Press releases from day 2 of Qatar from the 125cc and Moto2 teams:
NO LET UP FROM NICO TEROL AT LOSAIL
BANKIA Aspar rider improves lap times from yesterday to maintain almost a second gap over rivals
After two free practice sessions yesterday the 125cc class had a further opportunity to work on their set-up this evening, when BANKIA Aspar rider Nico Terol continued to dominate over Efren Vázquez, Sandro Cortese and Sergio Gadea in the day's solitary practice. The Spaniard was able to maintain an advantage of almost a second over all of them this evening although things are sure to be tighter when qualifying gets underway tomorrow.
Terol, last year's championship runner-up, has established himself as a clear favourite for the win on Sunday night and after spending this evening's session refining his set-up he finished with a flurry, setting four consecutive quick laps to secure his advantage over Vázquez. His team-mates Héctor Faubel and Adrián Martín had less fortune, the former finishing seventh fastest following another problem with his bike and the latter struggling for front end feel in the fast corners.
1st Nico Terol 2.06.957 (14 laps): "The session went fantastically well this evening. At the end I was able to put together a pretty good pace and the times are getting quick - I was only a couple of tenths off last year's pole so I am satisfied with that. I am happy to have maintain my advantage over the rest but we have to keep pushing because in this category somebody can catch you out when you least suspect it. My pace from last year's race is a good reference point for us and at the very least I want to match it. My objective for this season is to improve as a rider."
7th Héctor Faubel 2.09.253 (14 laps): "Today was a tricky session for us. We had an engine problem yesterday which came back to haunt us again today. I got a decent lap in at the start of the session but little by little we lost power and on the last lap it stopped altogether. I need to sit down with the mechanics and make sure we fix it for tomorrow so that we can qualify as high up the grid as possible."
13th Adrián Martín 2.10.073 (15 laps): "We started the weekend off quite well yesterday but I struggled to get on the pace today. I couldn't get a feel for the front end - it was lifting up in a lot of the fast corners and I was losing grip so it was tough to get any feel on the brakes or on the throttle. We only had one session to work on it today so we have to try and solve it tomorrow. We are three seconds off Nico at the moment but I think we can halve that gap."
Luis Salom eight in third free practice at Qatar
In the third and final free practice session of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, the RW Racing GP rider Luis Salom finish on an eighth position. The Spaniard finishes overall over the three free practice sessions on a seventh place.
Following the excellent fourth position of the first and second free practice, the eighth position was the highest position possible today. The team has adjusted the suspension on Thursday for the third practice session today but it didn't work out! . Salom will evaluate tonight along with chief engineer Hans Spaan the data and make the necessary adjustments for the qualifying session of tomorrow.
Saturday the qualification session will take place at 17.00 hours Dutch time. Also, the warm-up session will be held tomorrow instead of the usual Sunday.
Luis Salom (8th, 2:09.301):
"After the fourth place yesterday, I can't be satisfied with the result of today. The problems we had with the rear suspension are still there and were even worse than yesterday. Unfortunately, we went on the wrong direction but the advantage is that we now know which direction we need to go. The ! problem is that when I'm coming out of the corners I can't open the gas immediately. At the moment I open the gas the rear breaks away. Today was worse than yesterday. So I couldn't improve my lap time. I will speak together with Hans and evaluate the session. We have a good feeling we can solve the problem. Tomorrow is the qualifying and then I try to pick a spot on the second row. It will be tough but that's my goal for tomorrow! "
ANDREA IANNONE SETS THE THIRD BEST LAP TIME IN THE FREE PRACTICE OF FRIDAY IN QATAR
Today the third session of free practice was held in Qatar, as the night Grand Prix of 2011 season kicks off this weekend. The Moto2 riders had only one session of fourtyfive minutes at disposal, the last practice before tomorrow's qualifying. Andrea Iannone, on the Suter MMXI machine of Speed Master team, stayed constantly within the top-10 during this session. Aiming to move on with the work on the setting of the motorbike, Iannone and his crew took advantage of the time at disposal to arrange some changes and to be faster. When there were just few minutes left, the rider from Vasto set the time of 2'01.784, almost two tenths better than his personal best time of yesterday, which ensured him the third position. Tomorrow night, in the qualifying session, Andrea will use special leathers and livery with the Italian colours, in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — free practice n. 3: 3rd with 2'01.784
"Today was a pretty difficult day. If we compare it to yesterday, we didn't improve much: this means we haven't achieved our target completely. On the other hand I'm satisfied with the way things are going within the team, it's clear that we have to work and try to improve, but the guys are always doing their best and I'm thankful for that. We have to find what we lack to make a step and get ready for the race: now we are working to understand what we need. Tomorrow it's a special day because I'll be using the livery dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. I'm happy because for me it's a privilege to be representing my nation all over the world, I'm proud to be Italian. I hope I can make the right impression in favour of my country."
