was consistent, which was what I had expected for the race. I want to say thanks to my team for their great job.”
Takaaki Nakagami (14th)
“It’s a great pity that my race pace was brilliant and I could’ve aimed for the podium if I hadn’t been applied the ride through penalty. I felt the signal was stayed more or less two seconds longer than usual. I was very disappointed with this result. Anyway, now we set our focus to the next race in Argentina.”
Tadayuki Okada - Team Manager
“We feel sorry that Nakagami had to be applied the penalty, but his pace was very competitive and consistent until the end of the race. Anyway, he had two championship points, which is positive. Ratthapark demonstrated strong pace and took three points, despite his bad starting grid. We will keep this momentum and try to get good results for the next one.”
HARD RACE FOR THE PEUGEOT MC SAXOPRINT LIONS
Sunday’s opening race at the Grand Prix of Qatar marked a difficult start for Peugeot MC SAXOPRINT into their new challenge, with riders Alexis Masbou und John McPhee crossed the line in 24th and 27th position respectively.
The long awaited Moto3™ World Champion 2016 got underway this evening when the lights went on to offer an amazing scenery at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The race at the desert track close to Qatar’s capital Doha was the very first opportunity for the new series entry in the colours of Peugeot MC SAXOPRINT to participate in the highly competitive lightweight category.
Conditions improved in comparison to the previous days and not only to due that fact, Alexis Masbou and his team mate John McPhee from Scotland headed very motivated into the race in front of the team’s main sponsors and guests. Though, after a tough qualifying, expectations were on a low level but both Masbou and McPhee proved their potential as true racer again this evening. Both riders got a decent start but stuck early within a big group of riders who fought hard for positions throughout the entire race distance.
Till the next race in Argentina in two weeks, Peugeot MC SAXOPRINT look forward to receive a technical upgrade for their Peugeot Moto3 machine. This package was available for the moment to Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia.
#10 Alexis MASBOU - 24th:
“Honestly speaking it was a frustrating race out there today. I had to push hard to pass other riders but they could passed me easily again at any straight. So the only thing I could to was to try and finish the race in front of my group which I was able to manage well. But overall it was difficult to start the season like this. I felt similar with the bike like during yesterday’s qualifying and lap times were similar too. This of course is a positive aspect as we were able to keep this level. However, I raced within a group in definitely not a fast pace so it was impossible to remain in the 2´07 bracket which was my pace after the start. Overall, after a difficult weekend like this we must improve in several areas quickly. I think we know what do to.”
#17 John McPHEE - 27th:
“A difficult race at all. Coming from 30th position on the grid to try and move forward was really hard for me. The positive thing is that we had improved the gearbox in terms of the problems we endured yesterday and also the chassis is not so bad but unfortunately it’s a big task to pass other riders with this bike on the straights. Therefore, I had to work really hard in the corners. I think if we can do better during qualifying at the next race weekend and then, we are able to fight more towards the front. But for the moment this is something of impossible.”
Terrell THIEN (Team manager):
“Well, today’s first race of the new season has clearly underlined that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. But, this race has also shown a very important fact for all of us because new parts form Mahindra are available but for the moment to one rider only. However, this update obviously has a lot of potential. So we must push now to receive this package too, in the best possible way for the next race in Argentina already. This is our situation at the moment and at the same time we must keep our rider’s motivation high. After a long and demanding stay here in Qatar, including the first race weekend, I want to thank the entire team for their outstanding and tireless work they did till the very last end this evening.”
Enrico PELLEGRINO (Peugeot Motorcycles, Project Director Moto3):
“Obviously we suffered a lot of problems during the whole weekend. We worked hard to try and solve it but during a race weekend you don’t have enough time for. Therefore, we didn’t expect anything from the race which unfortunately went as we expected. So we suffered a lot again today. However, we are confident for the next race due to the solution that we can get and with that we will be able to improve our level. In the end we took this race as an endurance test, let me say. We now work hard, starting from tomorrow to improve the performance of our bike in order to give our rider the best package possible to be competitive.”