Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
ANTONELLI STRAIGHT ON THE PACE
Niccolo Antonelli made an impressive start to life as a Grand Prix rider tonight, showing maturity and potential in equal measures beneath the glare of the Losail floodlights. The youngster adapted quickly to the circuit and conditions, reacting well to a technical setback in the second of two free practice sessions this evening to finish tenth on the combined time sheets.
Niccolo’ Antonelli (10° 2’ 09” 501) “Tonight was the night of my debut and it was very exciting. I tried to get to know the track during the first session and I have to say I like it a lot, especially under the lights. We had a small problem with the bike in the second session that cost me some time but thanks to the mechanics I was able to get back out on track and set the tenth fastest time. Overall I don't think it was a bad debut.”
Fausto Gresini “That is a good start and we have to be happy. Niccolò is the top Italian in the class tonight with the tenth fastest time overall and that's very positive. It was his debut, he was excited, but his performance was above expectations. He was very focused and stayed calm when we had the problem with his bike in the second session, which is unusual in such a young rider. It is still early days and I think Niccolò can improve further.”
Maverick Viñales sets early pace in Qatar
Repsol rider goes quickest over two practice sessions. Oliveira and Rins consolidate strong start with fourth and fifth best times, respectively.
The long-awaited 2012 World Championship finally began on Thursday at Losail, debuting a new category for the occasion. The Moto3 class enjoyed a first two practice sessions at the Qatari circuit, with the Repsol riders starting strong. Maverick Viñales topped the timesheet at the end of the opening session, with Miguel Oliveira fourth and Álex Rins sixteenth.
Viñales and Oliveira repeated their placings in the second run, whilst Rins made a big improvement to move up to fifth. As a result, the three Repsol riders all placed in the top five on opening night.
Viñales dropped over 1.5 seconds from his time in the second practice, ending the evening with a best lap of 2’08.160 from 27 laps.
Miguel Oliveira was able to cut over a second from his own time, stopping the clock at 2’09.979 after his 26-lap run. He was 8 tenths off Viñales.
Rins, who is still yet to make a 100% recovery from his collarbone injury from preseason, made a huge improvement of 4 seconds from session to session. That flung him up to fifth in the combined standings with a 2’09.107 best lap from his 32.
FP1 - 2:09.762, 13 laps, 70 km.
FP2 - 2:08.160, 14 laps, 75 km.
"It has been a good first night, because I felt comfortable on the bike and we were able to work on the chassis. We managed to find a good pace on a track where the conditions really weren’t that bad. We still have to go faster on every corner. We have to take things slowly and take steady steps. We will match the times of the 125cc bikes, but we just need time. We had many days in which to ride at Jerez, so going to 40 minute sessions here makes it a little harder."
FP1 - 2:10.385, 13 laps, 70 km.
FP2 - 2:08.979, 13 laps, 70 km.
"We had a good session, even though there are a few tenths between ourselves and the fastest riders. We aren’t far off those ahead of us, but we should still improve a few aspects of the bike in order to close in further on them. I think that it has been a very positive day, but there is still room for improvement. As it is the first day here in Qatar, riders are still looking for their lines, so we will have to pay attention in the coming sessions."
FP1 - 2:12.153, 15 laps, 81 km.
FP2 - 2:09.107, 17 laps, 91 km.
"We did a good job tonight, despite the fact that in the first session I was finding it hard to adapt to the track. From then on we made steady progress. This is the first time that I have ridden here and there is plenty of work still to be done. I think that this is one of the most difficult tracks at which I have ridden; I hope to carry on my trajectory tomorrow and improve my times from today. There are some parts of the track where I feel that we should be doing better still -above all on the exit and on the brakes -but generally I am satisfied.”
BANKIA ASPAR START THE SEASON ON THE FRONT FOOT
Alberto Moncayo and Héctor Faubel make progress in second session to finish seventh and ninth
The 2012 MotoGP World Championship officially got underway with 33 riders on track for the first free practice session in Moto3 history tonight. Lap times were something of a secondary consideration as the riders got to grips with the sandy and slippery desert circuit although the new four-stroke machines look likely to match the pace of their 125cc predecessors tomorrow. As expected there was little to separate the riders on track, with Maverick Viñales narrowly heading off the rest of the field at the end of tonight's two sessions.
BANKIA Aspar riders Alberto Moncayo and Héctor Faubel made a positive start to the new campaign, both treading carefully in the opening session before making marked progress later in the evening to shave around two seconds off their lap times. The pair started out with a similar base setting to the recent Jerez test two weeks ago and made gradual changes to cope with the lack of grip, caused by a film of sand on the track surface. Both Alberto and Héctor ended the evening happy after lapping seventh and ninth fastest respectively.
