Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after the first race of the 2016 season at Qatar:
Lorenzo Victorious in Sensational Season Opener
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo kick started the 2016 MotoGP season tonight with a masterful victory at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. Teammate Valentino Rossi also put on an impressive performance during the opening round at the Losail International Circuit, finishing in fourth place.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo had been strong at the Losail International Circuit the whole weekend and the race day was no exception. He rode a faultless race from start to finish, and brought home the first win of the season. Teammate Valentino Rossi also put in a strong result at the opening round of the 2016 MotoGP season, missing out on a place on the podium by just a tenth of a second.
Lorenzo's race went according to plan at the start of the opening race when he had a perfect launch off the line from pole position. He led for the first lap, but was chased by Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso on the over one kilometre long straight at the Qatar track. The Spaniard was forced to let them pass, but he didn't give up. As his rivals battled each other he lay in wait and after Iannone crashed out the Yamaha rider took his chance to make a charge for the lead for the second time. With 14 laps to go, he smoothly passed Dovizioso and continued to increase his pace.
With clear a track in front of him, the Majorcan was in his element. In an effort to shake off Dovizioso completely, he used the nimble YZR-M1 to the fullest, setting a new fastest race lap record of 1'54.927s. He slowly inched away and crossed the line for the final time with a +2.019s lead over the man in second place.
Starting from fifth on the grid, teammate Rossi had a good start and made sure he placed himself close to the front, in fourth place, to stay in contention. He shadowed his teammate as the top five formed the leading group, but couldn't find a way through. With rival Marc Marquez pushing him down one place with 20 laps to go, the Doctor used his experience and bided his time, hoping he could benefit from his harder option rear tyre towards the end of the race.
His strategy paid off when the rivals in front of him got involved in a scrap, causing Iannone to crash out. Now in fourth, he put pressure on Marquez by setting multiple personal best laps of the race, as he didn't want to let Dovizioso and Lorenzo pull away. As the top three upped their pace towards the end of the race, the Doctor kept pushing to the maximum and set the fastest lap of the race thus far, trying to hang on to the back of Marquez. The battle for second between Dovizioso and Marquez lasted until the final corner, giving Rossi a chance of reaching the podium, but he came just short and took the flag in fourth place, +2.387s from his teammate.
Lorenzo's masterful win earns him first place in the championship standings with 25 points. Rossi now holds fourth place in the championship with 13 points.
Thanks to today's results Movistar Yamaha MotoGP take the lead in the teams' championship with 38 points. The next round will be held at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit, Argentina, in two weeks' time.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"It has been a superb start to the season. Jorge rode a perfect race from start to finish and was in control the whole time. This win was definitely deserved and a great reward to his and the team's hard work. Vale also rode a good race today. It was a shame that he came a bit short in terms of pace, perhaps because of the decision to use the harder rear tyre, else I think we could have had both riders on the podium. When we started the weekend we set the target for ourselves to take home victory and that's exactly what we did. This result gave us a good confidence boost to face the next round in Argentina. I want to say a big thank you to the team for their great effort."
1st / 42'28.452 / 22 laps. Championship: 1st / 25 points
"We are there, in first position, without struggling and suffering and riding in the perfect way. For me, over all laps, this race has been one of the best of my whole career and that was why I was able to win and could make this little difference in the last three laps that gave me the victory. It was a little down and up with the tyres. We made the decision to put on the soft rear tyre, because with the hard one we couldn't be so fast. The harder compound should become better and better, but I think what happened was the opposite. The softer tyre should get worse and worse, but it was faster and faster so this little difference was the difference between me and Dovizioso and Marquez. I was surprised how fast my pace was towards the end of the race. I was sliding so much, but at the same time I was very smooth and concentrated and made no mistakes and that's why even with the pressure from Dovizioso, when I was at a margin of 0.4, .03, 0.5, I didn't get nervous and kept riding better and better. I feel very proud of my riding and my race and also the work of the team, because we put together the electronics and the setting of the bike in a very good way."
