Press releases from the Moto2 & Moto3 teams after the first race of the season at Qatar:
PODIUM FOR MARTIN IN QATAR AS DIGGIA IS 8th AFTER GREAT RECOVERY
Jorge Martin has taken third in his debut race with Team Del Conca Gresini Moto3 after an exciting performance at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The 18-lap encounter that opened up the 2017 Moto3 title chase also saw a great display of riding by Fabio Di Giannantonio, who made his way up to the front from fifteenth on the grid, eventually crossing the line in eighth place.
Starting from pole, Martin was able to maintain his position for the first two laps; even when he dropped the lead, the young Spaniard never lost touch with the front of the field as he found himself in the usual heavily-populated group of riders battling for honours. Despite losing a little bit of ground in the final stages, he managed to bridge the gap with the top-4 and get back in contention for a podium finish, which he sealed at the chequered flag.
Di Giannantonio put together a great recovery from row five: with some competitive lap-times – one of which turned out to be the fastest one of the whole race - and a great race craft, the Italian rider went past several opponents up to the sharp-end of the field, as he briefly took the lead of the encounter as well. In the last-lap slipstream lottery, Di Giannantonio ended up with an eighth-place finish and some great confidence heading into the next race of the year.
It was a masterful performance for both riders, as team manager Fausto Gresini points out: “It was not an easy race but surely one to remember, as things could have gone wrong at any moment. Martin did a remarkable job especially when the grip dropped down: we knew it could have happened but he was ready for it. Fabio was also great in recovering so many positions; he did not have enough track-time here so we had to take a bit of a gamble in terms of bike set-up, but it paid off. We leave Qatar in a really happy mood.”
3º - JORGE MARTIN #88
“I was really quick in the early part of the race and I felt I had something more than my opponents; I tried to pull away with Joan (Mir), but that wasn’t possible. In the second part of the race things started to become less predictable: I started to lose some grip and dropped down to 6th/7th place, but then I was able to bridge the gap to the lead again. I push as hard as I could to stay in touch with Joan but McPhee made a couple of mistakes and that allowed him to pull away that bit. We leave Qatar with a pole position, a lot of points and a podium, so I’m happy!”
8º - FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #21
I’m really happy. Given how things went this winter, today we did an incredible race. Last year I was 32 seconds away from the winner, today only 0.8s. We did the fastest lap, which is a great sign considering our performance in free practice. We will aim for more next time!
Grand Prix of Qatar: Race
If there was a rider with the devil inside, this rider was Romano Fenati who has ridden above all. Above the rust of seven months far from the races, above a bike which was "almost" perfect. Above the other Italian riders, Romano was the first of them. Above himself to improve always. External overtakes, braking to the limit and the certainty to be able to build a stratospheric Championship. Great rider, great wrist, 11 points at home. The Championship is long and when it is necessary to reduce losses, it is correct to do that as he did! The vote this time comes from the team: a 10! The fate obliged Jules Danilo to start back on the grid. The French rider struggled with all his strenght by recovering 8 positions and closing close to the point zone.
Romano Fenati: "I am really happy of this result. I have been out of races for a long time and my concern was to have difficulties in arriving till the end of the race from a physical point of view. At the end the rear gave up and I did a small mistake at turn 10 of the last lap. Now we have to stay concentrated and work to do better. Next round Argentina, on a track I really like and there we will give the maximum".
Jules Danilo: "The last ten days were a little bit complicated, I am not feeling completely comfortable with the bike. We have to improve the feeling with the front and find the right way to make it turn more. Obviously the race is not the right moment to test the set up. Now we have some time to understand how to fix the configuration for Argentina".
Mahindra Hopes Dashed by Last-Lap Tumble
Losail, Qatar, 26 March 2017: Mahindra Racing’s hopes of scoring points in the first GP of 2017 were dashed under the Qatari floodlights, when big-hearted class rookie Marco Bezzecchi crashed out after fighting his way to the front of a fierce group. He had started the last of 18 laps in 12th place, leading the second group.
The 18-year-old Italian rookie, riding for the French CIP team in his first GP as a full-time rider, had overcome some fast company in the tight chasing pack, which was circulating at the same pace as the leaders. He had been the best-placed of the six Mahindra-mounted riders, dropping to the back after a fall. Bezzecchi would remount to finish 25th.
Back in action after the sole Indian constructor’s best season in 2016, other Mahindra Racing riders suffered various difficulties. This was largely due to poor starting positions, after all qualifying sessions had been cancelled due to rain and circuit flooding on Saturday. As a result, grid positions were taken from Free Practice times, denying riders the chance to concentrate on fast lap times rather than machine set-up.
The best finisher on an MGP3O was Jakub Kornfeil, who crossed the line in 20th on the SaxoPrint Peugeot, wearing the badge of Mahindra’s sister-company.
