Press releases from the MotoGP teams after Sunday's season opener at Qatar:
Fantastic win for Dovizioso in GP of Qatar. The Italian rider, with eight wins to his name, becomes the second most successful Ducati rider of all time in MotoGP, after Stoner. Lorenzo forced to retire after a crash caused by a technical problem
Andrea Dovizioso scored a splendid victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship held this evening at the Losail International Circuit.
The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, who started from row 2, was unable to get a good start when the lights went out and he crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in seventh place. Dovizioso then moved up into the leading group, battling with Marquez, Rossi and Zarco and then took over at the front on lap 18, followed closely by the Spanish rider who tried an attack at the final curve. Andrea once again was able to get through on the inside and taking advantage of the acceleration of his Desmosedici GP18, he crossed the line 0.027s ahead of his Honda rival.
Thanks to today’s win Dovizioso has overtaken Loris Capirossi in the list of most victorious Ducati riders in MotoGP with eight wins to his name, and is now in second place in this particular ranking behind Casey Stoner.
It was an unfortunate race for Jorge Lorenzo, who started from row 3 with ninth-quickest time. The Spanish rider, after a complicated start, had managed to get up to tenth place together with Viñales and Miller on lap 12. Unfortunately a technical problem on the next lap caused him to crash and he had to retire.
The MotoGP World Championship will be back on track again at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for the Argentina GP on April 8th
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st
“I’m really happy with this win because we have confirmed the improvements made over the winter and I was able to manage the race well, even though I made a really bad start. On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead. At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the kerb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead. Once again it was a great satisfaction!”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – DNF
“It wasn’t one of the best weekends for me. I had a lot of problems and my crash was the result of a problem with the front brakes. Already on lap 2 I realized that something wasn’t right and I tried to manage the situation, but the problem was getting worse. I thought it was an overheating problem, but when I was about to catch Iannone I wasn’t able to stop the bike and I tipped myself off to avoid worse damage. Now we have to understand what exactly happened to prevent the same problem from repeating itself in the future. It’s a pity because I was lapping with good times and I think I could have got closer to the leading group.”
Claudio Domenicali (CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.)
“It was a fantastic race! MotoGP is getting better and better because there are a lot of really competitive riders, but here at Losail our bike was in great shape and was really fast. Andrea rode so well, despite a bit of a difficult start, and by now he’s demonstrating he has an extraordinary racing maturity and great confidence in his bike, which allowed him to manage the race perfectly. Marquez and Rossi were also great today, but DesmoDovi had just that little bit more. Pity about Jorge, who was recovering well when unfortunately he crashed. This is the first round of the 2018 championship and I want to dedicate this victory to all the guys in Ducati and Ducati Corse and thank them for their commitment which has enabled us to produce this Desmosedici GP18, which already seems to be in excellent form!”
Marquez starts his 2018 campaign with a brilliant podium in Qatar, Pedrosa fights hard but has to settle for 7th
As night fell in Qatar, Marc Marquez climbed to the second step of the podium at the Losail International Circuit after fighting for victory all the way until the last corner.
Andrea Dovizioso just edged Marc out at the chequered flag by a mere 0.027” but the reigning World Champion will fly back to Europe tomorrow knowing that he’s shown great pace and scored a brilliant result at a track that is notoriously tough for him and the Repsol Honda Team.
A group of seven riders, split by just over one second, fought for a podium position for almost the entire race. Dani Pedrosa was among that group, although a poor feeling with the rear tyre forced him to settle for seventh.
“What a race! I’m really happy with our second place finish because this is one of the tracks on the calendar where we struggle most. After the pre-season test we knew what we could expect. With the hard front tyre I was struggling a bit in the left corners but with the medium I wouldn’t have finished the race. I tried to pass Dovi in the last corner but he beat me. Honestly, I was expecting that, but I had to try the move anyway, to see if there was any way we could make it happen. In the end, Dovi had something more than me and he deserves this win. Even if he was a bit behind at the start, I was waiting for him–I was waiting for the red! I knew his tactic was to push at the end and when he passed Zarco I said to myself, ‘let’s go!’ I followed him and almost went wide, but it was a great race and a great show. The thing I’m most happy about is that, this time, we were able to stay with him on the straight and this is very good.”