4th / +2.387 / 22 laps. Championship: 4th / 13 points
"At the end it was a great race, the pace was very fast from the beginning to the end, but unfortunately I stayed behind and I didn't have enough speed to try and attack. I was there but I was never in the real fight, I was always a little bit behind. We need a faster pace and maybe the tyre choice can make some difference, but we don't know. Maybe with the soft tyre I could go faster or I could go slower. We arrived behind and unfortunately didn't get on the podium, but it was a good race anyway, with a good start. We are there, we have to work, but for sure we are competitive. Last year in Argentina was a great race, one of the best with a great pace and I was coming from behind, but this year it will be a different story, especially with the tyres. We need to understand our potential this year."
Dovizioso puts in a great race to take the runner-up slot in GP of Qatar. Iannone crashes out of second place on lap 6
Andrea Dovizioso was on superb form in the opening round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship - the Grand Prix of Qatar - which was held this evening at the Losail International Circuit on the outskirts of Doha.
Dovizioso rode a fast and aggressive race and remained in the top three positions throughout the 22 laps. The Italian got a great start from the second row to finish the opening lap in third place, and he then moved into second on the next lap. On lap 6 Andrea took the lead but after three laps he was passed by Lorenzo, who went on to win the first round of the 2016 season. In the last few laps Dovi came under pressure from Marquez but he managed to hold off the Spanish rider and defend his second place till the chequered flag.
Andrea Iannone’s race came to an unlucky end after he had powered away to a great start. After taking the lead on lap 1, Iannone led up until the fifth lap but on lap 6, while he was battling with his team-mate, the Italian lost the front at Turn 13 and retired from the first GP of the year.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – 2nd
“Starting off the season like this is a dream! I am really happy and above all I want to thank my team because together we have done a fantastic job to become so competitive. Thanks to all of Ducati and the guys in my team: every so often I make them suffer, but I’m always there when it counts! I finished last season without having a good feeling with my bike and so to do the first race at this pace, with all the regulation changes, means that we have really done a great job. We are only at the start and maybe this won’t be the real situation throughout the season, but we have an excellent base that makes us confident for the upcoming races.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team # 29) – DNF
“Today I had a good feeling and I was able to be quick right from the start. In the early laps I wasn’t even pushing to the limit when I touched the white line in the long right-hander: the bike suddenly went away from me and unfortunately I was unable to do anything to avoid the crash. It was a pity because I think we could have fought for an important result in this race. During the weekend we were always fast and in amongst the leading positions but unfortunately this error of mine took me out of contention. I am however happy with the potential of my Desmosedici GP and I am sure that in Argentina we will again be able to demonstrate how competitive we are.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“We are really satisfied with today’s result. Dovizioso took the new Desmosedici GP to a podium place on the bike’s race debut, conquering the runner-up slot with a great performance. In comparison with the podium here in 2015, for us this result has a completely different meaning, because this year, with the concessions allowed in the rule-book, Ducati raced under exactly the same conditions as Yamaha and Honda, demonstrating how competitive the bike is. It was a pity about Iannone, who was having an exceptional race and who led the first five laps before crashing out at Turn 13 on lap 6. In any case we have begun the championship with a very positive result and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Ducati Corse for the great commitment shown and the work they have done over the last few months.”
Podium finish for Marquez in Qatar, Pedrosa fifth
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started his 2016 campaign in a positive way, climbing the third step of the podium at the MotoGP season opener, with teammate Dani Pedrosa completing the top five.
Marc didn’t get a great start from the front row and found himself fifth at the end of the first lap, behind Iannone, Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Rossi. The Repsol Honda rider overtook Rossi on lap three for fourth and advanced to third a few laps later, when Iannone crashed out. A close battle among the top four riders ensued, with Marquez and Dovizioso tussling over second in the final laps. In the end, Marc was pleased to take a solid and well-earned third-place finish.
Dani, who contrary to his teammate had chosen a soft rear tyre, had started well from row three and then controlled Maverick Viñales from start to finish for fifth position. Like Marquez, Pedrosa was content to bring home decent points at a circuit that had proved challenging for him. Both riders look forward to round two in Argentina in two weeks.
This is the 40th time Marc has stood on the podium since he entered the MotoGP class (an impressive 72,7% of the 55 races he has campaigned thus MotoGP), equalling the number of premier-class podium results achieved by two-time 500cc World Champion Barry Sheene.