New-for-2017 Aspar Mahindra Team rider Lorenzo Dalla Porta finished 23rd, one place behind second CIP Mahindra rider Manuel Pagliani. The second Aspar Mahindra rider, Albert Arenas, crashed out unhurt on the fifth lap after joining the battle for points and setting his personal best lap of the race.
There was encouragement for the team in spite of the disappointing results. The Mahindra MGP3O has been completely revised, and has proved both fast and reliable in preseason tests and at the first GP, showing the core strength of the package.
Marco Bezzecchi, CIP – 25th
“It was great to be fighting with Bulega and Bastianini. I was able to stay with them through all the corners but they had just a little bit more down the straight. If I am with the group, I can stay and fight with them – no matter who. A shame to crash, I was first in the group and I went for the inside. At this track the kerb is a little bit down, I touched it and went off. It’s a disappointment to fall, but I know I can now fight with these guys. I just need to qualify better.”
Mufaddal Choonia, Mahindra Racing CEO
“We know where we need to work, and we need to work fast. At least the bike has shown that it is strong, as Marco proved. He was in a group with a similar pace to the leaders, but they got split due to bad grid positions. The bike is promising – a clear step forward from last year. I hope that we can now help the riders to make the most of it.”
Guevara is forced to abandon the fight for the podium as he gets involved in the crash of another rider in the Qatar race
The first race of the 2017 Moto3 World Championship was held today, at the circuit of Losail.
After the cancellation of the QP because of bad weather on Saturday, this afternoon the riders got out on track for a 30-minute warm up. A brief rain shower before the session left some wet spots along the track. Guevara and his crew decided to wait till the last ten minutes at disposal, when the conditions of the tarmac were improving.
In the race, Juanfran started from the ninth position on the grid and, in few turns, he joined the first group. Guevara confirmed a very competitive pace, fighting for the lead and also reaching the first placement. On the thirteenth lap, the rider from Lorca got involved in the crash of another rider and he was forced to retire, putting an unfortunate ending to the first GP of the season.
#58 Juanfran Guevara: not classified
“Today in the warm up we couldn’t try out some modifications to the setting, the track conditions weren’t favourable to check some improvements that we were considering. In the race, the performance of the bike was great: we had a strong pace, which was giving us the chance to fight for the victory. We had a good start and we also took the leading position of the race during a couple of laps: I felt smooth on top of my KTM machine. Unfortunately the ending of this weekend wasn’t the one we were hoping for. However, we proved that we can be in the front group: we still have 17 races to keep fighting for important results. We did a great job in this preseason and now we look forwards to Argentina, with high hopes and the desire to do well.”
NAVARRO CRASHES OUT OF QATAR MOTO2 RACE
It was a short debut Moto2 race for Federal Oil Gresini’s Jorge Navarro today at Losail International Circuit, as the Spanish rider was forced to pull out of the encounter with 11 laps to go after crashing unhurt at turn 7.
Moments before the crash, Navarro went wide at turn one and did his utmost not to lose too much ground but eventually ended up falling off his Kalex Honda machine #9. The team will now analyse the data and come up with a plan to attack the next Grand Prix of the season in Argentina, which takes place in a fortnight’s time.
Team Manager Fausto Gresini said: “It’s definitely a pity to finish the race with a crash, given the hard work both Jorge and his crew have done during the weekend. This is part of racing, though, and part of his racing experience, all he needs is just a bit more time. Jorge needs to stay focused, the team will help him out and results will come. I’m not worried one bit.”
“It’s been a difficult weekend for us. We tried something different this morning during warm up but it didn’t really make much of a difference. My feeling with the bike is not there yet and during the race I did all I could, but I hit false neutral at the end of the main straight and ended up wide. I tried to make up as much ground as possible, but I lost the front not long afterwards. It’s a shame to come out empty handed as the goal was to finish the race. We have to stay together and work hard in order to be ready for Argentina.”
FIRST POINTS FOR THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 IN QATAR
In Moto3, in the first race of the season 2017, Andrea Migno is fighting for the podium til the last lap and scores the sixth place. Top15 also for Nicolò Bulega, 14th.
Losail (Qatar), March 26th 2017 - Andrea Migno, fighting in the leading group right from the start til the last corner, is sixth under the checkered flag at the GP of Qatar. The young talent of the SKY Racing Team VR46, seventh on the grid, is for the first time this season in the Top10, first KTM after a race in the front group.
Points also for his teammate Nicolò Bulega, who started from the 13th box of the grid due to the cancellation of the qualifying session. After a difficult start, Nicolò was unable to mend the gap with the leading group and crossed the finishing line in 14th place.
PABLO NIETO - Team Manager
Andrea did a really good job and I'm very pleased with how he managed the whole weekend. He fought in the leading group until the last corner, close to the podium, first KTM under the checkered flag. Unfortunately Nicolò, due to the starting position on the grid, was unable to recover the gap from the first guys, but it's only the first race and we can recover.