“In general, the bike worked well enough and I’m happy because we were able to improve our feeling over the weekend. The hard front tyre was actually a very good choice as I could brake hard into the corners and keep a decent pace. We focused a lot on the feeling from the front over the weekend and finally decided to go with what we’d worked toward. I had a good start and I’m happy with how I managed the first corners. Unfortunately, the feeling from the rear wasn’t as strong. The tyre was spinning a lot, which caused me to loose ground in turn 3 and some other corners in sector four. It’s a real shame because the first race is important and if I think that if didn’t have this issue I could’ve fought for the podium. In the end, that gives me confidence for the upcoming races.”
Rossi's Persistence Delivers Podium Result in Doha
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi landed his first podium finish of the 2018 MotoGP season with a strong third place at the Losail International Circuit. Maverick Viñales also battled for all he was worth and rode a superb catch-up race from 15th to 6th place, earning himself some crucial championship points.
Rossi had a lightning fast start from eighth place and stormed to fourth on a perfect opening lap. With a podium place in his grasp, he closed in on Dani Pedrosa and cruised past him at the end of the second lap on the start-finish straight, before making a text-book move, breaking hard into the first corner.
The leading pair, Johann Zarco and Marc Marquez, ran a hot rhythm, but not strong enough to shake off the Doctor. He was a man on a mission, determined not to let them escape and dropping consistent 1'55s laps. With 17 laps to go, the Italian made his move on Marquez, so he could challenge Zarco for the lead, but soon things got tense. At the start of the 11th lap the 39-year-old went wide into turn 1, allowing Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso through, but he didn't let it get to him.
The final five laps were exactly what the fans had hoped for. Rossi fought his way past Zarco for third. The 46-rider threw everything he had at breaking away from chasing riders, which he managed perfectly. However, he was unable to get close enough to battle with Dovizioso and Marquez in the final laps and finished the first race of the season with a well-deserved third place, 0.797s from first.
Viñales made a cautious start, dropping back from 12th on the grid to 15th place in the opening laps, but that certainly didn't mean he was out for the count. After three laps, he got into the rhythm and started his charge. He was running the same pace as the leading group and as a result he barged through the rider field.
With Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo crashing out with 10 laps to go, the number-25 rider breached into the top-10. He then picked off Jack Miller on the next lap and also overtook Andrea Iannone for eighth place one lap later.
Viñales had his sights set on the front group. They were fighting some 2.5s ahead of him, but his pace was still red hot, as he kept posting times in the 1'55s. With three laps to go the Spaniard tapped onto the back of Pedrosa. A lap later he overtook his compatriot and also breezed past Zarco. He gave Danilo Petrucci a run for his money for fifth place, but he ultimately had to settle for sixth position, 3.888s from the front.
Today's race results see Rossi take third place in the championship with a nine-point gap to the leader, while Viñales secures sixth place in the standings, 15 points from the front. Yamaha is in third place in the Constructor classification, nine points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP are in second place in the Team title challenge, with three points to the top of the rankings.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in three weeks' time at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, held from April 6th - 8th.
Position: 3rd - Championship: 3rd - Points: 16
"It was a great fight and a great race. Sincerely, last year it was a bigger surprise to me - it was less expected then to arrive on the podium. With the bike from this year I feel good. This time I was more competitive and I knew I could do a good race, but you never know if it's enough for the podium because we were with ten strong riders. I tried to push from the beginning, because I started from the third row and on the first lap I was able to overtake some guys. The other key point were the final laps, when like last year the strongest on the track were Dovizioso and Marquez. I knew they had enough to change the rhythm, but I'm very happy that I could go with them today and arrive at the finish line close to them, at the end. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the victory, but the podium is a great way to start."
Position: 6th - Championship: 6th - Points: 10
"In today's race I felt really good with the bike, better than I did before. We followed the direction of how I wanted the bike and we improved so much, especially our rhythm. Now that we have done that, we know we have a good bike and we can focus on improving other things. Honestly, during the tests I didn't try many starts, I was focused on the bike, so today's start was bad. However, now we've recovered the feeling with the bike - especially for the race - we can work on other areas. We found a good set-up, but we can still improve and match the electronics more to my riding style, and we can also work on the starts. When you finish a race like today's, you wish that the next GP would be held the next weekend. We're quite motivated. I felt that, if I had been more towards the front today, I could have had a chance to win the race. I'm happy the team did such a great job, especially on Saturday in the afternoon. We found something good for our riding style and that's perfect."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"What a fantastic race to open the season with! We were pretty confident after yesterday's FP4 and today's Warm Up that our riders would be able to run a competitive pace and our predictions came true. Valentino had a fantastic start, which was key to securing today's third place. He did a brilliant job staying at the front of the field, while the pace was as high as it was, and he was only 0.797s away from first place. Maverick had a difficult task ahead of him starting from the fourth row, but as soon as he got a clear track in front of him he was able to keep up a really good pace. He posted consistent 1'55-low laps, that allowed him to catch up with the leading group. The form that both our riders showed today is very motivating for the team, especially after a challenging start to the Qatar GP. I want to thank the riders, team members and engineers for their hard work. We aim to continue working in this way in Argentina in three weeks' time."
