2014 Qatar MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Press release previews from most of the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's season opening race at Qatar:


DRIVE M7 Aspar riders Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama ready to start new challenge with new team

It has been four long months since the end of the 2013 season for MotoGP fans the world over but finally the countdown to 2014 is over and the curtain will be raised on the new campaign under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend. This year's battle for MotoGP honours starts with a few question marks, such as the physical shape of the reigning World Champion Marc Márquez following his recent injury and the unprecedented mixture of categories (Factory, Factory 2 and Open…) within the same championship. The answers will start to take shape on Sunday night.

There are no doubts within the DRIVE M7 Aspar garage that Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama are ready to get back to work and continue the process of adaptation and development that they have worked so hard on during the winter. It has not been an easy preseason for the pair as they have had to get used to a new team and completely new machinery but they have both worked against the clock to arrive at the first race of the season in the best possible shape. As former World Champions themselves they know only too well the level of competition they are up against but both are determined and highly motivated to find their best form at the opening round.

Nicky Hayden: “Even though the last test went well and we made some important progress I honestly hoped we would be better prepared for the season and closer to the front by now. Anyway, in terms of the level of communication and the relationships in the team we are getting stronger and stronger. This will be my first race back on a Honda and my feeling with the chassis definitely helps, it's fun to ride. We are ready to start a new adventure and I am excited, looking forward to getting started. We know it won't be easy because there is a lot of strong competition but the simple fact that I am back in MotoGP for another season is a source of satisfaction and also motivation to do a good job. As a team we are hoping to get more and more competitive as the season progresses. Losail is not one of my favourite tracks but I like the feeling of racing under the lights.”

Hiroshi Aoyama: “Everything is new to me this year in terms of the bike and the team so we are still in a transitional stage but we were in Qatar just two weeks ago for a three day test and we gathered a lot of information that will be important this weekend. The aim is to put everything we learned in the test into practice. The first race of the season always has a special and unusual feel to it. I am looking forward to getting there and giving it my best. The level in this championship is very high and there are a lot of strong riders in the Open category this season. Our motivation couldn't be higher and we are looking to make the strongest possible start to the season. I am looking forward to a new adventure with a new team and back with Honda.”

NGM Forward Racing Team in the spotlights at start of 2014 season

The long winter wait is over as the NGM Forward Racing Team prepares this week for the first race of the 2014 MotoGP season, the Grand Prix of Qatar, under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

Aleix Espargaro arrives in Qatar confident to fight with the front riders, having delivered several impressive performance in winter testing in Sepang and recently at Losail with a race simulation at a race-winning pace.

Team mate Colin Edwards also looks forward to the first race. During the final pre-season test session, he was able to improve his feeling with the bike and consequently his lap times. Colin can claim one podium finish at Losail in 2004 when a MotoGP round was hosted for the first time in the desert on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital city Doha.

The MotoGP team will start working on Thursday for the first free practice, where they left for the test, while for the Moto2 riders Simone Corsi and Mattia Pasini, it will be the first time this season to ride under the floodlights. Both riders look forward to make their debut on board of the Forward KLX. Mattia has good memories at Losail, where he won in 2008 (class 250cc).

Colin Edwards

“I look forward to the start of the season in Qatar. I’m very happy to return on board of a Yamaha and to continue with the NGM Forward Racing Team. Together with the team we will work on the development of the bike and I’m confident that we can get good results.”

Aleix Espargaro

“After the strong pre-season, I am really excited to make my debut in Qatar on board of the Forward Yamaha. It’s the first time, since I have been racing in MotoGP, that I arrive at the opening round of the season with the opportunity to fight for the front positions. I’d like to thank the NGM Forward Racing Team for their trust and I hope to get good results for the whole team.”


The Losail International Circuit will light up this weekend for the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship: after two months of pre-season testing, both riders of the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, are excited ahead the Qatar Grand Prix, the only race of the 18 on the MotoGP calendar to take place at night.