I'm very happy with how the season began: I battled throughout the race with the strongest guys. Due to the weather, it was a difficult weekend and this morning I struggled in the warm up. The track was very dirty with no grip. During the race I found a good pace and I was able to battling in the front positions.
Unfortunately, the cancellation of qualifying compromised the race. I started for the middle of the group and I could not reduce the gap with the first group immediately after the start. I was losing something in terms of speed, but I fought for the points until the finishing line.
Comeback King: McPhee fights through to a stunning P2 in Qatar
Incredible first race rewards the BTT with a debut podium
Patience can be a virtue in practice, before the lights go out for the race and the flag demands a payoff. Patience was the plan for British Talent Team rider John McPhee leading up to the team's debut - and the Scotsman put in a stunner once the flag dropped, taking a podium first time out.
Staying in station throughout the first laps, the Brit began a fight back with a fastest lap as he made it up into P11 with 16 to go. 14 to go saw the McPhee up to seventh, before he was into the top five next time over the line.
A brave move up into the lead for the first time with twelve laps left saw McPhee announce his presence as a real podium contender as the group tousled for position. Back at the front with seven to go and then fighting it out with the frontrunners to the end, the BTT rider eventually crossed the line in second - defending the position to perfection over the last lap.
On the podium first time out and only just behind winner Joan Mir, the new British Talent Team is off to a flier ahead of the debut of the British Talent Cup next year. Next stop: Argentina and Termas de Rio Hondo, from the 7th to 9th of April.
John McPhee, P2: “I can’t thank everyone enough, honestly! The team and everyone behind me. I’ve been given this opportunity and I’m trying to make the most of it so that’s the best way to start off the season. All race the bike was so fast, I felt really strong in the group. We ticked all the boxes in preseason testing and we knew we could be strong, even if the weekend’s not been the best, position-wise. I stuck to the plan and now it’s paid off so I’m absolutely delighted!”
Canet confirms progress with fourth place finish in Qatar
Spanish rider achieves a solid result and comes close to finishing opening round on the podium. Enea Bastianini, sixteenth, recovers from run-off to finish at Losail.
The Estrella Galicia 0,0 team took part in the first race of the Moto3 World Championship on Sunday, as the Qatar Grand Prix got the 2017 campaign underway. After weather issues earlier in the weekend, the race began on time with the asphalt at the Losail International Circuit in good condition.
Aron Canet started from eighth on the grid and battled with a large group of riders to place inside the Top 10 in the initial stages of the race. However, he launched an attack as the contest entered into its final third, and was second with two laps remaining. In a battle for favourable slipstreams, he dropped down two positions but was able to defend fourth place on his exit from the final corner.
Bastianini was hindered by his starting far down on the grid. However, the Italian fought to move up the order and climbed to twelfth at one point.Unfortunately, when it seemed that he had a place in the points secured, a run-off dropped him to seventeenth. He would regain one position, to place sixteenth in his first race for Estrella Galicia 0,0.
"Aron Canet has undergone a great change"
"Our evaluation of Aron Canet's race is very, very good; I think he has confirmed how competitive he was in the preseason. We missed out on the win or the podium, as sometimes happens on the last laps in Qatar, but more important than that is that Aaron has undergone a great change and is now more consistent. Our first goal was to finish in the top five, and we did that. He has done a great job and we are have high hopes for him for this season. We very motivated for the next Grand Prix in Argentina."
"With Enea Bastianini, we can see that he has great potential and we are continuing to work with him so that in practice he can be more competitive. We want to give him a perfect setup work so that he can adapt to our method of working. His place today isn't where he belongs, but we will continue working so that he gets up to the top positions. The potential is there, but both the team and the rider must work to improve in practice."
"The start of the race was difficult because I had trouble attacking"
"I am satisfied with the feeling I had with the bike in the race, especially in the final part with the tyres worn down. As happened to me last year, we must work on our feeling with fresh tyres, because I need to improve this in order to allow me to get stronger when cornering. Because of this, the start of the race was difficult because I had to attack in order to overtake other riders, and in the end I was relegated to fighting in the second group.
"I came out of the last corner fourth and had hoped to get on the podium, but it wasn't to be"
"I think I've taken a big step forward over the last year. I rode with the front group and controlled the situation, so to speak. We lacked rear grip. I was able to take the straight behind riders in their slipstream, but I had a hard time overtaking. That's what happened at the end when I tried to pass Jorge [Martín]. I used the strategy of staying in the group, staying away from the front riders in case there were any crashes. I came out of the last corner fourth and had hoped to get on the podium, but it wasn't to be. In any case, we are very satisfied because we have fulfilled our objective, which was to contest the race in the lead group; We will continue learning and adding points to our tally."