TOP 10 PLACING FOR IANNONE IN QATAR, MISFORTUNE FOR RINS
Team Suzuki Press Office - March 18.
Andrea Iannone: 9th - +12.957
Alex Rins: DNF.
• Andrea Iannone performs well in opening race of the season.
• Unfortunate DNF for Alex Rins after strong start.
• Team SUZUKI ECSTAR still look ahead with positivity.
The first race of the 2018 MotoGP calendar took place in hot and windy conditions under Qatar’s famous night lights. Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins took to the start with confidence after a positive morning Warm-Up in which they took 5th and 10th respectively. Although Alex Rins suffered a small crash during this session, there were luckily no consequences.
Choosing the medium front and soft rear combination, the riders took the grid and attacked early on as the lights went out. Andrea Iannone managed a great start from his 11th place grid position and he was able to slot in ahead of many competitors. He kept in touch with this lead group for the first half of the race despite struggling with front end feel, and he picked up a few places as the laps ticked by. Andrea hovered consistently between 8th and 10th for the duration of the race and despite a late charge from some of his rivals he held on to 9th place over the finish line.
Alex Rins managed to set two fastest laps (a 1:55.675 on Lap 3, and a 1:55.331 on Lap 6) during his time in the leading pack, and was running a very high pace, responding to over-taking manoeuvres quickly, matching the pace at the front, and keeping himself in contention for at least a Top 5 finish. However, with 10 laps to go, Alex drifted wide in the second corner and found the dirty part of the track, he lost the front and unfortunately crashed out of the race. Despite this, the young Spaniard felt he learned a lot and enjoyed the feelings.
Ken Kawauchi - Technical Manager
“Today’s results were not what we wanted, this is a big pity. In the middle of the race Alex’s pace was good, he was with the top group and chasing. But in the end he crashed, and that was a pity. Andrea’s pace was not quite what we expected and he was struggling a bit, but he tried to manage the situation and he finished the race quite well. We have shown our potential for Argentina, where we’ll try again. And although this race has been disappointing, we are not too worried and we are looking forward to the next race.”
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“Of course we’re not happy about today in general, but there are some good things which we can take away from this weekend. It’s a pity how the race ended for Alex, but I feel we have definitely made a step forward with him. So I think we’ll have many other chances to try again to be in the front group and we’ll try again in Argentina. In Andrea’s case, he had a good start but then he was struggling with the front end. So we have to work to try to improve his feeling on the bike as he couldn’t push so hard. In the end he finished 9th. I see positive things coming, so we look forward to the next one.”
“Well, if we compare this race to last year we did improve, which is the main positive of today. I’m not really satisfied with the result but I’m not unhappy either. I felt confidence with the GSX-RR and feel it has a potential. My start was good and I kept the pace with leading group. Unfortunately after some laps I started to lose confidence with the front, the same problem as yesterday. I think this is mainly due to the track conditions being so different from the test, so I believe it’s a small issue we can fix easily. As I couldn’t find this confidence I didn’t want to push too hard and risk a crash, it was important to finish the race. We are working well, I’m feeling confident for the next races and I can’t wait for Argentina.”
“I had a little bit of bad luck, but I still think we had an incredible weekend. The race was quite good, I didn’t have the best start, but when I was behind Dovizioso I was feeling great. It was quite difficult for me to fight on the straight and when I was fighting with Petrucci I was trying to keep the advantage and hold the position, and I crashed. Despite all this, I have learned a lot of useful things for the future, such as being more competitive from the start. We now know that we have the potential, and in Argentina it will be better.”
ESPARGARÓ STOPS WITHIN A SHOUT OF THE TOP TEN
SCOTT REDDING TWENTIETH IN HIS DÉBUT RACE ASTRIDE THE RS-GP
A fuelling problem stopped Aleix Espargaró on the final lap, just as a good placement in the top ten was within reach.
