Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after FP3 for both classes at Qatar:
Rins and Marquez keep on pushing in Losail
Rins second and Marquez sixth in solitary Moto3 Friday session.
Spanish motorcycle racing's young promises kept up the great level shown on Thursday with another stellar performance on Friday. Rins had taken the third fastest time in Moto3 practice on the first night, with Marquez fourth. Tonight both riders were once again at the head of the field in a solitary practice session for the Qatar GP.
Rins once again demonstrated great potential at the Qatari track, which featured tough conditions. A strong wind and a dirty surface was made more complicated by a few drops of rain, although that failed to stop Rins to lead the way with five minutes remaining in the practice session. Only a fast lap from Luis Salom prevented him from topping the tmesheets. On his best lap of the day ─the last of his 11─ he stopped the clock in 2'08.609.
Teammate Alex Marquez also continued to progress on a circuit that was unknown to him before yesterday. In his second night of practice in Losail, Marquez was sixth quickest with a time of 2'09.621. He took that time on lap 11 of 15.
FP3: 2:08.609, 11 laps, 59 km.
FP3: 2:09.621, 15 laps, 81 km.
“Today's practice went rather well. At the start the track was rather dirty; MotoGP had been riding beforehand, but with the wind picking up the track became dirty again in an instant. We were able to put in some more or less good times; albeit slower than yesterday, they were respectable.
At the end we tried some things and found a setup that we will use in qualifying, so I am happy. We have a couple of things to adjust on the bike, but we are ready for tomorrow. We will go out positively and hope to finish inside the top ten in order to have a chance of a good race."
Difficult practice due to hard wind
A nasty wind that tortured the Losail Circuit made the second day of the GP of Qatar difficult. The circumstances in the desert were too tricky. RW Racing GP’s riders Jakub Kornfeil and Jasper Iwema avoided to take too many risks. Therefore both riders ended up outside the top 10: Kornfeil in 13th with 2.10.300, Iwema in 19th with 2.10.920.
Both Kornfeil and Iwema showed the capability to ride in the top 10 on several occasions during FP3. But when it came down to setting a fast lap, in the last 10 minutes of the session, the wind became stronger and it even started to rain lightly. They decided to take not too many risks and avoided to ride on the very limit to set a time.
Team manager Jarno Janssen agreed with his riders: "There is no point in riding on the limit under these conditions. I rather have two bikes and two riders in one piece in the garage. It was a free practice; when the conditions are like this in tomorrow’s qualifying practice they will have to ride on the limit, but not now.’’
Jakub Kornfeil (13): "I am not happy. I wanted to ride: as much as possible and as fast as possible. But it wasn’t possible. Some riders had enough confidence to ride it to the limit and set a fast lap time. That’s their risk. I didn’t feel like taking so many risk. I will if I have to, in qualifying.’’
Jasper Iwema (19): "I was in the top 10 a few times and I was confident I could do even better. But then the wind became more like a storm and we were almost blown off the bike. We only had one session today and that was blown away. Let’s just hope the rest of the weekend will be better, because I’m eager to perform.’’
Redding on the pace as rain disrupts final free practice in Qatar
Doha, Qatar - 5 April 2013: The onset of rain halfway through this evening's third and final free practice session in Qatar meant that none of the top ten riders were able to improve their lap times from yesterday, with the result that Scott Redding and Mika Kallio remain fourth and eighth on combined times.
With dark clouds gathering over the Losail International Circuit ahead of the final free practice session, Redding wasted no time once the session started, posting his fastest time of the evening on his eighth lap, shortly before rain forced all the riders back to pit lane.
Kallio wasn't so lucky. Still working on the set-up of his Kalex Moto2 machine, the 30-year-old Finn had just returned to the track to push for a quick lap time when the rain arrived over the circuit. With rain continuing to fall sporadically throughout the remainder of the session, no further improvement in lap time was possible for Kallio.
Qualifying for the Grand Prix of Qatar takes place tomorrow evening, followed less than three hours later by warm-up for Sunday's race.
Scott Redding #45: 4th - 2'01.433
"The problem with Qatar is that even when the skies are completely black, you're not sure if it's going to rain or not. In the end we decided to continue with our original plan and I managed to post my fastest lap on the second exit, just before the rain came for the first time. After that I was trying to push to further improve my time, but the rain kept reappearing and the track conditions were changing with every lap. I'm happy enough with third today, especially as I did the time on a used tyre."