Strong start to 2017 for Vierge after powering to 9th in Qatar
Tech3 Racing Team rider Xavi Vierge produced a determined display under the floodlights to seize a solid top ten finish as he outlined his intentions for the 2017 Moto2 season. The young Spaniard began the sprint from 8th on the grid and quickly set into a firm and consistent pace which saw him remain in the highly competitive pack. Eventually, after pushing non-stop, Vierge met the chequered flag in 9th, but just 0.012 behind Lorenzo Baldassarri after a nail-biting dash to the flag. Meanwhile, Remy Gardner’s race debut on the Mistral 610 was unfortunately cut short after another rider hit him on the frantic opening lap. Nevertheless, the young Australian will seek to fully bounce back at the next round in Argentina in a fortnight.
Position: 9th - Championship: 9 - Points: 7
“In general, this weekend went very positively for me and I feel that we have started the season really well with this ninth place finish and we can go home feeling satisfied. I had two or three issues during this entire event but the Tech3 crew worked hard and they found the solutions quite quickly, which I am more than pleased about. I began the race a bit higher up on the grid than last year, but I need to work a bit more on the traction in order to make another step in front during the GP. Thanks again to the guys for their work and I am looking forward to getting back on the bike in Argentina."
Position: DNF - Championship: Not classified
“It was a disappointing day and I know that I wouldn’t have been taken out if we had started further up the field. It’s a real shame about the weather and that we weren’t able to ride yesterday so I couldn’t improve my grid position. Anyway, the positive is that I had a great start and the first two thirds of the lap went well, and I think I was up to 15th before I was hit by another rider. I’ve got to pick myself up now and then focus on the Argentina race. I thought that we could have sealed a positive result to close the weekend well, so it’s a big shame that it ended up this way, but I am more determined for the next round."
Hervé Poncharal - Team Manager
"It has been a very long wait until today when the Moto2 season finally kicked off and it’s great to be back at the track after the lengthy absence. The top ten was the target for Xavi, and he ended up in 9th so we are all pleased with the result and his performance. As usual, he had a great start, put his head down and fought all race long. He got into a group of really strong riders, that featured Quartararo, Marini, Baldassarri, Aegerter and Kent, and I’m delighted that he finished in the middle of this pack in 9th. The result is a great reward for him and the team as it’s vital to score some points in the first event so that we can leave for the next round with a positive feeling. For sure he wanted more, but 9th in the opening GP is super, especially if you look at who he finished ahead of and we are starting the championship in the way that we wanted to. Unfortunately, on the other side of the garage, Remy, who we have a lot of faith in and who we believe is going to become a strong rider in the very near future, was hit from behind by another competitor. This is highly frustrating because the most important thing for him was to finish the race and get some experience. Nevertheless, it was a great day for Xavi and the next one will be better for Remy."
Fast Franco scores stunning maiden Moto2 victory in Qatar
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli confirmed his status as a contender for the Moto2 World Championship with a stunning victory in tonight’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Morbidelli was untouchable in scoring a career first Moto2 win in the 20-lap opening race at the Losail International Circuit.
The 22-year-old Italian described his victory as “amazing” as he was swamped in jubilant celebrations by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.
Morbidelli made a superb start from pole position and although headed briefly by Swiss rival Tom Lüthi on lap two the result was never in doubt.
On lap three Morbidelli regained the lead and set a relentless, race winning pace and set his fastest lap of the race on lap six to take control of the opening race of the 2017 season.
It was a brilliant performance that saw Morbidelli maximise his talent with victory after eight previous podiums.
While Morbidelli cruised in the final laps to win by 2.68s his Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Álex Márquez could not capitalise on his front row start and finished fifth.
Márquez settled in third place, which he held for eight laps, but in the cool and breezy conditions he could not maintain the pace and slipped back to fifth on lap ten.
Morbidelli’s superb winning performance in his 54th Moto2 start was no surprise after his impressive speed in practice and preseason testing at Qatar.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st
"This first victory is a great sensation after all this time, it is really amazing that I confirm that I am capable of winning races. My pace was really strong and I was pulling away from the others once I got ahead of Lüthi and had a clear track, so it did not feel like a difficult race. The main thing today was to bring to the track what I had in my mind, that I could win here after such a strong preseason of testing and practice in Qatar.”
Álex Márquez: 5th
“It was a drama free race but I struggled a lot from mid-race because from the warm-up I saw that today the track conditions had changed a lot. But I achieved my first objective which was to finish the race and we understand which areas to improve, both my riding style and set-up depending on the conditions.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"This is a great moment for our team because our last victory was at Valencia in 2015. Today was the day that Franco delivered on his potential by taking his first pole position and victory in this race. Franco’s rhythm was very impressive and with his pace this win was his for the taking. For Álex I am not disappointed he learnt a lot from this race and I am sure we will see him on the front row again and challenging for the podium in Argentina.”
FIRST POINTS AT THE DEBUT FOR BAGNAIA IN MOTO2
At its debut in Qatar, the SKY Racing Team VR46 scored 4 points thanks to the 12th place of Francesco Bagnaia. Despite the pain, Stefano Manzi crosses the finish line in 29th position.