7th Alberto Moncayo 2.09.312 (27 laps): "I'm happy because we improved the lap times a lot in the second session, after building our pace gradually. We had a few issues with the front end but the mechanics did a great job to give me more feel for the suspension, which allowed me to brake harder in certain corners. We did a lot of work on used tyres, which will serve us well for the race, so it has been a good first night. We still have work to do because there are plenty of riders ahead of us but the important thing is that we have started out in positive fashion."
9th Héctor Faubel 2.09.501 (31 laps): "We have worked hard tonight to improve my feeling for the bike compared to Jerez and I am satisfied with the progress we have made. We have to look at the telemetry and take another step tomorrow, to find some more stability in the fast corners and a little more top speed. We worked hard in both sessions and found some things to make me more comfortable with this chassis set-up. We are happy with the way it's working in the first two sectors but we need to find something extra in the final part of the track."
QATAR GP: GOOD START IN THE FIRST PRACTICE DAY FOR THE SPEED MASTER RIDERS
Today begun the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar with its first two practice sessions, kicking off the first event of 2012 World Championship.
It was a positive day for both Speed Master riders. Andrea Iannone and his crew worked on some initial changes between the first and the second practice, in order to modify the setting of the bike and focus on the tyres choice, verifying these decisions in FP2.
Great start for Di Meglio, who set competitive lap times on top of his Speed Up machine and kept within the top 10 constantly. The Frenchman showed a consistent pace, putting in a positive performance.
Andrea Iannone #29 - 14th with 2'02.069
“I’d say the day went ok. The first session went well, the setting had to be fixed but in general I had a good feeling on the bike. The second practice was a little bit more complicated, we didn’t manage to show our potential. In any case we didn’t use any new tyres, we were on used tyres, which are the ones that we could use for the race and with those there’s work to sort out. Anyway I’m not worried, now we have to improve the bike’s setting. Let’s wait for tomorrow and we’ll find out how it goes.”
Mike di Meglio #63 - 8th with 2'01.524
“I’m really happy with this first day. We worked very well, I had a good feeling on the bike. We still have to improve our pace when I’m out on the track alone, but we are moving forward and tomorrow we’ll try a modification to the setting to get a better stability with the Speed Up machine. I’m adapting my riding style as much as possible, we’ll try some solutions to improve our lap times more easily, I hope the weekend goes on as today, then we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”
Promising World Championship return for Marc Márquez
Repsol rider starts 2012 campaign after briefest of preseasons, beginning strongly with seventh fastest practice time.
The Losail International Circuit clock was five minutes away from striking seven when the first Moto2 World Championship session of the year began at the Qatari track. Marc Márquez, last year’s runner-up, took to the track excited about the new season. He spent the majority of a long winter away from the asphalt, but is back to full form for the start of this intriguing year.
Focusing primarily on regaining his feel for the Qatar circuit, the Repsol rider put in 16 laps in the opening session and recorded a best time of 2’02.068 -just 8 tenths off Thomas Lüthi’s fastest lap of the run. Márquez marked his return to the World Championship with the fourth fastest time of Free Practice 1.
The second session was where the Spaniard made steady improvement on his times, stopping the clock at 2’1.455 after 15 laps and cutting the gap to Lüthi to almost seven tenths. Every rider went quicker in Free Practice 2, with the Repsol representative claiming the seventh fastest lap overall -phenomenal when taking into account his brief preseason.
FP1 - 2:02.068, 16 laps, 86 km.
FP2 - 2:01.455, 15 laps, 81 km.
"I am happy with how the first night of practice went. It was a little harder for me to get on the pace in the opening session, but I progressively gained confidence. I felt a lot more comfortable in the second session, although I think that we still have plenty of points for improvement tomorrow. Now we just have to look at the data from these two sessions and see what conclusions we can draw from them. The important thing is that we have been making improvements, which is what we were looking to find.
Tomorrow we will be working more with towards finding the best setup. I can feel the fact that I have not put as many kilometres under my belt as other riders, because my preseason was so brief. I just need that time going round in order to up my pace from the start of the session, but we will carry on working tomorrow in order to have things ready for Saturday’s qualifying session."
DEBUT SETBACK FOR GINO REA AFTER FREE PRACTICE CRASH
Gino Rea's Moto2 World Championship debut didn't quite go to plan this evening, a small crash in the second free practice session preventing him from being able to make the progress he hoped on the opening night of the Grand Prix of Qatar. After a promising first session the English rider remains positive and is looking forward to making up for lost time tomorrow.
Gino Rea "The first session was quite positive. Unfortunately we went a little bit in the wrong direction after the crash so that held us back a little bit because we just didn't have the time to make the adjustments we needed to make so I couldn't improve on my time. It is disappointing because after the first session because we knew where we needed to improve so I'm sorry to the team for making them work harder repairing the bike but I think once we sit down and look at the data we will be able to come back a lot stronger tomorrow."
SOLID START IN QATAR FOR MARC VDS RACING TEAM
Doha, Qatar - 5 April 2012: The Marc VDS Racing Team made a solid start to the opening round of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship in Qatar today, with Scott Redding finishing fifth fastest and Mika Kallio just one place further back in sixth.