"I'm happy with this third place because I know that we gave our all and just two weeks ago we were one second off the pace compared to the other guys on the podium. I want to thank Honda and my team for all the hard work they are doing. The race was faster than we expected and we had a great weekend, because we got 100% out of our performance at a circuit that we find hard. I spent much of the race behind Dovizioso because I couldn't pass him, and it was difficult to make up the ground lost with his better acceleration on the straight. Whenever I got close, I'd lose him again. Although I knew it would be difficult, I made another attempt with 4 laps remaining -but he overtook me on the last lap. I tried again in the last corner but it wasn't possible. I hope that the circuits coming up on the calendar favour us a little more."
"It was a difficult race. I started well but I ran wide at the first corner. Nevertheless, I was only down in fifth or sixth place, which was a good position from which to follow the lead group, but my pace was not good enough and gradually I lost touch. The negative side to this race is the result and the distance from the winner, but the positive is that I learned more about the bike and maybe we can improve for the next race. Physically, I also held up very well. We knew that this was a difficult track for us, but now we must look ahead to Argentina."
VIÑALES EQUALS BEST MOTOGP™ RESULT AT QATAR OPENER
Team Suzuki Press Office – March 20.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales scored a strong sixth position in the opening race of the 2016 MotoGP™ season at Losail International Circuit in Qatar tonight aboard his GSX-RR that equalled his best-ever finish in the premier class.
Team-mate Aleix Espargaró also put-in a strong performance, starting from 15th place on the grid and finally recovering to the 11th at the chequered flag.
Viñales’ start was effective, although the first corner saw him drop into seventh position. His early laps were very close to the top, keeping in contact with the leaders, although he was never able to lap in the 1’55s; the pace that he showed throughout the weekend. This led him to lose a few tenths-of-a-second each lap, which saw him lose contact at the head of the race. But he managed to keep hold of sixth position – that equalled his previous best result in Catalunya and Australia last season - which gives him solid points in the Championship.
Espargaró started his race with a change in the machine he decided with his team after the warm-up session. It was an extreme decision to find more confidence with the set-up, and this finally resulted in a solid race. Starting from the 15th place on the grid, his strategy was to recover as many positions as possible and this finally paid off; his final 11th place is a solid improvement and the information collected in the race gave his team some directions for the next races.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“Finally the result of this first race is positive but not as good as we expected, which has left us a bitter-sweet sensation. Maverick has had an extraordinary weekend, always lapping into the 1’55 bracket, but he couldn’t do the same in race. Maybe the conditions of the track changed, or maybe other reasons, so we now need to further investigate data and see what happened. Aleix had some difficulties, he struggled a lot over the weekend to find a proper feeling and the final result is not what he deserves, although his recovery from 15th to 11th place is remarkable. The winter tests and also the test days here in Qatar proved that we have made good steps forward, we know we can be closer to the top; and now I hope we can get better soon. Last year we were so happy for a sixth place, but now after the positives of the winter tests and how the whole weekend went, the sixth place is not enough for our expectations, so we definitely need to understand how to improve and get closer to the podium.”
“Finally a sixth place is not a bad result, but it is not enough at this point. The whole weekend I had a very good feeling and my race-pace was around 1’55, while in the race I couldn’t make the same. Honestly, I’m not sure why; in the race I couldn’t find a proper feeling and I felt the bike sliding a lot, so we definitely need to see the data and understand what changed and happened. The positive thing is that for the whole weekend we have been very close to the top, maybe in the race we were a little unlucky because the weekend overall was very positive. I can’t wait to go to Argentina and work again on my GSX-RR; we have a lot of potential. If we manage to find better grip and finalise the set-up of the full seamless, for sure we will fight for the top positions. I must thank the Factory and the Team, they are doing a huge job to support me and I am sure that if we keep working hard we will find the best solution.”
“This has been a very hard weekend and the race result reflects this. This afternoon in the warm-up I felt very uncomfortable, so with my Team and the Suzuki Engineers we decided to make a huge change in the bike, and I knew it was a gamble, but for some reason it gave me more confidence. It has been an extreme trial to make me more confident, for sure we will now analyse the data we collected here and test again in Argentina – but the good thing is that after the race we found some interesting hints on how to exploit a direction and this will help us a lot.”