Losail (Qatar), March 26th 2017 - Francesco Bagnaia conquered 4 points for the SKY Racing Team VR46 on his debut in Moto2 with Kalex. Pecco, ninth at the start, after a race with a very similar pace to the strongest guys, is 12th on the finishing line, second rookie of the category.
Under the checkered flag also Stefano Manzi, who despite the pain in his left knee, honors the commitment with the first race of the 2017 season. Stefano, who started from the 32nd box of the grid, is 29th.
PABLO NIETO - Team Manager
I'm happy to say that we crossed the finishing line of our debut race with both riders. It is a great result for the whole team. Pecco did a good job and finished very close to the Top10. Stefano, despite the pain in his knee, finished the race. Good job!
It was a very tough race, especially with the rear tyre. I had a good start, but from mid-race I struggled to keep the pace of the strongest guys. I had less feeling than Thursday, but of course the race is another thing compared to a simulation. Overall I have a good setup base and I can not wait the next race.
I had not a bad start, but after few laps, the pain in the knee was really strong. I tryed to do my best to honor the race and the work of the team, but I could not do nothing more. My goal is to recover as much as possible before the race in Argentina.
Joan Mir wins the GP of Qatar 2017
The talented Mallorca takes the victory in the first race of the season, dominating from start to finish. His teammate Livio Loi becomes the victim of contact but finished 12th.
At 18 o'clock local time the traffic lights went out at the Losail International Circuit, scene of the first race of the 2017 season for young protagonists of Moto3. The grid was decided by the times of the combined free practice on Friday, because the repeated precipitation that yesterday rendered the circuit unusable, preventing the proper running of qualifications.
Joan Mir earned two positions at the start, and passed Antonelli and Oettl in rapid succession, to complete the first lap second position. Even Loi earned two places off the start, holding behind Di Giannantonio and Bulega, entering the points positions by force.
Mir followed like a shadow his compatriot Martin throughout the second lap, just before the line he took control of the race. The group of the top 15, closed by the Leopard Racing bike of Livio Loi, was very compact. At turn six Loi touched Bendsneyder and slipped down to provisional 17th position.
Meanwhile, at the head Migno tried to take advantage, but Mir responded after a few meters. The same fate for Martin and Oettl starting to push: their leadership lasting just one lap, because on the fifth round Mir will resume command. Then the turn of McPhee to give a hard time to the Majorcan, but he also responded to the Scot without delay, blow for blow.
Loi found himself embroiled in a fight with Bastianini and Suzuki: the Belgian did not lose heart, taking command of the second group of pursuers, becoming the author of a remarkable comeback to 12th place which earned him the first four World Championship points of 2017.
On the last lap there were 5, with the arrival of Canet and Fenati, in the fight for the victory, then the talent of Joan Mir gained the upper hand over his rivals, managing the lead and closing all the doors.
The Spaniard seemed to dance on his Honda, developed to perfection, crossing the finish line in first. Joan Mir, the rookie of the year in 2016, thus began the season in the best way, with a win (his second in career) in the opening round of the Championship.
#36 Joan MIR - 1st:
"It was the best race of my life! I always kept everything under control. The bike today was perfect, both in a straight line in the fast corners, despite the lack of grip on the track. Now I'm comfortable on the Honda, we have worked so hard all winter. I tried to run away, but in this category and at this circuit it is very difficult. All in all, it was a tough race, but fun despite the many overtaking. I want to continue like this in all the other races"
#11 Livio LOI - 12th:
"We changed something in race trim and on the first lap I had already made quite a leap forward. I was in the first group and had the speed to fight with them; but I arrived at Turn 5 I arrived faster than Bo Bendsneyder and I wanted to pass him in Turn 6, but my rear wheel slipped and we touched: I'm sorry for him for me, because I had the pace to get behind the Top 5. Now we will go to Argentina very motivated."
Niccolo Antonelli places seventh in Moto3 World Championship opener
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider finishes in Top 10 at Qatar GP, after riding the entire race in the front group. Bo Bendsneyder places 26th after crash on Lap 4.
03/26/2017 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The Moto3 World Championship season got underway this Sunday at the Losail International Circuit with the first race of the year. Rain that had threatened to hit the race did not materialise and the riders were able to enjoy dry conditions in the season opener. In his first race with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, Niccolo Antonelli placed seventh, whilst Bo Bendsneyder completed the contest twenty-sixth after an early crash.
Starting from fourth and fifth place on the starting grid, respectively, Bendsneyder and Antonelli both made good starts. The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo were up into the front group, which consisted of some 13 riders. However, at Turn 6 on the fourth lap, Bendsneyder was clipped by another rider and knocked to the ground. He would complete the 18-lap race, but was unable to get back into contention.