In the second half of the race, Aleix had found a good pace, moving up several position, thanks in part to a couple of crashes by riders ahead of him. At the start of the final lap, he had caught up to Miller (tenth) and Iannone (ninth) with a good chance of overtaking them, considering the significant difference in pace. However, precisely during the last lap, a fuelling problem silenced the V4 in the number 41 Aprilia. In any case, Aleix managed to cross the finish line (in 19th place), but he had already lost his chances for the good result.
In his first race astride the Aprilia RS-GP, Scott Redding had to reckon with grip problems and was unable to move up from the rear guard, finishing twentieth.
"Despite the result, I am satisfied with the way I managed the race. I gave 100%, using a very conservative map straight away and managing in any case to maintain a good pace. I hoped to be able to use the more aggressive map in the race finale, where we know that we are faster, but that wasn't possible. During the final lap I was about to attack Miller and Iannone, but some fuelling problems cost me a lot of positions. A ninth place finish in these conditions would have been an important result. We need to work together to solve this problem, without which I am convinced that we would have been able to battle in the group of the best 5-6 down to the end."
“I can't be pleased with the way the race went today. From the start I had poor grip on the rear and then at the end of the race things started working, so much that I did my fast lap on the last lap. Right now I am struggling to understand why. We need to analyse the data and it is most likely a problem that we did not have during the tests. Now we need to start working straight away to improve in view of the upcoming races. We know that our potential is greater than what we demonstrated today, but evidently we are missing something.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
"This was a rather troubled weekend because of grip that came and went - extremely particularly tyre use conditions. These were very different conditions from last year as well as from those in the last pre-season tests. Even if we are still lacking something, we found a good solution with Aleix in the race, but we had a fuelling problem just as we were about to bring home a good top ten finish."
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
"It's a pity about a problem like that right in the last lap that frustrated all the hard work done by the riders, Aprilia and the entire team. We still need to get to know this new bike well, but I think it has huge potential. This complicated the entire weekend but, given the way Aleix's race finished after a brilliant comeback ride, I'd say that we were also a bit unlucky. It was a difficult weekend, but the bike has improved a lot and I am sure that we are not far behind the leaders. We know that we still need to make an effort, but we have a whole championship season ahead of us."
Red Bull KTM establish margin to improve after tough Qatar MotoGP opener
RACE 1st Rd. MotoGP 2018 – Losail International Circuit (QAT)
Bradley Smith rides to 18th position in the first round of the 2018 MotoGP season despite a front grip problem while Red Bull KTM teammate Pol Espargaro was denied a best finish at Losail, Qatar with the KTM RC16 due to a minor electronic hitch. Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Miguel Oliveira & Brad Binder finished 5th and 6th in Moto2 with Gabriel Rodrigo fastest KTM rider in the Moto3 class on fifth place at the chequered flag.
Three days of wind, varying temperatures and more development workwith the KTM RC16 at the Losail International Circuit did not blow-in the results Red Bull KTM Factory Racing were expecting for the first round of nineteen in 2018 MotoGP. Pol Espargaro briefly put aside his technical issues from Saturday qualification to push up from a grid spot of 22nd and battle for 13th place with countryman Alvaro Bautista and within sight of the leading groups of the 22 lap affair. Sadly his designs on a slot near the top ten were dashed on lap 15 with a recurrence of the electronic ‘gremlin’ that curtailed his efforts in Saturday’s Q1.
Bradley Smith rallied to the edge of the points-scoring positions but front tyre fade just ten circulations into the race meant that the Brit had to slow his pace and made it to the finish line in 18th spot.
Bradley Smith: “I was really happy with the start of the race; I was aggressive and I made up some positions. I was in the mix and inside the points. For the first ten laps everything was working quite well and then I started to struggle with the front tyre and a lot of understeer and this was not something we had in any of the tests. The lap-times slowly dropped off. There were some corners where I was OK and others where I was just losing time. It was frustrating because I put myself in a good position to push along with the front guys. It was good to know more about where the KTM needs to improve by being with the other guys on track.”
Pol Espargaro: “During the race I felt quite OK. I was fighting for thirteenth position with (Alvaro) Bautista and less than twenty seconds from the top guys. Seeing how the whole weekend went and what we could do towards the end then it was not too bad. Again the problem we had on Saturday put us out of the points and out of the race. I think it is just bad luck. I’m completely sure we’ll get this fixed and start again in Argentina.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “It was positive that when Pol stopped he was just thirteen seconds away from the leader but of course it is a negative point that we couldn't fix the issue we struggled with in qualifying yesterday. For sure it was a minor thing on the electronic side. Pol did five-six laps for the first time and this is something he couldn't do in the winter test. When he will be back strong then we know we’ll be more competitive. Bradley was feeling good in the beginning of the race but when the front tyre dropped he lost the rhythm and this is something that not only happened to us tonight. We need to work hard and improve now. We knew this weekend would be tough for us.”