A NICE DÉBUT FOR THE APRILIA RS-GP WHICH, WITH VERY FEW KILOMETRES UNDER ITS BELT AND IN THE VERY EARLY STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT, IS IN THE POINTS STRAIGHT AWAY WITH BAUTISTA
ROMANO ALBESIANO: “WE HAVE AN EXCELLENT BIKE WITH WHICH WE CAN GO FAR”
Losail (Qatar), 20 March 2016 – With very few kilometres under its belt, the Aprilia RS-GP 2016, in its maiden race, confirms the quality of the project and, ridden expertly by Alvaro Bautista, crosses the wire taking its first championship points in the Qatar GP. The first race for the Italian V4 brought with it plenty of questions on how such a young project would hold up. Bautista, welcomed in the garage by a long applause from the entire team, dispelled all doubts after a race where, after contact on the first corner which consequently made him run on, he followed, regained positions and finished in thirteenth place (for three championship points). Along with the pace demonstrated, this is an excellent start for this new season.
His teammate on the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Stefan Bradl, was also moving up through the pack and, after catching up Alvaro, had already moved into the points zone when a sliding crash finished his race early. But what counts is that the 2016 RS-GP demonstrated that it is a project with great potential, on which Aprilia's MotoGP adventure can be built.
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“We are very happy! Today we achieved a goal that seemed at times to be truly difficult. We got through the entire weekend without any technical problems and we took Alvaro's bike into battle on the track against extremely developed bikes, even lapping at a very good pace. We obviously have a long way to go, but not all the work in terms of performance has begun yet. I am therefore very happy. The bike is really proving to be an excellent base on which we will go far”.
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
“This was an exceptional début if we consider how few kilometres this bike has put in, or where we were in the last tests. Aprilia has done a truly exceptional job and Alvaro believed in us, giving his best. And let's not forget that, compared to last year, we lost any advantage of more petrol or tyres. Everything tells us that we have very good potential on which to build our growth”.
“It was important to us to finish the race, but it was not a walk in the park. I managed to start well, but on the first corner there was contact with another rider. That made me run wide and I found myself in last place with a lot of ground to make up. From that moment I set my pace. In the first laps I had a strange feeling with the grip and that is something we will need to check. From mid-race I began to gain on the other riders until engaging in a great battle with Miller and Laverty. In any case, thirteenth place is a good result for us. I want to thank the team, Aprilia and the partners to this project. They all worked nonstop to get to this first race”.
“At the start I felt good. My feeling was getting better and better every lap and consequently so were my times. The crash is hard to explain. We need to analyse the data closely to figure out what caused it. My feeling is that there was a loss of grip for both tyres in turn 15. In any case, the start was positive. I managed to get my time below 1'57 in the race, so that means that my confidence is growing lap by lap. Now it will be important to take maximum advantage of the data collected and to have a good race weekend in Argentina”.
Contrasting fortunes for ASPAR riders in Losail
Sunday, 20 March 2016 21:19
Eugene Laverty picks up fantastic four points after taking twelfth as Yonny Hernández retires with a mechanical fault
At 9pm local time the MotoGP World Championship finally fired up in Qatar with the first race of the season under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. The early running was made by Andrea Iannone but after he slid off on the fifth lap it was left to his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso to do battle with Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo took control on the ninth lap and never looked back as he eventually opened up a narrow but crucial gap over the rest, making his escape on lap sixteen and converting a 0.4 second lead to two seconds by the chequered flag, clocking the fastest lap of the race two laps from the end. Behind him the battle raged for the podium, with Dovizioso holding off a late lunge from Márquez for second as Rossi missed out.
In difficult conditions only fifteen riders actually managed to finish the race, including the excellent Eugene Laverty. The Irishman received a new engine on Thursday and after spending a couple of days adjusting the settings he and his crew made a breakthrough last night that gave him confidence going into the race. After establishing a strong and consistent pace in warm-up the ASPAR rider overcame some early race issues to battle with Bautista and Miller for a hard-fought twelfth place. However, it wasn't to be Yonny Hernández's night again, the Colombian who had already had to deal with three defective tyres during practice, broke down on the second lap with a broken sensor.