More important than position was the fact that both Marc VDS riders finished this evening's two 45-minute free practice sessions just half a second off the fastest time, which was set by former 125cc World Champion, Thomas Lüthi.
Both Marc VDS riders overcame problems today, with Redding having to change the set-up of his Kalex Moto2 machine to overcome front-end chatter and Kallio missing a pit exit in the second session after an electrical problem with the bike.
Redding and Kallio are confident of finding further improvements in tomorrow's final free practice session, ready for Saturday's all-important first qualifying session of the new season.
Scott Redding #45: 5th - 2'01.336
"Overall it's been a good day. The first session was a bit hard because I managed to pick up a cold on the flight over and I found it difficult to breathe properly. The second session was much better and we could focus on finding a solution to the front chatter we experienced. We still need to do some more work on this tomorrow, but it's not a big problem. I'm happy with the lap time today and I'm confident we can close the gap even further tomorrow. I was looking for top six on day one and we've achieved that, now we need to do the same in tomorrow."
Mika Kallio #36: 6th - 2'01.360
"We had a good start to the weekend and we're pretty much where we expected to be position wise. We're just over half a second off the fastest lap, but I'm confident there is more to come tomorrow. We had a problem with the bike in the second session, which cost me one pit exit, but I still managed to improve my time on my last run, so we didn't lose out too much. It was a good day and a solid start to our first race weekend, which is what we wanted here."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Qatar hasn't been particularly good to us in recent years, so it's good to put that behind us with two solid performances in the practice sessions today. Both Scott and Mika were consistent throughout free practice, and their fast laps came towards the end of each session on the same tyre with which they started. We have achieved our aim today, but tomorrow we must do the same and then on Saturday we need to qualify both riders on the first two rows of the grid. It will be a challenge, as the lap times at the top are close, but I think it's a realistic goal."
MOTO2 SEASON LAUNCHES UNDER LIGHTS OF LOSAIL
MAPFRE Aspar pair optimistic after significant improvements on first day
With a reduced field of 33 riders the opening free practice sessions of the new Moto2 season tonight gave us a glimpse of what promises to be a less chaotic but equally competitive season in the intermediate class. The likes of Luthi, Corti and Espargaró, who set the pace in preseason testing at Jerez two weeks ago, look to be the men to beat again here after the early running over two sessions at Losail, with a further free practice due to take place tomorrow night.
The MAPFRE Aspar Team put hard work at the top of their agenda tonight, with Toni Elías and Nico Terol steadily adapting to the lack of grip and ruling out certain set-up combinations. The Spanish pair made some progress in the opening practice but it was in the second session that they enjoyed the most improvement - in particular the final couple of laps - to finish the evening tenth and 22nd respectively on the early time sheets.
10th Toni Elías 2.01.826 (28 laps): "We started out with some problems in the first session that we had to resolve in the second session, costing us time, but we managed to make some big improvements at the end and found a good pace. We are still not ready but I am happy with our progress and I hope we can keep it going in the same direction. We are losing most time in the fast corners so that will be our main point of focus tomorrow. Today we worked on the chassis and suspension in order to improve grip, because as you expect here there is always a lot of sand on the track on the first day."
22nd Nico Terol 2.02.678 (32 laps): "This is a circuit I like so to be honest I was expecting to have a better feel for the bike in the first session but it is completely different to what I am used to, even though I know the track perfectly. I finished the day on a high, finding more than a second in the final session, so that gives me motivation for tomorrow. I am struggling more than I expected because this was a great circuit for me on the 125 but we are working in the right way and we have to stay calm. I need to find more confidence with the front because it is moving around a lot and that makes it hard to turn."
Good first day for RW Racing GP
The very first day of the new season has been a good one for RW Racing GP. Both the riders Luis Salom and Brad Binder were happy to start racing again. And the first two practice sessions in Qatar went pretty well for both of them. The Kalex KTM and the Qatar track seem to suit each other. Salom set the 3rd time (2.10.301) in the first practice and the 11th in the second one (2.09.551). Binder was 12th in the first session (2.11.847) and 18th (2.10.783) in the second practice.
Luis Salom: "Maybe the positions are not the best possible, but we had two very good sessions. The setup for the race was the most important thing to concentrate on. Since the last test in Jerez there were no changes made to the bike, but we did a series of very consistent lap times. I'm pleased with that.''
Brad Binder: "Getting to know a track needs some time. I used all of it today. You could tell by the lap times: it was getting better every lap. I feel comfortable with the bike and the track. Tomorrow we try to do better again. I still have to get used to riding at night and sleeping during the day.''
Johan Stigefelt: "We had a very good day. The bike seems better on this track than on the Jerez circuit. For sure it was better for the tires. We only used two sets of tires. We used the extra day for trying some things for the setup. It seems we are heading in the right direction.''