BRILLIANT FOURTH FROM CRUTCHLOW ON OPENING NIGHT
PRESS RELEASE: 18 March 2018 | Qatar GP
It was an excellent start to the 2018 MotoGP World Championship for the LCR Honda CASTROL Team as Cal Crutchlow brought his bike home in fourth place at the Grand Prix of Qatar finishing as the top Independent Team rider.
The Brit started the floodlit race from the second row of the grid in fourth place, but dropped a couple of positions at the start. However, he gradually clawed his way back to the front runners, never losing touch with the leaders until just a couple of laps from the end when he was trying pass long-time leader Johann Zarco. When Crutchlow finally got past the Frenchman, the gap to the podium stood at one second, and with the tow broken, he just didn’t have enough laps to make it up.
Nonetheless it was a brilliant performance to start the season for Crutchlow and the LCR Honda CASTROL squad, and hopes are high for the next round in Argentina, where he has stood on the podium before.
Cal Crutchlow – 4th
“I’m happy. Obviously, the aim was the podium today, but then again the aim was also to finish in the points which we haven’t done here for the past two years. It’s a long championship and I want to thank my LCR Honda CASTROL Team who have done a great job over the winter. As have Honda as a manufacturer, they’ve done a fantastic job with the engine and it meant that we were a bit more competitive – especially on the straight.”
“All credit to the guys on the podium, they did a great race, and it was good fun. That ‘elastic band’ just snapped when I got behind Zarco. The front three got away and when I got past him, I was at the same pace as them. I couldn’t gain on them, but I wasn’t losing either, and that’s when I just decided to bring it home and collect the 13 points.”
“We now look forward to Argentina, where we’ve had good results in the past.”
Grand Prix of Qatar - Losail Circuit (Doha) - The Race
#QatarGP Race. Superb Petrux (5th) fights for the podium until the end. Precious Top 10 for Jack
The first round of the 2018 MotoGP season ended up extremely well for Alma Pramac Racing who got a double Top 10 finish thanks to the amazing race of Danilo Petrucci and the solid performance of Jack Miller.
Petrux starts from the front row and immediately gets into the leading group. On lap 6, he tries to attack Marc Marquez for third place and four laps later he tries to overtake Valentino Rossi for fourth place. Halfway through the race he is fighting with Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa and Alex Rins who crashes in front of Petrux forcing him to loose contact with the leading group. The rider from Terni remains focused and two laps from the end passes Zarco for the fifth position, then defending himself from the attack of Vinales. Petrux finished his race in P5, 3.8 seconds behind Andrea Dovizioso, who beats Marc Marquez at the last corner.
Jack starts from P10 and in the first laps fights with Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa. The Australian rider's pace is extremely incisive and allows him to maintain for a long time the ninth position, but three laps from the end he can’t avoid Andrea Iannone's attack. Jack finishes his first race with Alma Pramac Racing with a solid Top 10.
5th – Danilo Petrucci
“I am a bit conflicted. On the one hand I am happy with the Top 5 which was my goal even though I honestly had the potential to be able to finish on the podium. Pedrosa overtook me at the wrong time when the top 3 riders accelerated. The choice of soft tyre at the front perhaps was not the right one but I am still satisfied: we are much closer than last year".
10th – Jack Miller
"It was a good race but in the end I couldn't push as I wanted because I started to have lack of feeling with the front tyre especially in the right turns. I am still happy to have taken this Top 10 and with what we have done this weekend. I feel that we are doing a great job with the team and this gives me a lot of confidence for the next race in Argentina".
Zarco shows winning potential in Qatar – Syahrin makes history with first two MotoGP points
Johann Zarco commenced the season with a breathtaking performance at the Losail International Circuit. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider was shining brighter than the floodlights in the first 17 of 22 laps with a superior lead during the first MotoGP round of the year. Struggling with his tyres, the French star had to give the top away towards the end to eventually finish in 8th position.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin was 17th after the first lap of his first ever premier class race and bravely fought with partly much more experienced riders to cross the line in 14th. Therewith, the talented rookie brought home the first ever MotoGP points for his native country Malaysia.