12th Eugene Laverty: “We made big progress here compared to preseason, suddenly on Saturday we had a big breakthrough and today we achieved a positive result. I had a problem at the start with a bit of wheelspin off the line because I was on a dirty part of the track and then on lap one Loris Baz ran me wide off the track. So it was a disastrous start but after that we managed to come back well. I had a good fight with Miller and Bautista and I think we can be happy to start the season with a twelfth place. The next race is Argentina, I rode there for the first time last season and already it became one of my favourite tracks. It really suits my riding style so I am happy to be leaving here with some confidence in the bag, the team is working fantastic and I think we can go to Argentina now to fight for the top ten.”
Yonny Hernández (DNF): “It is a shame to have finished the weekend like this. I could see in the warm-up my pace was good and I was able to follow guys like Rossi and Smith, I felt strong. Then I had a crash, which was my mistake, but I knew why it had happened so I still felt confident for the race. I focused hard on getting a good start and sticking with the guys in front of me in the first part of the race. Everything was going to plan and my feeling was fantastic but then the engine stopped. It is a shame it ended this way because we have worked hard all weekend to find the best setting for the bike but luck was not on our side here. The positive thing is my pace from warm-up and my start to the race. We leave Qatar with a good base that should allow us to be fighting for top ten finishes soon.”
Scott Redding ends up tenth the first round of 2016 Motogp Season at Doha (Qatar)
The first round of 2016 MotoGP season at the Losail Circuit in Doha, Qatar, ended up with tenth place of Scott Redding who managed to gain a good Top 10 after a pretty hard weekend.
Starting from 12th position after struggling in the Q2 he had easily won on Friday, Scott dind’t got off to a good start. At first corner, infact, the British rider lost two position due to a contact that led him off course but he managed to react quickly waging a good battle with Aleix Espargaro who has passed on the final straight of lap three.
Redding’s race pace looked good with a couple of laps around 56.1. As a result Scott tried to catch Bradley Smith reducing the gap to four tenths of a second at mid point. But the British rider was not able to increase his lap-time and in the last three laps he has preferred to safeguard the tenth place.
The first Top 10 on his new Octo Pramac Yakhnich Desmosedici GP earns Scott 6 points in the world championship standings.
10° - Scott Redding - Octo Pramac Yakhnich #45
I have mixed feelings after this first race. I'm happy but I expected more. "Disappointed" is not the right adjective because we had a pretty hard weekend with two crashes and bad qualifying. After the tests we thought we were in good shape but obviously we were missing something. Before the race I would have accepted a Top 8 or Top 10 in light of this difficult weekend and in the end we hit the goal. We can learn from this race, even from the start where I was not brilliant losing some positions. What I would like in Argentina? To find back the feeling of test. Here I found it not completely even if in the end things did not go so badly.
Mission accomplished for Miller and Rabat in Qatar
Losail, Qatar – 20 March 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat accomplished their pre-race goal of finishing inside the points at the end of tonight’s MotoGP encounter at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Racing Michelin tyres and the new unified software for the first time, Miller and Rabat gained crucial experience in the 22-lap race, with both overcoming a difficult practice and qualifying to finish 14th and 15th respectively.
Australian Miller was unfortunate to lose a hard fought and deserved 12th place when a small mistake on the final lap allowed Eugene Laverty and Alvaro Bautista through.
Miller was delighted though to pass a severe examination of his physical condition after completing a full race distance for the first time since injuring his right leg in a pre-season training accident.
Rabat gained precious experience on his Honda RC213V debut and a solid ride inside the top 15 has given him good reason to be optimistic of a stronger challenge when the World Championship resumes in Argentina on April 3.
Jack Miller: 14th
“I finished the race and learnt a lot, so that’s the main positive to take away from tonight. It is the first time I’ve done full race distance since my pre-season injury and my leg didn’t cause me any problems and I am really happy with my physical condition. I was having a good battle with Laverty and Bautista but I made a small mistake on the last lap that let them back through, so that was a shame. It was good experience and now we can look forward to Argentina where I had a strong result a year ago.