REDDING CONTINUES FAST FORM IN QATAR
Scott Redding continued his impressive start to the 2011 Moto2 World Championship in Qatar tonight, the British rider finishing the third and final practice session in sixth position.
A best lap of 2.02.049 in blustery conditions saw Redding finish just over 0.2s away from second position, though his best lap of 2.01.748 in the second session last night secured him third place on the combined practice leaderboard.
The Moto2 field only had one practice session this evening and Redding and Marc VDS teammate Mika Kallio spent the 45-minutes focussing on improving the set-up they worked on when the new season kicked off under the Losail International Circuit floodlights last night.
Conditions though were far from ideal as a fierce wind continued to batter the 5.38km circuit, making it difficult for Redding and Kallio to initially find a consistent rhythm. Redding though was a permanent fixture inside the top ten for most of the session, the 18-year-old working hard to improve his pace in the final sector leading onto the long start/finish straight.
It was a challenging evening for Kallio, the Finn working closely with his crew chief Trevor Morris to improve front-end feeling in the fast sections of the track.
Weight distribution modifications to his Suter MMX1 machine unfortunately failed to improve his feeling on corner entry and he ended 22nd on the timesheets with a best lap of 2.03.314. That was 0.072s quicker than his previous best time to leave him 23rd on the combined charts.
The Marc VDS Racing Team will be back on track tomorrow evening at 6.55pm (local time) for the decisive qualifying session, which will be the first experience of a new format that will see three instead of four riders make up each row.
Scott Redding #45 - 2.02.049 - 16 laps
"I'm happy to be in the top six and I'm in the ballpark with the rest of the fast guys, but Bradl's lap time is pretty impressive. The wind seemed much stronger tonight and it was quite unpredictable, so it would get under the bike when you didn't expect it and that it made it difficult to build up a rhythm. I still feel pretty good on the bike and we've got some ideas to improve further tomorrow night because the gearing feels a bit short in places. I'm losing the most time in the last section and I think a big part of that is on the straight. I haven't followed anybody yet to get a tow and that will probably give me a bit more time, because a slipstream makes a big difference. Tomorrow night is going to be crucial with the new grid rule. Three on a row instead of four makes qualifying even more important and it is going to make those final few minutes pretty breathtaking. I'm definitely up for the challenge and it is going to be interesting."
Mika Kallio #36 - 2.03.314 - 17 laps
"It was another difficult session and unfortunately we couldn't find a solution to the turning problem I have. We put a lot more weight on the front at the start of the session but I was still not able to enter the corner how I'd like. We put the bike back to the same balance as last night and I was able to lap just a little bit quicker, but I need to be much faster. I'll analyse the data with my crew tonight and I'm sure we can come up with a solution to give me confidence for tomorrow night."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"Scott is once again one of the fastest riders on the track and he is only two tenths away from second position. We are happy about that even though the gap to the front is quite big, but I am confident that Scott and his crew will find some more improvements again tomorrow. It has not been easy in practice because only one set of tyres are suiting this track and that limits your options quite a lot. It is the same for everybody but it would be nice to try something different with the tyres to improve the lap time. I was expecting to see Mika a little bit higher on the timesheets but I am sure we can make him more confident with the bike tomorrow. We will experience the new qualifying format tomorrow with three riders per row, so it is going to be intense, exciting but also a big challenge. The Marc VDS Racing Team will be working hard to make sure Scott and Mika are able to challenge for a good grid position."
Marc Márquez confirms his good level with a second place
The Repsol rider improves amazingly quickly at Losail. Today he finished the session with the harder compound and he is already looking forward to the race
Despite still adapting to the Moto2 class, Marc Márquez keeps amazing every day with his performances. After finishing second yesterday in the first free practice session and sixth in the second, today the 125cc World Champion set the second fastest time in the third FP, ahead of riders with a lot more experience.
With a fast pace from the beginning, Marquez showed a great consistency during the 45 minutes that lasted today's session. He rode constantly with times of 2 minutes and 2 seconds. By midsession, the rider had already reduced his register to 2 minutes and 1 second, always riding with used tyres in order to work in the race set-up.
Márquez kept improving lap after lap and in the fourth and last sector of Losail track, which allowed him to reduced yesterday's time by more than half a second. Five minutes before the end, Emilio Alzamora's pupil took the lead of the classification, but a Stefan Bradl attacked with a superb time in the last minute. The German rider was the only one to ride below the 2 minutes and 1 second mark.