Position: 8th – Championship: 8th – Points: 8
“I had a nice weekend! The race has been good. To start from pole position was a great feeling and a good opportunity to take to fight with the top guys. I had a good start and I took over the top, because I wanted to lead the race and then I was quite comfortable there, not able to be faster than the others, but nobody overtook me. I tried to control the rear grip well, to have always some possibilities to go out from the corner, which was working well. Then, seven laps to the end, I tried to push a bit more to maybe make a gap, but already during the race I had some limit feeling from the front, that I didn’t experience during the practice. When the other guys overtook me five laps to the end, I really understood, that I wasn’t able to use the front tyre on the right side anymore in the correct way, which is why I couldn’t fight. It was really difficult, a few times, I almost crashed and to finish eighth in the end, was better than nothing, because in this condition, it’s good to finish the race at all.”
Position: 14th – Championship: 14th – Points: 2
“I felt really good in the race. I want to say a huge thank you to my team, because they did a great job. I finished my first MotoGP race inside the points, which is even beyond my target, but when you put your focus and your motivation there, it is possible. Around seven laps to go, I changed the power of the bike and four laps later, I switched back again. It’s also a huge part of my learning curve to understand the electronics. I was a bit nervous in the race, I didn’t want to make any mistake and end up in the gravel. I finished the race and brought two points for the team, which makes me truly happy. I hope, I can improve more in the next race and I continue training hard in order to be more ready and give the challenge to the rest of the riders.”
“An amazing round one in Qatar for the MotoGP and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team! With the pole position, we were very pleased last night, but we knew, that the most difficult part was coming on race day. Honestly, I expected a tough fight, but I didn’t expect Johann to lead the race for the main time. He was looking quite comfortable. I can’t deny the fact, that I was starting to think that there is a possibility to finally win a race, but we could see, that he was struggling. We thought, that the tyres were the reason and he confirmed that. There was nothing he could do, just stick on the bike and hold on to the flag. Eight people were in the front group, which was quite close. Finally, it’s quite sad to end up last of that group, but on the other end, we have to be optimistic and see the glass half full and not half empty. There is a lot of positives. He’s here, he’s going to fight and I’m quite sure, that he’ll be again pushing for this victory, that is his and the whole team’s dream. On the other side of the garage, I think, we have to be more than happy, because Hafizh produced an unbelievable performance all through the weekend. His qualifying was great, although the start was not ideal. But it was his very first GP start and we told him, not to do any mistakes. So, he lost a few positions, but recovered. He was fighting hard with a lot of top guys and ended up with two points, which is an amazing performance. For sure, the improvement margin is huge, but anyway, big congratulations to him, big congratulations to Johann and the entire team, because everybody works really, really hard. This is not the end of the weekend, we would have hoped for, but we have to accept that this is part of the game and we have to focus now on having a rest and being ready for Argentina.”
Great recovery of Rabat in Qatar, Simeon finishes his first race in MotoGP
MotoGP GP of Qatar – Losail International Circuit
Reale Avintia Racing team rider Tito Rabat, started the season with a solid eleventh position in the first race of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship tonight in Qatar. The start wasn’t so good, with the former Moto2 World Champion losing several places and crossing the finish line 21st after the first lap. But Rabat kept focused. With a consistent race pace, he was able to pass his rivals to finish only half a second away from the Top 10.
His teammate Xavier Simeon was 21st in his debut in the premier class. He fulfilled his first goal of finishing the race, which is a valuable experience for the next rounds. He improved his pace lap by lap and set his personal fastest lap towards the end.
The teams will now fly to Argentina for the second round of the season, which will take place in just three weeks.
Tito Rabat | P11
“I’m very happy with our start of the season. We had a complete weekend and we have had a bit of everything, good times, others not so good, but we kept calm and I worked very closely with my team. At the start, I had some problems that we have to check, because I lost many places. But afterwards I started to set my pace and was overtaking people quite easily. When I finished the race, I was only 15 seconds behind the winner, which was a nice surprise and a new record for me in MotoGP. I’m very, very happy with the Ducati, this bike suits my riding style and the team has been perfect as well”.
Xavier Simeon | P21
“When you start from the last place of the grid, it is difficult to set a goal for the race. During the winter test I never did a complete race simulation and this has been my first race in every sense. Overall I’m satisfied, I’ve been improving every lap and I clocked my fastest time on the 19th lap, which is very positive for me. The level in MotoGP is very high this year, last year I would have scored points with the lap times I did today. At least, I’ve gained experience and I finished my first race, with pretty decent lap times. We will continue working to do better in Argentina”.