Tito Rabat: 15th
“It wasn’t an easy race but to finish inside the points gives us something to build on for the early part of the season. I’ve got to say a huge thanks to my crew because they have worked so hard in these last days to improve my confidence with the bike. The gap to the winner is bigger than we expected but this is all part of the learning process in what is the top class in the world. We gained a lot of experience and information here and I have a much better understanding of what I need to be faster. I will keep pushing with the same effort as always. Nobody said it was going to be easy but it is harder than I thought. We are here to learn and improve and I have no doubt I will do it.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The race weekend here in Qatar and the pre-season has been a little complicated for us, so to see Jack and Tito both finish in the points is a good reward for their hard work and the dedication of the team. We need to improve and give them both a better feeling with the bike and the target in Argentina will be to start where they finished tonight, so we can see some clear progress. We have to be more competitive but I can’t fault the effort of Jack, Tito and the team. We all stay motivated and confident that stronger results will come."
Strong opening performance by Tech3 pair under the floodlights in Qatar
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro kicked off the 2016 MotoGP season with a positive finish of 7th after a challenging race. The young Spaniard shot off the starting grid from 9th position and after a frantic first lap, he crossed the line two places back. From here, the resolute 25 year old stuck into his formidable race pace as he looked to climb through the competitive field. By lap six he had closed down and passed his teammate whilst he continued riding consistent times before overtaking Hector Barbera for 7th at the halfway point. Espargaro pushed onwards, yet in the final seven laps he suffered with visor issues and had difficulty seeing, but he persevered and diced with his teammate right up to the chequered flag. Eventually, he crossed the line in front, clinching the top independent position.
On the other side of the pit box, Bradley Smith delivered a notable performance today after completing the race just a blink of an eye behind his teammate by only 0.023 of a second. The young British rider began the sprint from 11th, but moved up one place by the end of the first lap. Then, he quickly locked into his race pace and homed in on the positions in front. By the mid point, Smith was in 9th and remained with Espargaro as the race distance progressed. On the final lap, the pair exchanged passes, with the British star finishing right behind his teammate by a hair's breadth. His effort today strongly outlines his desire to win the leading satellite honours which he will fight for again at the next Grand Prix in Argentina.
7th / +18.629 / 22 laps. Championship: 7th / 9 points
"I am satisfied with the result today mainly because, looking back on how we finished the season in 2015, I was not entirely comfortable with riding last year's M1. This year we have started differently and my feelings are better on this bike, plus I am convinced that I can do much more than before. Today the race was not easy, because I made some mistakes, especially at the start which didn't go to plan. I was stuck behind some riders at the beginning and then I lost Maverick and Dani, which is a pity because at the end they had a very similar rhythm to me. It was a long GP but I am happy with the outcome especially after the battle at the end with my teammate. I was in front of Brad for nearly the whole race, with a gap of about one second. I controlled this amount of time and I was feeling comfortable but seven laps before the end, I encountered an issue where the sweat from my forehead dripped onto my visor and with the lights in Qatar, it dazzled me. Bradley caught 0.6 of a second in one lap and then right at the end he overtook. I fought back and retook him again then, but luckily I was first at the end of the race. For sure, Argentina will be a bigger challenge compared to here because we have had a lot of testing time in Qatar. In addition, I struggled at Rio Hondo last year so it will be tricky anyway, especially if the conditions are hot, yet we will give nothing but 100% just like we have done here."
8th / +18.652 / 22 laps. Championship: 8th / 8 points
"I am pleased with the race result today, but the start was a complete disaster, so from there onwards, I knew that things could only get better! I tried to make a few passes in the opening laps and found myself in the position with the other satellite riders. Then I tried to get into my rhythm and aimed to not make any mistakes. In addition, I wanted to understand as much as I could with the new setup for the race and how the bike behaved in the 22 laps. As time ticked down, I got into a good fight with my teammate, plus he was really strong on the brakes into the first corner. Before that, I passed Barbera when he made a mistake and after having finally an open track in front of me, I got some confidence, put my head down and went for it. It was fun chasing Pol with three laps to go and it's been a while since we've had a really tough battle like that. On the last lap, I made the pass into the final corner, but the fact that he is four kilos lighter than me made the difference on the way to the line! It's been a very tough weekend and we started on a difficult note on Thursday and Friday, yet the team did a fantastic job and kept on working hard. We stayed focused and in the end we came away with 8th position, which is already one place better than last year. In addition, we are only one point away from our target which is to be the top satellite bike and so we will try to rectify that in Argentina."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager :
“I am very happy that we have started the championship in the way that we did today. To be honest, we were all wondering what was going to happen and how the race would be with the new electronics and tyre manufacturer, even though we did some simulations. It was a bit of a grey area for everyone but I think our two guys did a really strong job. The start was not incredible but it was solid enough for Pol and Brad to be in decent positions. Then they pushed and passed quite a few guys, so in the end I think we ended up where we should be. There was quite a tough battle between our boys and at one stage I was a bit worried! However, they showed respect to each other and just 0.023 between the two shows that we have a very competitive team. This is a good way to start, and for Pol to claim the first independent rider means a lot to us, but to be first and second in the satellite standings is great. I am very happy for Pol because he had a tough time last year but worked hard in the winter, so it’s a positive beginning for him. Next up is Argentina but clearly, we are happy to have completed our first 2016 race. Honestly, I didn’t expect us to be this competitive, yet, this is a great sign and I’m sure that we will be closer and closer in the next few rounds.”