This season sees the introduction of new technical regulations, with ‘Open’ machinery racing alongside the ‘Factory’ bikes: the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini will race both configurations, with the 2014 version of the well known Honda RC213V for Alvaro Bautista and the brand new RCV1000R developed by HRC - the so-called “Production Racer” - for premier class debutant Scott Redding.

The Qatar race marks the beginning of the third season of Alvaro Bautista as a rider of the Team: the Spaniard is looking stronger than ever after some highly competitive pre-season - topping the time sheets on two out of nine days of testing - and he will try to fight for podium finishes right from the beginning.

His team-mate Scott Redding has also had an impressive winter testing: the 21-year-old Briton, runner-up in the 2013 Moto2 World Championship, has spent valuable track time familiarising himself with the bigger Honda RCV1000R. Moreover, the excitement of premier class debut will be double for Scott, as he’s set to make exactly his 100th Grand Prix appearence this Sunday in Qatar.

ALVARO BAUTISTA “During the three-day test in Qatar we have made ​​several changes to the bike: during the first day of practice I was not feeling very comfortable, but at the end of the test the situation has undoubtedly improved, so we are confident ahead the first Grand Prix. However, we must consider that the Losail International Circuit for us is one of the most difficult tracks of the season ; unfortunately, here we are still not able to be as fast as we would like. Therefore I expect a tough weekend, in which we will need to work hard if we want to improve, but we will give 110% to try to be protagonists”.

SCOTT REDDING “Racing for the first time in MotoGP will be a great thrill, no doubt: after all, competing in the premier class is a dream for every rider. When I will line up my bike on the starting grid, for sure I will feel a little nervous, but also very curious to begin this new adventure and finally see what we can get. Our goal right now is to stay with Nicky Hayden and try to be the best Honda rider in the Open category, although it must be recognized that I still have to learn many things , from tyres behaviour to the electronics. I like a lot the Losail circuit, as well as racing at night: not being able to see anything else around the track is a strange but pleasant feeling, because it helps me to stay focused. Finally, it is very cool to think that my first MotoGP race will be exactly my 100th World Championship Grand Prix”.

FAUSTO GRESINI “Finally, we are ready to race! During the winter we worked well and we know that we are a strong team with a great potential, because we can count on an experienced rider like Bautista, and also on a young talented rider like Redding. In addition, we enjoy a great support from our main sponsor, GO&FUN : just like us, they are big fans of this sport and they are pushing hard on the accelerator. We are therefore ready to tackle a new season, characterized by new regulations that will surely contribute to add some excitement. From this point of view, we will race with both the available configurations: the Factory Honda RC213V is an extremely competitive bike, with which Bautista can be an absolute protagonist, while the new RCV1000R for Redding is developed specifically for the new ‘Open’ category. Regarding Scott’s bike, at the moment the performance is a little below our expectations, but we remain positive for the future. With regard to the three-day test recently held at Losail, although we have not been as fast as we wanted, we look at this first Grand Prix with confidence, convinced that we can be competitive if we will work well over the race weekend”.

Ducati Team arrives at Losail International Circuit for opening round of the season in Qatar

After winter testing in Malaysia and Australia and the presentation of the Ducati Team in Germany last week in the Audi Forum at Munich Airport, the spotlights are now about to go on again for all the protagonists of the MotoGP World Championship, which kicks off this weekend with the opening round at Losail, in Qatar.

More than four months have gone by since the final round of the 2013 season at Valencia, and at Ducati headquarters in Borgo Panigale this period has been marked by a number of important changes, with the arrival of Luigi Dall’Igna as Ducati Corse General Manager, as well as the entry into the team of British rider Cal Crutchlow alongside Andrea Dovizioso, who starts his second season with Ducati.

Two tests at Sepang and a third at Phillip Island saw the two Ducati Team riders make significant progress in lap times, but the main aim in this first part of the season will still be to develop the new Desmosedici GP14 in order to turn it into a competitive machine in the races.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04)

“I am very satisfied with how the winter tests went, because we managed to improve more than we expected. Now the GP14 is easier to handle and by making a few changes to the bike, we managed to set some interesting times. The Losail circuit is very strange, because of the wind that often blows sand onto the track, and in addition it’s a night race. The track is long and fast and it’ll be interesting to see how well we go there with the new bike. I’m sure I can be quick over one lap, especially because last year I managed to go well in qualifying. Maybe the race will be a bit more difficult than practice, but I think we can be quite competitive at Losail. For sure we have reduced the gap to the others we had last year.”