Antonelli continued to fight at the back of the leading group. The Italian spent much of the race in eighth place, until on the last lap he made a final effort to overtake a rival and claimed his first 9 points of the season.
The Moto3 World Championship will take a week off before returning on April 9th with the second round of the calendar: The Argentinian Grand Prix.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager: "It's been a difficult weekend, but it's been the same for everyone. I have a mixture of feelings. First of all I am sad about what happened to Bo [Bendsneyder], who crashed due to another rider hitting him. He has had an excellent preseason and has worked really hard -improving all the time. I think he has a good future ahead if he keeps this up. We also have to remember that it was just a race, and look forward. With Niccolo [Antonelli] the winter has not been so easy, as he has had to adapt to both the team and the KTM, and over time he has been getting there. I am very happy with his recent testing performances and also with the weekend he has had in Qatar. For me, him finishing the race without making errors, in the first group, in seventh position and not far from the winner was a very good start for him."
23 NICCOLO ANTONELLI
"I remained in the front group throughout the race, but I wasn't able to get into the battle for the podium. In some moments of the race I didn't feel completely comfortable with the front end, and on more than one occasion I had a scare. But I gave my all and in the end we were competitive, taking seventh place and the first points of the season. Personally, this race has been important because I had not ridden in the front group since the first half of last season. It was not easy. We will do our best to be among the best riders at the next race."
64 BO BENDSNEYDER
"The race obviously didn't go as we would have liked. Another rider hit me from behind at Turn 6 and I crashed. I was able to pick the bike back up and finish the race, but I had already lost a lot of time. I am disappointed, but we will never give up and we will continue fighting until the end, since it is only the first race. We have to be positive; we have been very strong throughout the weekend, always among the frontrunners, so I am looking forward to the next Grand Prix in Argentina."
Oliveira places fourth in Red Bull KTM Ajo's Moto2 debut
Portuguese rider takes his best result to date in the intermediate category after battling for the podium. Binder ends his first Moto2 appearance in 20th place.
03/26/2017 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team got their maiden Moto2 season off to a good start in Qatar, with Miguel Oliveira finishing fourth -only 3 tenths off the podium and achieving his best personal result in the intermediate category. Unlike on Saturday, the Losail International Circuit offered adequate conditions on track, and the Portuguese rider closed the Qatar GP with a good feeling and a desire to continue improving. Teammate Brad Binder, making his debut in the class, finished 20th and gained valuable experience onboard his KTM bike.
As a result of Saturday evening action being cancelled, the starting grid was set from the combined classification from Free Practice, with Miguel Oliveira 5th and Brad Binder 22nd. The Portuguese, who rode in 7th on the opening laps, improved his pace steadily and rose to fourth -close to the top three- with eleven laps to go. Despite pushing for the podium until the end, Oliveira eventually crossed the line in fourth and scored 13 points. It was his best result in Moto2.
Binder made a great effort to complete his first race in the intermediate category. The South African did not feel as comfortable on his bike as in Free Practice and was not 100% fit, but managed to finish in 20th position.
The Moto2 World Championship will return to action on April 9th at Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager: "It was an excellent first race for our new Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 project. In any case, as I always say, this project is just starting; the result is good, but we still have to see where we are and where we can improve. This is a long-term project and a fourth position is fine, but our goal is obviously to end up at the top. We cannot forget this good job that we've done, however, and now we can celebrate this new beginning -that's all. We have to focus on our work. It will not be easy to be up at the top in all of the races and our goal is to continue this project for many years, so it's important to keep our goals for the future."
41 BRAD BINDER
"At the beginning of the race I felt very good, except when there was a repeat of a problem with the front end that we had detected in today's warmup, which forced me to go long on some corners. I tried to fix it, but I went wide a couple of times. I tried to do my best and finish my first race in the class. There is still a long way to go and much work ahead to improve my riding on the Moto2 bike. On the next race weekend I will try to work harder during practice to better understand the bike and prepare the setup for the race. Physically it has been quite hard, because I don't feel 100% with my left arm. I have to focus on Argentina and continue learning."
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"It was a very tough race. My start was not very good, but when I started to overtake riders I found a good pace. As the race progressed, I was prepared to follow Nakagami, and sometimes I felt stronger than him, but I knew that if I tried to overtake him, we would lose Tom Luthi and I preferred to wait until later. On the last laps I gave everything, but it was difficult because Nakagami defended very well.
We would not have imagined that working with this brand new KTM, with all the team gaining experience, we would be prepared to be fighting for the podium here in Qatar at the first event of the year. I am very happy to have achieved this, and I want to thank the team for the opportunity they have given me to return to this structure. Also I thank Red Bull, KTM and the whole Ajo Motorsport team for the work they have done this weekend."
Marini and Baldassarri kick off 2017 in impressive style
The Forward Racing Team duo of Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri delivered an excellent performance in today’s opening round of the Moto2 World Championship under the spectacular floodlights of the Losail International Circuit, finishing in sixth and eight position respectively.