Barbera reaches his goal and finishes ninth in Qatar
The 2016 MotoGP World Championship has started in a very positive way for Hector Barbera and Avintia Racing. The Spanish rider, who started from the eighth place of the grid, made a great race to reach the chequered flag in ninth position and get his first seven points of the season. The race was hard and he had two big moments that prevented him to fight for a better place, but overall the result has been positive and gives the team confidence for the next few races.
The result was not so positive for Loris Baz, who did a great start from the 16th place to 12th position, but on the eighth lap he crashed after losing the front of his Ducati in turn two. But the Avintia Racing rider is confident on improving his performances in the next two rounds in Argentina and Texas.
Héctor Barberá - P9
“We have reached the goal we had before the race which was to finish in the top ten, but today I wanted to get something more. But we have to be realistic and know that we are fighting against factory bikes, and this is not an excuse. Now we are closer to the front and we can get better results. During the weekend I’ve been tense because it was the first race, we did not work as well as in the test and I made many mistakes. I’m the one who has to be more calm and transmit it to the team, but I’ve been nervous because I’ve seen myself close to the front and with more chances to get a good result. The championship just started and our real goal is to be in the top ten at every race, and when we have a really good chance, to fight for the top five. It was a shame, because I made a mistake riding behind Pol Espargaro and then Smith overtook me. Today we had the chance to fight for the seventh place, but nevertheless, to be the third Ducati is something positive.”
Loris Baz - DNF
“I was doing a good race, and step by step I was building my confidence to get a good pace. I was quite comfortable with Aleix, but I had some lack of front grip going into the corners and also traction getting out of them. I tried to change my lines to get the maximum of the bike, but going into the second corner I lost the front and crashed. I don’t know why, but it’s clear that I reached the limit. The first race went better than we expected and there are some positive things, as Hector had been showing. We have to keep working in the same line from the winter and I’m sure that in Argentina, a track I really like, we can do much better. We have 17 more races ahead and, although is always better to start the season with a good result, we have to be positive. I’m not a rider who crashes often during the races, and I feel sorry for my team that worked very hard during the weekend.”
CRUTCHLOW CRASHES OUT IN QATAR
It was a disappointing night for LCR Honda on the opening night of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship, as Cal Crutchlow crashed out on the seventh lap of the Grand Prix of Qatar.
It had been a tough weekend for the Brit as he and his crew tried to work their way around the electronics issue, but despite positive steps forward during Saturday’s qualifying, they blighted his efforts once more in Sunday’s race.
The team will analyse the vital data they have accumulated over the first weekend of a long, 18-round championship, with the hope they uncover something before the second event of the season in Argentina in two weeks’ time.
#35 Cal Crutchlow - DNF
“I’m extremely disappointed, but that’s an understatement to be honest. We had some electronic problems during the weekend and again in the race. The bike didn’t have a clue where we were on the circuit. It seemed to be reading the wrong sectors, so in the last sector it thought I was in the first sector and so on. This was why I crashed”.
“I’m disappointed for my team because we all worked hard all weekend and I felt we could have got in amongst the front five that got away, but I just couldn’t accelerate onto the straight. I don’t know why it was, but we will investigate later and hope to be back fast in Argentina.”
Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Honda Team Principal): “It's a shame for Cal's crash tonight as he was running at a strong pace and improving each lap, closing in on Vinales and Pedrosa. However, we are still having some issues with the new electronics and this caused Cal's crash. We are working very hard with HRC to overcome these issues and find a direction. Now we look ahead to Argentina where Cal had a great race last year and scored a podium! Thanks to all our sponsors for their great support as always”.
LORENZO CLAIMS VICTORY AS MICHELIN MAKES ITS RETURN TO MOTOGP™
Michelin’s first race back in the premier class of motorcycle racing after a seven-year absence has been marked by a record-breaking performance by World Champion Jorge Lorenzo as he stormed to victory at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this evening.
Starting from pole position, Yamaha’s Lorenzo got the hole-shot at the start of the 22-lap race, but was passed on the first lap by the Ducati’s of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso. The Spaniard stayed in-touch with the pair and after Iannone unfortunately crashed out on lap-five as his tyre slid on the white line, Lorenzo closed down Dovizioso and passed him four-laps later. The triple MotoGP World Champion then set about increasing his lead as a three-way battle for the remaining podium places developed behind him between Dovizioso, Honda’s Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi also on a Yamaha.
Lorenzo’s tyre selection was a hard MICHELIN Power Slick on the front, paired with a soft MICHELIN Power Slick on the rear; this was different to the choice of his team-mate Rossi who went for the hard front and medium rear, the same as Marquez, whilst Dovizioso chose the soft front tyre matched with a soft rear. Lorenzo’s choice served him well as he constantly set the fastest laps of the race, before breaking the circuit lap record – which had stood since Casey Stoner set it in 2008 – on lap-16, he then bettered that on lap-20 with a time of 1’54.543 – 0.226-seconds better than Stoner’s – showing the durability and consistency of the Michelin tyres. Lorenzo crossed the line in a race-time of 42’28.542, over seven-seconds quicker than last-year’s race.
Behind the winner, the battle for the remaining positions on the podium began to heat up as the race drew to a close, with the three protagonists all in contention for the two places, Marquez made a successful pass on Dovizioso on lap-18, but the Ducati-man fought back and re-took second position on lap-20. The pair swapped places again, with Rossi in close attendance looking for a way through, before Dovizioso took the chequered flag in second, from Marquez in third and Rossi a close fourth.
Today’s race was watched by 11,737 fans at trackside – the biggest race-day crowd at the Qatari circuit – and they were treated to a race that not only saw Lorenzo’s record-breaking performance and the battle for the podium, but hotly contested encounters all through the field. Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had a race-long tussle with Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales to take fifth, with Pol Espargaro narrowly beating his team-mate Bradley Smith to take seventh – and the position of First Independent Team Rider. Hector Barbera on a Ducati took ninth place with another Ducati, this time of Scott Redding, rounding out the top-ten.
Michelin and the MotoGP paddock will now take the long journey across the Equator and deep into the southern hemisphere as the championship travels to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina for round two on Sunday 3rd April, a race which is part of a double-headed fly-away tour, culminating in a trip to Austin in Texas the following weekend.
Jorge Lorenzo – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP:
“I am very happy to win the first race of Michelin’s comeback. I have been really pleased with the work that they have done to improve the front tyre and the rear was able to maintain the pace for the whole race. I want to congratulate Michelin for this return and I am very happy to get the 25-points today.”
Pascal Couasnon – Director of Michelin Motorsport:
“This has been a very important weekend for Michelin, seven-years away has seemed like a very long time! MotoGP has evolved a lot and we came here proud of what we have done, but also quite cautious. The results over the weekend have been very good and we are pleased with what happened here today. The riders and tyres were very fast and constant, and when we want to translate this from the track to the street, this is the kind of performance we can use.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director and Director of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:
“This is our first race after seven-years away and this has been a very pleasing result for us. The lap-record by Jorge Lorenzo on lap-20 and the whole race faster by more than seven-seconds over last year’s – with the same conditions – has been a confirmation that we are heading in the right direction. We are thrilled with this result and with the improvements we have made through the winter. We are now looking forward to the next race and the rest of the season.”
Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:
“For the first race of the season I was very pleased. The tyre choice was different from rider to rider and all types of tyres worked quite well. At the end the lap-times were very good and so far everything has gone well, I hope we can continue with the rest of the season like that.”