Mika Kallio #36: 8th - 2'01.981
"We made some changes to the set-up ahead of the final session today and, to be honest, they didn't work. On the first exit the bike felt completely different and I wasn't getting any feedback from the tyres, only chatter. We switched back to the previous set-up and, although there was still some vibration from the front, the feeling was immediately better. Unfortunately, before I had a chance to find my rhythm and push for a fast lap the rain arrived and that was that. Obviously I'm not happy to have effectively lost a session, as it leaves us with work to do in qualifying tomorrow."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Rain has been a constant companion for the Moto2 teams during testing, but if you can't race in the middle of the desert without it raining then what hope is there? Scott managed to get in a quick lap early in the session to go third, but Mika wasn't quite so lucky. He made some changes to the bike overnight and had to confirm these changes before starting to push for a fast lap, which, unfortunately, coincided with the arrival of the rain. Hopefully the weather will improve ahead of qualifying tomorrow, as I want to see both riders pushing for a front row start in Sunday's race."
More information and high resolution images are available on the Marc VDS Racing Team website at www.marcvds.com.
MotoGP Moto3 - San Carlo Team Italia FMI improves in Qatar
The third Moto3 free practice session in Qatar saw Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5) emerge as the fastest Italian on track with the eighth time, + 1.705 behind Salom, who was once again fastest on KTM with a 2'08.167.
Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#4) took a more cautious approach to avoid further damage to his injured arm. The rider was declared fit to race, but posted the 28th time (+ 4.143) as the wind and light rain made the circuit's surface slippery, causing several crashes.
Romano Fenati, 8º, 2'09.872
"We haven't improved our time since yesterday, but nobody else did. We were comparatively faster than yesterday. We found a good solution and my feeling improved. We still need time with the new bike and engine. I can cut the gap."
Francesco Bagnaia, 28º, 2'12.310
"It was a difficult session because of the weather and the dirt on the track. I preferred not to take too many risks. We tried a couple of ideas that turned out to be positive. We still have to improve, but it's not impossible. I hope I can do better tomorrow."
Roberto Locatelli (Technical Coordinator, San Carlo Team Italia FMI)
"It's been a fairly positive day. The team and the riders worked well, it seems that we finally took a positive turn toward the right setup. I think we can further improve tomorrow."
JONAS FOLGER STAKES POLE CLAIM AHEAD OF TOMORROW'S QUALIFYING
MAPFRE Aspar on the pace throughout third free practice and finishes third fastest
With just one session on a filthy track there was no chance for the Moto3 riders to improve their pace on the second day of free practice at Losail tonight, where the rarity of desert rainfall also contributed to less than ideal conditions. Luis Salom again set the quickest time in a session dominated largely by MAPFRE Aspar rider Jonas Folger and the fight for pole tomorrow looks certain to be a straight fight between those two plus Alex Rins.
Folger's tactic was to push hard in every session and there were few riders able to live with his pace until he came in for new tyres at the end and was caught out by the surprise shower. His team-mate Eric Granado was also unlucky tonight, the Brazilian rookie struggling to cope with the dramatic changes in track conditions and also suffering a crash in the second corner.
3rd Jonas Folger 2.08.656 (10 laps): "Even though the track conditions weren't great it was fun to ride out there tonight. There was a lot of sand on the track so we had to modify our set-up to cope with it. After dominating most of the session we came in to change tyres near the end and it started to rain so we couldn't improve our time and lost a couple of positions but I'm not worried about that. The important thing is that we have been competitive in every session so far and we have good race pace."
23rd Eric Granado 2.11.218 (10 laps): "The track conditions were quite different today compared to yesterday. The wind was strong and there was a lot of sand on the track surface. I struggled to get into my rhythm at the start of the session and wasn't able to get behind another rider to get some guidance, and then I braked harder than I should have in turn two and crashed. The team fixed the bike quickly and gave me time to get back out on track and do three more laps and improve my lap time. If it wasn't for the crash I would have been quicker but we'll try to make up time tomorrow and be ready for the race."
MAPFRE ASPAR RIDERS IMPROVE FEELING AND POSITION ON TIMESHEETS
Both riders improved front end feeling despite the poor track conditions, Nico Terol finishing ninth and Jordi Torres fifteenth
The Moto2 riders were no luckier than the Moto3 competitors as they experienced conditions more suited to a wild west movie than a GP free practice. Due to the wind and sand blowing around at Losail the track became slippy on Friday evening. In addition to the sand and the breeze, spells of drizzle also forced the riders into their pit boxes to seek refuge twice, the first time with half an hour to go and the second with ten minutes remaining. Nakagami, fastest for the second consecutive day, continues to put preseason favourite and second fastest rider today, Pol Espargaro, in the shadows. Like in Moto3 the conditions prevented the Moto2 riders from imrpoving their Thursday lap times.