After the three practice sessions held, tomorrow the Moto2 riders will face the 45-minutes qualifying session to define the positions of the grid.
2'01.754 sec, 19 laps, 102 km.
"During today's session I steadily improved my laps time and I felt very comfortable on the bike. We still have some margin to improve and I hope that I will be able to find some solutions later together with my team. I have to improve some things at the entrance of the corners and specially at the exit, as I have some bad habits from 125cc. The times we set today were with hard tyres, so tomorrow we will so how we go with qualifying tyres. At the end we had a minor problem, as we run out of fuel when I was going back to the garage".
FIFTH FASTEST SIMÓN MAKES PROGRESS AHEAD OF QUALIFYING
MAPFRE Aspar rider finds six tenths in this evening's solitary session and will look for more tomorrow
The second night's action at the Grand Prix of Qatar saw a single 45-minute session for the Moto2 class, as the teams and riders worked to refine their settings ahead of tomorrow night's crucial qualifying session. The favourites for the first victory of the season are starting to emerge, with Stefan Bradl setting the pace tonight but Simón, Márquez, Iannone and Takahasi also looking in good form. Unlike last year the gaps between the riders are extending as the weekend progresses and it seems the days of twenty riders in the same second are a thing of the past.
Julián Simón is patiently and gradually finding the best way around the Losail circuit, the MAPFRE Aspar man riding cautiously today after a crash yesterday. After nine laps this evening he improved his best time and on his final circulation of fifteen he went faster again, a 2'02.005 enough to place him fifth. Having found six tenths in just a single session the Spaniard is looking for an other step forward tomorrow to secure a good position on the grid. His team-mate Xavi Forés, on the other hand, was unable to carry on from the positive start he made yesterday. Still struggling from an injury he picked up in testing at Jerez, the rookie did improve the front suspension setting of his Suter machine and managed to lap nineteenth fastest.
5th Julián Simón 2.02.005 (15 laps): "Today we took a little step forward with the set-up but Bradl is looking really impressive and setting a very fast pace. We're taking it step by step and hopefully tomorrow we can close the gap again. I felt more comfortable on the bike this afternoon, I had more confidence and that makes it easy to weight up the changes. Our pace is pretty good, we need to find something in the final sector and the objective is to be fighting for the front row tomorrow. Qualifying will be tough but we have another day to take that step forward that we need. I am happy with today and the team are doing a good job to help me find the right way forward."
19th Xavi Forés 2.03.167 (13 laps): "I found it more difficult today because the hand was really painful at the start, especially under hard braking and opening the throttle out of the right turns. We will keep working through with our mind set on the race. We have to adapt to the category and for that reason I am not too concerned at my position at the moment because little by little we will get there. The important thing for us now is to make a plan for the race and for my hand to recover. We played around with the front end a little today and the results were good so we are optimistic."
Max Neukirchner "like in Superpole"
Max Neukirchner showed his best performance in the Moto2 world championship so far and pushed his MZ-FTR to a strong twelfth place on the second day of practice for the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar. In two fast laps, which reminded the former Superbike rider "of Superpole in World Superbike", Neukirchner improved his previous lap time by one second and moved up to the elite of the middle Grand Prix category. Marco Nicotari, his Italian crew chief, was full of praise for the 26-year-old Geman.
"Max is just fantastic. Today's success is 99 per cent his achievement alone. We just made a few minor adjustments to the set-up and he did the rest. It's great to have a rider with his talent", he said. "We are trying whatever we can to climb even higher in this category . Our biggest problem now is the aerodynamics as we have a certain disadvantage in terms of top-speed. Max is tall and we haven't had the time to make the necessary adjustments, but we know which direction to go!" Team-mate Anthony West didn't have much luck with his MZ-RE and had to settle for 35th place due to sever front end chatter.
Max Neukirchner (12th in 2.02,410)
"I am more than pleased today. Right from the beginning I was able to do good lap times. We then changed the tires, but the new one didn't work at all no matter what air pressure we tried. We then went back to the ones we knew would work and fine-tuned the bike a bit more. After that, the bike was fine and I did two laps almost like in Superpole in World Superbike! I didn't take too many risks but it still was quick. I think with these lap times we aren't far away from race pace!"
Anthony West (35th in 2:05,878)
"We have a lot of chattering which hurts our corner speed. Every time I get off the brakes the bike chatters all the way through the corners. We managed to improve the feeling for the front so I can brake a lot better into the corners, but then I just can't run any corner speed. If I try to ride harder, I am going to crash!"