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35)

“I’m starting my fourth season in MotoGP and my first as a Ducati factory rider, so I’m really looking forward to getting on the bike in a few days’ time and begin this new chapter. I think Qatar is going to be quite good for us: the team have been working fantastically hard, and I think we’ve progressed a lot since I first got on the bike in November. I think we will be at a little disadvantage because we never tested there, but we will still be at 100%. I’ve been very busy these past three months and in January I got married to Lucy, but once we start the season we can settle down into a rhythm. I can’t wait to start the season.”

The wait is finally over as Marquez and Pedrosa head to Qatar

Winter testing is over and the Repsol Honda riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, are on their way to Doha for the first race of 2014. It was positive Winter for Dani who completed many laps, however, it was a difficult period for World Champion, Marc, who missed two of the three tests due to injury.

The Losail circuit, located in the desert outside Qatar’s capital, Doha, sprung up in 2003 and hosted its first international motorcycle race in 2004. In 2008, it became notable for hosting the first-ever floodlit MotoGP race. At 5.380km in length, Losail is one of the longest circuits on the international calendar, with the main straight more than 1km long. Ten right turns, mix with six lefts but the flat and featureless landscape make it a difficult track to learn. Desert sand also causes grip problems.

This first grand prix of the season is also the only race weekend that stretches over four days, with FP1 beginning on Thursday evening, FP2 and FP3 on Friday evening, Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday night at 22h00 local time.

Marc Marquez, who took his first MotoGP podium here last year en route to his World Championship, will be eager to get back on the bike for the first time since the 6th February. Marc suffered a training accident on the 19th February which ruled him out of the second Sepang test and tyre test in Phillip Island. Marc has visited the Qatar podium in all three classes, 3rd in MotoGP (2013), 1st in Moto2 (2012) and 3rd in 125cc (2010).

Teammate Dani Pedrosa, who has had a positive pre-season took second place here in 2012 and has finished on the podium a total of four times in MotoGP (2012 – 2nd, 2011 – 3rd, 2008 – 3rd, 2007 – 3rd) and once in 250cc (2004 – 2nd).

Team Quotes

Marc Marquez

“Obviously it was very disappointing for me to miss the two tests but the good news is that I’m getting better and the bone is mending. I’ve been exercising more, so I’ll have to see how I am in Qatar - I don’t expect to be 100%, but I will try my hardest. The important thing is to take some valuable points and then get up to 100% by round two in Austin. Arriving in Qatar as World Champion is something new to me - to defend the Title - and I know that from the first session the eyes of the World will be on us. Taking my first podium here last year was special and I have good memories!”

Marc Marquez Statistics

Date of Birth 17/02/1993

Birthplace Lleida, (Catalonia) – Spain

Height 168 cm

Weight 59 kg

Hobbies Mountain Biking, Video games

Grand Prix debut 2008 125cc Portugal GP (KTM 125 FRR)

First GP win 2010 125cc Italian GP (Derbi RSA 125)

GP pole positions 37 (9 MotoGP, 14 in 125cc, 14 in Moto2)

Total GP wins 32 (6 MotoGP, 10 in 125cc, 16 in Moto2)

MotoGP wins 6

MotoGP podiums 16

World titles 3 (1 x MotoGP 2013, 1 x 125cc, 2010, 1 x Moto2, 2012)

Previous Results in Qatar 2013 3rd (MotoGP), 2012 1st (Moto2), 2011 DNF (Moto2), 2010 3rd (125cc), 2009 DNF (Moto2)

Dani Pedrosa

“It’s been a pretty positive pre-season and we’ve completed a lot of laps in both Sepang and Phillip Island. We’ve made a lot of progress but as always there is room to improve. Since we finished in Australia, I’ve been concentrating on my fitness and focusing on the start of the season, my days are pretty hectic with the various training regimes. The race weekend in Qatar is quite long - as it stretches over four days - and the grip level is always quite low the first practice. Now I’m looking forward to the start of the Championship!”