Morbidelli makes impressive MotoGP debut in Qatar
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli made an impressive MotoGP debut by finishing twelfth in today's Qatar Grand Prix.
In the 22-lap race at the Losail International Circuit Morbidelli put in a classy and controlled performance to finish just 16 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso.
Morbidelli started fourteenth and was immediately comfortable racing in traffic and challenging for a top ten position. At the finish the Italian rider, in his first race aboard the Honda RC213V, was just 1.7s out of a top ten finish.
Both Morbidelli and Tom Lüthi exceeded expectations in their debut outings in MotoGP for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.
While Lüthi was satisfied to finish sixteenth with a solid race in the windy and dusty conditions he was disappointed not be in the points after running wide under braking.
After a three-week break MotoGP assembles in Argentina for the second race of the season on April 8.
Franco Morbidelli: 12th
"This was a better result than I expected and a very good first race for me, I'm happy especially with the commitment I had from the team. I had good speed but the most important thing was to finish the race and learn and I was able to do this. Early in the race I was with Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales and this was nice feeling. Now I have to continue to understand more about MotoGP and improve."
Tom Lüthi: 16th
"I'm happy although with mixed feelings because even though I'm out of the points 16th is good result in my first race and closer than I thought I would be after the winter tests. In the race I had some issues in the braking area and ran wide a couple of times and lost a lot of time. But overall I was able to use a lot of things we learned in testing. Now we need to analyse everything and work to improve for the next race in Argentina."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"This was fantastic race by Franco who finished in the points and just 16 seconds from the winner in his first MotoGP race. He exceeded my expectations today and was able to keep a good pace when grip levels went down late in the race. I was also impressed by Tom who had a very consistent pace, although he lost some time when he ran wide in turn one early in the race and he finished just one position out of the points. I think we can leave Qatar in a positive mood after very good performances by both our rookie riders."
FIGHTBACK FOR 12+1 BY BAUTISTA
MotoGP Ángel Nieto Team riders both finish in the points in Qatar
The first MotoGP race of the season provided a thrilling duel between Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso, which lasted right until the final corner in the same fashion as last year's races in Austria and Japan. The result of the Qatar GP was the same as those two races, as Dovizioso claimed victory ahead of his Spanish rival, with Valentino Rossi completing the podium.
The Ángel Nieto Team riders both made comebacks during the race at Losail, with Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham both placing in the points. Bautista climbed up to 12+1 and added three points to his tally, having started the contest from 21st on the grid. He was just five seconds off the riders in the Top 10. A few positions ahead behind was teammate Karel Abraham. The Czech rider also made his way up the order, gaining four places and claiming a point. He did, however, lament a pair of incidents during the race that led to him having to overcome setbacks. The next MotoGP race of the 2018 season takes place in Argentina, on April 6th-8th.
12+1 Álvaro Bautista: “We've got three points, which isn't what we were looking for but we were starting from 21st and fought as hard as the bike allowed. I hope to keep gaining confidence and improving the setup of the bike. I wanted to give my all in this race, and we can see that I finished 19 seconds off the winner, after losing 6 or 7 seconds on the opening lap. It isn't really much of a difference, although it is in MotoGP. I'm struggling to get heat into the tyres, and that's why I lost time, but when I got them warm I found a good pace and overtook several riders. It's been a difficult weekend, just like in preseason, as we worked hard and didn't get the result we wanted."
15th Karel Abraham: “On one hand I am very happy to have scored a point, but I’m also angry that we didn’t achieve some of the things we could have achieved in this race. The start was good, many riders went wide and I was able to go inside and gain a few places. Unfortunately then Syahrin had a wobble in front of me; I think he clipped another rider, and when I avoided him several riders overtook me. We didn’t quite have the same grip tonight and on the second lap, coming out of Turn 5, I opened the throttle and almost highsided -so another three or four riders went past. It was a shame because if it hadn't have been for those moments I think I could have made up a lot of time in the early part of the race. After that I was trying hard to stay on the limit; I didn’t feel as good on the bike as yesterday, I had some shaking with the front and the rear so I had to be careful on the throttle. I’m not 100% happy with that and with a better start I think maybe a top ten was achievable, but in any case I think it was a good race."
NAKAGAMI JUST OUTSIDE THE POINTS ON DEBUT
PRESS RELEASE: 18 March 2018 | Qatar GP
Making his debut in the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday night in Qatar, Takaaki Nakagami finished just outside the points in 17th place after a brave ride under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.