Marini pushed hard during the first laps to quickly find himself inside the chasing pack, after he leapt off the line from 13th position on the starting grid. With a great perseverance, the 19-year old made his way through to the top of his group during the 20-lap sprint to finally see the chequered flag in sixth place.
Also his teammate, Lorenzo Baldassarri, jumped of the line in positive fashion, immediately recovering four positions on the opening lap. He quickly set in a strong rhythm and commenced to battle through the field. During the second half of the race, the young Italian progressed from eleventh to eight position, which enabled him to take home precious championship points for one of the main Moto2 title contenders.
After this positive season opening the Forward Racing Team will be back on track in Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina for the second Grand Prix of the exciting 2017 Moto2 World Championship in just a fortnight.
Luca Marini – 6th (+13.747)
“To be honest I’m very happy about this result, because I could improve my tenth place from last year, which was something really important for me in order to show the progress I made during the winter. In addition, I’m very pleased, because I was able to manage the tyres well during the entire race and this was something I struggled with in 2016. Now I feel more comfortable with my Kalex and the Moto2 category overall. I really have to say I’m satisfied. It’s not easy for me to admit that, because I always want to do better, but I think today we achieved our maximum result. The following round takes place in Argentina, a completely different track, yet, I’m sure we can do well there.”
Lorenzo Baldassarri – 8th (+17.465)
“We knew that the race would not have been an easy one, after the cancellation of the qualifying practice and our unfortunate grid position. Still, I had a good start and was able to recover several positions before the first corner. However, at the exit of turn two I had to close the throttle to avoid a couple of riders, who had touched each other. After that, I settled in a decent rhythm and was in the battle making up different positions. I felt strong with my pace. When I arrived to Vierge in the end, I struggled to pass him, even tough, I was faster. In the last two laps, I gave my 100% to try to defend my position, but I did a couple of mistakes and missed the break in one corner. Fortunately, I was still able to maintain eight position until the chequered flag. I want to take the opportunity to express a huge thanks to all the Forward Racing Team for this good start of the season. We will keep pushing, like always and I already can’t wait for the next race.”
Giovanni Cuzari – Team Owner
“What a race! I can’t be prouder of my riders and the whole team. Luca did a fantastic performance and it’s more than obvious that he got a lot more mature this winter. He got a decent start, kept calm and didn’t make any mistakes. Ten days ago, he arrived in Qatar with the aim to improve his placement of last year and he managed to do so in an impressive manner. Luca even lapped with similar lap times compared to the front guys over certain stages of the race. I’m sure, he has a fantastic year ahead. Lorenzo did a good race as well, especially after his injury of the last weeks. He was able to bring home important points, which might be crucial at the end of the championship. For sure, he’ll now take the opportunity to relax during the next days in order to be 100% fit and well prepared for an even stronger appearance in Argentina.”
Kornfeil finishes 20th after a difficult first race
Press report race Qatar GP
The first race of the season didn´t go as expected for both the riders of Peugeot MC SAXOPRINT. Shortly after the beginning of the race Kornfeil and Pulkkinen lost the contact to the leading group and couldn´t fight for top results. In the end, Kornfeil crossed the line in 20th position, Pulkkinen didn´t finish the race due to a crash.
After this hectic Saturday evening and the cancellation of the qualifying and all other scheduled sessions, the team of Peugeot MC SAXOPRINT could get back to their normal work routine on Sunday. The day started with good conditions: temperatures around 23 degrees and no rain, but just in time for the Warm Up of the Moto3TM category the clouds came back. Luckily the dash of rain was not enough to cancel the race as well.
Starting only as 22nd, his position from the combined practices, Jakub Kornfeil had some hard work to do to pour forward. Due to a bad start, Kornfeil couldn´t overtake any riders right at the beginning of the race, as he planned to. After that he lost the contact to the leading group nearly right away. Having to fight for positions during the whole race, he wasn´t able to get a constantly good pace to get further up front. Kornfeil was really fast in the corners, overtaking a lot of riders, but he couldn´t hold the position on the straight. In the end, Kornfeil came in 20th, with no opportunity to cross the line in a better position.
For Patrik Pulkkinen the race didn´t go as planned as well. He did not have a good start, which made him lose contact to the riders in front of him after a short amount of time. For most of the race Pulkkinen had to set his laps on his own, which made it impossible for him to catch the group in front of him again. Because of a crash at the end of the race, Pulkkinen didn´t see the finish line this time. Luckily Pulkkinen wasn´t hurt.
Now the team of Peugeot MC SAXORPINT focuses on the next race in Argentina (7th – 9th of April). At the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo the squad will be back fighting for better results.