Dani Pedrosa Statistics

Date of Birth 29/09/1985

Height 1.60m

Weight 51kg

Hobbies Cycling, Motocross, Windsurfing, Cinema

Grand Prix debut 2001. 125cc Japanese GP, Suzuka – (Honda RS125R)

First GP win 2002. 125cc Dutch GP, Assen – (Honda RS125R)

GPs raced 194

GP pole positions 42 (9 in 125cc, 9 in 250cc, 24 in MotoGP)

Total GP wins 45 (8 in 125cc, 15 in 250cc, 22 in MotoGP)

MotoGP wins 25

Total GP podiums 112

World titles 3 (1 x 125cc, 2003, 2 x 250cc 2004 & 2005 – Honda RS250RW)

Previous Results in Qatar 2013 4th (MotoGP), 2012 2nd (MotoGP), 2011 3rd (MotoGP), 2010 7th (MotoGP), 2009 11th (MotoGP), 2008 3rd (MotoGP), 2007 3rd (MotoGP), 2006 6th (MotoGP), 2005 4th (250cc), 2004 2nd (250cc)

Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Executive Vice President

"We've had a positive Winter testing period with Dani. He has had an incredibly busy test schedule, completing over 500 laps in the 9 days tests, which has been vital. He is happy with the bike, and ready for the start of the season. Unfortunately Marc was unable to take part in two out of three tests. Anyway in the only test he did, Marc was very fast and completed many laps gathering a lot of data for the HRC engineers. Now we must wait and see his physical condition when he arrives in Qatar. It will be an interesting season, and we look forward to start it!"

Historic Season Opener For PBM MotoGP Team

The opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship gets underway in Qatar this weekend whereby the night race at the Doha track will mark another historic chapter in the increasingly successful Paul Bird Motorsport portfolio.

Having retained Ulsterman Michael Laverty for a second successive season as well as signing the experienced Australian Broc Parkes, the pair will be aboard the team's very own Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed PBM machines to participate within the newly redefined rules which have come into play this season.

The Aprilia ART-powered machines will contest the Open class division and follows on two years of development work whereby the Penrith, Cumbria based team - the only British team in the premier MotoGP class - have perfected their own chassis and other fabrications to their bikes.

Laverty campaigned the machine for much of last season as part of the ongoing development programme, scoring a brilliant13th place at Jerez before the Toome, County Antrim rider rounded out the season with another 13 top 20 placings to end up 25th in the standings.

Those three points he scored in Spain were also the first historic ones for the bespoke PBM machine which resulted in the PBM team claiming eighth in the Constructors Championship and 12th in the Teams Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.

Both 32-year-old Laverty and Parkes, also 32 and from Hunter Valley, New South Wales, were in action at the recent tests at the Losail track and return hoping for a good showing in the only floodlit race of the season.

Michael Laverty: "I'm looking forward to getting another season off and running under the lights in Qatar this weekend. We had good pre-season tests in Sepang and Qatar so I am looking towards the season with renewed vigour. The Open class bikes have taken quite a step up over the CRTs of last season and we are under no illusions as to how tough it will be to score points, however that remains our goal. Our main rivals will be Avintia Kawasaki and Ioda Aprilia, however we hope that on occasion we will be able to challenge the customer Hondas. I look forward to another season in the PBM stable with a great bunch of guys working towards the same goal."

Broc Parkes: "I'm delighted to be back with the team I raced for in World Superbikes a few years ago and we have a really good relationship which is important. It's going to be tough for sure but I intend to make the most of this opportunity given to be by PBM. To continue the run of Australians racing in MotoGP is fantastic too and I'm really looking forward to going racing this weekend in Qatar."