The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider has made an excellent adaptation to the RC213V over winter testing, and his performance today suggests that a positive season lies ahead for the Japanese rookie. Involved in a battle with his former Moto2 rival and fellow Honda man Tom Luthi, Nakagami was just over a second behind the points-scoring positions, and will hope for further progress at the next round of the season in Argentina.
Takaaki Nakagami– 17th
“First of all, I want to say a big thanks to the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team, because they helped me a lot over this weekend. Of course, I’m not 100% happy with the result – especially on Saturday in qualifying and in Sunday’s race. However, I completed my first race and after it, I think I’ve got to understand lots more things about MotoGP.”
“Now we hope to make one or two more steps in Argentina – it will be a new track for me on the MotoGP bike, but I truly believe that I will be much stronger in the next race after this first experience.”
MICHELIN AND DOVIZIOSO DELIGHT IN THE DESERT
Michelin saw the 2018 MotoGP™ World Championship kick off in very similar style to last season’s epic encounters as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) battled to a last-lap decider in Qatar before the Ducati mounted rider emerged as the victor.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Dovizioso settled into a smooth and fast rhythm, as Saturday’s pole setter Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) initially led into the first corner and then headed a fast group of 10 riders for 16 of the first 17 laps, before coming under pressure from Dovizioso on lap 18. The Italian on a Ducati shod with a medium front compound tyre and a soft rear, seized the advantage and took over at the front, with Marquez – using a hard front paired with a soft rear – close behind in second. With thoughts of some of last season’s great battles between the two still fresh, the crowd hoped for more of the same and were not disappointed as Marquez used his Michelin tyres to the full extent to get the drive and make a pass on his Italian rival. He briefly led, but Dovizioso came straight back and took the upper-hand in the push to the line to seal victory by a mere 0.027 seconds. Close in third was Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who celebrated signing a new two-year contract with his team on Thursday, by taking the final podium place.
Zarco took pole position on Saturday, when the Frenchman broke the longest-standing best-lap record on the current calendar. It had stood since 2008, when Jorge Lorenzo posted a time of 1’53.927 using Michelin qualifying tyres on the fairly new Losail circuit. Zarco’s time was 0.247 seconds quicker than the previous record, on a less grippy and aging surface made even more difficult by the dusty conditions. Fellow front-row position riders Marquez and Petrucci also bettered the previous best lap, with all three using tyres with the same compounds that featured in today’s race, again showing the wide performance attributes of the MICHELIN Power Slicks.
Conditions at the 5,400m Losail International Circuit had been difficult all weekend as high winds blew sand from the surrounding desert on to the track surface. This increased abrasiveness, but it didn’t hamper the performance of the MICHELIN Power Slick tyres as the whole field produced a spectacle of close racing.
Following home the top-three was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) as he had the honour or First Independent Rider for his fourth place. Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) took fifth and on the way set the record for the fastest speed at Losail, with a stunning 351.9Km/h, demonstrating that both grip and drivability are important factors of the MICHELIN Power Slicks. Sixth went to Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), seventh to Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), with early pace-setter Zarco in eighth. The top-10 was rounded out by Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) respectively.
Michelin’s next MotoGP journey will be to head south over the Equator and travel to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, as the paddock moves to sample the delights of Latin America as round two of the MotoGP World Championship takes place on Sunday 8th April.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team:
“I am so happy today because my feeling with the bike and the tyres throughout the weekend was very good and they worked really well during the race. This is a circuit where you must save the tyre, due to the nature of the track and I saved mine until the last four laps and did the fastest lap then. I couldn’t create the gap and was surprised to see Marc there with me at the end, but overall I am really happy.”
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
“What a great race to start the season and congratulations first to Andrea for the taking the win and to the other guys for a great show. The wind this weekend created an extra ingredient that we were not really expecting and it blew a lot of sand on to the track, making conditions much worse than when we were here at the test recently. This, allied to having day-time practice sessions and evening ones – where temperatures were very different – made tyre choice for the race a more complicated affair. The riders all went for the soft rear which was the new compound we introduced in the winter tests and all the riders liked it, so that was really important for us. We had a complete mix of all three compounds for the front, which again emphasised the choice we can supply to all the guys to give them different options and this was underlined with the fact that the three bikes on the podium were from three different manufacturers. We were pleased with the performance during the race and the tyres helped to produce another exciting weekend. This was highlighted with Johann’s stunning pole lap on Saturday, that was a very old record that was set on qualifying tyres, so to see it broken on our race tyres was very pleasing.”