#84 Jakub Kornfeil (P20):
"This day was just not a good one for me. From the beginning of the race it didn´t go well for me. I had a very bad start and I had no chance to get a better position. I tried everything I could. I passed so many riders and there we had so many fights for positions but in the end I couldn´t get a better position anyway. I overtook them in the corners, but the passed me right after on the straights. I could have gone much faster, but the guys in front of me slowed me down in every corner so I had no chance to close the gap to the leading group. I am definitely not happy about today´s result, so let´s hope it will be different in Argentina.”
#4 Patrik Pulkkinen (DNF):
“I am quite disappointed about my first Moto3TM race. I couldn´t show the performance I wanted to, instead I lost the contact to the riders in front of me at the beginning of the race. I couldn´t go as fast as I did during the tests, which is definitely not what I had planned. Little by little the guys were further away and when I was alone I couldn´t go any quicker. I was quite nervous and in the end, I tried to push too hard and crashed. I am really not happy about this, but it´s a good experience for me. Now I know what I have to do better and I will work on that in the next races.”
Terrell Thien (Team Manager):
“The first race is always a good indicator to see what performance everyone can actually show. With the race in mind we did everything we could to be able to stay in the slipstream as long as possible but in the end, it didn´t work out. We saw that everyone worked hard during the winter to get better, so know we have to stay focused and continue working very hard too.
I have to say thanks to the whole team, because they did an amazing job during these last 10 days. In these bad conditions, they were doing the best they could. The same applies to Jakub and his job during the race. He worked really hard and fought for every position, but eventually he couldn´t do any better.”
IMPORTANT POINTS WITH THE NEW BIKE AT THE SEASON OPENER IN QATAR
Kiefer Racing saw both riders crossing the line in the top 15 to collect first points with their new project in Sunday’s spectacular night race at the Losail Circuit.
After a weekend full of weather-related influences, at least conditions were stable at the time of Sunday evening’s race. Both, Danny Kent and Dominique Aegerter left the line well when the red lights went out for the first time this year. However, with an increasing race distance, it was seen with both riders that this project with the all-new Suter MMX2 Moto2™ machine is still in a very early stage.
On the side of Danny Kent, who opened his campaign from P6 on the grid and was able to keep his position for a while, a short-time change to his bike did affect his performance as long the race lasts. From halfway point on, the English rider had clear disadvantages under braking. Kent reported to be happy with the points for 13th position but his overall performance looked less gratifying.
Aegerter also had a good start from seventh, heading the third row and was able to follow his team mate during the early stages. The Swiss fought like a lion throughout the 20 laps race distance but he had to find out that after the long winter break he is still lacking somewhat of his race speed to show his strengthens as a pure race. Like Kent, also Aegerter had hoped for more than to finish the long stay in Qatar with just four points for eleventh position in his luggage.
After the long-waited start of the championship, the series continues with its usual two-weeks rhythm. Next destination during the busy opening stage with three oversea races is the Argentina round at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
#52 Danny KENT, 13th (World Championship position 13, 3 points):
"To be honest, today’s result doesn’t meet our expectation after we went into the race from sixth position on the grid. Before the race, we made a change to the bike and obviously, we went in the wrong direction. During the opening laps, with a full tank, the situation and handling was still fine. The additional weight had positive effects on the behaviour of the front under hard braking. But with an increased distance, when the bike became lighter, I got increasingly problems. It was shifted less forward, which is why the front folded almost several times.
"Of course, it wasn’t a big help that several sessions were cancelled during the weekend, which was also the case during the official test last week. In addition, it was the very first race with this completely new bike. I’m satisfied with the points, but overall a little bit disappointed. The fact is that we must improve in some areas until the next race in Argentina."
#77 Dominique AEGERTER, 11th (World Championship position 11, 5 points):
"Obviously, we went into this race with higher expectations. So, I’m a bit disappointed about today’s eleventh position if I consider what I have given and fought for during the race. Actually, the races itself are one of my biggest advantages. But after the long winter break, it was not easy for me get back this strong point immediately. Beyond that, Moto2 is that much hard-fought and there must be no lack of confidence. In addition, I’m still not at 100 percent in terms of riding and duels with other riders during the race. Overtaking other riders was not always easy for me.
"On the other side, I’m very happy with the bike. Therefore, a better result should have been possible because our package has really great potential. At the moment, however, we can’t fully exploit it. This was shown on day one of practice and today it wasn’t any different. There are still a few pieces left to complete the puzzle. And in addition, it was the first race with this bike for us. From this point of view there are also some small things to improve. In the end, I’m happy to have scored some points for the team, who is really working hard and doing a great job always. Now I’m looking forward to a short break and that we’ll continue with the second in Argentina immediately."
#Stefan KIEFER (Team manager):
"Overall, we’re happy that we finished the first race with both riders in the points. However, we hoped for more, particularly due to improved situation after the practice sessions. In any case we think, that it was a proper start into the new season with this new bike. But after this demanding stay in Qatar with unexpected weather conditions we look forward now to head to Argentina where we hit a different track and conditions too."