Paul Bird, Team Owner: "This is another historic chapter in the PBM journey and one which I'm incredibly proud of. When we talked a couple of years ago about building our own MotoGP bike, some people thought we were mad but here we are about to line up on the grid with not one, but two of our bikes built in the Lake District. The team has worked tremendously hard to get to where we are what with the rule changes and after the frustration and disappointment at times last year; hopefully we can achieve the results we know we are capable of. In Michael and Broc I have two riders I rate highly and believe in so it's time to prove our potential now."

Phil Borley, Technical Director: "2014 will be PBM's third year competing in the world's premier motorcycle racing championship, MotoGP, and we are again looking forward to the big challenge of racing against the best riders, machines and teams in the world. With Michael's year of experience and Broc's rapid adaption to GP riding, we have two riders that are able to compete for points and help us continue to develop the PBM bike. Although our overall goals are realistic, our main target is to continue improving and reduce the gap to the top positions. We feel that we have made some progress during the pre-season testing we have completed and are now looking forward to the first race."

Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 1: Qatar, Losail

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)

The 2014 MotoGP™ season is set to start this weekend amidst a huge buzz of excitement at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, as Bridgestone embarks on its sixth season as Official Tyre Supplier to the world’s premier class of motorcycle road racing.

Twenty-three riders will take part in MotoGP™ for the 2014 season, which will span eighteen races across thirteen countries. Adding to the anticipation for the 2014 season opener, Bridgestone’s new tyre classification system will make its debut in Qatar, with Green (Extra-soft), White (Soft), Black (Medium) and Red (Hard) coloured markings to be utilised throughout the season, making it easier for fans to see which tyre options the riders are using.

Three factors make the Losail circuit one of the most slippery on the MotoGP™ calendar; cool track temperatures, the potential for wind-blown sand on the track, and high humidity levels after the sun sets. The sand on track can also be quite abrasive, so Bridgestone’s tyre allocation must ensure high levels of grip and warm-up performance, together with good durability.

The circuit features ten right-hand corners and just six left-handers, so asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the right shoulders are provided here. Open-class riders at Qatar will be allocated the soft and medium compound asymmetric rear slicks, while Factory-class riders will be able to use the medium and hard asymmetric rears. Front slick tyre options for the season opener are the soft and hard compounds to ensure the riders can manage the changeable grip and abrasion levels that occur at this circuit.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“The 2014 season is Bridgestone’s sixth campaign as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP, and during this time Qatar has been the venue for the season opener. This weekend we will debut our new tyre colour marking system and I believe this will be a welcome change for fans, and will make the sport more attractive to the millions of people watching the action around the globe. After a busy pre-season, everyone at Bridgestone is excited to start the season, and I look forward to our range of 2014 specification tyres getting their first taste of competitive action this weekend. We’ve made a large effort to push the boundaries of motorcycle tyre development with our latest range of tyres, and it is thanks to the efforts of the riders and teams over the past couple months of testing that we arrive at the first race of Qatar fully prepared for the season ahead.

“This weekend also sees the first round of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup take place, and Bridgestone is proud to be supporting this series which gives young Asian riders a great opportunity to take their first steps towards a MotoGP ride. I’d like to extend my best wishes for a safe and successful campaign to all the riders competing in this year’s MotoGP and Asia Talent Cup championships.”

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division

“Qatar is the only night race on the calendar and as a result, track temperatures are usually quite low. These low temperatures would suggest using softer rubber compounds, but often there is abrasive sand on the track surface which makes durability a priority. This combination of low temperature and high abrasion makes it very tough for tyres, especially on the right shoulders, as they have to be soft enough to provide grip in the low track temperature but hard enough to resist wear. The front tyres also need sufficient stability for the heavy braking points at this circuit.

“Although the layout of the Losail circuit is only moderately severe on tyres, the combination of low temperatures, on-track sand and the elevated humidity levels that can occur mean that overall, this is quite a challenging circuit for tyre development. This weekend will be the first time our 2014 MotoGP tyres will be used in a race situation, and following a large development programme over the past few months I am confident that our 2014 specification slicks are well suited to the performance demands of both the factory and open-class machines.”

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