Small steps always carry you forward. The aim of the MAPFRE Aspar riders at this early stage of the season is to gradually improve each session and to understand how to make those improvements and stay on the path to progression. Lap times, due to the Losail track conditions, did not improve today though - but
Nico Terol and Jordi Torres did improve their feeling with the bike. Both of them focussed their work on their front end feeling, which is essential for the fast corners at this circuit. Improving in this manner has meant improvement in terms of timesheet positions, with Terol finishing ninth and Torres fifteenth.
9th Nico Terol 2.02.923 (12 laps): "The set-up and the feeling with the bike have improved compared to yesterday so I'm satisfied with those aspects. I was riding more smoothly and the front end was giving me more confidence. We reduced chatter and we're turning better on fast corners, as we're more stable. It's a shame I wasn't able to register a better lap time. When the track was empty we had to come into the box because of the rain. We had a few things to test so it would have been good to have more track time, but it was better than yesterday. I love this circuit so I was hoping for a smoother day, we're having to try quite a few tweaks. We'll keep working hard, we're close to the top five and getting there would change our perspective.
15th Jordi Torres 2.03.360 (13 laps): "I'm happy to have improved and we tried a couple of new things despite the conditions. All the previous work running at this track has helped and today I went for it to try and get up near the top. Now it's clearer what I need to do, my references are set and I like riding here. I want more front end confidence but we're on the right track and we've been working really hard since we got to this circuit. The team are making things easy. We're taking small steps forward and I'm convinced that tomorrow we'll see that work reflected on the timesheets".
PRACTICE LASTS JUST TWO LAPS FOR NICCOLO
A crash in turn one on just his third lap of free practice tonight made it a short night's work for Niccolò Antonelli at Losail. The Team GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 lost control of his FTR – Honda under braking and his mechanics did not have enough time to repair it before the end of tonight's solitary free practice session for the Moto3 class. Lorenzo Baldassarri also had trouble tonight, the young rookie struggling to get to grips with the conditions, the category and the circuit.
Niccolò Antonelli (29th 2’ 12” 318 ) “I was riding in a group and then suddenly without warning I went down. It might have been a gust of wind that put me off line and then the state of the track probably made me crash. I am disappointed because we virtually lost an entire session and the team have a lot of work to do to rebuild the bike.”
Lorenzo Baldassarri (30th 2’ 12” 323) “Tonight didn't go so well. The track is difficult and with my lack of experience I am really struggling to get a feel for the bike around here. I will work hard with the team to improve because I felt that I was getting a better understanding of the track tonight so we'll see what happens tomorrow.”
Fausto Gresini “Not a fantastic night! It was a shame about the crash for Niccolò after just a couple of laps. He is strong here and it was a shame but we can look back on our speed yesterday and still be optimistic about tomorrow. It is not an easy time for Baldassarri because this is his first time here and we have to work hard with him to adapt to Moto3. The track is not ideal for a rookie but we need to keep our heads up and keep turning laps because the potential is there.”
LOSAIL RAIN SURPRISES WILAIROT
Ratthapark Wilairot is ready for tomorrow's first qualifying practice of the new Moto2 season despite losing a little confidence this evening when a rare rain shower in the Qatari desert cut his free practice session short. The Thai rider preferred to sit out the final few minutes of the session and save himself for the crucial grid shootout tomorrow night.
Ratthapark Wilairot (16th 2’ 03” 4 31 ) “I am happy with my bike but not with my performance tonight. I got put off by the rain and I didn't want to risk anything. I know we have the bike ready to put in a good qualifying performance tomorrow so we'll try to do our best.”
Fausto Gresini “Wilairot showed again that he has progressed from last year because it was a wise decision not to take any risks on such an unpredictable track. He knows he has a good bike for tomorrow and he is ready for qualifying.”
PRADITA HELD UP BY THE RAIN
A rare rain shower at the Losail circuit proved to be a slight distraction to Doni Tata Pradita, who was unable to improve his pace in the closing stages of an unusual free practice session tonight. The Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider knows the circuit well having competed here before in World Supersport but was unable to improve his pace tonight after losing confidence in the tricky conditions.
Doni Tata Pradita (30th 2’ 05” 798 ) “Unfortunately the rainfall changed the way I was riding the track, I was tentative and didn't have a good feeling. I am disappointed because I was hoping to improve on my position from yesterday but didn't. Tomorrow is an important session and we will give it our best.”
Fausto Gresini “When you don't have much experience it is very easy to lose confidence in strange conditions like the ones we saw today. That is what happened to Doni tonight and he couldn't ride like he wanted but he'll have chance to make up for it tomorrow.”